Ag News, November 12, 2013

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No water for agriculture is slow-moving disaster
By Harry Cline in Farm Press Blog

Earthquakes, floods and hurricanes are visible disasters with heartbreaking human consequences.

No less consequential is the water disaster in California. However, there are no gut-wrenching photos or blaring headlines chronicling this slow moving catastrophe.

God-forbid, but if the San Joaquin Valley were to be inundated by floods or wrecked by a massive earthquake, the federal and state governments would be there to help in a New York minute. Continue reading on the Western Farm Press:

More on California Water issues:

Positive story on agriculture is coming spring 2014

Positive story on agriculture is coming spring 2014 from award-winning documentary director James Moll. The movie, Farmland, chronicles the lives of young farmers and ranchers from across the United States. Its subtitle is: Meet the Next Generation of American Farmers.
Login to Member Resources to download the latest edtion:

Are drones the next essential farm tool?
From Agri-Pulse

The term “drones” probably prompts thoughts of military strikes and surveillance. That is why Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVI), prefers the term “unmanned aerial systems.” Most UASs today are used by the military, but makers of the devices are becoming more interested in agriculture as a large market with more consistent demand than the armed forces.

Toscano says UASs can cover large tracts of land quickly and produce centimeter-accurate crop data to help farmers plan for irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide application, and harvest with precision. Tests are also underway on drones that spray crops. More precise pesticide applications could produce environmental benefits in addition to boosting productivity.

Still, the unmanned systems cannot be widely used in agriculture today because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow unmanned flight for commercial purposes. Congress, however, has ordered the FAA to incorporate unmanned aerial systems into U.S. airspace by September 30, 2015, and pending litigation could force action sooner.

According to Rory Paul, CEO of Volt Aerial Robotics in St. Louis, the current regulatory uncertainty is keeping most established agriculture equipment manufacturers away from UAS development. But if the rules for model aircraft were applied to unmanned systems, “they would jump into the market with two feet,” because “timely aerial data acquisition is the missing piece of precision agriculture,” Paul said.

The FAA does have a special certification process for “public agencies,” including police and fire departments and universities. In fact, both the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska –Lincoln have journalism programs that use drones. The Lincoln campus played host to the first drone journalism conference last week. One example of the students’ work captures a controlled burn of native prairie. But the university drones are temporarily on hold, after the FAA requested in July that they cease all outdoor flight until they obtain a formal Certificate of Authorization.

FAA says it will gather information to use in developing unmanned system regulations for six test sites the agency plans to designate by the end of the year. FAA has received 25 applications for sites in 24 states. Many of the sites include farmland, but the agency will not release the names of applicants.  FAA says it will choose sites that produce a diverse data set, with differences in geography, climate, and air traffic and population density. 

Toscano said the FAA could decide to apply the rules governing model aircraft to commercial unmanned systems. Models are allowed to fly under 400 feet since fixed-wing aircraft do not operate at that low altitude. The American Modeling Association self-regulates remote model aircraft enthusiasts, and FAA does not have any hand in enforcement. Similar parameters would be helpful to manufacturers of unmanned systems for agriculture, Toscano said, because there are “plenty of applications 400 feet and below.”

AUVI projects a favorable regulatory framework from the FAA would allow makers of drones to add $13.6 billion and 34,000 new jobs to the economy.

Brazil climbing to top of global soybean ladder
By Paul Hollis | Southeast Farm Press

For a long time, the United States was the biggest kid on the block when it came to producing and exporting soybeans.

But now we’ve got company.

“Brazil is giving us a run for our money,” says Brian Williams, Mississippi State University Extension economist.

“This last year, we edged them out in production, but just barely. If things go according to plan for Brazil next year, they’ll actually top us in production. They did top us this past year in exports, and they’re expected to do the same next year.” Read more:

Ag Cycles: A Crop Marketing Perspective
By Chad Hart, Associate Professor of Economics, Iowa State University

Editor’s Note: Drs. Chad E.Hart and William M. Edwards are being honored in Reno this week with the Gold Quill Award for their manuscript entitled: “Sharing Financial Risk through Flexible Farm Lease Agreements”

Over the past seven years, corn and soybean producers in the United States have enjoyed their best run of returns in history. Corn and soybean prices have reached and sustained at levels beyond expectations from a decade ago. USDA’s estimates of net farm income have peaked at record levels over the past few years. But like most things that go up, crop prices and returns are likely to decline as we move forward. Agricultural returns tend to be cyclical in nature, a few years of good returns followed by a few years of negative returns. That is the inherent nature of agriculture; it is a competitive industry. And economic theory indicates the long-run profitability of a competitive industry is zero. So we should expect some negative years to balance out the recent good run. Read more:
Read more:

Reno…Wish You Were Here

How quickly time flies.  All the months of preparing and suddenly we find ourselves in Reno.  The Council Meetings, Committee Meetings, Board of  Director’s meetings are all underway.  Over 300 people will be joining the California Chapter for a Welcome Dinner at the National Automobile Museum later this evening.  Wednesday morning will kick off with the DuPont Pioneer Ag Tour and the Rapid Fire Case Studies  program.  Later in the day, Newly Accredited members will be recognized and presented with their Accreditation Certificates.   There are several new companies which will be a part of the Trade Show Grand Opening on Wednesday evening.   There is still time to join us for all the exciting events scheduled for Wednesday through Friday.  Top notch speakers will fill the day on Thursday and Friday.  Everyone is having a great time.  Wish you were here! Come join us!

Is Pain a Motivator?
The Un-Comfort Zone by Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.

I feel your pain; actually, it’s mine, but it helps me understand yours.

The summer of 2013 was the summer that never happened – for me at least. It started out normal enough, maybe a bit too much rain, but I was excited to finally have some warm weather in order to get some work done around the house. I had quite a to-do list… an even longer one for my business.  Read more:  Download the PDF for easier reading. 

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