Rural Radio Network
Lincoln - Tommy Armstrong Jr. became Nebraska's career leader in pass completions to lead the No. 8 Huskers to a 27-14 win over Purdue on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. With the victory, Nebraska improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, while Purdue slipped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the co...Read More
Lincoln - Tommy Armstrong Jr. became Nebraska's career leader in pass completions to lead the No. 8 Huskers to a 27-14 win over Purdue on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. With the victory, Nebraska improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, while Purdue slipped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the co...Read More
While grain marketing is considered a difficult challenge facing producers every year, it represents a very important component for producers to convert their bushels into dollars and ensure farm survival. Grain marketing involves both strategic behavior and knowledge of the grain market. Local and ...Read More
The National FFA Alumni Association strives to support FFA many different ways. This year, at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo, the FFA Alumni awarded the Washington County FFA Alumni Chapter for Washington County, Kansas, the Outstanding FFA Alumni Chapter. They were awarded due to their...Read More
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Since 2012, more than 50 Kansas small businesses have achieved $17.2 million in export sales through STEP grant programs. The Kansas Department of Commerce is currently accepting STEP grant applications from small businesses to assist them in starting or growing their exports. Th...Read More
ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Cotton and sorghum growers will once again have to resort to Section 18 emergency use exemptions to use Transform (sulfoxaflor) in 2017, after EPA finalized a new, limited-use label for the insecticide that doesn't include those crops. Sulfoxaflor is used to control piercing...Read More
(VIDEO) Challenges with the Cry1F Trait on Cutworms
Farmers using the Cry1F trait to protect against cutworms may be seeing disappointing results this season. Julie Peterson, Nebraska Extension entomologist, talks about the efficacy of the Cry1F protein on western bean cutworm.
Commerce Accepting Applications for Export Programs and Funding
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Since 2012, more than 50 Kansas small businesses have achieved $17.2 million in export sales through STEP grant programs. The Kansas Department of Commerce is currently accepting STEP grant applications from small businesses to assist them in starting or growing their exports. The Commerce programs, which are being funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help non-exporters begin exporting for the first time or existing exporters expand their export levels. Commerce is administering the grant in tandem with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. “Kansas has a proud and rich tradition in agriculture and understands that the international market is the key to growth of the industry,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey. “The Kansas agriculture industry is always ready to become highly engaged in export markets. This grant will allow us to explore new markets for Kansas agricultural products.” “Exporting can be a key to success for many small businesses,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave. “These STEP grants, through the SBA, allow the Department of Commerce to assist small businesses across the state with starting, maintaining and growing their exports, in an effort to achieve their maximum potential, both as a national or global exporter and as a small business in Kansas.” Programs offered through the STEP Grant include: Export seminars and training courses Opportunities for participation in foreign trade shows and missions Support for entering new markets For the current grant year, SBA has awarded Kansas $383,000 in STEP funding. Businesses that wish to apply for support or are interested in learning more should visit KansasCommerce.com/STEP.
US Grains Council working to end Vietnam suspension of distillers' grain imports
CHICAGO/HANOI, Oct 21 The U.S. Grains Council is working with Vietnamese importers of distillers' dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to end the country's planned suspension of U.S. shipments of the protein-rich animal feed, according to a letter sent to council members and seen by Reuters on Thursday. Vietnam on Monday said it would suspend all imports of U.S. DDGS from mid-December due to contamination with the Ballion variety of beetle, according to a Vietnamese government directive also seen by Reuters. Media in the Southeast Asian nation reported the step earlier this week. The loss of Vietnamese imports would be a big hit for U.S. DDGS suppliers as the country is one of the fastest growing feed grain markets in the world, with a rapidly growing middle class developing a taste for hamburgers and steak. The move by the No.3 importer of U.S. DDGS could also drag on prices for the byproduct of corn-based ethanol DDGS-ILLINOIS, with markets already smarting after China last month said it would impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on U.S. imports. "Both shippers and buyers are in a difficult situation as it will be tough to sell a cargo rejected by Vietnam because it is contaminated by the beetles to a third country," said a Vietnamese trader at a foreign firm in Ho Chi Minh City. He declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. U.S. DDGS prices have now dropped to around $190 per tonne, on a cost and freight basis to Vietnamese ports, from $210-$220 per tonne before the directive was signed, traders in Vietnam said. The inspection of all U.S. DDGS cargoes will be tightened in the run-up to the suspension date, Deputy Agriculture Minister Le Quoc Doanh said in the directive. The U.S. Grains Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Prior to news of the suspension, it had forecast Vietnam would import a record volume of 1 million tonnes of U.S. DDGS this year, a surge of 82 percent from 2015. Vietnam through the first eight months of the year imported 687,620 tonnes of U.S. DDGS, about 9 percent of total U.S. exports and double the amount it shipped in a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. China's DDGS imports total 26 percent of U.S. exports, but slid 61 percent from a year ago to 1.96 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2016.
United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly, Placements Down
Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.3 million head on October 1, 2016. The inventory was slightly above October 1, 2015. The inventory included 6.83 million steers and steer calves, down 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 67 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.44 million head, up 4 percent from 2015. Placements in feedlots during September totaled 1.91 million head, 2 percent below 2015. Placements were the lowest for September since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 1.86 million head. During September, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 345,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 300,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 455,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 805,000 head. Marketings of fed cattle during September totaled 1.73 million head, 5 percent above 2015. Other disappearance totaled 42,000 head during September, 26 percent below 2015.
USCA Comments on Proposed Changes Announced by CME Group
The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) issued the following statement on the announcement made by the CME Group this week that a proposal is being considered to switch to a cash settlement process for its live futures. The CME Group also announced that modifications to the physical delivery process would be considered. USCA Marketing Committee Chair Allan Sents commented, “The need to evaluate the current state of the livestock marketplace is real; however, the changes proposed by the CME Group, as announced this week, will not address the concerns of producers across the country. Rather, the proposal to switch to a cash settlement is a step in the wrong direction. Price discovery achieved from actively traded futures contracts with multiple buyers and sellers far outweighs an increasingly thinner traded cash market.” “The proposed changes will do nothing to impact the amount of high frequency, overly speculative trading, which is one of the real issues that must be addressed if we are to achieve market stability. Efforts must instead be made toward encouraging “long” participation and addressing the many issues currently within the futures market, not the settlement process.” Sents concluded, “The CME Group, industry stakeholders, and producers across the country must acknowledge the significant issues within today’s livestock market. Until a hard review and assessment of these issues is taken, our country’s producers will continue to feel the consequences on their bottom line.”
Dairy Farmers of America implements Anaplan's smart planning platform for its precision and flexibility
KANSAS CITY, Mo. and SAN FRANCISCO, PRNewswire/ -- Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative recently completed deployment of Anaplan, the leading planning and performance management platform, to strengthen its financial planning and analysis. The Anaplan platform will allow DFA to more precisely budget and forecast financials to better drive accountability within the business and maximize returns for its members. DFA chose Anaplan over six other vendors based on two key factors: the ability to model complex business scenarios in a diverse business environment without sacrificing speed and end user experience; and its ease of implementation, from integration with existing workflows to its easy learning curve for DFA staff. "As a co-op, we are continually looking for innovative ways to bring value back to our members," said Marij Kouwenhoven, Chief Information Officer of DFA. "Anaplan is helping forecast and model at a much more granular level across our business, down to plant-level expenses and ingredient-level costs. With Anaplan, we're skipping a decade on a typical technology roadmap, adding value to our business planning process and unlocking new performance insights." DFA is a national dairy cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 14,000 dairy farmer-members across 48 states. DFA produces dairy products under brands including Borden® cheese, Keller's® Creamery butter, and Kemps. DFA also is one of the country's most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components, and ingredients, with 41 DFA-owned manufacturing plants, and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products. "From an IT and operations standpoint, the complexity that DFA manages is staggering," said Simon Tucker, Chief Customer Officer at Anaplan. "We're thrilled they chose Anaplan for budgeting and forecasting modeling. It validates Anaplan's versatility across a wide range of industries to enable decision-makers within smart businesses to plan and manage performance on a single platform." Kouwenhoven continued, "We're looking forward to the benefits of using this tool to empower our users. Anaplan's user-friendliness means DFA teams can be trained and certified on the platform quickly, so they can build complex models that help drive efficiency." The Anaplan platform enables planning and performance management for companies in all industries and in every part of the business, including financial planning and analysis. The Anaplan App Hub offers specialized apps for financial planning and analysis that enable business users to run what-if scenarios, analyze results, and gain full transparency into financial and operational drivers.
Grain Marketing Simulation Game Helps Train Producers
While grain marketing is considered a difficult challenge facing producers every year, it represents a very important component for producers to convert their bushels into dollars and ensure farm survival. Grain marketing involves both strategic behavior and knowledge of the grain market. Local and global supply and demand conditions, grain storage costs, transportation costs etc. present constantly changing risk and reward opportunities for producers. Efficient training and consistent monitoring of the market can help producers reduce risk (i.e., reduce the chance of farm failure) by making good use of pricing opportunities. Since these concepts may not necessarily be intuitive and strategic behavior can often be cognitively taxing, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has developed an interactive grain marketing simulation game, called Marketing in a New Era (MINE) for this purpose. The first section of this article describes how the MINE simulation game can fit Extension meetings and help Specialists communicate grain marketing principles. The second section describes two example activities from the pre-harvest and post-harvest version of MINE. Screenshots from the simulation interface are included in order to portray how MINE works and why its design enhances the learning process. In the last section, a research idea is proposed that combines experimental economics techniques with grain marketing intuition, and uses MINE simulation as an experimental tool. Marketing in a New Era: An Interactive Tool Every year the goal at many Extension meetings is to help producers revise some common perceptions regarding marketing strategies such as the reluctance towards pre-harvest marketing, the failure to understand basis behavior, the lack of an exit strategy, and the tendency to hold grain in storage too long (Usset, 2010). To help with these issues, educators often think of marketing in two distinct segments: pre- and post-harvest. In Pre-harvest marketing, the time horizon is long (typically the growing season) and producers have the opportunity to take advantage of expected price patterns containing production uncertainty to improve average price while reducing price risk. In post-harvest marketing, prices represent a signal from realized local and global market conditions (Usset, 2010). Successful post-harvest marketing requires producers to be able to understand the information that prices entail in order to secure a better price for their grain. Simulations in agricultural courses have been a tool more common in extension presentation environments (Stewart et al., 2000). The substantial difference of the games/simulations compared with conventional methods such as lectures or seminars is that through the game the participants experience various events and/or responses (Stewart et al., 2000). MINE allows Extension Specialists to demonstrate the marketing process, step by step starting from pre-harvest forward-looking strategies and ending with post-harvest tactical responses. It is a user-friendly tool that adjusts easily to audience’s experience levels and needs. One unique feature in MINE is that simulations are based upon previously experienced historical future price series in conjunction with changing basis values. Another unique feature is the ability to trade multiple cash, futures and basis contracts simultaneously. Also unique is the fact that in an extension presentation, producers, along with the Extension Specialist, specify the game settings together and they design scenarios that are as close as possible to their actual production environment. This is a crucial stage because by setting up the environment, producers have the opportunity to assist in developing farm characteristic components. This set up is intended to give producers the opportunity to improve the probability of a profitable grain marketing strategy, to gain insight into grain marketing principles, to get to know what other marketing producers do, as well as playing a scenario that is realistic and relevant to their farm environment. These important features improve realism, keeping producers’ attention while maximizing learning. Why MINE Is Learning-enhancing This section describes two examples from pre-harvest and post-harvest MINE versions, to demonstrate how MINE works. These examples demonstrate the way that MINE is intended to reverse some of the common misunderstandings in grain marketing such as producers’ reluctance to market before harvest as well as their tendency to keep grain stored too long. As mentioned earlier, producers are reluctant to use pre-harvest marketing. Their most common argument is that the production risk is high and they don’t know if they will be able to fulfill the contracts. However, there are crop insurance tools that allow them to price earlier with confidence. One of the game settings that producers have to specify is the insurance tool that they prefer to use. More specifically, they pick yield or revenue insurance as well as coverage level. This is an opportunity for the Specialist to explain the link between insurance and pre-harvest marketing and respond to producers’ concerns. After the insurance parameters, producers have to set up the costs that they will face in the simulation. At this point, the Extension Specialist analyzes the relationship between price and cost, and makes clear that the only way that producers could target a minimum price objective is to know their production costs well. In the post-harvest MINE simulation, producers identify the cost of storage. This is a very important feature in marketing post-harvest that producers tend to underestimate or to use in order to carry last year’s marketing flows into the next year (Usset, 2010). The post-harvest MINE game aims to help producers understand the pros and cons of keeping the grain stored and also realize that they need to set realistic price targets, otherwise they will keep their grain stored for years. Another important post-harvest component is the relation among cash price, futures price, and basis. The post-harvest MINE environment allows producers to experience how they should evaluate the information offered by each of these prices (cash, basis, futures). After completing the configuration of the game, producers start game play where they face different prices from multiple contracts over time (Figure 2). Each scenario has a certain number of decision points (see calendar at top of Figure 2). At each decision point, a table with current and future prices is displayed. Producers make decisions based upon the prices and once they complete their decisions, they move forward to the next decision point. MINE offers a market analysis to assist in decision making (Figure 3). At the end of the game, they review their individual results (Figure 4) as well as the other producers’ results (Figure 5). Results are presented in a format to allow producers the opportunity to evaluate their performance relative to the maximum and minimum profits they can make with and without marketing. The Extension Specialist concludes the session with a discussion about the optimal strategy under the given prices and how producers could have reached it. Figure 2: Price Table. Figure 3: Price Analysis Table. Figure 4: Producer’s Individual Results. Figure 5: Group Summary Chart. MINE as a Research Tool Simulation games have been widely used in experimental economics because both (games and economic experiments) focus on replicating the real world as faithfully as possible (Borawski, 2016). Because of their education-oriented character and ability to deploy within a large group of people, the simulation results have greater reliability. Moreover, economic experiments involving human subjects require their maximum engagement, which is difficult to achieve. Games are a useful tool to attract the subjects’ attention (Borawski, 2016). Recent socio-technical developments involving computer games have created a new kind of research in the social and behavioral sciences (Bainbridge 2007). Friedman, et al. (2007) tried to isolate the features that reinforce or discourage the sunk-cost fallacy by using a Treasure Hunt computer game. Participants were trying to find various amounts of buried treasure in several islands, and researchers measured if the cost of approaching an island influenced their insistence of finding the treasure. Kimbrough and Wilson (2013) used a virtual world to investigate the effect of an exogenous ecological shock on the informal principles of property and exchange. They tested how an ecological shock such as a severe drought can cause institutional evolution and replace the private property with new informal routines. Dorschner and Musshoff (2015) incorporated a business simulation game in a four-stage experiment in order to test incentive-based nature protection policies to reduce biodiversity losses. Simulation games can serve the experimental design in a broad range of economic research. To the best of our knowledge, an experiment with a grain marketing game hasn’t been conducted yet. As a result, MINE represents an excellent opportunity to investigate the behavior of producers towards risk in grain marketing. Its software flexibility allows the researcher to design experiments as simple as possible and as complex as necessary in order to adjust the level of difficulty to the level of the subject pool. Decision-training games as MINE, could be a tool in researching human behavior and interactions (Borawski, 2016). Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have modified MINE to conduct research on identifying important factors influencing grain marketing strategies. The research objective is twofold. The first segment tests whether risk preferences have an impact on grain marketing decision making; that is, if producers with different perceptions towards risk, market their grain in different ways. Even though there are many studies in risk preferences, this question is very case-specific because it focuses only on grain marketing. Thus, it may be necessary to have a case-specific mechanism for the elicitation of individuals’ risk preferences as well. Therefore, the second segment of this research project is to incorporate MINE into the experimental design in order to test its efficiency as an experimental tool. By changing one MINE parameter each time, the experimenter creates various treatments. Change in participants’ responses to these changes, reveals their risk preferences. Another issue of great interest is grain marketing behavior in response to price fluctuations over time. The first conjecture is that individuals with different risk preferences respond in a different way under the same price fluctuations. The second conjecture is that individuals’ responses are dynamically adapted as price fluctuations change. More specifically, it is expected that individuals will sell their grain earlier if prices tend to decline over time than if prices tend to increase over time. In order to study this issue, during the experiment participants make marketing decisions several times in response to prices from a different year. Apart from prices, the study also controls for the impact of several socio-demographic variables; that is, if gender, age, educational background, experience in grain production etc. play an important role in the grain marketing practices. Further research could also be conducted in measuring the impact of social environment on grain marketing decision making. The fact that a group of people can play MINE simultaneously, makes it a potential means through which social interactions could be captured and their influence on grain marketing could be captured. To conclude, MINE is an educational tool that helps producers to gain insights into grain marketing principles. Additionally, it fits perfectly into computer-based experimental designs, providing the opportunity for obtaining insightful results for experimental economics and grain marketing.
DOJ Queries Farmers on Deere-Precision Planting Deal
It's not every day that the government comes a-callin', so when the Washington, D.C., phone number popped up on his cellphone on September 28, Illinois farmer Matt Foes couldn't resist answering. He's glad he did -- the phone call was from the Department of Justice, and they wanted to know how John Deere's plans to purchase Monsanto's Precision Planting would affect Foes, who farms in Bureau County, Illinois. The proposed acquisition has come under fire recently from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which filed a lawsuit in August to block it. The lawsuit argues that the purchase would allow Deere to hold a monopoly on high speed planting technology. John Deere's ExactEmerge technology accounts for 44% of this market, and Precision Planting's SpeedTube technology accounts for 42%, for a combined market share of 86%. See the DTN story on the details of the lawsuit here: http://bit.ly/…. In response, Deere has offered to license the SpeedTube technology to Ag Leader Technology, should the acquisition be allowed to go through. That in turn inspired another machinery company, Dawn Equipment, to accuse Precision Planting of infringement on Dawn patents involving the hydraulic down pressure control used in these high speed planting systems. Things are getting complicated, to say the least. For its part, the Department of Justice appears to be trying to fully grasp the tangible, on-farm effects the Deere-Precision Planter purchase could have on the nation's growers. Based on DTN interviews and Twitter conversations among farmers, the calls went out to select Midwestern growers starting the last week of September. The DOJ declined to comment for this article, but did not deny that they were the source of the phone calls. "I don't know that he 100% understood the planter aspect of farming," Foes said of his DOJ interviewer. "But I was impressed with how genuinely interested in learning they were -- honestly it made me more confident in our government." Precision Plantings' SpeedTube technology and John Deere's ExactEmerge technology are designed to move seed out of the planter and into the furrow faster, without losing accuracy. Both rely on a conveyor belt system rather than a gravity drop tube. The systems allow farmers to double their planting speeds, as high as 10 miles per hour. Originally, ExactEmerge was sold only as part of new John Deere planters. But after Precision Planting began selling SpeedTube in 2014 as a separate component that could be retrofitted onto existing planters, Deere began selling ExactEmerge as a retrofit option in 2015. As a customer of Precision Planting and a current employee of the 360 Yield Center, Foes was well equipped to answer the caller's questions when he drilled down into the details of planter options in light of the Deere purchase. (360 Yield Center is a data-driven crop management company founded by Gregg Sauder after he sold Precision Planting to Monsanto in 2012). Foes said the caller questioned him on what high speed planting technology he owned, what options he would consider before purchasing SpeedTube, any other alternatives out there and how he would react to the price of SpeedTube going up 10%. Foes said he laid out the many factors farmers consider in their planter equipment and how speed fits into the equation. "We talked back and forth about the pros and cons of getting a larger planter versus making a smaller planter go faster," he said. "He asked a lot of good questions trying to understand what motivated me to make my 16-row planter go faster rather than buying a 24-row planter. He wanted to know how much of a price increase on all the [high speed planting] components I could take before deciding to go slow and use a bigger planter. It was a lot of very good questions." The phone call lasted for 20 to 30 minutes, and Foes believed the DOJ caller walked away with a more nuanced understanding of planting technology and options. "I think he thought that high speed was the only option out there for improving planting," he said. "SpeedTube is the part of a planter system that's being argued about, but there are so many more aspects of a planter that have to be considered beyond how fast you drive." Down in St. Charles County, Missouri, Bill Houck also fielded a call from the DOJ on September 27. His interview was short and to the point. "I was off in two minutes," he told DTN. In addition to farming, Houck runs an ag retail facility supplying farmers with wholesale chemical and fertilizer. And as a former dealer of Precision Planting equipment, he has a firm opinion on the Deere-Precision Planter deal. "I told them I thought it was a great thing," he said. "They asked me how it would affect my business. I told them it would improve it to integrate the two companies as Deere was copying everything that Precision had anyway. They said thank you and [were] done." Neither Foes nor Houck are sure how the DOJ got their cell phone numbers. Houck asked his caller, who told him he couldn't disclose that information. Foes speculated that the names of Precision Planter customers were made available to the agency in the course of the lawsuit. Foes' DOJ caller told him he didn't have a set number of calls planned. "He said they were just getting started learning more about farmers' opinions rather than just what they were hearing from the industries involved," Foes recalled. "It seemed like they genuinely wanted to learn and hadn't made up their mind yet," he said. See the DOJ lawsuit filing against John Deere and Monsanto here: http://bit.ly/…. See Deere's response the lawsuit here: http://bit.ly/…. You can find Deere's announcement of the Ag Leader licensing agreement here: http://bit.ly/…. See Dawn Equipment's claim of patent infringement here: http://bit.ly/….
Nebraska Tractor Test Lab Still Going Strong
For nearly a century, tractor manufacturers from around the world have looked to the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for a seal of approval. The success of a new tractor is decided long before it sees soil at the long, oval test track on East Campus that faculty, staff, students and visitors pass by every day. “We’re not really famous in Lincoln, but in the field of agricultural engineering we’re one of the most famous, premiere institutions in the world,” said Roger Hoy, director of the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory. In 1919 it was more common for horses to work the fields than a piece of machinery. Early tractors were often oversold and underperforming. When state legislator and farmer, Wilmot F. Crozier from Osceola, purchased a few faulty tractors himself, he worked with state senator Charles J. Warner of Waverly to draft the Nebraska Tractor Test Law. The pair received technical assistance from L.W. Chase, who at the time served as chairman of the university’s agricultural engineering department. In July of 1919 the Nebraska Tractor Test Law was passed, which stated that no new tractor could be sold in Nebraska without first being tested by the University of Nebraska’s agricultural engineering department to prove that it would perform as advertised. The first successful tractor test was executed at the lab in April of 1920. Today, test number 2,166 is underway on the track. Tractor performance is measured according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development tractor test codes. Twenty-nine countries adhere to the codes, but the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory is the only OECD tractor test lab in the U.S. According to Hoy, the university contributed significantly to writing the codes and is currently in the process of updating them. “In terms of performance testing, we’re still the granddaddy of them all,” Hoy said. “We’re the only facility in the world capable of testing the largest tractors.” The power takeoff test and drawbar test are the two most common performance tests conducted on new tractors at the lab. Manufacturers invest a significant amount of resources to ensure a successful test. It costs approximately $22,000 to test a well-prepared tractor. The lab is supported entirely by these testing fees. As tractors have become more technologically advanced, the lab has kept up with the times. Joe Luck, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, recently conducted research at the lab to test the accuracy of tractor CAN, or computer-aided network, data. Today’s tractors are able to supply publicly available CAN data focused on tractor-developed information that is typically available to implement for optimal performance. The data includes tractor operating conditions such as speed, engine performance and accurate positioning from a Global Positioning Sensor attached to the tractor. Luck compared this data to what the lab gathers with separate instruments. Four test engineers work in the lab full time, along with 30 part-time student workers. Most students are agricultural engineering or mechanized systems management majors. Many are also members of the UNL Quarter Scale Tractor Team, which earlier this year took top honors at the International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, Illinois. “Our first priority is to conduct tractor testing, but we also focus on preparing undergraduate students for real-world jobs,” said Hoy, who also serves as a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Hoy says he frequently fields calls from industry representatives seeking students for full-time introductory engineering positions. A majority of students who have worked at the lab field multiple job offers before graduating. Official tractor testing results are available to the public at tractortestlab.unl.edu. The Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory makes no endorsement of particular tractor models or tractor manufacturers. For more information contact Hoy, at 402-472-4224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Transform Label for Cotton, Sorghum in 2017
ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Cotton and sorghum growers will once again have to resort to Section 18 emergency use exemptions to use Transform (sulfoxaflor) in 2017, after EPA finalized a new, limited-use label for the insecticide that doesn't include those crops. Sulfoxaflor is used to control piercing and sucking insects such as the sugarcane aphid in sorghum and the tarnished plant bug in cotton. The finalized label represents the end of a year-long saga that started when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated sulfoxaflor's registration in November 2015, due to pollinator concerns. The decision was accepted by EPA, which asked Dow AgroSciences for more data to ascertain that the insecticide was not dangerous to pollinators. In May 2016, the agency proposed a new label that excluded crops like cotton and sorghum and imposed spraying restrictions designed to minimize pollinators' exposure to the insecticide. This proposed label was approved by the EPA on October 14 after the agency sorted through more than 70,000 comments from the public. Phil Jost, insecticides marketing leader for Dow, said the new label is "not our ultimate goal," and the company is "committed to registering sulfoxaflor for all of these previous uses." "Dow AgroSciences is conducting further pollinator studies, which we believe will demonstrate the safety of sulfoxaflor and should allow a return to the pre-bloom and in-bloom uses which are not included in this new registration," Jost told DTN in an email. THE NEW LABEL The new sulfoxaflor label permits use on crops that don't attract bees (barley, triticale, wheat, and turf grass) and those that are harvested before they bloom and become attractive to pollinators (mostly leafy and root vegetables). Some crops that are bee-attractive were included, such as canola, but with a restriction permitting only post-bloom applications. The label also lists nozzle and buffer requirements to minimize drift and forbids tank mixing the insecticide with pesticides "that have shown evidence of synergistic activity with sulfoxaflor." LOOKING AHEAD Sulfoxaflor was widely used in the cotton and sorghum industry before its cancellation. Without it, sorghum growers had only one effective insecticide against the sugarcane aphid, and cotton growers faced limited options to control the tarnished plant bug. Ten states requested and received Section 18 emergency use exemptions for Transform on sorghum acres in time for the 2016 growing season -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Cotton growers were less fortunate. Requests for emergency use exemptions from Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas weren't approved by the EPA until July 14, well into the growing season. Already, industry leaders are getting a jump on Section 18 applications for 2017. In its weekly newsletter, the National Sorghum Producers said the group was "engaged with the EPA to work toward restoring a full registration label for sulfoxaflor for sorghum and helping states apply for emergency exemptions if needed again for the 2017 growing season." For more information, see the new sulfoxaflor label here: http://bit.ly/…and review the tens of thousands of public comments received by EPA here: http://bit.ly/….
Final Rule Sent to OMB; White House has 90 Days to Finish
OMAHA (DTN) - EPA has sent the final rule for the 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard blend levels to White House for its approval. The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to complete its review of the final rule within the next 90 days to set renewable volume obligations in the RFS. The OMB received the final rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday. The notice indicates EPA is on track to finalize volumes by its statutory Nov. 30 deadline. For years the agency has struggled to meet RFS deadlines. "2017 RVO Rule apparently at OMB -- looks like EPA will make its deadline," Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said on his Twitter feed Wednesday. "NO reason not to go to 15 bg. #RFSWorks #ethanol #followthestatute." OMB's job is to review government rules to determine their potential economic consequences. "With farmers harvesting the largest crop in history, EIA (Energy Information Administration) data demonstrating we can blend above 15 billion gallons and the price of oil on the rise again, there is simply no reason to lower the RVO as proposed," Dinneen said in a statement to DTN. "In the final 2017 rule, EPA should increase the conventional RVO to the statutory level of 15 billion gallons and give consumers more of a choice at the pump." The final rule could be released within the next 30 days, depending on how long the OMB analysis takes. The proposed 2017 RFS volumes increase mandate requirements for blenders compared to the 2016 numbers across all biofuels. Ethanol supporters, however, pushed for EPA to set volumes as called for in the original 2007 law. EPA proposed a 2017 total RFS volume of 18.8 billion gallons. That would include 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, composed of 312 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels, 2 billion gallons of biodiesel and 1.68 billion of other advanced biofuels. The rest of the RFS volume -- 14.8 billion gallons -- would be covered largely with corn-based ethanol. Part of the problem of meeting the RFS requirements under the law is the inability of the cellulosic industry to take off and produce the necessary volumes. This is an issue EPA grapples with every year. Under the RFS law, refiners are mandated to blend in 5.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2017, but there are only a handful of viably commercial cellulosic plants operating in the country. The law requires the total RFS for 2017 to be 24 billion gallons, which would include that 5.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol. The volume of corn-based ethanol would be 15 billion gallons. Other advanced biofuels and biodiesel would account for 4.5 billion gallons.
Biofuel Groups Ask Congress to Extend Tax Credits
OMAHA (DTN) -- At some point before Dec. 9, Congress will need to vote on a budget bill to continue to fund the government, and one ethanol interest group is asking House and Senate leaders to take that opportunity to extend a number of biofuels tax incentives as well. While the upcoming expiration of the biodiesel blenders credit has received most of the attention in recent months, the Renewable Fuels Association is pressing Congress to extend the second-generation biofuel producer tax credit, the special depreciation allowance for second-generation biofuel plant property, and the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. Most of these credits are aimed at developing advanced biofuel technologies including cellulosic ethanol. A number of companies have launched commercial production at a handful of plants across the country. In a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, the RFA asked for a multi-year extension of the credits. The biodiesel industry has done the same when it comes to the biodiesel tax credit. Multi-year extensions are considered important to continue to develop new technologies. "The U.S. biofuel industry is at a critical stage in its development," RFA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said in the letter. "The U.S. has made significant progress over the last several years in advanced and second-generation biofuel production technologies because of the success of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. However, inconsistent and uncertain biofuel and tax policies threaten to undermine that progress and run the risk of jeopardizing our role as an industry leader by discouraging further second generation biofuel development in the U.S." Dinneen said the ethanol industry continues to "suffer significant infrastructure challenges" in expanding availability of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85. The credits in question, he said, are important to continue seeing growth in the industry. The tax incentives have been a driving force behind the launch of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, he said. "These facilities have made the U.S. the world leader in second-generation biofuel development," he wrote in the letter. "However, due to the uncertainty and inconsistency surrounding the future of biofuel and biofuel tax policy in the U.S., many future plans for cellulosic ethanol production facilities have been shelved, or moved to overseas locales including competitor countries like Brazil and Spain." Dinneen said the expiration of the credits comes at a time when cellulosic ethanol plants are launching production. In addition, the expiration of the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, or infrastructure, credit would hurt smaller convenience store owners who wish to provide higher ethanol blends. "The infrastructure credit provides these fuel retailers with a tax credit for investments made to upgrade their fuel delivery systems," Dinneen wrote, "allowing for the sale of such alternative fuels." Although there is a case to be made for updating the energy tax code as a whole, Dinneen said, Congress should extend the credits in the interim. "While we continue to recognize the need for reforming the entire energy tax code to provide more parity for renewables like biofuel, it is equally important that we do not cause undue harm to the industry by letting important industry incentives expire while we wait for reform efforts to materialize in Congress," Dinneen wrote.