Nouvelles techno

USDA to Join US Panel Reviewing ChemChina’s Syngenta

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to join the U.S. government panel that is reviewing state-owned ChemChina's planned $43 billion acquisition of Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta AG, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The move will subject the deal to additional government scrutiny. It comes after lawmakers wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in March to ask that the USDA be involved in the review so that the potential impact of t

New Stem Cell Discovery Could Boost Corn Crop Yields by an Astounding 50 Percent

A newly discovered stem cell signaling pathway could boost yields from corn and other staple crops by up to 50 percent in the very near term, according to a paper published Monday in Nature Genetics.

In essence, it's an intraplant communications channel that acts as a "braking" mechanism to be triggered by the relatively old cellular members of a plant existing in its leaves and far-flung extremities telling the plant to stop producing totipotent stem cells.

In other words, it's a way for the well-established parts of a plant to order the plant to stop growing, most likely in response to environmental cues relating to available

Soybean replant app ends guesswork

A new Soybean Replant App for iPhones and Android devices helps growers make data-driven decisions to replant or stick with the current crop, said Shawn Conley, University of Wisconsin-Madison soybean specialist.

The app calculates plant stand, i.e. population, by averaging five plant-count samples taken randomly within a soybean field during the VC, V1 or V2 growth stage. The app then provides expected yield percent at harvest with or without replanting.

“You simply snap five photos and the app does the rest,” Conley said.

The calculated values give growers the hard data needed to decide if replanting makes economic sense. The app also provides the historical median frost date for the closest township within Wisconsin, so growers will know if a replanted crop should mature before the median frost date. That way growers can know if it’s worth the time, money and risk to replant, before committing to that plan.

“(It's a) powerful easy-to-use app," Conley said.

The app is the result of a joint effort between the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.



What’s the key to a good harvest? One man thinks the answer is magic beans, lots of them, spliced together with the Internet of Things. And no, his name isn’t Jack.

BeanIoT is a nifty little sensor package encased in a 3D printed bean, designed to continuously monitor and return data on a farmer’s crops, and acting as an early warning system against parasites, temperature changes, and other adverse conditions.

Data tracking is key to several industries — not just agriculture — because it can provide users with real-time information that enables them to make informed decisions and fully understand processes as they occur.

The “IoT,” or “internet of things,” simply refers to technology being able to talk to each other. And this bean-shaped ball of wonder is able to wirelessly transfer the data collected back to the user.

 What’s in a BeanIOT?

BeanIoT is the invention of electronics engineer Andrew Holland, based in Swaffham Bulbeck near Cambridge, UK.

The beans are 45mm long, 18mm wide, roughly the same size as a golf tee. Each unit includes a circuit board, low-power Bluetooth radio, and sensors able to detect motion, temperature, humidity, air pressure, plus the concentrations of several gases. Importantly, the bean also contains an electric compass and gyroscope to help users locate them.

Using the bean’s tracking capabilities, the benefits for farming would be a powerful large-scale application. Buried deep in several grain silos, the beans can connect to each other and become nodes in a network, giving farmers a clear three-dimensional picture of what’s happening to their crops.

Beyond agriculture, however, Holland forsees many uses for the BeanIOT. By detecting tremors on the ground, it could signal the fall of an elderly person in their home, provide security against home intrusion, or simply be used to control a home entertainment system and lighting with a gesture. Netflix and Chill is another IOT project that shows this last concept in action.

The key is that each bean is programmable through a phone app, which makes it adaptable for multiple purposes. And with the STL files to hand, the casing for BeanIOT can be 3D printed in a variety of materials and shapes… Just in case you get bored of beans.

BeanIoT is still in the process of being tested and rapidly prototyped, though Holland plans

Nouvelles agronomiques

BASF’s Varisto Herbicide Receives Registration

The EPA recently registered BASF’s Varisto herbicide for use in clover grown for seed, as well as dry beans, dry peas, English peas, lima beans (succulent), snap beans and soybeans. The new herbicide helps maximize yield potential by delivering a wide spectrum of broadleaf and grass weed control.

“Varisto herbicide offers multiple sites of action for excellent weed control and resistance management in a convenient pre-mix formulation with low crop response,” said Christa Ellers-Kirk, Technical Market Manager, BASF. “The introduction of Varisto herbicide to the market gives growers best-in-class weed control.”

A 2013 University of Idaho research trial showed that Varisto herbicide was 98% effective in controlling hairy nightshade, 96% effective in controlling redroot pigweed, 90% effective in controlling common lambs’s quarters and 84% effective in controlling green foxtail. Results were measured 29 days after treatment.

In that same research trial, a post-emergence application of Varisto herbicide preceded by a pre-emergence application of Outlook herbicide was 99% effective in controlling hairy nightshade and redroot pigweed, and 98% effective in controlling green foxtail and common lamb’s quarters.

For the best results, use as part of a comprehensive weed management program that includes Prowl herbicide or Outlook herbicide applied at pre-emergence timing, followed by Varisto herbicide applied at post-emergence timing.

For more information about Varisto herbicide, please visit

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Earthworm Season is Here! (Crops and Soils)

This week is a great week to explore your earthworm populations - the soils are moist and are warming up after the winter, and earthworm activity is high.High moisture drives the earthworms to the soil surface. They don’t like sunlight but will stay near the surface on overcast days. Once the soils dry out in the summer earthworm activity will drop, after which we typically see an uptick in activity in the fall. Many earthworms die or hide at depth when frost season hits our state in December.

Earthworms are very important for maintenance of soil health in our agricultural systems. They consume organic matter and mix it with soil in their intestines. Casts are produced when they deposit their excrement at the soil surface or in their burrows.

There are different types of earthworms. Some of them live in permanent, vertical burrows (subsoil dwellers). The nightcrawler is the most prominent earthworm that has this life style. It is most active between 6pm and 6am. It comes to the surface at night, pulling straws, leaves, and sometimes even pebbles and small stones to the entrance of its burrow. After the crop residues partially rot the nightcrawler can consume them. Because it cannot easily use residues incorporated into the soil it is not common in clean tilled soil.

Other earthworms live in the topsoil. They make horizontal burrows and consume organic matter that is found in the soil. They are less sensitive to tillage, although they don’t become more numerous in tilled soil. They fill their burrows with their casts, so their burrows are not permanent like those of nightcrawlers.

Finally, there are earthworm living in organic matter or manure, like the red worms. These worms don’t thrive in soil. Some live in thatch or in leaf litter in the forest. Examples of these are red worms used to make vermicompost.

Earthworms are hermaphrodites; this means they are both male and female. They will mate by lying next to each other. They will release a large amount of mucus around their bodies while lying in this position. Copulation can last for an hour. Nightcrawlers copulate at the surface of the soil but other earthworms copulate in the soil. After copulation, a hardened surface will form on the clitellum (the thickened part on the body of the earthworm, sometimes called ‘saddle’). A tube will separate from the clitellum and move over the head of the earthworm, picking up ova and sperm as it goes. After leaving the earthworm, the tube closes, forming a cocoon which contains from 1-20 fertilized eggs. Only a few (perhaps 3 or 4) will actually live to form young earthworms. Earthworms produce cocoons throughout the year when conditions are fit.

Here are some common earthworm species that can be found in our soils:

Green worm (Allolobophora chlorotica). A topsoil dwelling species typically 2 inches long, moving mostly in horizontal burrows and coming rarely to the surface. Earthworm that has a clitellum (saddle) with three pairs of ‘sucker like’ disks on its underside. Has a yellow ring towards the head and often curls up in the hand. Greenish yellow form prefers very wet conditions, while the pink form prefers drier conditions. Can produce large amounts of yellow fluid from pores along its body when disturbed.

Pink soil worm (Aporrectodea rosea). Topsoil dwelling earthworm, typically 1-2 inches long. Also called ‘rosy-tipped worm’, it has a rosy pink or pale head up to the male pores. Its clitellum is usually orange. It usually has two or more whitish raised pads before its male pores.

Southern or purple worm (Aporrectodea trapezoides). A fairly large topsoil dwelling species (3-6” long). It is dark greyish brown in color. It has large pale swollen male pores on segment 15.

Grey worm (Aporrectodea caliginosa). A 2-3 inch long, pale earthworm that is easy to identify due to the different shades of color along its body. It is a topsoil dweller, living in horizontal burrows in the topsoil that it fills with its casts.

Red worm (Lumbricus rubellus). Earthworm lives in organic matter, like manure pads. 1-5 inch long, dark red colored earthworm with orange clitellum. Widespread but usually of low abundance in the soil. It may flatten its tale in a paddle shape. This species is used for vermiculture (worm composting).

Nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris). A very common earthworm in no-till fields. It lives in 3-4 feet deep, permanent, vertical burrows, coming to the surface at night or during cloudy, rainy days, where it collects crop residue by pulling it into its burrow. It has a bright red head and a large orange clitellum. It has a

David Hula’s 5 Tips for High-Yielding Corn

In Charles City, Va., David Hula is proving no-till corn can compete just as well as conventional corn. The previous corn yield world record holder — which he achieved in the National Corn Grower’s Association’s 2013 corn yield contest with 454 bushels per acre — has been steadily hitting corn yields above 300 bushels for years.

At the 2015 National No-Tillage Conference last month, Hula shared some of his high-yielding corn secrets. Here’s a brief overview of what Hula calls his “Farmer’s Hand to Success.”

  1. Thumbs Up — Attitude

The first digit on the hand — a thumbs up — serves as a reminder for keeping a positive attitude, a success tip he heard from Iowa corn-yield record holder Francis Childs. While Hula didn’t agree with Childs’ thinking at the time, he’s now taken the message to mean be willing to change or try something new, and keep an open mind.

2. Index Finger — Things You Have Control Over

“This is the finger my mom pointed to me when I was doing something wrong,” Hula says. “It’s also the finger that you use to specifically point to what you either had control over and did correctly, or if you did something incorrectly.”

There are three areas no-tillers have control over, he says: soil, fertility and pest management.

3. Middle Finger — Mechanical

The middle finger represents the mechanical component to an operation, Hula says, adding that after the corn planter has gone through the field, a huge percent of that corn yield has been determined, “because you can’t fix any of those problems.”

“Make sure you get that even emergence, get some nutrients out there, and if you can get that picket-row fence stand, that’s even better,” Hula says.

4. Ring Finger — Relationship with Corn Variety

“Picking the right corn variety is like finding your spouse,” Hula says. “It is emotionally driven, and if done right can be rewarding. If done wrong, it can be very costly.”

He adds that once the planter leaves the field it can’t be fixed, so if a no-tiller picked the wrong hybrid, it’s over.

5. Pinky Finger — Management

It may be little, but it’s vital to success, Hula says.

“I’m task oriented. I develop a plan, I execute it the best I can and I’m going to adjust it — and then, at the end of the year, we evaluate it. We try to analyze the data as well as we can to improve for next year.”

Are you trying anything new with your no-tilled corn this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below or send me an email at  

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Help Protect Bee Colonies During Corn Planting

By Ohio State University Extension Beekeepers in Ohio benefitted from the generally mild winter of 2015-16. In Columbus we lost less than 20% of our colonies over winter. Spring is the only reliably good season for bees in Ohio. Colonies that survived the winter and new colonies brought up from the Gulf Coast or California are currently in the process of harvesting nectar and pollen from spring-blooming trees and weeds. Littl


Does More Corn = More Profit for 2015???

Acres allocated to crop enterprises can change for any number of reasons. Economics is a prevailing influence but dealing with weed and/or disease pressures, the installation of drainage tile, and disposing of manure...all are valid reasons a producer might vary the number of acres devoted to any single crop enterprise in any single year. Length of the growing season also has an impact on crop rotations. Large areas of southern Illinois can easily fit double crop soybeans i

U.S. Farmers Open Up Silos as Corn Hits `Magic' Price Levels

The best rally for corn prices in 10 months meant U.S. farmers were frantic to sell from the mountain of grain they’d been hoarding.

Growers have been stockpiling supplies following a string of bumper harvests, waiting patiently for a rebound in prices. Their hopes have finally been answered after dry weather threatened crops in Brazil, sending futures traded in Chicago to their highest in nine months. With more than 50 percent of U.S. corn stockpiles stashed on farms as of March, the unexpected price gains had resulted in “quite brisk” sales and deliveries, Bunge Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said in a telephone interview.

  “We had a couple of days of very strong farmer selling,” Juan Luciano, the CEO of Chicago-based Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., said on a call with analysts on Tuesday. 

When corn was trading near $3.50 a bushel in the beginning of April, the market was looking “bleak” and farmers held onto the old crop, said Joe Lardy, a research manager for farmer cooperative CHS Inc.’s hedging unit in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. By the middle of the month, prices had topped $4 for the first time since July, reaching the “magic” level that “triggered a lot of activity,” he said.

April Rally

Corn futures for July delivery were up 0.1 percent at $3.80 a bushel at 10:42 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. The most-active contract jumped 11 percent in April, the biggest gain since June. The pace of farmer selling was slower last week as prices declined, Lardy said.

While the sales will be welcome to traders who will be able to more fully utilize networks of elevators, terminals and other assets to get grain moved and delivered, the recent pickup probably isn’t enough to reverse the slump that hit the agriculture industry amid a rout for crop prices. Corn, wheat and soybean futures in Chicago have declined for three straight years because of excess global supplies.

ADM, which has 70 percent of its global long-term assets in the U.S., is “less optimistic” in 2016 about its agricultural-services segment, which buys, sells and stores commodities, Luciano said on the call Tuesday. The company reported weaker-than-expected earnings in the first quarter after its international trading desk booked a loss and as U.S. grain-export volumes shrank.


Farmers also have been “restrained” in their selling, hoping that prices will go even higher, Lardy of CHS said.

Ownership Change

While holdings of futures and options show that “there was a significant change of ownership from farmers to speculators during this rally,” activity in cash markets signal that growers still have more bushels to sell, said Doug Schultz, the chief operating officer of John Stewart & Associates in St. Joseph, Missouri.


Farmer Howard Haas, who serves as chairman of the board for the MaxYield Cooperative in Iowa, last month made his first sale since January after prices rose. Through the end of January, Haas had sold about 30 percent of his 2015 corn harvest and in the last two weeks of April he sold another 50 percent to be delivered over the next few months, he said. Still, he hasn’t contracted any of the corn crop he’ll harvest later this year.

“I was expecting it to get better sometime but you just never know when, and if it’s going to happen,” Algona, Iowa-ba