KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Crop development in Iowa a week to a week-and-a-half ahead of normal

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

September 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

More than 80 percent of the state’s corn and soybean fields were rated in “good” or “excellent” condition at the start of this week and one weather experts says the 2016 growing season “has turned out pretty well” for Iowa farmers. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says crop development is about a week to a week-and-a-half ahead of normal. “Things for the most part got planted on a timely basis, with exceptions in far western Iowa that had a pretty mid-April and early May, but otherwise in much of the state things got planted on time. It’s been a relatively warm growing season, so things that did get planted on time have been progressing along very well.”

Yield prospects are “looking quite good” for most of the state, according to Hillaker. “A few places still a bit on the dry side, but nothing really super dry at this point,” Hillaker says. “Certainly northwest Iowa could use some rain, although it’s getting late enough in the growing season that it may still, perhaps, help out the soybean, but probably too late to have any benefit for the corn crop in that part of the state.”

A small area stretching from Onawa to just northwest of Sac City got NO rainfall at all last week, while nearly nine inches fell near Decorah. About nine-tenths of an inch is the normal amount of rainfall in Iowa for the final week of August.

(Radio Iowa)

New coalition forms to support sustainable farming & clean water


September 2nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Conservation groups are forming a partnership with food and agriculture businesses to push for more sustainable farming and cleaner water in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska. The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative includes diverse members like The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund as well as Pepsi and Walmart. Jill Kolling, director of sustainability at Cargill, says they plan to raise four-million dollars over the next five years to fund on-farm conservation programs.

Kolling says, “In these states, we’ll be working to optimize soil health practices and outcomes, reduce nutrient runoff into the rivers and streams of the Mississippi River Basin, maximize water conservation to reduce pressure on the Ogallala aquifer and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other members of the group include the World Wildlife Fund, Monsanto, Kellogg and General Mills. Kolling says in addition to fundraising, the collaborative will collate conservation research so farmers can easily review results. Larry Clemens, with The Nature Conservancy, says aligning with agriculture across a vast landscape is a way to ensure food production goals are met while maintaining a commitment to land, water and wildlife resources.

Clemens says, “The Nature Conservancy is eager to help the collaborative leverage our expertise to accelerate solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face in this region, such as improving water quality across the Midwest and addressing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The collaboratives’ initial efforts will support the Soil Health Partnership, a farmer-led conservation program of the National Corn Growers Association.

(Radio Iowa)

Nearly all camping areas open in state parks for Labor Day weekend

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Despite recent rains, nearly all the facilities in state parks and recreation areas in Iowa are open for the Labor Day weekend. All 101 camping sites with electrical hook-ups are claimed already at Rock Creek State Park, about six miles northwest of Grinnell.  The park’s lake has 15 miles of shoreline and a beach for swimmers. Boats are allowed on the lake, but there’s a “no wake” rule. It means a boat is to go no more than five miles an hour.

Last week nine inches of rain fell at the Yellow River State Forest near Harpers Ferry. Three of the four camping areas within the park will reopen today (Friday) for Labor Day Weekend camping. There was brief flooding at George Wyth State Park near Waterloo last week, but the campground there is open.

In central Iowa, the Ledges State Park near Boone is open to campers, but Canyon Drive in the park is closed to vehicle traffic due to high water. Hikers are allowed in the canyon, but they’re advised to stay out of the water. Horseback riding trails in two state parks and two state forests are closed and won’t reopen until the trails have dried out and flood repairs are made.

(Radio Iowa)

Ag economy is faltering but Sen. Ernst says no to opening Farm Bill for revisions


September 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

This is the third and final day (Thursday) of the Farm Progress Show near Boone which has drawn big crowds of on-lookers, but far fewer buyers. Iowa U-S Senator Joni Ernst was at the show this week and says she’s concerned about the faltering farm economy and the impact on Iowa’s farm families.  “Our corn has been below $3 for about a month now, so that is really tough,” Ernst says. “They don’t want to overextend themselves. So, when they’re out here looking at the wonderful, advanced technology, they have to step back a little bit. We want to know that our future is strong before they’re engaging anymore.”

Due to the downturn in the ag economy over the past few years, some members of Congress are discussing the possibility of rewriting the Farm Bill next year, but Ernst is hesitant. “We know that once we open the Farm Bill, anything goes and I tend to believe that would be more harmful to our farmers than beneficial,” Ernst says. “We’ll have to sort through that. We’ll talk with other members and see what they think but I want to protect where we are right now.”

While many farmers are struggling with lower incomes, falling commodity prices and steady input costs, Ernst does not think it’s wise to seek remedies by changing the Farm Bill. “Production is really hurting, the prices are hurting, so we’ll see where we go but I’d tend to push back against that,” Ernst says. “I don’t think we should be opening the Farm Bill. I’d like to hear specifically where they think it’s not effective.”

Farm Bills typically remain in place for five years. The latest one, the Agricultural Act of 2014, authorizes nutrition and agriculture programs across the U-S for the years of 2014 through 2018.

(Radio Iowa)

Dove hunting season opens today in Iowa


September 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The sixth dove hunting season opens today (Thursday) across Iowa. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz expects hunters to find a lot of targets. “We don’t count doves on our roadside surveys, they are usually counted by the Fish and Wildlife Service through some of their surveys,” Bogenschutz says. “But anecdotally from our staff doing the roadside surveys — it seems doves are pretty abundant this year along the roadsides — so we are expecting our dove opener to be a pretty productive one providing we had good weather.”

Bogenschutz says the best approach is to scout out your hunting area before you go. He says there are a lot of managed dove plots on public and they have a list of them on their website. Doves like small grains, which are not that plentiful in Iowa, but he says the season has developed. “It is challenging to find places to hunt. But we have been running about 12-thousand hunters and they’ve been harvesting about 100 to 150-thousand doves. I think that’s pretty respectable numbers if you look at surrounding states,” according to Bogenschutz. “Will it continue to grow in future years? I think we will have to wait and see.”

Doves offer a new challenge to hunters who’ve been used to shooting pheasants, as Bogenschutz says they are without a doubt the toughest to hit. He says doves are talented at flying, while pheasants, quail and partridge are more straight line flyers. Other hunting tips from the D-N-R say the best times to hunt doves are morning and evenings when the birds are most active.

The dove season runs through November 9th, with shooting hours set at one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. There’s a daily limit of 15 and a possession limit of 45.

(Radio Iowa)

30 arrested in Boone protest over oil pipeline

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Thirty protesters in Boone who tried to block access to construction equipment for the Bakken oil pipeline were arrested Wednesday afternoon. More than one-hundred other activists gathered to witness the arrests and show their support. Adam Mason of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was a protest organizer. “The fact that there’s folks here from Canada, from New York, from Nebraska shows that pipelines like this impact not just us here in Iowa, not just the folks in North Dakota. This has global implications,” Mason says. “Folks realize that and across the country are standing up to say: ‘No more pipelines.'”

Carolyn Raffensperger, of Ames, provided free legal advice to the protesters who were arrested. “My commitment as a lawyer is to defend the right of future generations to inherit clean drinking water, a healthy climate, clean soils,” Raffensperger says. Raffensperger just returned from North Dakota, where protesters have joined members of the Standing Rock Sioux to try to block construction of the pipeline on tribal lands.

Frank Cordaro, a peace activist from Des Moines, conducted a training session for the IOWA protesters Wednesday morning in nearby Pilot Mound. “We’ll say a lot of words, but what’s really going on here is it’s a gut thing for these folks here to say: ‘We know how to step up our game,'” Cordaro says. Cordaro has been arrested many times for civil disobedience at federal facilities and he’s been sentenced to serve several months in prison on at least eight different occasions.

The protesters arrested Wednesday in Boone are being charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa companies create Ag Accelerator


August 31st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Four Iowa companies with a stake in agriculture are the first investors in a new startup business accelerator designed to develop innovative ag technologies. DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere and Peoples Company will each give 100-thousand dollars to get the initiative started. Farmers Mutual vice president, Scott McEntee, sees it as an investment in economic development.

“We feel that bringing ag-related technology not only benefits the companies that are currently in the state, but the state’s economic and cultural growth,” McEntee says. Deere and Company director of information solutions, Lane Arthur, sees it as an investment in innovation.

“The ag tech accelerator for us, it really advances something that is paramount for John Deere and that is how do we increase adoption of precision ag both here in Iowa and around the world,” Arthur says. The first class of six startups will begin in 2017. It’s modeled after the Global Insurance Accelerator, which has graduated two classes of six startup companies each since 2014. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor in Central Iowa are behind the efforts.

(Radio Iowa)

Bow hunting permits available for deer hunting in Atlantic

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

August 31st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department reports permit applications are currently being accepted for bow hunting within the City limits (in accordance with the City’s Urban Deer Control Ordinance). The permit will allow hunters to harvest antlerless deer. Once you have reported the harvest to the Atlantic Police Department, you’ll be allowed to harvest a Buck. Applications may be picked up at the Police Department from 8-a.m. to 4-p.m., Monday through Friday.

Bow hunters that qualified last year with the Police Department do not need to do so this year, but you still need to pick up a permit application and have it filled out. New hunters will need to contact the A-PD and set up a time with Lt. Dave Erickson, for you to qualify.

Land owners who would like to allow a bow hunter to hunt on their land, should contact the Police Dept. at 712-243-3512 during business hours, and sign-up.

Justice Department Sues to Block Deere’s Acquisition of Precision Planting


August 31st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today (Wednesday), seeking to block Deere & Company’s proposed acquisition of Precision Planting LLC from Monsanto Company in order to preserve competition in the market for high-speed precision planting systems in the United States.

The Antitrust Division’s lawsuit alleges that the transaction would combine the only two significant U.S. providers of high-speed precision planting systems – technology that is designed to allow farmers to plant crops accurately at higher speeds.  The acquisition would deny farmers throughout the country the benefits of competition that has spurred innovation, improved quality and lowered prices.  The department filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

“High-speed precision planting technology holds out the promise of improved yields for American farmers by enabling them to plant crops more accurately at higher speeds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Precision Planting has been a key innovator in high-speed precision planting and Deere’s only significant competitor in developing and selling these technologies.  If this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems.”

High-speed precision planting is an innovative technology that enables farmers to plant corn, soybeans and other row crops at up to twice the speed of a conventional planter without sacrificing accuracy.  Planting at higher speeds can be highly valuable to farmers, many of whom have a limited window each year to plant their crops to achieve the highest crop yields.  As a result, Deere and Precision Planting view high-speed precision planting as “revolutionary technology” that represents a “True Gamechanger for Agriculture” and expect it to become the industry standard in the coming years.

According to the department’s complaint, Deere and Precision Planting are the only two effective competitors in high-speed precision planting, conservatively accounting for at least 86 percent of the market.  Deere and Precision Planting both introduced their respective high-speed planting systems in 2014, after years of research and development.  The complaint details how the intense head-to-head competition between Deere and Precision Planting since that time has directly benefitted farmers through aggressive discounts and promotions, lower prices and innovative product offerings.   The complaint alleges that Deere’s proposed acquisition of the company it has described as its “number one competitor” would allow it to control nearly every method through which American farmers can acquire effective high-speed precision planting systems and provide it with the ability to set prices, output, quality and product features without the constraints of market competition.

Deere & Company, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Moline, Illinois, is the largest manufacturer of planting equipment in the United States, including its ExactEmerge high-speed precision planting system.  In 2015, Deere’s U.S. sales for planter-related equipment were approximately $900 million.

Precision Planting LLC is a Delaware limited liability company headquartered in Tremont, Illinois.  It is a leading innovator in planting equipment, including its SpeedTube high-speed precision planting system.  In 2015, Precision Planting’s U.S. sales for planter-related equipment were approximately $100 million.

Monsanto Company is a Delaware corporation headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.  Monsanto is a leading global provider of agricultural products and is the ultimate parent company of Precision Planting LLC.

(US-DOJ News Release)

Women, Land & Legacy and Soil Health Partnership to Host Event on September 13

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 31st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

(Malvern, Iowa) – Local women landowners and farmers wanting to learn more about ways to improve the health of their soil can attend a workshop on September 13th at 6:00 p.m. in Malvern. The event, co-hosted by Soil Health Partnership and Women, Land & Legacy of Southwest Iowa will focus on the basics of soil science, soil health resources and land management discussion.  This is one of at least nine field days planned by The Partnership throughout the state through September.

Elyssa McFarland, Soil Health Partnership field manager for Iowa, says “Iowa has some of the richest, most productive farmland in the world. By understanding the basics of soil properties and soil health we can gain a better understanding of implementing new practices to prevent nutrient loss and erosion and improve soil structure.”

The soil health workshop will take place at Classic Cafe, located at 317 Main Street in Malvern.  Dinner will be provided by Soil Health Partnership and is limited to the first 25 registrants.  This event is open to anyone, with pre-registration required by Friday, September 9th at 4:30 p.m.  To register, call Iowa State University Extension & Outreach-Mills County at (712) 527-3316, Fremont County at (712) 374-2351, or Montgomery County at (712) 623-2592.  Special accommodations may be requested by contacting these offices.

WLL events are sponsored through a partnership of Fremont, Mills and Montgomery counties Farm Service Agency, Soil and Water Conservation District, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, and Women, Land & Legacy of Southwest Iowa.  Women, Land & Legacy is committed to offering learning opportunities for rural women in areas such as business, management, agriculture and family.

About the Soil Health Partnership:
An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies and well-known environmental groups toward common goals. The Partnership is in its third year with 65 partner farms across eight Midwestern states.

The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. We believe the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, we provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations. For more, visit soilhealthpartnership.org.