Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crop Updates from Iowa Corn Leaders - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roger Zylstra of Lynnville, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), is planting corn today and may have about one-quarter of his corn acres planted by the end of the day. He, along with many farmers in his area, started planting on Saturday. He had 3.5 inches of rain a week ago, but that precipitation settled through the soils quickly and the fields are in good condition for planting.

Carl Jardon of Randolph received rain on Sunday evening which kept him out of the fields on Monday. He hopes to plant more corn acres before more rain or storms arrive later this week. He planted about 50 acres of corn on Saturday. In areas south of him, more corn acres have been planted. Jardon would estimate about 10 percent of the corn acres in Fremont County have been planted. He planted sweet corn last Thursday, but it was still a little wet. 

Bob Bowman of DeWitt in Clinton County, president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), says some spotty showers on Monday prevented them from working in the fields. He and his son are still preparing their tillage strips. He hopes to be ready to plant corn in a few days. A few neighbors who use conventional tillage are planting corn. It was around 40 degrees this morning. Bowman would like some warmer temperatures and says a warm rain would be even better. 

Nick Leibold of New Hampton had about two inches of rain over the weekend. On Saturday, a few farmers in his area were applying anhydrous and some were sowing oats but there hasn’t been any corn planted. Leibold had a tiling contractor putting in tile this past Saturday and there was still frost in the ground. The soils are still cold and many farmers are anxiously awaiting for the soils temperatures to warm up. 

Soil temperatures are finally above 50 degrees across Iowa.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Response to AP Story on Corn Stover

Background: On Monday, April 21st, the Associated Press published a story on a new study in Nature Climate Change by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The AP reporter working on the article was Dina Capiello, who wrote the damaging piece on corn ethanol last November. The Nature paper makes the claim that ethanol from corn stover may be worse than gasoline in terms of overall GHG impacts; they argue this is due to soil organic carbon (SOC) losses. The authors, including Adam Liska, suggest SOC losses have been grossly underestimated or absent from previous lifecycle studies on corn stover.
  • Whether stover is harvested or left in the field to decompose, the end result is about the same – much of the organic matter leaves the field and does not get incorporated into soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil organic matter (SOM).
  • Tillage  mixes soil, moisture and oxygen to decompose the stover – essentially to burn it up through oxidation and release it as CO2.  Only a small percent of the above ground corn stover actually converts to organic matter.
  • There are a large number of factors affecting soil organic carbon status of soils and stover removal is just one of them.  Other factors include rotation, weather, soil type, tillage, cover crops, manure application and fertilization.
  • Residue in a no-till system decays and decomposes on the surface, albeit slower than when tilled under.  However, the main advantage of no-till is erosion control.
  • Much of the soil organic carbon and soil organic matter in the soil actually results from the roots.  Stover harvest has no impact on root organic matter and therefore has little impact on SOC. 
  • Even if all of the carbon in stover is removed, that is all recycled carbon acquired from the atmosphere during the previous growing season.  It is not new carbon being added to the atmosphere. Gasoline is 100% ancient carbon that represents additional carbon being added to the atmosphere. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Get to know Roger Zylstra, ICGA President

I’m Roger Zylstra, the current the president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA).

I have been farming for nearly 40 years growing corn, soybeans and finishing hogs in Jasper County. My wife, Carolyn and I have three children. Our son, Wesley, farms with us.  We use no-till and other conservation farming practices. We use the manure from our livestock for nutrients in growing our crops.

I enjoy the challenges of working outdoors, growing food and fiber. I recognize that there will always be opportunities and challenges in farming. Today farmers work very hard to conserve the land to grow a healthy crop year after year. Also, many farmers, like myself, take great pride in conserving the land for future generations.

I am a graduate of the Iowa Corn I-LEAD program, and I have been involved with ICGA for several years I-LEAD is a resource for talented people who want to contribute to a better future for Iowa’s communities and the long-term profitability of agriculture in Iowa, and is charged with the task of developing stronger leaders for Iowa agriculture. I represent Crop Reporting District 5. I have served on the Iowa Corn Animal Ag and Environment committee because of my involvement in raising livestock and understand how important the livestock industry is to Iowa corn growers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My experience at the Engage training event

I’ve always wondered how other people in the agriculture industry go about answering some of the questions that are received from the general public. Personally, I have had some experience with people asking me questions such as, “Why do farmers use GMOs don’t they know how bad they are?” Most of the time, my initial reaction has been to strike out and tell them that they are misinformed but it wasn’t until I attended the Engage Training Event that I realized I hadn’t been solving anything.  In fact, by instantly thinking of it as offensive statement, I had probably missed an opportunity to actually talk to consumers and allow them to see my prospective.
Student at the Engage training event

When I first walked into the Engage training event, I instantly felt as though I was in a professional yet very welcoming setting. There was a presentation on the board and the speaker began to go through some of the discrepancies that come about in the agriculture world. She mentioned how people often say that, “GMO’s are bad,” or that they, “can only eat organic food.” She continued by talking about how we very seldom ever ask them why they think this we just become upset instead. We were then given scenarios where we had the opportunity to try this solution out on our own. Rather than lashing back, we worked to talk with the consumer and ask them why they felt a certain way or what made them think a certain thing. By the end of the speaking experience, I felt much better able to handle these types of situations. It was nice to have a professional talking us through and helping us not to get offensive but to sincerely engage in a conversation and inform our consumers

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crop Updates from Iowa Corn Leaders – Wed., April 16, 2014

Bob Bowman of DeWitt in Clinton County is president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB). He and his son are no-till and strip-till farmers. They just started doing the strip tillage work last week and have another week of work to do on the strips. They usually wait 3 to 5 days or even a week later before they plant after completing the strips.  So, they are a ways off from planting. He says their ground temperature is still around 40 degrees.  Many other farmers in his area did some tillage work last week and a lot of anhydrous was applied. Rain in his area varied from one inch and half to a couple of inches or more just a few miles from him.

In northeast Iowa, Nick Leibold of New Hampton, an ICPB director, says there still hasn’t been much fieldwork in his part of the state. There were a few farmers who sowed oats last week. No one has applied any anhydrous in his area. Leibold spoke to his tiling contractor who said he the first couple feet of soils is thawed but beyond that it is still has not thawed out. He doesn’t expect he will be able to tile for some time. Leibold had golf ball size hail in a storm on Saturday night. He received two inches of rain and an inch or two of snow but most of it has melted.

Roger Zylstra of Lynnville is president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). In the past week he and his son have been repairing waterways and gullies in the fields that had some damage from heavy rains last year. They also applied some urea on some of their fields that are in a corn-on-corn rotation.  In his area, a lot of anhydrous was applied last week and just a few acres were planted to corn.  They had 3.5 inches of rain over the weekend. That is the most rain they have has since May of 2013 when they experienced field flooding. He says they were extremely dry and there was still frost on the ground last week. So, the rain was needed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Iowa DOT Educates Farmers

Attendees at the DOT Training in Atlantic
In late February, Iowa DOT Training Officer joined 40 farmers in an event held in Atlantic, Iowa. The Iowa Department of Transportation's (DOT) Office, strives to reduce injuries and fatalities by allowing safe and efficient movement of agricultural products, machinery and supplies. The Farmer Safety Initiative aids in this effort by conducting community outreach sessions and answering questions received from farmers. The DOT training that occurred in February allowed farmers to ask questions about medical care, hands free phone usage and license classification.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A serving of meat a day keeps the doctor away

What does mental health and eating meat have in common? According to the Medical University Graz, Austria, it’s quite a bit.

A recently published study found that research subjects who regularly went with the meat option were overall healthier than their vegetarian peers – and happier.

The cross-sectional study observed subjects demographics, lifestyles and dietary habits from an Austrian Health Interview Survey.

“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment,” says researchers.