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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wet soybean harvest in Brazil.

By Eduardo Paim:

Good Evening Friends! This week started with a lot of work here, I'll tell you a little bit.
Look at the photo that shows the river is on the street.  This river water increased by about 5 meters in 5 days.
The soybean harvest in Mato Grosso here and every other state in Brazil are slow with too much rain.  We are not able to harvest! Soybeans that have not been harvested and are sprouting in the plant.  We have soy that is rotting in the fields before being harvested, some producers have reported that some areas will not be harvested because because soybeans rotted! We had 5 days of rain throughout the Mato Grosso, and today we saw the sun go down, but now it began to rain in the evening (9:00 pm). The forecast is for a further 10 days of nonstop rain, is worrisome friend!

The producers are deciding to harvest soy with up to 40% humidity so they don't rot on the plant. The next 15 or 20 days because we have to follow will be very important for Mato Grosso! It has a lot of soy that is ready to harvest and the rains do not stop!

We were 20 or 30 days without rain in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and in Argentina (country alongside Brazil), and have had little rain this week, we are still worried!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cover Crops Conference

Sorry for missing a chance to post yesterday.  I was attending conference on cover crops in Decatur, Illinois.  The program was one of the best conferences of any kind that I have ever attended.  There was a good blend of programs from the "experts" in government and academia to the real experts, the farmers who were actually using cover crops.  Over all the take home message was that cover crops can improve our soils by helping to feed the microbes that help to make plant nutrients available for crop production.  One of my tweeps said that he dreamed about fungus last night.  The farmer participants were unanimous that cover crops enhance their bottom line.  Most of them stressed that their way of implementing soil management with cover crops was not the only way.  Producers need to make the transition based on their own skills, farm tools and land.  Watch for more specific insights later this week. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bio-solids help maintain P levels

No-till Farmer recently posted this story that says Studies Show Bio-solids Can Boost Soil Phosphorus Levels For Years. This is not a big surprise to me.  We have hog farmer customers who are in a similar situation.  Human Bio-solids and hog manure are similar in nutrient content.  The article offers no explanation as to why the bio-solids help maintain higher phosphorus (P) levels in the soil.  While I am just speculating, I suspect that the difference is microbes.  I think the organic matter added by the bio-solids and manure supports microbes that release P into the soil over the long term.  We know that the soil contains P that is locked into silt particles that is unavailable to plants.  I suspect the microbes work on the silt particles to release some of that P over time. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Soil Health

The cover story on my just arrived Crops and Soils magazine is "Soil Health".  I was interested because we assist with soil health.  The article starts out talking about the fact that in the past, soil health was most often related to soil fertility.  I would venture that a good balance of plant nutrients is still needed to maintain a healthy soil from the standpoint of crop production.  Maybe a bit of a definition is in order.  Susan Andrews of NRCS says in the article that soil health is the capacity to soil to do what it was intended to do.  She says that in the case of crop production, productivity, nutrient cycling to prevent nitrogen leaching, holding water for plant use, filtering contaminants, and resisting erosion.

I would contend that all of the listed functions start with soil fertility.  We cannot maximize productivity without maintaining proper fertility.  We need to have healthy crops to take up the nitrogen fertilizer we use.  Good plant root systems create macro pores that move and store water in the soil.  Healthy soil has healthy microbial populations that help break down contaminants, and healthy soil has good tilth which increases water infiltration and reduces soil erosion.

I tell my customers that in the realm of simple soil testing, the best indicator that you are maintaining healthy soil besides the nutrient levels is the organic matter content.  Organic matter test levels can vary a bit from year to year because of randomness, but over time we hope to maintain organic matter levels.  We maintain organic matter in two ways.  First we need to produce a lot of plant material so that as it decomposes, it replaces organic matter that has oxidized during the growing season.  In addition, we want to prevent excessive soil erosion.

Erosion prevention is pretty simple too.  Avoid burying more residue than necessary and avoid unnecessary tillage trips.  No-till is the most effective in reducing soil loss, but judicious tillage can be a useful soil management tool on less sloping soils.

Healthy soils tend to support aerobic microbes.  Drainage practices can help remove excess water and promote healthy microbes.  Proper soil pH can also support healthy microbes.  Avoiding field operations on wet soils avoids compaction.  Compaction reduces the air content in soils, reduces water movement in soils, reduces water holding capacity, and makes root penetration more difficult.

In the East and Midwest, cover crops are enjoying a surge of popularity.  Why?  Cover crops help with the issues that Ms. Andrews pointed out.  Cover crops can help with uptake of excess nitrogen and making that nitrogen available for future crops.  Cover crops open more pores improving uptake and transport of water.  More water entering the soil is less water to create erosion.  Cover crops can also help the soil recover from the effects of compaction and in some cases will even help prevent compaction.  All of the positive effects of cover crops generally translate into more productivity.  In arid and semiarid regions, cover crops may not be helpful because of water conservation issues.

Having healthy soils is not impossible even with high levels of productivity, but NRCS's Norm Widman cautions in Crops and Soils that "you can screw it up fast, but it takes a long time to fix it."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Passing of the seasons 2013

My 2013 passing of the seasons site is going to be Glen Shoals Lake in Hillsboro, Illinois.  Yes the lake is within the boundaries of the City of Hillsboro.  It was constructed as you can see below as a water supply and Flood Control Reservoir and it works well in both functions.  As you can see from the view of the Marina, it is also well used for recreational purposes.  Fishing and Boating are both very popular.  In addition, there is some residential development around the lake although lake access for residents is across city property that residents lease from the city.  The agricultural connection is that the lake was built under the USDA's Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act abbreviated PL-566.  Construction was completed in 1978.  The lake is a huge asset to the community and benfits have far exceeded the break-even point that such projects require.  The lake currently supplies water for the City of Hillsboro, Village of Coffeen, Graham Correctional Center, and some of the rural water customers in Montgomery County.  The scene could not look more wintery unless we had snow.  The lake is frozen over, the grass is dormant and the leaves are off the trees.  

Friday, January 25, 2013


Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) of shale is expected to be a hot topic in Illinois in the near future.  As energy companies gear up to start extracting natural gas from Illinois shale, environmental groups and farm related groups are looking to protect the environment and agricultural interests from possible damages related to energy production.  The December issue of National Geographic has a good article on natural gas and fracking.  Check out the link to get some background on the issue. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Customer Appreciation Day

We attended a customer appreciation day for Saale Farm and Grain from West Alton Mo today.  They invite all their suppliers to have displays and answer questions.  It is always a pleasant day greeting old customers and talking to potential new customers. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brazil Harvest still slow.

By Eduardo Paim :

Hello! I do not have much news here; we have a lot of rain and harvesting is stopped! Producers who dried out for soybean harvest and planting corn early (winter corn planted after soybean) will soon have problems because in a few days if they can not harvest soybeans they begin to rot on the plant, but there's no telling if this will happen! In a city in northern Mato Grosso, some producers began harvesting Etam, harvesting 18 bags per hectare and the best were 38 bags per hectare. The total area of ​​Brasil harvesteded to date is 1.5%, but if it was not rain every day could have harvested 4% or 5%. Certainly we have some kind of reduction in soybean production, but you can not tell the size yet. I'd say right now we will certainly decrease between 8% and 10%, can worsen if it continues raining constantly this time of harvest!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Certified Livestock Manager

I took and passed my Certified Livestock Manager Test.  People who manage livestock facilities with over 1000 animal units need to pass the test every three years in order to legally manage their farm.   The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  This is the third time I have been certified. 

Presentations today often related to livestock management, but were not necessarily covering materials that were on the test.  One of the interesting statistics presented is that it looks like we have only enough mineral resources to manufacture phosphorous fertilizer for maybe 100 years. The implication is that poultry and swine growers who traditionally have too  much phosphorous may have a market for manure that is currently a disposal issue.  We do need to learn how to reduce the bulk of the manure in some way.

We also reviewed fertilizer removal rates, odor control, and record keeping requirements.  Illinois department of Agriculture reviewed facilities permit processing and setback requirements.  Those who sit through the class but do not take the test are certified for farms with less than 1000 animal units.  Those of us who passed the test are qualified for any size operation. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stan the Man

Sorry I am off topic today, but I cannot pass up paying respects to the greatest Cardinal ever.  I barely remember Stan Musial's playing days but as a Cardinal fan, I understand what a great baseball player he was.  This was in yesterday's St. Louis Post Dispatch"More than 20,000 men have played in the major leagues and only four have finished in the top 20 for home runs, RBI's and batting average - Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Stan Musial.  Only 3 men have accumulated 6000 total bases - Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Stan Musial.  Only one man has made both lists - Stan Musial."  That is the measure of his athletic abilities.  Check out the link above for more information on Stan's life and career. 

The most striking thing about Stan's life and his passing is that I have never heard a cross word spoken about him except maybe by players from opposing teams.  He remained in the public eye from the time he broke in with the Cardinals until his passing almost 72 years later.  There was never a time in St. Louis when anyone asked, "what is Stan doing these days."  Everyone knew.  He was out in the public meeting his fans.  He was visiting people who needed a lift.  He attended sporting events and fund raisers.  And yes he had a steady business selling autographs and memorabilia as Stan the Man, Inc.  Stan was the first player to top the $100,000 mark, and wise investments and a brisk restaurant business left him in a good position financially, but he missed out on the obscene sums that current stars get.

Bernie Miklasz has written a great tribute to Stan Musial.  Stan seems to be as beloved by current fans as he is by those who played with him or saw him play.  That is a tribute to the way he lived his life and the way he treated people.  Even if you never met him, a Cardinal Fan felt like he knew Stan. Hearing and reading all of the Stan Musial tributes is an inspiration to emulate his demeanor and his generosity.  There was more to Stan Musial that the old guy who rode around the Busch Stadium in a golf cart on opening day. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Something Not Just Anyone Gets to Do:

By Randy Darr, President, Soil-Right Consulting Services, Inc.
     In our travels in the consulting business we encounter some really interesting opportunities.  This past season at Soil-Right we were involved with a research project with the University of Illinois-Chicago that involved us as ground truth coordinators in an aerial imagery project.  Aerial imagery is the practice of taking aerial pictures in infrared to discover the healthfulness of the corn crop.  We were the ones that went to pre-selected fields to verify what the satellite was telling us.
     With the infrared imagery we can tell by the colors as to how healthy a crop looks.  For example, dark green is very healthy, lighter greens to yellow is less healthy and red is bad.  In this project the aerial imagery is taken by satellite every couple of weeks through the growing season.  The information we obtained was then given to cooperating users of corn.  Cooperators last year happened to be ethanol plants in northern Illinois and Iowa.
On January 17, I had the fortune of speaking at the Chicago Board Options Exchange showing the program to grain buyers and traders at the Chicago Board of Trade.  We received a very good reception, and look to have more cooperators for the coming season.  Below is a picture of me speaking at the meeting.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chicago Options Exchange

Silent Saturday Courtesy of Randy Darr
Chicago Options Exchange.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Did we learn anything useful in 2012

We had an epic drought in 2012, so did we learn anything we can use in 2013 and beyond?  I guess the biggest thing may be that corn can be planted too early.  In our area, some corn was planted in Mid-March.  It withstood cold weather and frost, but it appeared to be damaged more than we thought.  Yields of Mid-March corn were disappointing even though they appeared to be planted early enough to at least get a jumpstart on the hot dry weather.  Corn planted the last week in March appeared to work much better.  Extremely early planted soybeans also did not fare well.  Later soybeans waited for rains and did ok to extremely well.  My take away is that it is possible to plant too early.  I still think that if soil conditions and temperatures are favorable, the last few days of March are not too early to start planting corn.  I am not sure I have ever seen a big advantage to planting soybeans in April. 

This article on Planning for 2013  by Dave Nanda pretty much says that radical adjustments are probably not needed in 2013. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Soil And Water Conservation Districts

Tonight I am off to Montgomery County Soil and water Conservation District annual meeting.  Many people do not know that soil and water conservation districts are a local unit of government authorized by states in which they are located.  In Illinois, most of the Districts have boundaries that correspond with county boundaries.  They generally have little or no taxing authority.  Most of their funding comes from the state.

Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District has been around since 1941.  IT is one of the oldest in Illinois.  Their function is to support and promote soil and water conservation work within their boundaries,  In Illinois, districts also administer some state cost sharing funds that go to farmers to help with installing conservation practices.  They also act as an advisory board for local offices of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.  The annual meeting is a chance for the district to hear reports on conservation activities within the county.  My job tonight is to report on the activities of on of the district's committees I serve on.  I am member of the Natural Areas Guardians. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taking Down An Old Corn Crib

I help my brother take down an old corn crib today.  He is building grain bin on the spot.  My dad bought the crib from a neighbor around 1965.  It was used to store ear corn until around 1975. Dad quit picking ear corn then because we were off to college and there was no one to unload.  He then  lined it with some heavy sheet metal and used it to store dry grain for a number of years.  Filling worked OK and except for minor damage at the base, it stored dry grain well.  Getting the grain out was no fun.

We used the oldest tractor on the farm, a 1937 Model A John Deere.  It starts by pulling on the flywheel.  We thought the loader would be handy to push it over.  It all worked fine and we got it laying on its side and neither of us or the equipment was messed up.  That is success.  The photo of the crib laying in the field had too much glare.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Soybean Harvest Progress in Brazil

By Eduard Paim:

In Campo Verde in the state of Mato Grosso (bristle Rodnon├│polis 140 km) soybean harvest is paralyzed since Friday (01/11/2013); we are having rains day and night throughout the state of Mato Grosso. The average yield is 50 bags / hectare, in December it was very dry and damaged grain filling, the producers hoped for more! If it continues, raining too can reduce production per hectare as soybean is ready to harvest and the rain does not let the machines spoon. The poor harvest is not , only due to higher rainfall now but the earlier rainfall we much missed.

Planting of double cropping cotton and corn is also stopped in Campo Verde with excessive rainfall. Areas under cotton will be reduced up to 33% this year because of competition with corn that had good prices.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time to Burn

Many farms and ranches have a need or desire to manage grasslands or timberlands with fire.  The advantages of fire management are that fire can help suppress undesirable species and stimulate desirable species.  Controlled fires and also prevent uncontrolled fires by removing fuel from an area.  The problem with burning is safety.  This blog is not meant as a comprehensive burn class, but just a reminder of things to think about before you  light the match.

The best time to burn is when conditions are good to have a fire.  Dry weather and proper wind conditions are essential.  Some wind can be useful especially when burning timber. The fire needs air. Prairie fires tend to create their own wind so wind may not be essential to burn filter strips or prairies with native vegetation.  Humidity also should be neither too high or too low.  Low humidity increases the chance of a wildfire.
  • Schedule your burn when the weather forecast is favorable
  • Tell your neighbors that you are burning
  • Tell the fire department you are burning
  • Have plenty of help.
  • Equipment need not be elaborate but have appropriate equipment.  Things I have found to be useful are:  A 4-wheeler, a small sprayer filled with water, a backpack sprayer, a leaf blower, flappers, a drip torch, and shovels.  
  • It may be useful to have some tillage equipment to confine the fire
  • Make sure firebreaks have been mowed and  cleaned off
  • Make sure everyone has appropriate clothing.  Natural fibers are best.  
  • Have a plan.  
  • Review your plan with your help.  Make sure everyone knows what is expected
  • Discuss escape routes
  • Have a phone to call the fire department if something goes wrong
  • Have drinking water for workers
  • Have a post burn review.  Your helpers may have seen something that you did not
  • In order to minimize impacts to wildlife you may want to burn half or less of your management area in a given year.  
  • Burn before April 1 in Mid-Illinois to avoid impacting nesting birds.  
  • Get some training or do a lot of reading before you manage a burn.  
This list is not meant to be comprehensive.  It is just a reminder to be careful out there. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Maximizing the Potential of Biotech Traits

I think I may have mentioned that I get behind on my reading during the growing season and sampling season.  I outdid myself this time.  I ran across my June 2011 issue of CSA News.  As luck would have it, that issue is as relevant today as it was nearly 2 years ago.  The cover title is " The role of Agronomists in Maximizing the Potential of Biotech Traits.  The cover story talks about the need for producers to integrate all that goes into producing a crop

Justus Von Liebig promoted the concept that crops can only respond to the level allowed by the least available nutrient, called the law of minimum.  This idea is a simplification as this article talks about, but the barrel illustration is famous and effective in making the point.  I did not find that idea specifically, but the article brought it to mind, because it talks about the need for producers to integrate all crop production factors in order to maximize the yield potential for our land.

We start with soil health as the basis for our work.   Our concept is that healthy soils produce healthy crops.  You can have the top yielding hybrid available, but are you doing all you can to take advantage of that potential.  We look at the following to see if our customers are at the top of their production potential. 
  • Is your soil drainage at its optimum.  Good drainage can improve timeliness of field operation, help warm soils, and help nutrients to be more available.
  • Are you losing production or productivity to soil erosion?  
  • Are you using the minimum amount of tillage possible?  Reduced tillage helps preserve Soil Organic Matter, a valuable component of your soil that contributes to nutrient availability, tilth, and moisture absorption.  Maybe cover crops are appropriate.
  • Are you controlling or managing soil compaction? 
  • How are your soil nutrient levels?  Getting levels past the bare minimum to grow a crop may be needed to maximize yields under stress conditions.  There is no magic juice!
  • Are you controlling weeds? 
  • Are you  managing  pests?  An integrated approach of genetically traited seed, regular scouting, and timely application of pesticides is most effective.
  • Are you managing disease pressures?  The approach should be much the same as with managing pests.  Crop rotations can help.  
  • Are you planting the ideal plant population for you crop variety?
  • Are you selecting varieties that maximize yield potential for your soil types?
  • Are you applying nitrogen as needed and timing the application to maximize the benefit of the nitrogen fertilizer.  
The wildcard in the whole thing is the weather in Midwest dryland farming.

It looks like Von Liebig's barrel needs some more staves.  Integrating all the factors I have mentioned are working toward weatherizing your crop production.  Irrigation is an additional tool, but in many parts of Illinois, reliable quantities of irrigation water are not available despite the fact that we are water rich.  Dr. Fred Below's 7 wonders of corn production are another way to look at what I am talking about. 

The good news is that producers do not need to integrate all the factors of crop production on their own.  A good consultant that is intimately familiar with your farm is well worth the money spent.  As much as I would like to say, that producers can rely entirely on their crop and soil consultants I would say you should gather all the information you can.  University specialists, seed company specialists, and chemical reps are all a part of your agronomic team.  Producers are the final decision makers in maximizing the yield potential on their farm. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Greenville,IL Agro-tourism

I spent several pleasant hours today with a friend who invited me to ride to Greenville with him for lunch.  He had never been to Marcoot Jersey Creamery to buy cheese and so that was on the itinerary too.  The Marcoot's make cheese and ice cream and directly market their products from their 65 cow Jersey herd.  We also drove around on the grounds of the American Farm Heritage Museum located along I-70 southeast of Greenville.  Both are great agro-tourism sites to visit from St. Louis and the surrounding area.  Check web sites for hours. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Information from Farm Futures Summit

Dan Westerberg of BASF made a presention on crop protection at the summit.  He spent about half his presentation talking about managing glyphosate resistant weeds.  He then spent a good deal of time presenting evidence in support of fungicide usage.  He never made one mention of fungicide resistance.  While I agree that it is past time to manage for glyphosate resistance, a good crop adviser must also be thinking about preventing fungicide resistance as well.  The way we can postpone fungicide resistance is by using fungicides only when we need them.  Yes I know the theory that fungicides promote plant health regardless of infection level.  That said, using fungicides all the time is no better than using the same herbicide all the time.  We need to use fungicides judiciously in order to keep them in our crop protection arsenal for as long as possible. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brazilian Crop Report

By Eduardo Paim: January 8

I took these photos earlier today, as recently as 40 minutes ago. You can see that soy is good enough to flower, we have not had much rain but neither are we  missing it  here in the state of Mato Grosso. In the state of Goi├ís (about 540 miles away from the Mato Grosso) ETA with little rain and there should be a reduction in soybean production by 15% but there is little production and we should not have a big drop in general. The corn crop is emerging as you can see in the photo and was plant with no tillage, after drying out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where is the Drought Headed?

Who knows where the drought is headed for the coming growing season.  Yesterday (1/7/2013)  I check the National Weather Service data to see if there is a trend.  Below are the maps showing departures from "normal"  for the past 60, 90, and 120 days.  While rainfall amounts are still below average for the last 60 days across the corn belt I see some trending toward more average rainfall.  The trend at least leaves me somewhat hopeful for where we are headed.  Keep in mind that the amount of rainfall we need to raise a crop in 2013 is less than the amount of rainfall needed to fill ponds, wells, rivers, and streams.  Also, the prospects for the 2013 crop are subject as always to timeliness and amounts of rainfall that we get during the growing season.  In 2012, rainfall amounts during the corn growing season were dismally short and reflected in yields.  Rainfall amounts during the soybean growing season however kept our soybean yields respectable and in some cases exceptional. 

60 day rainfall Departure from Normal

90 day rainfall Departure from Normal

180 day rainfall Departure from Normal

Monday, January 7, 2013

Illinois Soil Nitrogen Monitoring Project

Today I read results from the fall nitrogen soil monitoring project.  It is interesting that nitrogen remaining in the field is not really closely tied to yield.  It does not look like they are correlating test results to soil type.  Soil type would reflect soil conditions.  Soil conditions such as moisture content will play a big role in nitrogen availability.  This project is a step in the right direction, but I hope they will fine tune it to make it more meaningful. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Farm Futures Summit

I had the privilege on Thursday and Friday to attend the Farm Futures Summit in St. Louis.  The Summit is sponsored by Farm Futures Magazine and the program was outstanding as always.  Arlan Suderman of Waterstreet Solutions is top notch when it comes to explaining outside forces that are affecting the markets in agriculture.  I recommend following Arlan on Twitter.  @ArlanFF101 is is twitter name. 

Howard Buffett was the keynote speaker who spoke on World Hunger.  His presentation was thought provoking, but I think many of us were also looking forward to hearing more about his views on agriculture sustainability and farming.  Buffet did plug his Invest An Acre program to reduce hunger.  I would have also appreciated if Mr. Buffett had taken at least a bit of time to mingle. 

David Kohl of Virginia Tech University is and outstanding speaker.  The Chance hear him say anything is wonderful.  He spoke on future potential competitors and customers.  He also monitored a outstanding panel as follows:  Phil Corzine, Don Orr and William Myers spoke on specific segments of global markets.

The after dinner debate involved only 2 people.  Gary Baise, trial attorney with experience in and out of government and Brett Lorenzen, a project coordinator with Environmental Working Group.   Baise highlighted some examples of EPA and others being out of control at times, while Lorenzen positioned his EWG as much less radical than many of us think.

Friday morning I spent most of my time in the Management for multi-generational farms session.  The highlight of the afternoon was listening to Mike Boehje of Purdue discuss management risk in turbulent times.  One of his take home points is that farmers should be accumulating some cash for a rainy day in these times of high commodity prices.  One of his prime examples was that Warren Buffet's Berkshire-Hathaway has $37 Billion in ready cash assets

Friday, January 4, 2013

More Thoughts on Climate Change

By Randy Darr, President of Soil-Right Consulting Services, Inc.

I personally find it absolutely laughable that anyone could even entertain the thought that global warming is caused by man or that global warming exists as an unnatural phenomenon.  Our climate does and will continue to change with or without humans on the planet.  Recent reports suggests that global warming ceased over 15 years ago. 

The planet was definitely colder during the ice age.  We have glacial evidence to prove it.  There weren't too many people here at that time. Records also show that there were warmer climatic trends way before the use of fossil fuels.  In the 1700's and early 1800's there were years of excruciating heat and the Mississippi River has been close to going dry. You can read accounts of people walking across the Mississippi as they traveled west.

The earth that God gave us to live on is much more dynamic and resilient than we give it credit for.  We have been given the charge of taking care of the earth and using things judiciously, but, the small amount of the earth that humans actually inhabit is minuscule compared to the rest.

The greater issue of all is water quality.  There is only so much water on the planet and even less that is usable by humans.  Water quality is the issue of the 21st century far beyond the potential of global warming of a degree or two every 20 years.

Carbon trading is the greatest ponzi scheme ever devised to fleece the wealth of the world.

My 2 cents.    

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Climate Change

For maybe 2 months,  I have been following a thread on LinkedIn concerning global climate change.  The original question was "How we can stop global climate change." I have been following climate change as a topic of intrest since the late 70's.  At that time there were some who thought the earth was cooling.  Now, we think it is warming.  I know some will question the idea that the climate is warming, but I point to the Arctic Ocean melting as the only evidence I need.

 The next question is "Is the global climate change man induced?"  I really do not know.  Some say yes and some say no.  Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased almost 3 fold in the past 500 years.  Many say the increase is because of burning fossil fuels.  I had a professor who said that more carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere by plowing than by burning fossil fuels.  Denial of climate change seems to be silly, it seems we are starting on valid questioning when we ask is it man induced.  After all wild swings in global climate are a big part of the earth's geological record. 

In 1995, in Kyoto, agreement was reached on taking steps toward reducing the effects of emissions on climate change.  As I look at the steps to be taken, a 5% reduction looks like spitting in the wind.   How is that reduction going to change the effects of a 3 fold increase in carbon dioxide?  My first reaction to the whole thing is that we do not have the will to take the measures needed to have a significant effect on the climate. Who wants to stop using automobiles and trucks?  Who wants to turn off the air conditioner?  Who wants to heat with wood?  I could go on but you get the idea. 

Do we even know what will happen if we reduce emissions?  Many in the discussion I was following think that it is foolish to think we know.  Some think we are already past the tipping point and we can do nothing to stop the move in the current direction.

Now lets think about carbon trading.  Who pays for that?  We do in higher energy bills.  I am not sure how buying rain forest is going to reverse the trend.  That only maintains the status quo.  What about no-till?  My friend Ken Olson, says that his research so far shows that No-till does not increase soil organic matter as so many claim.  It does increase organic matter in the surface, but it continues to decline over all.  Be sure and read the comment in this blog too.  Even if there is some slow increase in soil organic matter, is it enough to stem the tide in climate change?   This article by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont discusses conservation measure typical of many proposals.  Pretty much it seems to say we should maintain the status quo in energy consumption by conservation.  That does nothing to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. 

The one idea that emerged from the LinkedIn discussion that makes sense, is that we need to do what humans have done throughout our million year history; we need to adapt.  What can we do to mitigate the effects of a sea level rise.  Can we develop crops to take advantage of the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?  Can we develop drought tolerant crops?  Can we mange drainage to offset wet periods?  We know we can do all these things and much more.  Adaptive management of climate change seems to be the way to go.  We need to find other ways to save the rainforest. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Modern Organic Farming

On the food network and in a lot of other places media buzz is that "organic is better".  Recent researchers have tried to find the proof that organic food is healthier than conventionally produced food.  The researchers have found that organic has the same nutrient value as conventional food.  All that said, organic food production continues to grow.  Is the reason concern for consumer health, or profit?  In reading this Prairie Farmer article, Page 8 , Page 9 it looks like profit can be a key motivator for the producers.   Holly Spangler concentrates on nutrition in another article that is related. 

I maintain that farming is a business and as such, there is no shame in taking advantage of consumer fads or tastes including the organic craze.  If a farmer can make more money growing organic, I am all for it.  In addition, I think there is merit in preserving those "old" methods of farming in practice and not just in books.  I think we can all learn something from each other regarding farming methods.

As a consumer I  am hard pressed to use my scarce dollars to pay a premium for a product that is not necessarily superior.  I have no problem however with consumers having that choice.  We are fortunate to have a lot of discretion in how we spend our money and it is good that we do.  One size fits all is not what we want whether in cars, computers, smart phones, housing, or a lot of other things.