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Angus Journal

The Angus Journal Daily, formerly the Angus e-List, is a compilation of Angus industry news; information about hot topics in the beef industry; and updates about upcoming shows, sales and events. Click here to subscribe.

News Update

January 31, 2014

USDA Announces Winners
of the 2014 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Jan. 29 the selection of 30 university students to attend USDA’s 2014 Agricultural Outlook Forum, titled “The Changing Face of Agriculture,” which will take place Feb. 20- 21, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen on the basis of their essays on “Agriculture as a Career,” and 10 graduate students were selected for their response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.”

“The future of agriculture and rural America depends on the upcoming generation of leaders in farming, ranching and conservation, and the students selected to attend the Agricultural Outlook Forum are among the best young leaders our country has to offer,” said Vilsack. “Participating in the Agricultural Outlook Forum will expose these students to a variety of perspectives on this country’s most pressing agricultural challenges and lay the groundwork for bright futures in food, fiber and forestry.”

USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program is designed to introduce students to contemporary agribusiness, future trends, scientific research and agricultural policy in today’s real world environment. The students are from land-grant, Hispanic-serving, and non land-grant agricultural and renewable resources universities. Since the program’s start in 2007, annual sponsorship has been provided by CHS Inc. and Farm Credit. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) also provide support. The University of Maryland–Eastern Shore partners with USDA to make the program possible. Several of the 2014 winning essays are found here:

For more information, please view the full release here.

Drone on the Range

For centuries, farmers have braved the elements to walk their land to check for problems ranging from wind damage and calving cows to pests and predators.

Unmanned aerial vehicles may save farmers time and money with bird’s-eye views of farmland, says Bill Wiebold, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist. It opens up endless possibilities for precision agriculture, he said.

Wiebold’s recent talks on drones during MU Extension crop conferences have drawn attention from producers anxious to learn how to use them.

Wiebold and other MU researchers have been studying how farmers can use the new technology.

Drones suited for farm applications vary widely in cost and size. Entry-level aircraft cost $500-$1,500 and can fly for 10-20 minutes without recharging batteries. Most weigh less than 5 lb., have a wingspan of less than 3 feet and travel under 30 mph. For about $300, farmers can install cameras in drones that can send clear still or video images to a smartphone.

Drones can provide information to answer questions like “How bad was last night’s hail storm? Are all of my cows on the north 40? Does my corn need more nitrogen?”

Entry-level systems can be guided by a handheld remote control. More sophisticated vehicles can be programmed to fly designated routes using GPS and GIS technology, but only skilled flyers should try this type of aircraft, Wiebold said.

The uses are as varied as Missouri farmland, Wiebold said. Entomologists may find the devices especially helpful for directed scouting of pests. Drones can collect information on plants that have grown to heights that make it difficult to walk through narrow rows.

For more information, please view the full release here.

AgriLife Extension Develops Interactive
Online Decision Aid for Producers

Producers facing possible changes in their crop rotations due to water availability and other fluctuations in agriculture will soon have an online decision aid tool, according to DeDe Jones, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service risk management specialist in Amarillo.

The interactive risk management spreadsheet allows input from producers to assist with crop budgets, break-even prices and yields, and to help choose optimal crop mixes under limited irrigation, Jones said.

“In the face of declining water tables and falling commodity prices, we felt like there was a need to develop a tool that would allow producers to make educated decisions under risky conditions,” she said. “This spreadsheet should help them to allocate their water in a way that will maximize profits.”

The two-year project, funded by the Texas Corn Producers Board, is being conducted by a team of AgriLife Extension economists and a Texas A&M AgriLife Research engineer. In addition, an advisory committee of area corn farmers is providing input into the development of the decision aid.

“This tool will allow the producer to create and evaluate current dryland and irrigated crop budgets and different crop/share leasing arrangements by showing the return on investment between all parties,” Jones said. “Once the budgets are established, they can calculate breakeven prices and yields.”

And while most of those capabilities are already available through other formats, she said this new tool has an added feature, a limited-input decision calculator.

“This allows producers to input their irrigated acres and water availability and any water district restrictions,” Jones said. “The model will then simulate what their most profitable cropping arrangement would be under the given irrigation parameters. Also, if they don’t have enough water to fully irrigate, it will recommend the best dryland crop to plant in addition to the irrigated acreage.”

For more information, please view the full release here.


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