New technologies advance the agriculture industry

Today’s technology advancements are changing corn, wheat and soybean production.

As more food is needed for the growing world population and there is less land on which to grow it, new advancements in technology are especially important.

A recent article in Farm Industry News describes new agriculture technologies for farmers and how technologies can benefit the agriculture industry.

Technologies Changing Agriculture
  • Telematics: This technology allows navigation, prescription application, location and other data to be transferred easily to and from farm machinery to help farmers improve efficiencies on expensive equipment.
  • Drought-resistance traits: The next round of drought hybrids will include genetically modified traits. Scientists are currently using biotechnology to alter one of the many different factors involved in a plant’s growth during water-restricted and high-heat conditions.
  • Soil and crop sensors: More farm equipment is being outfitted with smart sensors that can read everything from plant health and water needs in the crop to nitrogen levels in the soil. The sensors then enable on-the-go application of inputs based on real-time field conditions.
  • Pervasive automation: A product feature that reduces operator workload, this new automation allows operators to do more jobs with less strain and more accuracy because human error is eliminated. Features include: GPS steering, conventional headlands programmable automation, automatic balers, automation of operator control of combines and forage harvesters and automation of tractor operator functions like intelligent power management.
  • Hyper precision: With real-time kinematic (RTK) navigation available, precise seeding and fertilizer applications have become a reality. Manufacturers are introducing controllers, drives and shutoff systems with ever-finer resolution and the ability to apply multiple products at variable rates.
  • Biologicals: More biological pest control and growth enhancements are expected as farmers look for more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient crop inputs. Advanced technologies like high-throughput screening are helping companies to quickly multiply beneficial organisms, thus driving development of new biologicals.
These advances are key components to a farmer's ability to continue to produce a sustainable supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber for domestic and international customers.

According to the Center for Food Integrity, in the next 40 years the world will need 100 percent more food than is produced today and 80 percent of future production growth must come from increased yields using the advancement of new innovation and technology.

For more technologies changing the agriculture industry or for more detailed information about the technologies mentioned above, visit

What do you think about the new technologies that are changing the agriculture industry? Do you know any farmers who are utilizing these technologies? What types of technologies do you think are needed for the future?

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Vino, Vino Ohio

Ohio grape production is fast becoming a lucrative industry in Ohio, adding to the state’s robust agriculture roots.

As a result, wineries throughout the state have blossomed in recent years to supplement the emerging ag sector.

Approximately 65 percent of Ohio’s wineries have been established in the past 10 years. The number of Ohio wineries increased from 75 in 1999 to 124 wineries in 2008, according to the Ohio Grape Industries Committee (OGIC).

OGIC “creates viable, income-producing grape enterprises in the state of Ohio by providing marketing and promotion efforts to generate and expand new markets for grapes and grape products and research to improve the quality of grapes and profitability of grape growing as an agri-business.”

While not claiming to be at the same rank as Napa Valley, Ohio is home to national and international award-winning wines.

Ohio Grape Industry Facts (2008 study)
  • The impact of wine and grapes on the Ohio economy is $582.8 million
  • There are 124 wineries in Ohio
  • There are 1,900 grape-bearing acres in Ohio
  • 1,134,000 gallons of wine were produced
  • Provided 4,108 full-time jobs
  • The retail value of Ohio wine was $51.9 million
  • Wine-related tourism expenditures was $73.4 million
Of course, OGIC is leveraging the Internet to raise awareness about Ohio’s grape and wine industries.

The association features “Ohio Wine TV” at its website – a free service that offers monthly subscribers access to expert-led tours of several of the state’s more than 150 wineries. Each month, subscribers receive an e-mail directing him or her to the newest program highlighting a different winery or wine region. The subscriber also receives a recommended shopping list and educational materials about the winery and/or region and Ohio’s grape and wine industry.

The Ohio Grape Web, a website managed by The Ohio State University Extension is another industry resource. The Extension is a service of OSU that interprets knowledge and research developed by university and other OSU-affiliated faculty and staff to share with the public. Ohio Grape Web assists producers interested in cultivating grapes and becoming involved in the wine business. It also produces the Ohio Grape-Wine Electronic Newsletter.

OGIC’s tagline is, “Ohio Wines – Love at first sip.” Have you tried an Ohio wine? Were you aware of the extent of the state’s grape industry?

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A Week Dedicated to Agriculture

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis, and is increasingly contributing to fuel and other bioproducts.

Taking the time to celebrate this industry helps educate millions of consumers each year, which is why, this week, we celebrate everyone who has a role in the agriculture industry as part of National Agriculture Week.
Each year, the Agriculture Council of America hosts National Agriculture Week and National Agriculture Day (March 15) as a way to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture to America. It encourages people to:
  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products
Agriculture Industry Facts (Corn & Soybean Digest):
  • There are 2.13 million farms in the U.S. today. This compares to 6.8 million farms in 1930, 4 million farms in 1960 and 2.4 million farms in 1980.
  • The top five agriculture products in the U.S. are corn, soybeans, cattle and calves, dairy products and broilers.
  • The U.S. produces 46 percent of the world’s soybeans, 41 percent of the world’s corn, 20 percent of the world’s cotton and 13 percent of the world’s wheat.
  • 99 percent of all U.S. farms are family farm businesses owned by individuals, partnerships and family corporations. These family based farm enterprises account for about 94 percent of all the U.S. agricultural products that are sold each year.
  • From 1997 to 2002, the number of farms operated by women increased 12.6 percent.
  • The U.S. agriculture industry employs more than 22 million Americans to produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber. This represents approximately 16 to 17 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
  • The average U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber for about 150 people. This number was 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960 and 115 people in 1980.
The need for people to understand the value of agriculture in their daily lives is great. People who are informed about the industry will be able to participate in establishing the policies that will support a competitive agricultural industry in Ohio, the U.S. and abroad.

To learn more about activities that can be planned this week, visit

Are you doing anything special this week to celebrate National Agriculture Week? How has agriculture touched you today? Are you attending any events to celebrate National Agriculture Week?

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Tuh-MAY-toh, Tuh-MAH-to

The most popular edible plant grown in the home garden is the tomato.

It’s a staple of many food products and is an ingredient in many meals. Because of this, National Garden Bureau (NGB) has designated 2011 as the “Year of the Tomato.”

Tomato breeding is hot right now, as per-capita consumption of fresh tomatoes has been increasing and troublesome weather has decreased the tomato supply significantly, causing tomato prices to increase – from $16 to $27 per case. This scenario duplicates 2010’s problematic tomato supply.

Tomatoes are also increasingly being marketed as a premier nutritional food, which promotes additional consumption.

WCF Courier of Cedar Valley, Iowa, recently reported a flourish of tomato-variety introductions, including fun names such as, "Fourth of July;" with a flavor described as a ‘delicious, sweet-acid balance,’ "Fried Green F1;” has a ‘tart, acid flavor’ and "Tye-Dye;" said to be ‘mildly sweet.’

Unknown to most Buckeyes, Ohio is a hub for tomatoes. Ohio is the second leading commercial producer of tomatoes in the United States, after California. Tomatoes are the official state fruit and tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.

Tomato Industry Facts (Agricultural Issues Center, University of California)
  • In 2010, more than 28.9 million centum weight of commercial fresh-market tomatoes were produced in the U.S.
  • Imported tomatoes account for about one-third (nearly 1.5 million metric tons) of U.S. tomato consumption
  • U.S. fresh-tomato exports were less than 120,000 metric tons in 2010
  • The fresh tomato market is oligopolistic – few firms compete in the market, making it extremely shortage/surplus sensitive; In 1997, fewer than 1,000 farms were in production and fewer than 50 shippers controlled the movement of fresh tomatoes to wholesale, retail and food-service sectors
  • The U.S. is the largest market in North America for greenhouse tomatoes
  • More than 60 million tons produced every year
Tomato Plant Facts
  • Thousands of kinds
  • Produce 10 to 15 pounds of fruit
  • Classified by fruit shape, ripening times, color and size
  • Most popular fruit shapes are cherry, plum, standard and beefsteak
As the same tomato shortage plays out this year as in the past year, it will be interesting to note how Ohio tomato production changes. Farmers could deem the situation as an opportunity to start a new farming venture, or increase production if they’re already growing tomatoes.

Do you know any tomato farmers? Do you think tomato farming is lucrative?

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Farmers faced with important crop insurance decisions

Farmers need to make some important decisions in these last few weeks leading up to the March 15 crop insurance deadline.

The crops impacted by this deadline include corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, green peas, barley, dry beans, forage seeding, oats, popcorn, cabbage, mint, sweet corn, sugar beets, tomatoes, potatoes, processing beans and processi
ng pumpkins.

For most farmers, crop insurance affects those who want to:
  • Purchase crop insurance for their spring-planted crops
  • Make a change to the crops that they have insured or to the level of their crops’ protection
  • Change insurance providers
  • Cancel a policy
According to an article in Ohio’s Country Journal, volatility is expected in the prices for corn, soybeans and their inputs and the weather is always an unknown. These risks, at the current high price levels, are tremendous.

“Prices are higher this year, the volatility in the markets is greater than ever and input prices are high, so it is really important to keep crop insurance at high levels, said Keith Summers, agent and broker at Leist Mercantile in Circleville. “With that, the cost of crop insurance is going to be higher as well. We’re seeing rates anywhere from 25 percent to 30 percent over last year.”

Along with the higher prices, the Risk Management Agency for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering farmers a new crop insurance option for the 2011 crop year.

This new option for crop insurance is “WeatherBill,” which offers customized protection from the uncertainties of the weather, including:
  • Drought throughout the growing season
  • Excessive rainfall during key planning dates
  • Cold weather throughout the season
  • Heat stress during pollination
  • Killing freeze before the harvest
  • Rains that can delay harvest
WeatherBill coverage does not depend on insurance adjusters, but on the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weather data for a nationwide grid of 12-mile by 12-mile squares throughout the country. The insurance can be purchased by the acre within these grids.

This new crop insurance option, along with the higher prices, increases the need for farmers to meet with their crop insurance agent.

“There are a lot of dollars on the table this year and it is important for farmers to make sure they have the right coverage for their farm. Using crop insurance is a really good way to lock in some revenue,” said Summers.

For more information and a list of local crop insurance agents, farmers can visit

Do you use crop insurance? Do you know a farmer who doesn’t use it? What do you think about the new insurance option, WeatherBill, which is available to farmers?

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