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Agriculture News

The world's first robotic harvest happened in an apple orchard in NZ

Capital Press | Posted on April 18, 2019

A major milestone for the apple industry was reached this spring in a remote New Zealand orchard: the world’s first commercial robotic harvest. The harvest started in February and will end in late April or May in one of New Zealand’s largest orchards, T&G Global, with a machine built and operated by Abundant Robotics of Hayward, Calif.Using robots to replace human pickers has been a decades-long dream of the apple industry. Robots can save millions of dollars in labor costs and alleviate picker shortages that have forced many orchards to hire expensive foreign guestworkers. Just last year, Washington state’s $2.5 billion apple industry hired 24,862 guestworkers.


USDA announces cooperative funding for cattle RFID project proposals

Feedstuffs | Posted on April 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the availability of $1 million in cooperative agreement funding to support animal disease traceability (ADT) and electronic identification for cattle. According to APHIS, the money will fund between two and five projects that are designed to help USDA increase the accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness of collecting key pieces of traceability information while also supporting the cattle industry’s management and marketing needs. These projects will document how to link ultra-high frequency (UHF) back tags with other identification devices to collect animal movement and disease program data while still maintaining the speed of commerce. Back tags are used extensively in livestock markets, and the agency said it needs to learn more about how adding radio-frequency identification functionality will support traceability in these high-volume, fast-paced environments. The projects will gather important real-world data to help USDA, states, tribes and industry advance ADT and implement electronic identification.


Banned pesticides in Europe's rivers

Science Daily | Posted on April 16, 2019

Tests of Europe's rivers and canals have revealed more than 100 pesticides -- including 24 that are not licensed for use in the EU. The study, which tested samples from 29 waterways in 10 countries including the UK, also found 21 veterinary drugs.Every river and canal screened in the study -- from countries as far apart as Poland and Spain -- contained multiple pesticides, and most contained veterinary drugs.The scientists, from Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, said the highest levels of contamination were found in a Belgian canal that contained 70 pesticides.In 13 of the 29 waterways, concentrations of at least one pesticide exceeded European standards for acceptable levels.


As Weeds Outsmart The Latest Weedkillers, Farmers Are Running Out Of Easy Options

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on April 16, 2019

There was a moment, about 20 years ago, when farmers thought that they'd finally defeated weeds forever. Biotech companies had given them a new weapon: genetically engineered crops that could tolerate doses of the herbicide glyphosate, also known by its trade name, Roundup. Farmers could spray this chemical right over their crops, eliminate the weeds, and the crops were fine.These scientists believed that plants couldn't become immune to Roundup because it required too big of a change in a plant's biology.In 2005, though, Culpepper reported that he'd found some weeds that Roundup could not kill. They were growing in a field in Georgia. And this was not just any weed. It was a kind of monster weed called Palmer amaranth, or pigweed.Over the following years, these glyphosate-resistant pigweeds spread like a plague across America's farmland. They're practically everywhere in the South now and increasingly common in the Midwest."The impact is just unbelievable," Culpepper says. "We've invested over $1.2 billion, just in the cotton industry, for control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth since we first discovered it."


Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Approves Hearings For Proposed Phosphorus Rule

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on April 16, 2019

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board unanimously approved public hearings on a proposed rule that would create a process for setting site-specific phosphorus standards on the state's bodies of water. Wisconsin already has statewide water quality standards for phosphorus, but these vary depending on the water system. Phosphorus in the water can support the growth of algae and other plants, but too much can overwhelm the system. The proposed rule would pinpoint situations where site-specific standards may be appropriate, according to Marcia Willhite, water evaluation section chief with the state Department of Natural Resources.


Wisconsin's place in a bewildering milk pricing system

Edairy News | Posted on April 16, 2019

While the economic and human toll wrought by low milk prices have been documented, the factors that determine those prices can feel enigmatic or perhaps even baffling for people outside of the industry — and perhaps for those within as well.Indeed, a dairy processors trade organization referenced the complicated American milk pricing system in a “Milk Pricing 101” lesson for its members: “There is an old joke about a senior-level USDA person testifying to Congress on dairy policy and milk pricing. He said there are only three people that understood it and two of them are lying.”


Wisconsin lost 212 dairy farms in 1st 90 days of 2019

Edairy News | Posted on April 16, 2019

 212 Wisconsin dairy farms went out of business between Jan. 1 and April 1. That means on average, more than two dairy farms sold out each day of the first 90 days of 2019. That’s on top of the 691 dairy farms we lost during 2018. In just 15 months, the Dairy State lost 903 dairy farms, or slightly fewer than two farms per day. That’s more than 10% of Wisconsin’s dairy farms going out of business in just 15 months. The numbers don’t lie — that is painful for the farm families who sold their dairy herds, the communities they live in and the businesses they supported.


Roundup, the World’s Best-Selling Weedkiller, Faces a Legal Reckoning

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 11, 2019

For years, scientists at Monsanto Co. worked closely with outside researchers on studies that concluded its Roundup weedkiller was safe. That collaboration is now one of the biggest liabilities for the world’s most widely used herbicide and its new owner, Bayer, which faces mounting lawsuits alleging a cancer link to Roundup.Plaintiffs’ attorneys are putting Monsanto’s ties to the scientific community at the center of a series of high-stakes suits against Bayer. Since the German company acquired Monsanto last June, two juries in California have sided with plaintiffs who have lymphoma and blamed the herbicide for their disease. Bayer’s shares have fallen roughly 35% since the first verdict.In both cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that Monsanto’s influence on outside studies of Roundup’s active ingredient tainted the safety research. The attorneys obtained certain Monsanto emails showing outside scientists asking the company’s scientists to review their manuscript drafts, and Monsanto scientists suggesting edits.


The outlook for farmland values and interest rates

Kansas City Federal Reserve | Posted on April 11, 2019

 the last four years, farm real estate markets have faced pressure due to low commodity prices and deteriorating farm income. From 2013 to 2018, farm income in the United States declined more than 50 percent, and working capital declined 65 percent. Despite these developments, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions shows farmland values remained relatively stable, declining only modestly in most areas. Indeed, Chart 1 shows that in the Tenth District, cropland values declined only 16 percent from 2013 to 2018. Farmland values in other states across the Midwest and Great Plains declined by similarly modest amounts over this period.Although farm real estate markets have been relatively stable amid significant declines in commodity prices and farm income, risks of further declines in farmland values appear to have increased. A recent increase in farmland sales in some states also suggests a decline in farmland values could be on the horizon.


Vietnam bans importation of glyphosphate

SUccessful Farming | Posted on April 11, 2019

Vietnam announced this week it is banning the importation of glyphosate. It comes after the most recent glyphosate verdict that went against Bayer in a California court. 


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