Keep Grain Bin Safety in Mind this Harvest Season

With harvest season underway, your grain bins are starting to fill up nicely. That’s also means being extra cautious around those grain bins.

“We’re here to tell our people that have these grain bins, the farmers, their employees, the family members, we’re promoting the safety of this grain bin, that they don’t go in there alone,” says Randy Younker – a firefighter and safety officer from Wisconsin who trains others about the dangers of working around a full grain bin.

“If they do go into the bin, we want to make sure that they’re telling somebody, not working alone, going with another family member or another worker. There are very simple things that can be done so that we can work in them: standing on a piece of plywood, being tethered to the side of the bin, whatever that takes to be safe in doing their job,” says Younker.

He says one thing farmers often skip when working around a grain bin is shutting down power to the grain auger – which can be extremely dangerous.

“When they’re using that auger, the grain is actually coming out of there. But another scenario that we also try and teach the farmers, as far as the safety is, if they’ve been removing grain, let’s say in December, January, and February and that grain is frozen together, on the bottom of that bin there’s going to be a hollow spot. And now, they step into the top part of the grain, and the grain gives way, and they end up in that pocket down on the bottom. So, it’s not just the grain auger. It’s the cavity that may be created from using the grain,” says Younker.

If farmers do end up trapped inside a grain bin, emergency crews will use what they call a “coffer dam” to help get them out.

“It is several panels that slide together so we can create a tube around our victim to help minimize and extract the grain around them. First of all, we want to make sure that we tether that victim so that the victim doesn’t sink any further into it. It’s a very simple device that we just push into the grain and interlocks together. We can get an auger or a bucket of some sort of shovel to remove the grain inside of that tube, so that we can free the victim,” according to Younker.

He says one foot of grain pressed against a farmer’s body creates 300 pounds of pressure. Two feet of grain and that pressure increases to 900 pounds, making it impossible to escape.

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report.

Congressman Greg Pence Encourages Biofuel and Petroleum Industries to Work Together

Congressman Greg Pence (R-IN 6th District) in his Washington, D.C. office. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

Both California and New York say they plan to ban the sale of all new vehicles with gas and diesel-powered engines by 2035, which would hurt Indiana’s biofuels industry. Congressman Greg Pence (R-IN 6th District) says he is encouraging the fuel industries to come together and push back.

“I spent my career in the petroleum distribution industry all the way back to actually the introduction of ethanol,” says Congressman Pence, who also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Pence says the petroleum and biofuel industries need to see themselves as allies, not adversaries.

“Having known all the people in the gasoline and the oil industry for years, I’ve said, ‘I don’t know why you’re all fighting with the ethanol industry. That’s liquid fuels and you’ve got a bullseye on your back – and that means the farmers have bullseyes on their backs,’” says Pence. “They want to get rid of liquid fuels and they want to do all electric. I’ve said we need to work together.”

Pence says he’s concerned that the push by environmental groups and state legislatures to eventually eliminate vehicles with gas and diesel-powered engines altogether has made a great deal of headway.

“Whether I’ve been talking, even in the last couple of weeks, to the ethanol industry or the petroleum industry, everyone is saying it’s time for us to work together on behalf of motor fuels and push back on this electrification of the transportation industry which, of course, does not apply to heavy duty on-road and off-road vehicles,” says Pence.

He also says he’s encouraged by recent developments in Indiana that would help grow the ethanol industry.

“Living in Columbus, Indiana, we have Cummins Engine Company. Some of the old engineers, and I when I say ‘old’, I mean very, very senior guys, have spun off and they’re working on an ethanol conversion kit for diesel engines that is driving around southern Indiana and getting the million-mile tests under its belt to get authorized.”

Pence says this would also be a huge benefit to Indiana’s farmers.

“I think it’s incredibly interesting for the ethanol industry,” says Pence. “Maybe not for on-road, but I do think for the ag industry, where you may be looking for generating additional credits, what if you use the very ethanol that you’re helping produce in converting your tractor? John Deere has invested in this company – so, some pretty exciting things if we don’t get ahead of ourselves in research and development.”

Two of Indiana’s ethanol plants are located in Congressman Pence’s district: POET Bioprocessing in Shelbyville and Cardinal Ethanol, LLC in Union City.

According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana’s 14 ethanol plants and 5 biodiesel plants can produce 1.2 billion gallons of biofuels per year.

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report on Congressman Greg Pence and how he’s encouraging the biofuel and petroleum industries to work together.

POET Bioprocessing – Shelbyville, an ethanol production facility in Shelby County, began operations in May 2020. Photo courtesy of POET, LLC.

 

Soybean Harvest Speeds Up as Indiana Farmers Wait for Corn to Dry Down

So far, 27 percent of Indiana’s corn and 36 percent of Indiana’s soybeans have been harvested. As farmers wait for Indiana’s corn crop to dry down further, more attention has been made at this point on harvesting soybeans.

“Farmers are itching to get into more of the corn and see how things are doing,” says Daniel Stauffer, Field Sales Representative with Specialty Hybrids. He’s based out of Wabash County and covers northcentral Indiana.

“We’ve got some folks that are done with soybeans and others that are getting to the halfway point or better,” says Stauffer. “On soybean acre harvest, they’ve been pleasantly surprised with a lot of the bean yields that we’ve had because of the weather and stresses we went through earlier this summer. With the drought stress, guys just weren’t sure what would be out there.”

Stauffer says much of the corn across northern Indiana has not yet been dry enough to harvest.

Daniel Stauffer, Field Sales Representative with Specialty Hybrids. Photo courtesy of Specialty Hybrids.

“From Kokomo up to South Bend and either side of Highway 31, there are not a whole lot of corn acres have been shelled,” says Stauffer. “Guys have been focusing on the soybeans and waiting on that corn to dry down. With the little cooler conditions we had in late August and September, the corn moistures are holding in there fairly steady.

“Here in the last week, I have heard some reports of corn getting under 20%, but initial reports have been positive from a yield standpoint anywhere in that 200 to 230 to 240 averages,” according to Stauffer.

He recommends scouting your corn fields to make sure stalk integrity issues don’t end up having an impact on your yield.

Just keep an eye on prioritizing those cornfields and where we need to go with the combine to get stuff out before it falls over,” says Stauffer. “There is really good yield potential out there from what we’ve seen walking field and talking to customers, but we got to make sure we prioritize harvest and get those fields out where the stock integrity might not be as great from just being a later harvest.”

Click BELOW for C.J. Miller’s news report.

Click BELOW to hear the complete podcast interview with Daniel Stauffer with Specialty Hybrids.

The update is sponsored by Specialty Hybrids. At Specialty Hybrids, it’s your field, our Specialty. Find your local field sales representative and dealer online at www.specialtyhybrids.com.

The Andersons to Purchase Mote Farm Service, Inc. in Randolph County

The Andersons, Inc., which is based in Maumee, Ohio, has announced it has agreed to purchase Mote Farm Service, Inc. based in Randolph County.

The sale is expected to close later this month and will include Mote’s two locations in Union City and Harrisville.

The terms of the deal were not made available.

The Andersons, Inc. already has nine facilities across Indiana in Delphi, Dunkirk, Galveston, Logansport, North Manchester, Oakville, Poneto, Seymour, and Waterloo.

“We are excited to expand our retail farm center network,” said Joe McNeely, President of The Andersons Nutrient and Industrial. “The purchase supports our strategy to be the Midwest’s premier provider of plant nutrients and agronomy services. We are looking forward to this opportunity to provide enhanced grower-focused solutions to eastern Indiana and western Ohio.”

 

 

The Push for More Students to Consider Land Surveying Careers

There are a growing number of careers that are connected to the ag industry – including careers in land surveying.

The average of age of Indiana’s land surveyors is 57, so there is a huge need for more students to enter this career field as more professionals within the industry decide to retire.

“We’re trying to get the word out about the opportunities in the profession,” says Eric Meeks, President of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors. He’s also the owner of Meeks and Company Professional Surveying, which is based in Columbus, Indiana.

“Outreach is also part of our work development mission,” says Meeks. “We’re trying kind to shed some light on what professional surveying is in Indiana. We’ve made headway, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be.”

Meeks says students who have an ag background may already be well positioned to working in land surveying due to their experience with GPS.

Eric Meeks, President of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors.

“The equipment may be a little bit different, and the idea and the application may be a little bit different, but at the same time, there’s a lot of shared connections there,” according to Meeks. “We’ve seen people working in agriculture who have been a good candidate. Having that knowledge or that exposure to that technology is somebody that we can bring in and fast-track to work alongside us and do what we do.”

Meeks suggests that students look into Vincennes University, which offers a degree in Surveying Technology.

“I’m a graduate of Vincennes University’s program,” says Meeks. “We’ve seen the numbers in enrollment really take a jump over the last four or five years. The degree they offer is tailored toward putting those young folks into the workforce and most of them are hired before they graduate. There are jobs available and it’s a really fruitful degree. If you go there and you apply yourself and graduate, you’re going to have somewhere to go work after graduating and it’s never been a question.”

Although Purdue University students can receive a minor in Land Surveying, Meeks says that the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors is with working with Purdue to reestablish a full degree program in Land Surveying within the university’s College of Engineering.

What advice does Meeks have for students who may be thinking about a career in land surveying?

“Reach out to a local land surveyor. Reach out to job shadow or find summer employment. We’ve had 17 high school-aged students work for our company through the summers and sometimes even over breaks. We’ve even had a couple go on to pursue careers in land surveying. I don’t know that there’s a surveying company out there that would not grab a hold of you and try to show you the benefits of a career land surveying,” says Meeks.

Click HERE to read MORE about the career opportunities available in land surveying. 

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report on the push for more students to consider careers in land surveying.

Click BELOW to hear the FULL PODCAST interview with Eric Meeks, President of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors, as he discusses the need for more skilled land surveyors in Indiana.

Vincennes University students studying Surveying Technology. Photo courtesy of Vincennes University.

Indiana’s Corn 27% Harvested, Soybeans 36% Harvested

A combine, tractor and other harvest equipment sits on a harvested soybean field in Shelby County, Indiana. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

Consecutive weeks of cool, dry weather have propelled harvest progress forward throughout much of Indiana.

So far, 27% of corn for grain and 36% of soybeans have been harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 9 according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS). That’s a jump from 16% for corn and 17% for soybeans from the week before.

Indiana’s corn is 84% mature with 96% of corn for silage harvested. Meanwhile, corn harvest for grain is far behind the five-year average pace of 30%. Indiana corn is rated 58% good-to-excellent.

Indiana’s soybeans are rated 59% good-to-excellent. 91% of beans are dropping leaves. Soybeans are also behind the five-year average for harvesting at 38%.

Indiana’s harvest is also behind the rest of the U.S., where 30% of corn and 38% percent of soybeans have been harvested on average according to the USDA.

In his weekly report, Nathaniel Warenski, State Statistician with the USDA NASS, adds that winter wheat planting progress is at 27%, which is behind its five-year average of 33%. Fourth cuttings of alfalfa hay are beginning to wrap up with hay cuttings being taken when regrowth was considered adequate.

 

Rising Costs, Labor Shortages Limiting Farm Expansion Projects

Rising production costs, supply-chain issues and labor shortages are all affecting Indiana farmers. These issues may also be keeping producers from expanding their farm operations.

Mike North of Ever.Ag says the uncertainty of the economy is causing a lot of livestock and dairy producers to re-think plans of expansion.

“In my 28 years there’s never been a time when we’ve seen this kind of a setup,” according to North. “We’re dealing with massive supply chain issues, which are starting to resolve themselves, together with a macroeconomic picture that’s cloudy at best, and maybe scary, at worst, together with all sorts of geopolitical crosswinds when it comes to global trade. And at the same time, this really high cost of production. And I think as a byproduct, there’s so much noise, most people are just saying I’m going to sit still for now, and I think that’s okay.”

North says producers are having a difficult time justifying farm expansion projects with higher production costs.

“Obviously, feed costs and overall input costs and you can throw labor in there and the whole kit and caboodle,” says North. “That ultimately is keeping people from expanding because they don’t want to walk into a major capital expenditure and then have the floor drop out from underneath them with a high-cost structure.”

North also says the labor shortage may be the biggest challenge farmers are facing when deciding to expand.

“Let’s say you’re not held by those concerns, where are you going to find someone to build you a new free stall barn or a new parlor, and then what are you going to have to pay in terms of building materials to get that done? It’s really cost prohibitive to think about expansion right now from that front, too.”

Even though farm expansion projects have slowed down because of those reasons, North says he is optimistic that a number of issues impacting the economy will eventually be flattening out.

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report.

Source: NAFB News Service.

National FFA Foundation Receives $750,000 Grant from the Walmart Foundation

Students from the West Washington High School FFA Chapter from Campbellsburg, Indiana attend the Indiana State FFA Convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in June 2022. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

The National FFA Foundation, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The grant money will help the National FFA organization to incorporate sustainability principles in school education.

“The funding made available allows us to create new sustainability-focused education resources and programming that integrates current sustainable practices across multiple disciplines,” says Christine White, Chief Program Officer of the National FFA Organization. “We plan to equip our members to create solutions that will address the sustainability challenges of the future.”

The National FFA organization says the focus of these resources will be to leverage the social influences of students by creating an inclusive program so all students enrolled in agricultural education can see how sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

The National FFA Organization plans to host its 95th National FFA Convention & Expo at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 26-29.

The organization has more than 850,000 student members as part of 8,995 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

How to Prevent Combine Fires During Harvest

The warm, dry weather conditions across Indiana have been helpful to farmers this harvest season. Unfortunately, those conditions also increase the risks for combine fires.

“Perfect conditions don’t always mean a perfect outcome so take your time and be safe,” says Josie Rudolphi, an assistant professor and agricultural safety specialist at the University of Illinois. She says the majority of combine fires happen because the machine is not properly cleaned.

“The major causes of combine fires, it typically would be like ignition of trash or debris, organic matter that’s moving through the combine, it gets hot, gets clogged up, and it may then result in a combine fire,” says Rudolphi.

She says it’s important to address routine maintenance, even when things are going well.

“We want to make sure that we’re performing kind of routine maintenance on the combine, and it’s a little bit challenging, especially when we’ve been moving good and we’re getting stuff done,” says Rudolphi. “Routine maintenance can sometimes kind of fall to the wayside. It’s been what we consider ideal harvest conditions in most parts of the Midwest. Those rain days are typically the days we perform a lot of routine maintenance and without those rain days we just go, go, go, we don’t always check our machines like we should. We think everything is going really, really, well, and we just don’t want to jinx it.”

Rudolphi says it is best to take a few minutes at the start of each day to clear debris from the machine – and tackle a few other preventative maintenance checks as well.

Josie Rudolphi, assistant professor and agricultural safety specialist at the University of Illinois.

“Otherwise the end of the day, it’s a little more challenging, you don’t want to obviously be too engaged with the machine that could be hot, which is another kind of reminder of not parking a hot machine in a building because it could result in not only combine fire but a structure fire. But, definitely starting the day with a routine check, removing any debris, checking on your wires, your hoses, to make sure that there’s no frayed wires, electrical wires especially, and no leaky hydraulic hoses,” according to Rudolphi.

She also suggests having a leaf blower or air compressor ready in the field to use to help clean out the combine just in case.

“It’s very easy and that’s a good recommendation to have an air compressor on the back of a truck,” says Rudolphi. “Have a leaf blower, have the tools that you need to make sure that you can get all the debris cleaned out. Having those things available is really key to some of this routine maintenance because if the tool is not there, it’s a lot easier to sort of skip the steps. And then, thinking about prevention, we also want to make sure that we are prepared for a fire, we have fire extinguishers not only on the combine but also on another vehicle in the field.”

Also, while working in the field, if you sense there’s an issue with the machine, shut it off right away.

“If you are going to perform any maintenance on a machine, the machine needs to be turned off. And we would encourage even beyond that implementing some sort of lockout-tagout, and what that means is that you’ve turned the machine off and locked it out in such a way that nobody else can turn it on. In a combine, it’s very easy, pull the keys so that you know the machine is off, and you also know that nobody else is going to turn the machine on.”

Click HERE for MORE harvest equipment safety tips from Purdue Extension.

Click BELOW for C.J. Miller’s news report on how to prevent combine fires during harvest.

Photo courtesy of April Anthony / National Corn Growers Association.

Source: NAFB News Service.

Warm, Dry Weather Helping to Speed Up Harvest in Northwestern Indiana

So far, 16 percent of Indiana’s corn for grain and 17 percent of Indiana’s soybeans have been harvested. The warm, dry weather we’ve been having is helping to speed up the harvest process.

“We’re really starting to get cranked up in northwest Indiana with harvest,” says Marty Park with Gutwein Seed Service, a Specialty Hybrids dealer. Marty also farms in Jasper County and says he just started harvesting earlier this week.

“On Monday, I weighed my first two corn plots of the season,” says Marty. “Last year, on the third day of October, I had completed all my bean plot harvest and I only had two corn plots to harvest yet on that date. This year, I’m just starting corn harvest, so while we got quite a way to go.”

He says the recent weather has been ideal for harvest.

“We had a beautiful weekend temperature-wise,” Marty says. “We were taking advantage of the heat we have and it’s drying these crops up and maturing them. We’ve got a lot of folks that are running corn and a bunch of people got into the soybeans here pretty hot and heavy the last couple days.”

Marty Park, with Gutwein Seed Service, a Specialty Hybrids dealer servicing northwestern Indiana. Marty is also a farmer from Jasper County.

Marty says soybean yields are looking really strong around Rensselaer and Jasper County.

“I think the bean crop is better than what guys were expecting,” according to Marty. “I just looked at some beans in a semi where a guy was cutting and the beans themselves are really, really big and that seed size really makes a big difference.”

He adds that corn yields are also looking strong as well.

“The plants are very healthy. We completed grain fill with nice conditions and adequate moisture. That’s led to really big kernels, and those big kernels are adding up in the grain tank to big yields.

“It’s totally different than last year,” adds Marty. “We had a lot of disease. Everybody saw tar spot everywhere and it impacted yields. We also had crown rot a year ago. The crop just kind of died and dried. This year, tar spot didn’t come until later. It is still out there, but it didn’t come in and rob yields.”

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report on how the warm, dry weather is helping to speed up harvest progress across northwestern Indiana.

Click BELOW to hear the FULL PODCAST interview with Marty Park who farms in Jasper County. He’s also with Gutwein Seed Service – a Specialty Hybrids dealer in northwestern Indiana – as he provides an update on harvest progress.

The update is sponsored by Specialty Hybrids. At Specialty Hybrids, it’s your field, our Specialty. Find your local field sales representative and dealer online at www.specialtyhybrids.com.