Diversifying the Farm With Airbnb

Diversification- it’s been a buzz word in agriculture for quite a few years now as farmers look to diversify their offerings and look for new revenue streams. Some farmers have taken to agritourism as a revenue stream, but Wisconsin dairy farmer Dan Wegmueller took it to the next level- an Airbnb on the farm.

“The thought immediately occurred to me in April of 2017 as we were cleaning out a farmhouse, 40 years’ worth of memories, cleaning out my parents’ legacy, going through all that. The family was there and we were left with the burning question of, ‘Well, what are we going to do with this space?’”

Wegmueller and his wife Ashley now allow guests to stay in the farmhouse and get a glimpse into what they do each day on the dairy farm.

He says the Airbnb has done two things for the farm. First, it brought in a revenue stream that was desperately needed to keep the farm running.

“Just the rental house alone is generating as much revenue, if not more, than you could expect to get from a full-time, off-farm job. But it also made it fun again. So much of the time, farmers are focused on what needs to be done, you get sucked into the day-to-day workload, but when you take a step back and you have the opportunity to see the farm through the eyes of others, it really does a lot to remind you of why you’re doing it the first place.”

Wegmueller’s advice for other farmers looking to do something similar is to, “go through the process. It’s a pain, it’s time consuming, and it’s nickels and dimes, but go through the process. Get properly certified, go through at the county level, township level, whatever local ordinances are in place.”“

He encourages farmers to be very forthright with county officials about what you’re looking to do and ask them what requirements need to be satisfied to go in that direction.

By the way, the Wegmuellers are Superhosts, what Airbnb calls highly rated hosts who are committed to providing great stays for their guests. They have a 5-star rating.

Source: NAFB News Service

Logansport Tyson Plant Suspended From Exporting to China

Bloomberg reported Monday that the Logansport Tyson plant has been suspended from exporting products to China. USDA’s website confirmed that to be the case with the suspension effective on Monday.

According to China’s customs office website, pig trotters from the Logansport facility failed inspection.

In a statement to Hoosier Ag Today, a Tyson spokesperson said, “We work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that we produce all of our food in full compliance with government safety requirements. We’re confident our products are safe and we’re hopeful consultations between the U.S. and Chinese governments will resolve this matter.”

In a follow-up phone call, that spokesperson said that this situation should not impact production at the Logansport facility, easing the minds of farmers that had already reached out to Hoosier Ag Today regarding the news.

USDA’s Projected Indiana Yields Not Aligning With Crop Condition Ratings

In their Crop Production report from earlier this month, USDA projects Indiana’s average corn yield at 189 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from last year’s record yield.

“To me, that seems a little high just looking at the condition ratings we’ve had this year,” says Purdue Extension Corn Specialist Dan Quinn.

Variability is a word we’ve heard many times in recent years as it relates to our crops, and Quinn says that’s the case again this year.

“I’ve been in fields that it’s some of the best corn I’ve ever seen. You know, clean, look really good, had adequate moisture, but there are a lot of fields that had too much moisture and then there are a lot of fields that had too little moisture as well. So, we’re just all over the board in terms of the condition of the crop across the state.”

For soybeans, USDA is projecting a record 60 bushels per acre in Indiana. Purdue Extension Soybean Specialist Shaun Casteel says there’s still time to realize that number, though the crop condition ratings don’t quite add up to that yield expectation compared to other record-breaking years.

“2020, 2018, 2016- every one of those years we continued to break it and the ratings were much higher than where we’re at right now.”

The big question for Casteel is, will we get enough moisture, sunlight, and the right temperatures to get there?

“We think about the month of June- it was dry, soybeans were just sitting there, it’s something we’ve talked about all summer long, but they were putting roots down deep. And so that’s the point that we’re counting on is that we’ve got a nice, compact plant that has access to water with the deeper roots. Now that water has come back in a lot of these fields and areas, I definitely think that we’ve got the upside to get to 60.”

Indiana’s corn and soybean crops were both rated as 54% good-to-excellent in Monday afternoon’s USDA report.

We’ll get another update on USDA’s projections on September 12th. You can hear more with Quinn and Casteel in the Purdue Crop Chat Podcast below.

Spray Drones Have ‘Taken Off’ Much Faster Than Anticipated

Beck’s customers discuss spray drones at Becknology Days 2022. Photo: Eric Pfeiffer/ Hoosier Ag Today

During Becknology Days over the weekend, Jim Love, Light Robotics Manager for Beck’s, was showing off his collection of drones and, more importantly, the data and applications that they could glean from them.

“We try to evaluate all things that are drone and help farmers make purchase decisions that make sense. So, for some of our guys, that may be a little $600 drone and others maybe a $20,000 data gathering drone, but we try to evaluate what guys are wanting to do and help them make a buying decision that makes sense for them.”

Drones have advanced well past just data gathering in recent years. Drone sprayers have progressed much faster than many anticipated. While some farmers believe drones are the future, Love believes the future is now with drones.

Jim Love, Light Robotics Manager for Beck’s Hybrids, explains to Beck’s customers the data his drones have collected that could benefit their farm at Becknology Days 2022. Photo: Eric Pfeiffer/ Hoosier Ag Today

“These field days are just at the right time when guys have either paid their spray bill or they’ve been frustrated about waiting on a spray plane. So, it’s always a very hot topic this time of year with spray drones because of all the fungicide applications due to the success of fungicides as well as the high commodity prices, guys are putting a lot of fungicide on which is really straining the conventional aerial application group. And so, spray drones have really taken off.”

Love admits that’s a bad pun, but it doesn’t change the fact that, “it’s turning out to be a good alternative to a $1 million high clearance ground machine or waiting on an aerial applicator to try to get to you.”

Love says drones have helped Beck’s provide many benefits to their customers, including increasing the level of their customer service when farmers are having issues in their fields.

“It helps our customers help us help them, which is kind of a goofy word salad there, but if a customer can fly a field and get that aerial view, a lot of times he’s not the only guy with that problem. So, if he can send that photograph that he took with his drone to one of our agronomists, oftentimes our agronomists have seen that problem, especially in a locale, you can say, ‘Hey, I think it’s this,’ and it helps them get to the answer faster.”

And while faster doesn’t always mean you’re going to be able to do something about it this year, getting that answer as quickly as possible does bring some peace of mind.

Hear more with Love in the full interview below.

Beck’s Practical Farm Research on Display at Becknology Days

Jim Schwartz, Director of Research, Agronomy, and PFR for Beck’s, presents at Becknology Days 2022. Photo: Eric Pfeiffer/ Hoosier Ag Today

A large crowd enjoyed the opening day of Becknology Days yesterday at the Beck’s Hybrids headquarters in Atlanta, Indiana. Growers traveled from all over Indiana and beyond to hear about the latest data and insights from Beck’s Practical Farm Research.

“We get our best ideas from growers…We want their input to say what are they interested in because we will listen to them and we’ll design studies around that,” explains Jim Schwartz, Director of Research, Agronomy, and PFR for Beck’s. “We’re doing some interesting studies that are new this year. Short corn is going to be something that’s new on the horizon. We want to understand that, so we’re doing studies on nitrogen, row width, population, and carrier rate on short corn. So, that’s our job is to really look out in the future, hear what growers want us to study, do those studies, and bring the results back to them.

If you visit Becknology Days Friday or Saturday, you can see their short corn trials as you turn off of 31.

Schwartz says one of the most common questions they get as it relates to their research is, “How do I make my spray pass more profitable?” He says there are three things to consider, and the first is managing the water itself.

“So, if you live in the Midwest, you’re spraying hard water. So, managing those cations in that water and managing your pH is number one.”

The second thing is carrier rate.

“Water is cheap,” Schwartz explains. “We can go 15 to 20 gallons on corn, 20 gallons on soybeans as a carrier rate and improve your profitability.”

And lastly, Schwartz says research has shown them that time of day can play a big factor.

“Spraying in the morning, those droplets survive longer when the temperature is low and the humidity is highest in that time of day. So, spraying in that morning time window, if you can, we realize it’s not practical for everyone, but that also helps improve the results.”

Schwartz will speak again Friday and Saturday at Becknology Days in Atlanta. Visit the Becknology Days website for more information.

Is There a US Potato Shortage?

2021 was a challenging year for the ag industry across the Pacific Northwest, and those ramifications are still lingering. Extreme heat across the region in late June led to a smaller potato crop than expected.

Washington state Potato Commission Executive Director Chris Voigt says in a typical year, potatoes harvested in October will continue to be shipped through the middle of July the following year. But this year, the potato community ran out of spuds early.

“Everyone ran out a few weeks early. Normally, Idaho has old crop potatoes into August, but they are out also. So, there’s really a shortage of potatoes going on right now. And so, that’s why in the grocery stores you’re seeing the price of potatoes elevated compared to where they normally are.”

Voigt points out that prices at your local grocery store are roughly 50% percent higher year-over-year. Despite those elevated prices, Voigt says potatoes are one of the most cost-effective ways of providing quality nutrition.

As far as this year’s crop is concerned, Voigt says the heat the area saw in mid to late July and continuing into August was much better for the plants and should not negatively impact yields.

Some experts say we should see significant relief from the potato shortage when the crop is fully harvested and in storage at the end of September or early October.

Source: NAFB News Service

Grain Marketing Strategies Discussed on Latest Purdue Crop Chat Podcast

There are a lot of uncertainties out there right now in agriculture that are impacting the grain markets. Some of those include the war in Ukraine, how big of a buyer of US exports will China be going forward, how many acres will get planted in South America, and, of course, the weather and its impact on yield here in the U.S.

We might get some answers this week on crop conditions as crop tours get underway, but ag economist and director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture Jim Mintert says, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen, right? So, risk management is about recognizing that you don’t know what’s going to happen and taking advantage of opportunities.”

Mintert joined us on the most recent Purdue Crop Chat Podcast, found now at hoosieragtoday.com, to discuss marketing strategies and what he gleaned from the most recent USDA WASDE report. Mintert says seasonal patterns suggest marketing some corn and soybeans in the spring between late May to early June.

“So, this past spring when you had some very profitable prices, you should have been doing some marketing. You can always debate, looking back on it, maybe should have done more, but the key point was to do some at that point and then see what happens. And the same thing is going to apply now with respect to what happens over the course of the winter.”

Looking ahead, Mintert recommends, “If you haven’t made those sales and you’ve got storage available this fall, take advantage of it. [There’s] relatively low risk into the end of the year and the beginning of 2023 and then see what happens.”

Mintert recommends a similar approach to securing inputs. He’s been reading articles asking if now is the time to lock in fertilizer prices like it turned out to be last year.

“Last year it was a great strategy… my bias would be to treat it a little bit like commodity prices in the sense that you don’t know what’s going to happen. So, therefore, you do a portfolio. You don’t lock in everything at this point, but you don’t stay completely open either because you simply don’t know what’s going to happen to fertilizer values going forward.”

Again, hear much more in the Purdue Crop Chat Podcast with Mintert as well as Purdue Extension Soybean Specialist Shaun Casteel and Corn Specialist Dan Quinn below. The podcast is presented by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Purdue Crop Chat Episode 40, Grain Marketing Strategies

On this episode of the Purdue Crop Chat, Purdue Extension Soybean Specialist Shaun Casteel and Corn Specialist Dan Quinn welcome ag economist and director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture Jim Mintert to discuss the August WASDE report and to provide some grain marketing advice.

They also discuss if now is the best time to secure fertilizer for next year.

This podcast is made possible by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance. Your Indiana corn and soybean checkoff investments yesterday are paying off today. New research, new uses, demand creation — bringing dollars back to the farm. Check it out at YourCheckoff.org.

Louis Dreyfus in Claypool Adds Lecithin Plant to Facility

Louis Dreyfus Company celebrated the opening of a new plant in Claypool, Indiana earlier this month. They say the opening of their new soy liquid lecithin plant positions the site as the country’s largest facility integrating soybean processing, biodiesel production, and glycerin and lecithin refining operations, as well as a food-grade packaging line and canola oil distribution terminal.

So, what is soy liquid lecithin?

“It marries oil and water in food ingredients. And so, it’s a binder. It keeps things together,” says Thomas Dirmyer, North America commercial manager for LDC’s food ingredients business. “Anything from chocolate to shelf stable brownies and muffins and treats through salad dressings and prepared gravies and things like that. There are also some personal care applications, etcetera. It can be used as an antioxidant and a flavor enhancer. It’s a utility infielder, if you will, of food ingredients.”

Dirmyer says the support from local government officials in Kosciusko County, state officials in Indiana, and others, has allowed for the continued growth of the LDC complex in Claypool.

We’ve got great support from [The Indiana Soybean Alliance]. Everyone’s interested in what we do, they’re supportive with anything that we need, and we’re excited to grow up the job base here. We’re adding new jobs. This plant doesn’t run itself. We’re very excited about that. And so, there were no other considerations than Claypool for us to make an investment here for this company.

For more on what soy liquid lecithin is and the potential growth for that market, listen to the interview with Dirmyer below.

Purdue Extension Honors Women in Agriculture for Leadership, Passion

Savannah Bordner received the 2022 Emerging Women in Agriculture Leadership award on Aug. 4, 2022 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Pictured: Angie Abbott, assistant dean of Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences and associate director for Purdue Extension, Savannah Bordner and Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. Photo: Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Back on August 4th at the Celebration of Agriculture held at the Indiana State Fair, Purdue Extension recognized three Indiana agriculture leaders. Purdue senior and former Indiana State FFA officer Savannah Bordner received the Emerging Women in Agriculture Leadership Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of a high school or undergraduate student who has made a positive impact on agriculture.

Bordner told HAT that since learning of the award, she’s done a lot of reflecting on where her passion for agriculture came from.

“It kind of goes back to riding in the tractor and combine with my dad growing up and talking about where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be. And going around with a good family friend of ours and doing chores in the hog barn. I just remember knowing I had a passion for ag but not knowing the depths of it and not knowing where this industry would take me. So, it’s just been really, really cool. This award means a lot because I’ve been able to reflect on where I started and how far I’ve come and what experiences I’ve gained along the way.”

Bordner says she has a tremendous respect for Indiana farmers and Indiana agriculture. She looks forward to taking that into her future career as she graduates in May. What career might that be?

“That is a really great question! So, I described it the other day as kind of this ocean that I’m looking at right now and I’m on a diving board. There are so many opportunities. It’s so vast, and I don’t know exactly what’s next. I interned for Corteva Agriscience this summer as a commercial sales intern. I loved my experience working with farmers and retailers, talking to them about the solutions for the future. So, I’m really excited to potentially begin a career with them or with another company.”

Bordner is studying agriculture economics at Purdue while serving as a Purdue College of Agriculture ambassador and in Purdue’s Old Masters Program. She recently traveled on a Purdue study abroad program with two Purdue Extension educators to study the rural development of Ireland while also learning about fisheries and agri-tourism.

In addition to her Corteva internship, Bordner has completed three other internships in her career, including at Ag Reliant Genetics, as a production agriculture marketing intern with John Deere, and as a sales and marketing agronomic intern at LG Seeds. She was a 10-year 4-H member and served as the Indiana state FFA northern regional vice president, during which she visited middle and high school classrooms to share her passion for agriculture. As a state FFA officer, she also traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss agriculture policy issues with representatives.

In addition to Bordner, Ice Miller practice group director Katie Glick was given the Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture Leadership Award and Joelle Orem of Howard County was given their Achievement Award. You can read more about them from the Purdue press release below:

The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture Leadership Award recognizes a woman in an agribusiness or policymaking position who has actively influenced Indiana agriculture. Katie Glick, practice group director for Ice Miller LLP, was honored with the 2022 award. Glick and her husband, Brett, live on their family farm in Columbus, Indiana, with their two daughters. The family owns and operates their private seed company, L&M Glick Seed, selling corn, soybean and wheat seeds directly to customers and the wholesale market. They also have a cattle operation and grow corn, soybeans, wheat and double crop soybeans.

In 2011, Glick joined the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Corn Growers Association as the public affairs and industry relations director. She worked with industry professionals and lobbied on behalf of Indiana corn and soybean farmers. Glick has served as an advocate for Indiana agriculture throughout her career including presenting at the National FFA conference and writing for a blog and the hometown newspaper. Glick is a 10-year 4-H member and continues to support the Indiana 4-H Foundation and local 4-H efforts in Bartholomew County.

The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture Achievement Award recognizes women who are directly involved in a home farm operation. Joelle Orem of Howard County is the honoree for 2022. With her husband and family, she helps manage Orem Farms, a beef cattle, grain crops and custom hay production operation. She works with Barn2Door, an e-commerce platform that offers web stores for farmers, as a marketing development expert. Orem helps farmers improve their brand strategy through social media and marketing. She recently joined Purdue Extension’s Women in Agriculture team to assist with event planning and creative projects.

The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture awards committee was co-chaired by Beth Vansickle, an Extension educator in Madison County, and Lindsey Moore, senior litigation officer at Farm Credit Mid-America. The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture team provides educational opportunities and resources for women in the agriculture industry and coordinates the Midwest Women in Agriculture conference.

Source: Purdue News Service