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2014 Trends

Kacey Birchmier 03/14/2014 @ 4:04pm I grew up on a fourth-generation farm in central Iowa. Follow me on twitter - @KaceyBirchmier.

Meetings and conferences are an opportunity to glean information from experts, farmers, and industry leaders. I’ve had the opportunity to attend several this winter – here are a few trends I’ve been hearing.

Herbicide resistant weeds
This has been a problem for a while, but it’s becoming more widespread. Jason Norsworthy, weed scientist at the University of Arkansas, says by 2017 almost all U.S. farms will have glyphosate-resistant weeds.

New technologies will be entering the market soon, but farmers are quick to point out they don’t have new modes of action. Plus, currently there aren’t any new modes of action in the pipeline. In light of that, many have said they are trying to be proactive in preserving technology currently available to them. That includes mixing traits and technologies along with incorporating mechanical controls.

Cover crops
Not everyone is trying them yet, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open seat if you show up late to a seminar on cover crops.

Managing your expectations is key when adding cover crops into your operation. Tracy Blackmer, director of research at Cover Crop Solutions, tells farmers they need to know what they want to accomplish when planting cover crops. That could be a range of goals from greater water holding capacity, improved soil health, stopping soil erosion, or building soil. These goals take time to accomplish, and other than reducing runoff, you aren’t going to see results in the first year.

Regulations

Nutrient reduction strategy - say that in a room full of farmers and you’re going to see a range of emotions. Some growers I’ve spoken with dislike the name of strategy, and say it’s about managing nutrients more efficiently not necessarily reducing rates.

There’s a fear regulations are coming, but also hope that by addressing the issues, regulation can be avoided. There’s no one-size-fits all approach. Farmers have been implementing practices ranging from no-till to cover crops to wetlands to reduce runoff. While there has been some cost share, many are trying these practices on their own dime.

Commodity Prices
The lower commodity prices are making farmers uneasy. This is translating into purchases and planning for most farmers. If it hasn’t already improved their bottom-line, it’s probably not going get its opportunity this year.

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