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14 big-time ag trends for 2013
A huge trend to watch in the coming year is how the drought will unfold. Whether it continues will have major implications to crop and livestock producers, especially when it comes to the marketplace for those commodities. Don't count out major volatility either way, experts say.
Will a 'bubble' burst in the farmland market or will values continue to climb in 2013? Certainly the drought will play a major role in how it affects farm incomes and, as a result, the amount of land on the market and what prices it fetches at auction.
The machinery market looks positive heading into 2013. Worldwide production will be a $110 billion business heading into the new year, and that's likely to continue trending higher. And, that's just new iron; the used market will continue its surge higher in 2013, too.
The number of farmers using the futures market as a hedging mechanism in an ever-volatile marketplace will increase in 2013. In past years, 20% to 30% of farmers have traded in the futures versus cash market, but recent data show that number's swelled to 42%, and that's likely to rise further in the next year.
In the new machinery market, look for technology to lead the way in the U.S. Starting in 2013 and for 3 to 5 years beyond next year, experts say precision ag tools -- including the relatively new sector of crop sensors -- will be major manufacturers' focus in releasing new products.
Farmers have been gleaning crop data through precision tools for years, and 2013 will be a year of major focus on data management and integration. New products will seek to marry all steps in the data collection and utilization process to allow farmers to make rock-solid agronomic decisions.
The technology trend isn't limited to precision ag. More farmers are using tech tools from cloud computing to keeping up with everything with tablet computers and smartphones. The latter 2 devices have seen major increases in use among farmers and that looks to continue in 2013.
An increasing number of farms are being operated and managed by women, and that will continue to increase in 2013. The FarmLASTS Project estimates that women could own up to 3/4 of the farmland that changes hands in the next 20 years. Watch for that trend to pick up in the next year.
Changes in federal tax policy and rising farmland values are both likely in 2013, and both are important to succession planning on the farm. Recent data show more than 70% of farmers at retirement age have yet to identify a successor. The next year will likely see a renewed emphasis on farm succession planning.
What about changes in the field? Cover crops will continue to grow in prevalence in a lot of farm operations in 2013 as farmers start to identify different combinations of plants -- like radishes, cereal rye and annual ryegrass -- that perform best on different landscapes.
Corn yields were generally disappointing in 2012. Getting those yields back to trend will be a challenge even if the drought breaks. Factors like pest resistance and diseases like aflatoxin will likely be in the 2013 crop picture. But, more normal rainfall will go a long way to easing these types of issues.
Weeds had a big year in 2012, and controlling them will again be a challenge in 2013. Look for cultural practices like narrow-row soybeans and overall good field sanitation to join the cadre of chemical control means farmers employ to knock down weeds in the next year.
Input costs will likely continue to rise in 2013, spawning an increase in the adoption of tillage systems that cut back on fuel and other inputs. Look for an increase in no-till and strip-till, especially if the drought continues into the 2013 crop year.
Don't be surprised if there are more soybeans in 2013. Continuous corn yielded poorly in 2012, and soybeans saw a yield boost from late-season rains. Watch for signs of this trend early in the new year, namely in the pace of crop input purchases.
From the editors of Successful Farming & Agriculture.com, here are a few trends to watch in the next year