Entering The Ethanol Age

Back in January, CropLife® magazine published its short list of top retailer issues for 2006: product pricing, glyphosate resistance/tolerance, and Asian soybean rust. Hindsight being 20/20, we now know that ethanol also should have been highlighted.

But that’s the beauty of a December synopsis; everyone gets to look back and tweak the list — after the fact.

In the end, this year’s major topics included energy and ethanol, rust and resistance, and biotech and meth, plus an exciting development in precision agriculture.

The New Gold Rush: Biofuels

Americans’ frustration with higher gasoline costs and dependence on foreign oil, increasing numbers of hybrid vehicles, and President George W. Bush’s State of the Union announcement of the Advanced Energy Initiative added more fuel to the fired-up interest in corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel this year.

Experts anticipate an increase in corn acres in an attempt to meet the larger demand for ethanol, and many ag dealerships are already strong believers in biodiesel. The expected higher market prices mean grower-customers will be willing to spend more input dollars, and that’s good news for retailers.

Biotech Bounty

The effort to increase corn and soybeans available for biofuel production also will require improved seed traits and yields. For example, earlier this year Syngenta announced that it expects to launch a genetically modified corn seed that could lower the cost of ethanol production by 10%.

More trait stacks, increased insect resistance, and technology licensing deals were just some improvements that marked the biotechnology landscape as seed continues to strongarm crop protection product sales

Growers gained new markets in Japan and the European Union, respectively, for Dow AgroSciences/Pioneer Hi-Bred International‘s Herculex RW Rootworm Protection and Herculex XTRA Insect Protection grain corn hybrids and Monsanto‘s YieldGard Plus corn and YieldGard Rootworm and processed products.

Weed Management

The glyphosate resistance/tolerance issue is now of such concern to retailers and their grower-customers that CropLife and its sister publication, Cotton Grower magazine, presented three “Total Weed Management” Special Reports, sponsored by Monsanto Co. in 2006.

In March, the report covered best practices for today’s cropping systems, with “Don’t Dismiss Resistance” as the key message. The second report, in May, focused on best practices for protecting yield and reducing risk.

“Total Weed Management: Year In Review and 2007 Outlook” was the theme of the November report. University, association, and manufacturer resources also were included with each report.

On the seed side, the first round of the battle over glyphosate-tolerant technology rights between Monsanto and Syngenta went to Syngenta Seeds, Inc. Monsanto announced it would appeal the U.S. District Court ruling that allowed Syngenta Seeds to sell its GA21 products.

Post-Patent Popularity Up

Post-patent products — which represent approximately half of the market share of all crop protection products — continued to be embraced by top retailers. This year, 86% of them reported buying post-patent products, a jump from 79% in 2005.

This figure becomes more significant when the across-the-board price increases are factored in. Manufacturers had previously been able to absorb most of the growing material costs, but this year’s jump in energy prices — due to increased demand and abetted by the 2005 hurricane season — forced them to share some of the increase with customers.

Rust Makes Late Surge

For most of its sophomore year in the U.S., Asian soybean rust stayed tucked away in the South again. A late-season surge — too late to affect yields in most areas — took the disease up into Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Virginia.

Nothing stays stagnant for long on the rust front. The PIPE Web site was updated this year to show where rust-infected sites have been destroyed, soybean aphid tracking was added, and Mexico’s data may soon be included. And retailers’ arsenal of Section 18 emergency exemption fungicides for rust control was beefed up with the addition of Domark, Onset, Uppercut, and Alto.

Deterring The Meth Problem

Retailers got a helping hand with the growing methamphetamine (meth) problem when the USA Patriot Act was renewed in March. The act regulates the sale of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in the manufacture of the illegal drug, and is expected to reduce the theft of anhydrous ammonia (NH3) from ag dealerships.

Another deterrent, discovered by Iowa State University researchers, is calcium nitrate. When injected into NH3 nurse tanks, it dramatically reduces the amount of meth produced. The product is not yet available on a large-scale basis.

Precision Gains Focus

In 2006, the practice of precision agriculture began its second decade. In response to the mind-boggling rate that new technologies come on board from many sources, the CropLife Media Group has launched the PrecisionAg Institute. This independent and neutral forum — which will be managed by the CropLife Media Group — will serve as a central depot for all things precision, and 13 companies have signed on as Founding Partners.

The Institute’s mission is to foster technology transfer, wider adoption, and increasingly effective use of precision agriculture technology worldwide in the years to come.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More