WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue agricultural economist expects Indiana farmland values to keep rising this year, continuing a trend that has seen them increase by 270 percent since 1985.
Farmland increased in value by 12 percent last year. In June 2010, the average price for an acre of land in Indiana was $4,419. With the strong prices in place since last fall, Craig Dobbins expects values to increase significantly.
“When you buy a capital asset, you are buying future income,” said Dobbins, who explained that the three main factors driving farmland values are income, interest rates and the growth rate of annual income.
Income has a positive relationship to farmland value. Farm income – what is left after subtracting all costs except land from the overall revenue – has increased greatly with strong commodity prices.
While commodity prices have increased with ethanol production, rising farm input costs need to be watched and have cut into farms’ total income, Dobbins said.
“In 2009, petroleum costs went way up and fertilizer costs hit $1,000 per ton, which was higher than we ever imagined,” he said. “This squeezed crop production margins. Farmland values didn’t increase as much and, in some cases, small declines occurred.”
Interest rates also drive farmland value because low interest rates make it easier to pay for a capital asset like land and make alternative investments less attractive.
“This is one area that a lot of people are talking about, as interest rates peaked in the 1980s and have been coming down ever since,” Dobbins said. “That’s helped increase farmland value, but zero is the bottom on interest rates, so it’s likely that they will at least flatten out.”
Dobbins said that with a growing world population and increased demand, many expect the growth rate of annual incomes to continue to be strong. Better crop genetics, tillage systems and weed control have led to increased yields and increased income.
Many other factors influence farmland prices, such as location and potential development. But, with the greatly decreased housing market of recent years, Dobbins said the movement of farmland into residential developments has slowed dramatically.
Far more people are interested in buying farmland than selling it, Dobbins said. Although it appears likely that farmland values will continue to increase, he advised farmers to be cautious with all purchase and sales decisions.
“Current farmland values are not excessive, but this is all based on the idea that expectations of strong farmland income, low interest rates and a continued growth in farmland income will be realized,” Dobbins said. “Sometimes expectations, even widely held expectations, are not realized. When this happens, there can be significant downward adjustments in farmland values. Farmers need to carefully budget through any decision to buy land.”
For additional information on farmland values, view the paper and video materials developed by the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture at http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/commercialag/progevents/landvalueswebinar.html
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — While recent rainy conditions have prevented farmers from using soil-applied herbicides, one Purdue Extension specialist reminds corn growers that many products can be applied postemergence.
“Almost all chloroacetamide/atrazine premix products can be applied to emerged corn,” said weed scientist Bill Johnson.
But he also said growers need to take precautions to prevent plant injury.
“Atrazine and chloroacetamide injury is more common in cool, cloudy weather and wet soils because these conditions slow a corn plant’s ability to metabolize or detoxify herbicides,” Johnson said. “Corn will be stressed after coming through a cool, wet period and will be more susceptible to herbicide injury.”
Once corn has emerged, farmers should be careful not to apply chloroacetamide/atrazine premixes in nitrogen solutions. Most labels state that atrazine premixes should be applied only with water once corn has emerged.
“Nitrogen solutions are effective in promoting herbicide uptake and causing necrosis on leaves by themselves, resulting in the burning and yellowing injury we occasionally see,” Johnson said. “A few products do allow postemergence applications in nitrogen solutions, but growers should consult the label if they have questions about a specific product.”
Tank mixes of 2,4-D with chloroacetamide/atrazine premix applied postemergence also can injure crops if applied improperly. Acetochlor (Harness, Surpass, Volley and others) labels indicate that 2,4-D should not be applied within 7-14 days before or 3-5 days after planting, but it should be applied before crop emergence.
Johnson said applications within 7-14 days before planting can injure corn by being washed down into the corn seed germination zone, or seed furrow. Applications after planting can cause injury if the combination contacts corn foliage.
“If in doubt about the crop injury potential of a specific chloroacetamide/atrazine premix, consult the label to see if it is allowed, or do not tank-mix 2,4-D with chloroacetamide/atrazine premixes and apply to emerged corn,” he said.
Should farmers have fields where corn is yellow and stressed from cool, wet weather, they should wait a few days to allow corn to recover from cold stress before applying herbicides.
Treatments containing atrazine will control many small, emerged broadleaf weeds. But, according to Johnson, emerged grass weeds tend to be more of an issue.
“Atrazine has activity on emerged grasses, and it is most effective when applied at high rates to very small grasses,” he said. “Products containing rimsulfuron will provide some foliar residual control of grass weeds and can be mixed with either the atrazine premixes or with glyphosate or glufosinate in Roundup Ready or Liberty Link corn.
“Larger grasses will require the addition of postemergence herbicides.”
For a table with a full list of corn products that have both some burndown capability and can be applied postemergence, visit the Purdue Extension weed science website at http://www.btny.purdue.edu/weedscience/2011/ColdWetCorn.html
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -– A new online tool to help farmers decide which cover crops will benefit their row crop rotation is now available in Indiana.
Purdue University and the Midwest Cover Crops Council teamed up to release the MCCC Cover Crop Decision Tool, which uses consolidated cover crop information by state or province to assist farmers in making cover crop selections at the county level.
Developing information for each state or province were university researchers, Extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel, state departments of agriculture personnel, crop advisers, seed suppliers and farmers. Purdue agronomy professors Eileen Kladivko and Keith Johnson contributed to the project.
“The MCCC hopes the cover crop selector tool will encourage the adoption of cover crops by providing the information and decision-making help necessary for farmers to successfully integrate cover crops into their cropping systems,” Kladivko said.
Users of the tool select their state or province and county. They also can give information on their cash crops, including planting and harvest dates, field information such as the soil drainage class, artificial drainage or flooding, and desired cover crop benefits.
Designed to be user-friendly, the tool allows users to immediately see how their input changes their cover crop options. Users can generate an information sheet for a selected cover crop that provides additional information and references relevant to application within the state or province.
The tool also has been completed for Michigan and Ohio, while other states and provinces are developing their information. When completed, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario will be added to the Web-based system.
A Natural Resources Conservation Service Innovation Grant, Michigan State University’s Project GREEEN -Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs – and the Great Lakes Regional Water Program fund the project.
The tool is available at http://mccc.msu.edu/SelectorTool/2011CCSelectorTool.pdf
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Agricultural producers storing more than 1,320 gallons of fuel or other petroleum products on their farms soon will need a written plan for preventing and handling spills, a Purdue University specialist said.
The plans are covered in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation amendments that take effect Nov. 10, said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs.
The federal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulation was adopted in 1974. It has been amended over the years.
“The SPCC’s basic intent is to make sure growers who store large amounts of these products are putting in place measures that will protect the area around their properties, specifically groundwater and surface water,” Whitford said. “With this regulation EPA is saying that we need to be thinking about fuel storage as much as pesticide and fertilizer storage. It doesn’t take much oil or gas to pollute water.”
Under the new amendments, only petroleum products stored in stationary tanks and containers of at least 55 gallons are counted toward the regulated total. Gasoline, diesel fuel and oil in tractors, trucks and other vehicular machinery are exempt.
Farmers would not be required to write a SPCC plan if their more than 1,320 gallons of petroleum products are stored on separate farms, so long as no single farm stores the regulated minimum, Whitford said.
“If you’re between 1,321 gallons and 10,000 gallons, you can self-certify your written plan. If you’re at greater than 10,000 gallons, the plan has to be written by a certified professional engineer. The EPA is looking to divide the smaller everyday users of products from those that store much larger quantities.”
Farmers can expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 to hire an engineer to write a SPCC plan, Whitford said.
The plan includes such information as how petroleum products are stored, the location of storage units, the farm’s topography and what steps would be taken in the event of a spill. The document is kept on the farm; EPA does not receive a copy.
“If EPA has to respond to a spill on your farm they will ask for this plan,” Whitford said. “Regulatory enforcement likely would occur only if an EPA representative visited a farm on an unrelated matter.”
Farmers can learn more about the regulation by visiting the EPA’s SPCC website, which also includes links for farmers and a template for writing a SPCC plan.
General information on the SPCC and fuel and oil storage is available in Purdue Extension publication PPP-73, Aboveground Petroleum Tanks: A Pictorial Guide. The publication, written by Whitford and co-authors from Purdue, the EPA, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, LaPorte County Co-op, Penn State University and industry, addresses risks related to fuel storage and ways to reduce those risks.
The 109-page publication is $5 per printed copy or free if downloaded online. It is available through Purdue’s The Education Store by visiting https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?itemID=19830 or calling toll-free 1-888-398-4636.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -– The Purdue Wine Grape Team will host two Extension workshops in April for those interested in commercial winegrowing and winemaking.
The first workshop, on April 15, will focus on vineyard establishment and will help farmers and entrepreneurs who are planning to expand their businesses. The workshop will be at Oliver Winery’s Creekbend Vineyard in Ellettsville, Ind., from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Topics include vineyard layout, vine planting, trellis establishment, weed management, sprayer calibration and use of Driftwatch, as well as vine training and canopy management through year three after planting. Private pesticide applicators will receive recertification credit for attending.
At the second workshop, on April 29, the team will discuss ways to advance high-quality grape growing, winemaking and wine marketing. The workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Buck Creek Winery, located southwest of Indianapolis.
“Our spring wine grape workshops are a perfect opportunity to improve upon your sustainable vineyard and winery practices,” said Christian Butzke, associate professor of enology.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. –- Purdue Extension’s 2011 Corn and Soybean Field Guide, a pocket-sized reference guide that allows farmers to quickly analyze troubled areas in their fields, is now available.
The guide, updated annually, is filled with photographs and information to help diagnose and manage problems such as weeds, diseases and insects, said Corey Gerber, director of Purdue’s Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center.
The 324-page guide also covers soil fertility, herbicide injuries, planting decisions, nutrient deficiency and crop development. The guide is color-coded for quick reference and can be used from planting through harvest.
The annual publication has been in production since 1988. High-quality photographs, updated pesticide and fertilizer recommendations comprise the major changes in the 2011 edition.
Gerber said using the guide to help manage pest problems and apply the appropriate amount of fertilizer for deficiency problems could produce top yields and save farmers money.
“The guide helps farmers make the right decisions as they see an issue, and it is the most affordable source of information to take to the field,” he said.
About 25 percent of the guides are sold in Indiana, with the remainder scattered nationally and globally.
“The guide is not only applicable to Indiana, but other regions of the United States, as well as around the world,” Gerber said.
Individual copies are $7. Guides are available from the Purdue Extension Education Store by calling (888) EXT-INFO (398-4636) or at www.the-education-store.com. They usually ship within two business days.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. –- Purdue Extension is offering a six-week series, starting in March, to teach beginning farmers about financial management, marketing and legal issues.
Living on the Land is the second part of the small-acreage series and focuses on entrepreneurial farming rather than lifestyle or hobby farming, said Steve Engleking, Purdue Extension educator and Indiana Small Farm coordinator.
“The first part of the program was geared toward how to do the basics,” Engleking said. “Now we want to teach how to generate income from the property.”
Classes will meet from 6:30-9 p.m. (EST) Thursdays, beginning March 3. The workshops will explore business structures, liability risks and regulatory issues. The last week of the series includes a tour of a small farm.
Purdue Extension specialists and educators, farming industry experts and agency professionals will present through interactive webinar. Engleking encourages learning from the other participants.
“We want to emphasize the importance of getting together and networking with others,” Engleking said. “Part of the value comes from face-to-face interaction and learning in a collaborative environment.”
Host counties for the series are Delaware, DeKalb, Floyd, Hamilton, Kosciusko and Wabash, along with Pinney-Purdue Ag Center in Porter County.
Registration fee is $150 per person or $200 for two individuals from the same farm. Registration is open to everyone and is not limited to part one participants.
For more information or to register, contact Engleking at 260-499-6334 or email@example.com, or call your local Purdue Extension office at 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636).
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Farmers who favor continuation of federal commodity payments should come away from Tuesday’s (Nov. 2) election feeling good, a Purdue University agricultural economist said.
While Republicans regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats held onto the majority in the Senate, the new agricultural committees in each chamber aren’t likely to touch farm subsidy programs, said Otto Doering, a farm policy specialist. There’s even a good chance both committees will abandon attempts by current House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson to eliminate direct payments, he said.
“Congressman Peterson’s desire is to back off direct payments and, instead, strengthen counter-cyclical payments to make agricultural subsidies more reasonable and fair to the public,” Doering said. “I think that’s dead meat at this point as farm groups rally again to preserve the direct payment, particularly in this time of high commodity prices.”
Counter-cyclical payments date back to 1933 and are traditional price support subsidies provided to qualifying crop farmers when the prices for their crops are lower than a specified level. The payments were replaced in 1996 by direct payments, which qualifying farmers receive regardless of whether crop prices are high or low. Congress reintroduced counter-cyclical payments in 2000 and have left the two subsidies in place ever since.
Direct payments are expected to be considered when Congress takes up a new farm bill next year – if farm legislation is debated at all, Doering said.
Federal spending on farm income subsidies is about $20 billion per year. Farmers are receiving the payments this year despite enjoying high prices for corn, soybeans and wheat. Even with high land rental rates, fertilizer and equipment prices, farmers can make a living with current crop prices, Doering said.
“The Republican House leadership indicates it will keep the direct payments fully intact even when prices are high,” he said. “However, recognize that one of the leaders of the tea party movement is Dick Armey of Texas, a former whip for the Republican House under Newt Gingrich. There is nothing on earth that Armey hates more than agricultural subsidies. So we may see change.”
Two related federal subsidies also could be on the docket for the 112th Congress, Doering said. Ethanol plants receive assistance to produce the biofuel, while its retail price is buoyed by a 45-cents-per-gallon subsidy. Congressional action on both subsidies is complicated by the Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal law that mandates the increased production of biofuels.
“The ethanol subsidy ends in January, and Congress is going to have to decide what to do with it,” Doering said.
“The Renewable Fuels Standard requires gasoline blenders to blend a certain amount of ethanol with their gasoline. It’s 10 percent now, but the push is to take it to 12 percent or even 15 percent. The law requires that enough ethanol be purchased by the gasoline blenders to meet the standard’s requirement. So they, in effect, have to force up the price of ethanol enough so that ethanol plants are actually able to produce ethanol at a profit so they can operate.”
Doering predicts political and ideological differences between the divided House and Senate will stall movement on climate change issues, trade policy and economic stimulus legislation.
An energy conservation bill by Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, intended to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and encourage more efficient electricity use, might not get a congressional hearing, Doering said.
He also fears that Washington could enact risky import tariffs as a means of tackling the U.S. trade imbalance and fail to make the necessary investments in technology and the labor force to regain a competitive global edge.
“I think we’ve gotten tremendous splits of values on a lot of these issues to the point where there is a refusal to walk sort of a common-sense road down the middle,” Doering said. “Whatever we see in terms of stimulus of the economy through expansion by the Federal Reserve, reduction in spending and whatever else isn’t going to bring about much change.
“We are now at the bottom of the hole and there is nothing that the Republicans or Democrats can do at this point to dig us out of the hole quickly. We’re in a hole that we’ve been digging ourselves into for at least 20 years.”
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A new online calculator can show farmers where they might find energy savings as they dry their grain in drying systems.
The Purdue Energy Estimator projects energy costs for in-bin and high-capacity grain dryers. The online resource was developed by researchers in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
It is free for public use and can be found on the Purdue Renewable Energy website at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/renewable-energy and then clicking on “On-Farm Efficiency.”
While farmers usually know what they are spending to dry grain, they don’t always understand how dryer components and operating conditions contribute to the energy bill, said Klein Ileleji, one of the Purdue agricultural engineers who developed the calculator.
“This tool enables them to do that, or at least gives them an avenue to look at grain drying systems more closely,” Ileleji said. “With this estimator, they can run scenarios that will inform them ahead of time how much energy they are consuming on the farm and the factors that can help them reduce those costs.”
Users begin by selecting either an in-bin or high-capacity dryer model from a menu of options.
In-bin dryer users can calculate energy consumption and cost for corn, wheat and soybeans, using propane, natural gas or an electric heater. Users can choose among 82 locations within the Corn Belt and the date they plan to dry grain. About 30 years of weather data was entered into the estimator to provide more accurate drying cost results.
The in-bin estimator also asks users to enter initial and target grain moisture content, starting grain temperature, bin diameter and height, grain price in dollars per bushel, fan airflow rate and electric cost per kilowatt hour.
“Running the simulation provides results for four different drying strategies: continuous natural air, constant heat, variable heat and self-adapting variable heat,” Ileleji said.
Those calculating high-capacity dryer energy use select among seven grain crops and propane or natural gas fuel, and enter fuel cost per gallon, electricity cost, beginning and desired grain moisture, ambient air temperature and relative humidity, and drying air temperature.
Seconds after the user enters the information, the estimator spits out its results: fuel, electric and grain shrinking costs per bushel; drying time in days; average moisture content; MBTUs required for drying; and BTUs per pound of water. Additional data fields appear for high-capacity dryers.
“Keep in mind that these are best estimates,” Ileleji said. “While they are research-based and we’ve done our best to make the tool as accurate as possible, results should not be construed as actual savings.”
The estimator is a work in progress, Ileleji said. At this time just one dryer manufacturer’s models appear on the website, but others will be added as information is available, he said.
Research used to develop the estimator was funded in part through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant titled “Exploring Biofuel Alternatives for Energy-Intensive Seasonal Drying Processes.” Most of the background research was conducted by Dirk Maier, former Purdue professor and agricultural engineer.
Dan Ess, a Purdue agricultural engineer, also is a co-principal investigator for the estimator project.
The conference will include discussions of interest to professionals in agribusiness. Guest speakers and experts will talk about the impact of changes occurring in the retail sector of agribusiness and how agribusinesses are responding to sustainability opportunities and challenges. About 200 people are expected to attend the conference.
“When that many like-minded people are in a room, the possibility of getting something good out of it is incredible,” said April Sauer, managing director of the Purdue University Center for Food and Agricultural Business. “Attendees will gain insights from this conference that will inspire new ideas and contribute to elevating agribusiness as a whole.”
On Nov. 16 keynote speaker Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor of agronomy at Purdue, will discuss agriculture’s responsibility for innovation and feeding the world. Ejeta is the 2009 World Food Prize laureate.
The cost to attend is $895, or $845 if registered before Sept. 14. Team rates and educational credit are available. For more information call 765-494-4247.
To learn more or register online visit http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/programs/nca