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SOYBEAN review


March 2019





Whether you’re dealing with drought, flood, heat or other climate-related stress, the soy checkoff is working behind the scenes to diversify U.S. soybean genetics and increase stress tolerance. We’re looking inside the bean, beyond the bushel and around the world to keep preference for U.S. soy strong. And it’s helping make a valuable impact for soybean farmers like you. See more ways the soy checkoff is maximizing profit opportunities for soybean farmers at unitedsoybean. org

Brought to you by the soy checkoff. ©2018 United Soybean Board. Our Soy Checkoff and the Our Soy Checkoff mark are trademarks of United Soybean Board. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

President Lindsay Greiner, Keota | At Large President Elect Tim Bardole, Rippey | At Large Treasurer Robb Ewoldt, Blue Grass | D6

March 2019 | Vol. 31, No. 6

Secretary Dave Walton, Wilton | D6 Executive Committee Randy Miller, Lacona | D8 Board of Directors Brent Swart, Spencer | D1 Chuck White, Spencer | D1 April Hemmes, Hampton | D2 Casey Schlichting, Clear Lake | D2 Rick Juchems, Plainfield | D3 Suzanne Shirbroun, Farmersburg | D3 LaVerne Arndt, Sac City | D4 Jeff Frank, Auburn | D4 Rolland Schnell, Newton | D5 Morey Hill, Madrid | D5 Bill Shipley, Nodaway | D7 Jeff Jorgenson, Sidney | D7 Warren Bachman, Osceola | D8 Pat Swanson, Ottumwa | D9 Tom Adam, Harper | D9 Brent Renner, Klemme | At Large Stephanie Essick, Dickens | At Large American Soybean Association Board of Directors Morey Hill, Madrid Wayne Fredericks, Osage Brian Kemp, Sibley John Heisdorffer, Keota Dean Coleman, Humboldt United Soybean Board of Directors Delbert Christensen, Audubon Larry Marek, Riverside Tom Oswald, Cleghorn April Hemmes, Hampton Staff Credits Editor | Ann Clinton Communications Director | Aaron Putze, APR Senior Creative Manager | Ashton Boles Photographer | Joseph L. Murphy Staff Writer | Bethany Baratta Staff Writer | Carol Brown Staff Writer | Lauren Houska Staff Writer | Katie Johnson Sales Director | David Larson Iowa Soybean Review is published eight times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 (515) 251-8640 | iasoybeans.com E-mail: aclinton@iasoybeans.com For advertising information in the Iowa Soybean Review, please contact Larson Ent. LLC (515) 440-2810 or Dave@LarsonentLLC.com. Comments and statewide news articles should be sent to the above address. Advertising space reservations must be made by the first day of the month preceding publication. In consideration of the acceptance of the advertisement, the agency and the advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement.

11 New Space Promotes Collaboration at ISU

Brick and mortar structures aren't often thought of as collaborative tools, but those working in the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building would say otherwise.

14 Focused Practices

A public-private partnership success story for water quality.

16 Cover Control

A 4-inch rain in 60 minutes made a Corning farmer a believer in cover crops.

18 Expanding Global Soybean Markets

Cruise ships, ocean liners, barges and cargo ships pass through the bustling Panama Canal in early February.

On the Cover: The Iowa Soybean Association has long recognized that given the range and scope of challenges in Iowa agriculture, collaborating and partnering with others is critically important. Rose Hill native and longtime conservation advocate, Mark Jackson, is pictured on the cover of this issue examining the nutrients of his farm’s soil. It takes a collaborative effort to enhance progress within the ag industry.


Kirk Leeds Chief Executive Officer, Iowa Soybean Association kleeds@iasoybeans.com, Twitter @kirkleeds

Collaboration and Partnership Like many organizations, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has adopted and embraced several important value statements. They provide guidance for staff as we pursue ISA’s mission and work to achieve its vision. Included are such worthy values as: HONESTY: earn trust through our actions

TRANSPARENCY: communicate openly with all stakeholders

ADVOCACY ON BEHALF OF FARMERS: standing with and advocating for farmers


invest farmers’ resources wisely

FACT-BASED AND DATADRIVEN: going where the data takes us

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: striving for optimum performance


sustainable production practices

COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIP: impact through shared dialogue and resources


Although all these values are important to ISA, I thought about the last one on this list as I reviewed the stories and topics included in this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review. ISA has long recognized that given the range and scope of the challenges we face in Iowa agriculture, and more specifically in soybeans, collaborating and partnering with others is critically important if we have any chance of obtaining our mission of “expanding opportunities and delivering results for Iowa’s soybean farmers.” In the pages of this month’s magazine, you will learn more about ISA’s partnership with the Iowa Ag Water Alliance (IAWA), and it's work with the Practical Farmers of Iowa on the profitability of grazing cover crops. IAWA was formed five years ago as a collaborative effort by ISA, Iowa Corn Growers and Iowa Pork Producers to accelerate the adoption of voluntary practices by farmers in meeting the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. You will also read about the work of the Soy Transportation Coalition,

a partnership between the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association and 13 state soybean organizations, including Iowa. ISA played a critical role in creating this partnership to focus on the critical infrastructure and transportation needs of soybean farmers across the country. Mike Steenhoek serves as the Coalition’s executive director, and offices here at ISA. Additional stories share the value of partnerships as we work to increase demand for biodiesel, develop other international markets and build upon more than 50 years of collaboration with Iowa State University (ISU) on soybean research. This partnership with ISU is highlighted as we share photos of ISA’s support of the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building on campus. ISA will continue to uphold our commitment to our core values, including collaboration and partnerships. It’s what the farmers we serve expect, and it’s what we hope of ourselves and our many partners.

Full-Circle Return

HERE’S HOW THE SOY CHECKOFF WORKS. The national soy checkoff was created as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. The Act & Order that created the soy checkoff requires that all soybean farmers pay into the soy checkoff at the first point of purchase. These funds are then used for promotion, research and education at both the state and national level.

S TO ELEVATORS, PROCESS N A E ORS B ELL &D S EA RS E LER M R S A F 1/2 of 1% of the total selling price collected per the national soybean act & order


Half goes to the state checkoff for investment in areas that are a priority for that state.




ROI TO THE FA RMER by 73 volunteer soybean farmers, the United Soybean Board * Led (USB) invests and leverages soy checkoff dollars to MAXIMIZE PROFIT OPPORTUNITIES for all U.S. soybean farmers.


Half goes to the national checkoff for investment in USB’s* long-range strategic plan.

Michael Dolch Director of Public Affairs, Iowa Soybean Association MDolch@iasoybeans.com

Membership Matters Since writing and pondering last month’s column titled “All Politics Is Local,” I have decided to take a step back and consider the driving force behind an association – its membership. I think it’s valuable to periodically pause, reflect and dig deeper into the nuts and bolts of these driving (or limiting) factors. Over the next couple of months, we will take a closer, unfiltered look at membership, specifically the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Advocate Membership and the millennial generation. Let’s start by first teeing up and defining the term. Membership is the people who put in the time, energy and funding necessary for an association to exist. It is through the work of its members that an association’s mission is carried out. So, why join? Regardless of size, scope or industry, the answer is often the same. “Our association offers exclusive, member-only benefits ranging from advocacy, a magazine, discounts on publications and education, resources to keep you informed, leadership and networking opportunities.”


I struggle with this response. Yes, access to programs and services is extremely important and valuable – a must-have within the agriculture industry. But with a new generation finding its footing and asking for more, we must also understand that folks are now joining for different reasons. Some join to obtain relevant and timely information. Some join for leadership opportunities. As a millennial myself, I have observed five key things that people my age are asking of an association. 1. TEACH ME. 2. LISTEN TO ME. 3. MENTOR ME. 4. ACKNOWLEDGE ME. 5. REWARD ME.

While all five may be important to all generations, millennials are seemingly more likely to walk away from an organization if these five are left unsatisfied and unmet. When considering the ISA’s Advocate Membership, April Hemmes, District 2 ISA director and Hampton farmer sums it up well:

“When I look at the dues for each of the organizations I belong, I always ask, “Am I getting value from this membership? And with the ISA Advocate Membership, I see that value.” District 6 ISA Director Dave Walton adds, “It’s important to understand that checkoff dollars can’t be used for policy or legislative work. It’s why joining as an advocate member is so vital. The backing of all advocate members amplifies my voice and strengthens our efforts in Iowa and Washington, D.C.” As Walton says, since the soybean checkoff cannot be used to influence policy, we rely strictly on industry support and Advocate Membership. These investments build on research, education and communications by empowering ISA’s work with elected officials, regulators and policymakers. Next month, we will walk through a specific example and explore how ISA’s Advocate Membership is working for you.

ISA Urges Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension BY BETHANY BARATTA

Iowa’s booming biodiesel industry not only supports the soybean industry, but also the state’s economy and Iowa’s livestock sector. However, an expired tax credit hinders growth in production of the homegrown fuel and threatens those ancillary benefits. The biodiesel tax credit has been issued previously to provide a $1-per-gallon credit to blenders in the state who blend biodiesel with petroleum. But the tax credit has expired and was not included in the House’s government funding bill. Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) farmer leaders and staff have been visiting with senators and members of Congress to urge an extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which they say provides some certainty for

Iowa’s farmers and blenders. “The biodiesel tax credit is essential for industry growth and prosperity,” says Michael Dolch, director of public affairs for ISA. “Without action on the expired tax credit, biodiesel producers are forced to shelve capital investment and long-term planning — some are purchasing less feedstock because of the uncertainty. As a primary supplier, this puts soybean farmers at a disadvantage.” The biodiesel tax credit extension would ideally include a one-year retroactive extension and a 7-year prospective extension, says Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and director of market development for ISA. “We want a multi-year extension

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because that’s really the only way as an industry you can make a long-term business investment and decision,” Kimberley says. Previous biodiesel tax credits have shown to help grow the biofuels industry, especially in Iowa. An extension of the tax credits would ensure some certainty for the 11 blenders in the state that produced 365 million gallons of the biofuel last year, Kimberley says. “The certainty of the tax credits provides an incentive for biodiesel plants, marketers and petroleum distributors to invest in infrastructure so long-term the industry can be very, very price competitive against petroleum no matter what kind of incentives are out there,” Kimberley says.

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Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Trade Resolution with China: A 'Bonanza' For America’s Farmers BY AARON PUTZE, APR


he role of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is to serve as a liaison between the President of the United States and the country’s farmers and ranchers. Sonny Perdue is ideally suited for it and he proved so again in keynote remarks delivered earlier this month at Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla. Thousands of soybean, corn, sorghum and wheat farmers who gathered for the annual event granted Perdue a standing ovation as he outlined the administration’s focus and progress on agricultural trade. “Doing business with China is a priority for President Trump, and he has the back of America’s farmers,” says the former Georgia governor and state senator. “That said, we have a lot of work to do to come to an agreement. I’m hopeful that one is eminent, but I also don’t want to unfairly raise expectations.


“These things can take time because the president, just like he’s proving with North Korea, is not going to accept an agreement that’s unenforceable and not good for the American people.” Perdue says no one benefits if America continues to turn a blind eye while China fails to fulfill its commitments as called for under the World Trade Organization. “They were posing unfair trade barriers and jerking us around,” he says. “This can’t continue to happen while our trade deficit grows. Inaction poses a tremendous financial hardship for America and one that will grow if this behavior continues.” Perdue acknowledges that when the administration “threw the flag on China” last year, farmers would be the first to feel the economic

pain because of their productivity and dependency on exports. A scan of commodity sales data proves it. Since China’s implementation of a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans last summer, exports of the legume to the country of 1.4 billion people have declined by almost twothirds. U.S. soybean prices are also off nearly $2 per bushel. “While there are a lot of hurdles and details to work out, we’re setting the foundation for the leaders of both countries to come to an agreement. China needs our stuff, and a resolution will be a bonanza for American agriculture,” Perdue says. As talks with China proceed, Perdue underscored the need for swift passage of the U.S.-MexicoCanada agreement, or USMCA.

A coalition of U.S. farm, commodity and business organizations, including the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have voiced support for its ratification. “I always say we live in the best three neighborhoods in the world,” Perdue says, referencing America’s neighbors to the north and south. “We’re excited about having a new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement to help U.S. ag, labor and auto manufacturers. Canada and Mexico are always in the top three markets. We need them, and they need us.” Progress on trade – including getting a deal done with Japan – will remain the administration’s top priority, Perdue adds. "The president has a natural


affinity for farmers; he understands the risks you take. Perhaps that's because, like him, you build things, too,” he says. “It’s been quite a roller coaster ride. But farmers are farmers and you’re tough and resilient. We’re hoping this ride ends well.” While much of the discussion in agricultural circles is rightly focused on trade, the ag secretary says the industry must also stand united against a movement committed to “creating fear ????????????? about our food.” Some nongovernment organizations and brand merchandisers are going to great lengths to sow doubt about certain

foods and farming practices. Perdue says he will have none of it. Farmers must rise, dispel the myths and take ownership of their commitment to growing safe, quality food. “We used to sit behind our farm gate doing what we do. But we must get outside the farm gate,” he says. “Farmers have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to growing the world’s safest, best and most abundant food. “We need to speak up locally and globally that there’s nothing about our food to fear, and you can be assured that we at the U.S. Department of Agriculture will lend a hand.”


soybean processor


ISA SALUTES THE IAWA BUSINESS COUNCIL Iowa Soybean Association recognizes the members of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) Business Council for their important work to improve Iowa’s water quality. These industry stakeholders bring unique private-sector skills and perspectives together to advise IAWA on public-private partnerships, such as the Conservation Infrastructure initiative and the Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership project. The IAWA Business Council members include representatives from the following companies.

IAWA’s mission is to increase the pace and scale of farmer-led efforts to improve water quality in Iowa. IowaAgWaterAlliance.com


Maximizing the potential of every soybean acre is important. Especially this year. Managing weeds, pests and disease and using inputs efficiently can reduce costs and boost yield potential. Research for farmers conducted by farmers is a priority of the Iowa Soybean Association. The March edition of The State of Soy will highlight timely research results, plans for 2019 and how farmers can be active participants to make the most of every acre of production.






rick and mortar structures aren't often thought of as collaborative tools, but faculty, students and researchers working in the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building (ATRB) at Iowa State University (ISU) would say otherwise. The new building, which opened last year, was part of $88 million in bioscience facility improvements approved by the state Board of Regents in 2015. Recently, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) directors and staff celebrated the ongoing partnership between ISA and the ISU College of Agriculture and Life

Sciences at the new ATRB. "The facilities offer many open spaces that encourage collaboration and communication," says Ed Anderson, ISA's senior director of research. "That helps drive all areas of science forward." In a partnership lasting more than 50 years, ISA has invested about $55 million in checkoff funds to champion research at ISU. "ISA’s partnership with ISU really has provided both organizations a way to better serve Iowa soybean producers and Iowa agriculture," ISU President Wendy Wintersteen says.

"Together we are able to identify the critical issues facing producers and see what opportunities are on the horizon. We are also investing funds from the soybean checkoff combined with the time, talent and intellectual ability of our faculty to make an impact. That's enabled by this partnership." The building houses plant pathology, microbiology, entomology and genetics development, and cell biology departments. "I think the reach is way beyond just this building," Anderson says. "I think it reflects well for ISU, and encourages collaboration across the campus." MARCH 2019 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 11


Insects displayed in the entomology department.

ABOVE: InJung Kang, a visiting scholar, extracts DNA from plant tissue as Bridget Hatfield, a graduate assistant, performs an acyl-homoserine-lactone test.



BELOW: The labs at the Advance Teaching and Research James Klimavicz, a graduate student majoring in organic

Building at Iowa State University boasts state-of-the-art research facilities and green house space on the roof.

chemistry and toxicology, works on experiments relating to the synthesis of biorational insect repellents, the development of new potential nematicides and production of new compounds for seed treatments derived from natural products.

Soybean plants thrive in an environmental room in the Advance Teaching and Research Building at Iowa State University. The plants are used to research varieties resistant to diseases and SCN.

Ireland Pollpeter examines Soybean Cyst Nematode samples under a microscope. MARCH 2019 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 13


F O C U S E D P RAC T I C E S A Public-Private Partnership Success Story for Water Quality BY ZITA QUADE


hen the Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership (MAWQP) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) was awarded in 2016, it was the largest RCPP project in the nation that year. Halfway through its 5-year timeline the partnership is showing progress in improving water quality. The program is far ahead of schedule on several key milestones. Much of the success has come from the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) bringing many private partners to the table to help increase the pace and scale to improve water quality in priority watersheds. New partnerships with crop consultants and engineering firms provide new technical assistance, conservation assessments and tools to help make watershed planning and implementation cheaper, faster and more effective. IAWA co-leads the program with the Iowa Department

of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and it is offered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Funding for the program includes $9.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds and $38.5 million in non-federal partner match. “To date, 68 percent of that match has been met,” says Jim Jordahl, director of programs and operations for IAWA. “Likewise, the $9.5 million in USDA-NRCS funds are being spent in less than half the anticipated time,” says Sean McMahon, IAWA executive director. More than 90 percent of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) dollars for the RCPP have already been obligated. “This RCPP is a great example of the innovative public-private partnerships needed to accelerate the adoption of water quality-focused practices,” says Mike Naig, Iowa

Secretary of Agriculture. “The success of this project shows the strong interest and engagement by farmers and landowners in making measurable progress in achieving Iowa’s water quality goals.” The strongest demand for EQIP dollars has been for cost-share for cover crops. “There have been 57,674 acres funded through a combination of the EQIP funding and partner programs,” Jordahl says.

Watershed by Watershed Much of the program’s progress is happening in priority watersheds where four things are present: • A watershed plan • Financial assistance • Technical assistance • Leadership and engagement from stakeholders (farmers, agribusinesses and community)

Shane Wulf, edge-of-field coordinator, IDALS Louis Beck, farmer from La Porte City


Photo credit: Jesse Landolt and IAWA


Two of the priority watersheds in the RCPP are the Headwaters of the North Raccoon and the Middle Cedar Watershed, which includes the Miller Creek and Benton/Tama Watershed Quality Improvement Projects. The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) developed watershed plans for Headwaters of Cedar Creek in the North Raccoon and Miller Creek. IAWA, through checkoff dollars from ISA, Iowa Corn and the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), also contributed funds to the development of the Cedar Creek plan. Louis Beck, a farmer in LaPorte City, has been a part of the Miller Creek Project since the beginning. His land was analyzed during the watershed planning phase. “The Miller Creek Watershed starts in my land. I feel responsible that if I’m part of it at the beginning, I need to do what I can to reduce nitrate and subsequent soil erosion.” Beck says. He says water quality is a shared issue, but one he is personally invested. “I am part of the solution," Beck says.” Beck and other farmers in the Miller Creek Watershed have planted cover crops on 20 percent of their row crop acres. This compares to the statewide average of 3 percent. As a third-generation farmer, Beck wants to carry on a legacy of conserving soil and water quality. “My father was a big proponent of soil conservation when he was farming this land. He instilled a

conservation ethic in me,” he says. In the Headwaters of the North Raccoon, efforts to implement conservation practices continue to outpace efforts in other areas. This watershed project leads the state in saturated buffers and bioreactors (constructed plus in design). There is also a considerable amount (10 percent) of row crops planted to cover crops. “There’s not a conversation I have with a landowner or producer where I don’t mention IAWA’s dedication to water quality and the collaboration that is occurring between ISA, IPPA and Iowa Corn,” says Lee Gravel, North Raccoon Watershed implementation coordinator for IDALS. “Farmers and landowners understand this commitment, and therefore, participate in conservation programs here at a higher rate.” McMahon concludes, “The results are impressive and way ahead of schedule. Our partners deserve credit for encouraging their farmer members and farmer customers to try new conservation practices.” One of those private partners is Corteva Agriscience. “IAWA plays a vital role in connecting the public and private sectors,” says Kenny Johnson, sustainability manager for Corteva. “The work Corteva has done with IAWA as part of this program has been significant for the company, and most importantly, water quality in Iowa.” Contact Zita Quade at zquade@iowaagwateralliance.com.





All Others 35%

All Others 32% All Others 16%

EQIP DOLLARS $3.4 M total

EQIP ACRES 27,000 total

Headwaters of the North Raccoon

Middle Cedar Watershed

Miller Creek Watershed




CONTRACTS 153 total

42,500 ACRES Total Funded:

57,674 ACRES Percentage of Goal:


This project is larger as measured by the categories shown above than all the other seven Iowa RCPP programs combined. MARCH 2019 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 15



A 4-inch rain in 60 minutes made Corning farmer a believer in cover crops



or those who love to farm, strong soils are at the heart of the operation. Perhaps that’s why more farm families are growing fond of planting cover crops. Count Ray Gaesser of Corning among them. “Farming is all I ever wanted to do,” he says. “To make the most of the opportunity, you need the land to work for you. “Take care of it, and it will take care of you.” Gaesser, the longtime soybean


industry leader and a 2018 candidate for Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, is an enthusiastic spokesperson for cover crops. When he and his wife Elaine began farming in 1978, so too, did their journey into conservation. They proceeded to make improvements to the land they farmed, including the installation of terraces and grassed waterways. But it was an afternoon in May 2010 that shaped their belief in expanding the use of cover crops.

“It was a defining moment for us and how we viewed conservation and what the potential was for planting more acres to cover crops,” says Gaesser. On that particular day, Ray, his wife Elaine and their son Chris peered out from their farmhouse windows as raindrops pelted the panes and water engulfed their farmstead. In less than one hour, more than 4 inches of rain had fallen on already saturated soils.


Ray Gaesser plants 3,000 acres of rye grass on his farm to control soil runoff and minimize damage caused by large rain events. Iowa farmers are planting more and more cover crops using specialty equipment, like a Hagie sprayer (left), that help deliver seed below the canopy while not damaging existing crops.

“It took all of the residue that we had built up over several decades and floated it away,” Gaesser recalls. “I remember seeing the water breach one terrace and then another and then another like it was running down stair steps. “We knew right then that we had to do something more to control and better manage water.” The amount and duration of the rain event weren’t the only factors that made an impression on the Gaessers. What should have been a oncein-a-100-year rain event quickly became a common occurrence. “We’ve received at least one, 4-inch rain every year since, and one year we had three,” Gaesser says. “It was obvious to us that we had to do something different to keep the soil in place and sequester nutrients. That’s when we got serious about increasing the number of acres planted to cover crops.” In 2010, the Gaessers planted rye grass on several hundred acres. By 2011, acreage increased to 450. And just four years later, nearly 3,000 acres were planted to cover crops. “We have really good luck with rye blended with about seven or eight varieties,” Gaesser says. “And it performs well. In fact, so well that it’s more difficult to terminate than getting it established.” The Gaessers harvest about 2 acres of cover crops in the spring and then clean the seed themselves. Managing their seed supply reduces the cost to about $15 per acre. “We have a can-do attitude about cover crops,” Gaesser says. Farmers wanting to get started

with cover crops should discuss it with others involved in the operation. Then, devise a plan for introducing, establishing and expanding cover crops, from planting and harvesting to termination. With nearly 10 years of data and personal observations, Gaesser says the impact of cover crops on their farm is real and positive. For example, he estimates cover crops planted to one field boosted corn yields 30 bushels an acre. “Fields planted to cover crops have better organic matter,” he says. “The cover crops also sequester nutrients, reduce soil compaction, help with weed suppression and reduce fuel usage all while improving water quality. “And if we can eliminate just one pass for herbicides, we’ve recouped the cost of cover crops,” Gaesser says. There are also benefits for livestock producers, Gaesser says, as cover crop forage is a plentiful and economical feed source ideal for cattle. While farmers can’t control Mother Nature, Gaesser says the use of cover crops enables them to be more effective managers while preserving the farm’s most valuable resource. “I love farming,” Gaessar says. “I want to leave a positive legacy and the soil better for the next generation. That means better water and making our land more resilient. Cover crops help do that.”


Contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com.





ruise ships, ocean liners, barges and cargo ships pass through the bustling Panama Canal in early February. However, one frequent visitor through the waterway is starkly quiet. Historically, at least 60 boats of soybeans are passing through the Panama Canal during this time of year. To date, there has only been one, a sign that the U.S. and China aren’t the only countries adversely impacted by the ongoing trade war. Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Chief Operations Officer Karey Claghorn recently returned from a trade mission to Colombia and Panama. She traveled there with representatives from the Iowa pork and Iowa corn associations in addition to Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. Claghorn said the mission was a valuable opportunity to see Iowa agricultural products consumed abroad — and potentially capitalize on a growing market. “These countries are smaller markets,


but they are growing,” Claghorn says. “We need to see which markets we can further tap into.” The U.S. holds a free trade agreement with both Colombia and Panama. Colombia is the fourth largest country by population in Latin America and continues to grow. Nearly 90 percent of Colombia’s pork and soybean imports are from the U.S. “Walking along supermarkets, we saw Blue Bunny Ice Cream from Le Mars and Hormel pepperoni that was produced in Osceola,” Claghorn says. “We saw cooking oil labeled as soy oil.” Due to Colombia’s terrain, logistically it’s easier and more costeffective to import soybeans than grow them. “Our farmers are our best ambassadors,” Claghorn says. “When buyers can put a face behind the pork products or soybean meal, customers think of those farmers when making purchasing decisions. We met with people who make those purchasing

decisions, and it gave them the opportunity to ask our farmers questions and pass that information down the supply chain. Relationships make the difference.” ISA Board President Lindsay Greiner is one of those farmers making an international difference. “With all things being equal, trade comes down to relationships,” says Greiner as he reminisces on several trade missions from the last few years. “People do business with people.” Greiner has served as a trade representative in the Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, Poland, Italy, Norway, Egypt, Spain, Mexico and China. As a farmer promoting U.S. soy around the globe, Greiner sees firsthand the many perceptions of U.S. agriculture and proudly regales a theme of general positivity. “Perceptions are very good. If you tell them you’re a farmer from Iowa, they know we have the best land in the world,” says Greiner. “They know we


are progressive farmers who embrace technology to continuously improve our practices.” For soybean leaders like Claghorn and Greiner, the importance of these trips cannot be overstated. As a continued trade stalemate impacts soybean farmers’ abilities to sell to China, expanding markets elsewhere is a primary objective of the soybean checkoff. “I wish it were as simple as getting a call as soon as we return from a trade mission, and the country tells us they’d like to purchase all our soybeans,” Greiner says. “It takes work, patience and time.” Recalling his recent trip to Barcelona, Spain, for a global soybean buyers conference, Greiner detailed his discussion with a fellow farmer about the results of such trade missions. “I asked him how much good comes out of these trade missions, and he said, ‘I’ll tell you the good we’d be doing if we weren’t here — none.’” In addition to establishing trade relationships, Claghorn says the global perspective helps U.S. agriculture remain competitive. “We learn about these international markets and what they need,” Claghorn says. “How are they using our product? What challenges are being faced? Can we improve things?” Claghorn recalls Panamanians being concerned for their upcoming presidential election in May. Several

candidates are calling into question their free trade agreement with the U.S. Deriving 30 percent of its gross domestic product from the Canal, Panama is one of many countries adversely impacted by a lack of trade. As U.S. soybean farmers know, trade is a backbone of their bottom line. Trade agreements with other countries remain imperative as the soybean market struggles to gain back the $2-per-bushel decline from the last 12 months of Chinese trade tensions. As Greiner prepares to visit China at the end of March once again, his thoughts on relationship building, even within a tumultuous trade partnership, remain steadfast. “I really hope we get a trade deal worked out with China, and I know trips like this get us closer,” he says. It will be one year since my last visit, so it will be interesting to see their perception of everything from the last year. I’d like to know some of the prospects of getting that market share back, should a trade deal be worked out.” Agriculture and international diplomacy continue to go hand-inhand when it comes to trade. “Having a relationship with a customer is what will keep them buying,” says Claghorn. Contact Katie Johnson at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com.


(From left) Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Mike Naig, ISA COO Karey Claghorn, ISA Director Randy Miller and Lieutenant Gov. Adam Gregg visited the Panama Canal while on a trade mission in Colombia and Panama; Iowa soybean representatives tour a traditional market in Panama; barges enter the Miraflores Lock. (Photo credit: Karey Claghorn) MARCH 2019 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 19


Conceptual image of containerized shipping on the Mississippi River.

CONTAINERIZED SHIPPING A Localized Supply Chain in a Global Marketplace



ho is your customer?” This is perhaps the most elementary of questions for any enterprise or industry to answer if they are to enjoy success. When asking farmers this question, the answers can be quite varied. Is it the local elevator? After all, that’s where soybeans are often first delivered and it’s who pays the farmer for the bushels produced. Is it the soybean processor who purchases the soybeans from the local elevator? Is it the livestock industry, since pigs, cattle, chickens and fish


consume the meal produced from soybeans? Is it the consumer, whether in the U.S. or another country, who purchases meat? One of the reasons this basic question produces such a variety of answers from farmers is because of having a supply chain designed and created to involve multiple steps of consolidation and aggregation. As Iowa soybeans journey from the farm to elevator to the rail or barge loading facility to export terminal, a number of degrees of separation emerge between the farmer and the ultimate consumer.

Overall, this supply chain has served U.S. farmers well. Billions of bushels of soybeans and grain are transported significant distances in a cost-effective, reliable manner. Our efficient transportation process remains one of the key global competitive advantages for U.S. soybean farmers. While the current supply chain — designed to transport soybeans and grain in bulk quantities — must be maintained and enhanced, an increasingly attractive complement to this model is transporting soybeans and other agricultural products via shipping containers.


A new, innovative maritime vessel offers the potential to transport containers along the nation’s inland waterway system to export facilities near the Gulf of Mexico. If realized, this new supply chain mechanism will enable farmers and local elevators to more directly access international customers while better preserving the quality of the soybeans delivered. American Patriot Holdings, LLC. (APH) has developed a patented vessel design that would transport shipping containers throughout the nation’s inland waterway system. The company’s larger, “Liner” vessels will be able to transport 2,375 containers (TEUs) 20-feet each in length in a liner service between Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District (PPHTD) - the port complex along the lower Mississippi River closest to the Gulf of Mexico – and both Memphis and St. Louis. Expected roundtrip service between PPHTD and Memphis is seven days and 10 days between PPHTD and St. Louis. The vessels can travel at 13 mph with virtually no wake – mitigating shoreline erosion throughout the inland waterway system. A traditional barge flotilla will travel up river 4-5 mph. In addition to the liner service to Memphis and St. Louis, APH has designed a smaller hybrid vessel capable of transiting the lock and dam portion of the inland waterway system. These vessels — able to transport approximately 1,700 TEUs — are designed to provide access to regions and communities located along the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio and Arkansas rivers. To determine the economic feasibility of exporting soybeans and other agricultural products via this new container on vessel approach, the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) released a report comparing the cost, speed and quality preservation of this potential alternative to the current options of shipping containers via rail to the West Coast and bulk barge

transportation to Mississippi Gulf export terminals. The research concluded that transporting soybeans from St. Louis via bulk barge to an ocean vessel at a Mississippi Gulf export terminal and onto a customer in Shanghai, China, would cost $79.80 per metric ton. Loading soybeans into a container near St. Louis, transporting it via rail to the West Coast and finally an ocean vessel journey to Shanghai would cost $140.33 per metric ton. The proposed APH liner service would transport soybeans from St. Louis via container to an ocean vessel at PPHTD and onto a customer in Shanghai at a cost of $87.07 per metric ton – a 38 percent costsavings compared to containerized shipping through the West Coast. The speed of the APH vessel will allow shipments of soybeans and other agricultural products to reach the Mississippi Gulf export terminal six days faster than bulk barge shipments. Given the increased congestion on the West Coast, the APH vessel will be able to depart the export facility at PPHTD 14 days faster than containerized shipments via rail to West Coast facilities. Combining the transit times of the three options both to the export facilities and from the export facilities to a customer in Shanghai, the APH option will enjoy a 14-day advantage over the bulk barge option and will be six days faster than containerized shipping via the West Coast. It is important to have the mental image in one’s mind of an international customer purchasing meat fed by U.S. soy. Then consider the multiple logistical steps between the growth of U.S. soybeans and that meat. It’s the aspiration of the STC to explore opportunities to remove any of these logistical steps. In doing so, U.S. soybean farmers stand to profit. Containerized shipping via the inland waterways has the potential for expanding opportunities to have a localized supply chain in a global marketplace.


Mike Steenhoek, Soy Transportation Coalition MARCH 2019 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 21


Anthony Seeman, ISA Environmental Programs and Services


BIG ISSUE A Microscopic Look at Iowa Water Quality BY CAROL BROWN


he water monitoring program through the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Environmental Programs and Services (EPS) is an exercise in scale. The program started within larger Iowa watersheds that were already being sampled by the state for nutrient levels. It evolved to encompass smaller watersheds, then drainage districts, field tile lines and finally, individual structures like a bioreactor. Anthony Seeman, EPS environmental research coordinator, oversees the collection and analysis of the water samples, which totaled nearly 4,000 in 2018. “We analyzed samples from 613 locations last year,” says Seeman.


“Of these locations, 334 were tile drainage outlets. The rest were rivers, streams and edge-of-field practices like bioreactors, saturated buffers, farm ponds and wetlands.” Farmers participating in the water monitoring program allow ISA staff or local watershed coordinators to visit their sites regularly between April and September to collect water samples. Some farmers get more involved, taking the samples themselves for delivery to ISA for processing in the on-site certified water lab. Craig Fleishman has been collecting water samples on his farm for four years. He's also been collecting samples for ISA at five other locations for nearly a decade.

“I enjoy doing it and getting out to the sites regularly,” Fleishman says. “I start at Beaver Creek, and I work my way south to the Des Moines River.” He collects samples every two weeks and delivers them to the ISA office in Ankeny. Each participant receives regular reports that show the water quality at their sites, such as what’s coming from tile lines or how a bioreactor is performing. “I sample from a large tile that flows through a control structure,” Fleishman says. “It cuts across the corner of my farm and goes across a neighbor’s field, crosses a road through a water tunnel and into a ravine. It disappoints me sometimes to see the higher levels


coming from the tile drains, but it is seasonal.” He’s spoken with the landlord at one of the sites about installing a bioreactor or saturated buffer. There is interest to do something but, Fleishman says, it’s difficult for them to commit financially.

Ramping up Seeman says ISA must look at the big and small pictures of water quality simultaneously. Staff at ISA amass data from the individual sites and stream samples. That helps paint a picture of what is happening in fields, priority watershed improvement projects and across Iowa. Farmers and landowners participating in the program can see how water coming from their fields

affects nearby waterbodies. They can then make informed farm-level decisions for reducing nutrients in the water leaving their land. The ISA water monitoring program supports the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS), which calls for a 45 percent reduction of nutrients in waters entering the Mississippi River. The strategy is an outcome from the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force, which asked all states along the Mississippi River to create a plan for nitrogen and phosphorus reduction in waters coming to the Gulf. When the strategy was released in 2013, Iowa was only the second state to have a completed strategy. Contact Carol Brown at cbrown@iasoybeans.com.

THE SURVEY SAYS: The EPS team sends a survey at the end of each year to participants in the water monitoring program. The anonymous questionnaire asks farmers and landowners to respond to a few simple questions such as whether this information is important to their farm operation and if they would share their results with others. Surveys are still coming in, but the current 34 percent response rate is revealing highly positive feedback. Nearly 100 percent of respondents said they would encourage other farmers and landowners to participate in the tile water monitoring program. Most participants indicated they

Left: (opposite page) Anthony Seeman, environmental research coordinator with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), prepares a water sample for testing in the association's certified water lab. Above: Last year the ISA's Environmental Programs and Services team analyzed nearly 4,000 water samples for farmers. The water lab tests for nitrate, phosphate and ecoli, among others.

have changed, or plan to change, a farming practice based on the monitoring reports given by ISA.



Denny Friest, farmer from Radcliffe



ome farmers seem to have the upper hand when it comes to agricultural endeavors. Getting the upper hand mainly comes from experience or trial and error. Some farmers do both by participating with the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) On-Farm Network® strip trials. In this space, farmers can try new products or practices to make sure they work with their operation before committing wholly.


“The On-Farm Network has many opportunities for farmers to participate. The top three reasons farmers should do strip trials are — access to the newest technologies, contributing to the competitiveness of Iowa’s crop production and learning something new about your farm,” says Scott Nelson, On-Farm Network director. He makes a case for each:


1 GAIN ACCESS TO THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGIES Each year, various agribusinesses provide On-Farm Network participants with samples of their products for independent verification on their value. Products have included new fertilizers, crop protection and digital ag technologies. “Our team cannot test every new product or concept being introduced into the market,” Nelson says. “The new products and technologies we test go through significant scrutiny. We only include those that have scientific merit as determined by our team.” Participating in strip trials gives farmers firsthand

experience with the newest technologies for their operation improvement. Doug Gronau has been conducting on-farm strip trials with ISA for years. The Vail farmer uses the trials to find new products but also to affirm that he’s doing the right thing on his land. “With the on-farm trials, I have to figure out if the products have validity on my farm,” Gronau says. “If they don’t show they’re worth the money, then I know I don’t have to pursue them. There’s always going to be something new out there that may work on my farm. It’s just a question of finding it.”

2 CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMPETITIVENESS OF IOWA CROP PRODUCTION Some of Iowa’s crop production challenges are too large for any farmer to solve by themselves. Issues, such as lowering production costs, new pests, including soybean gall midge, and variable rate technology require more data than can be collected from a single farm. Partnering farmers in the same region provide ISA with enough data to develop decision aids and better predict the value of new management practices.

Radcliffe farmer Denny Friest also has conducted many strip trials over the years. He believes in the value of learning how things work on his farm. “As farmers, we have a lot of tools but they aren’t the same on every farm,” Friest says. “Using our tools with the data we have will show how practices work for my farm. To avoid unnecessary regulations, we must also show examples of how conservation practices work.”

3 LEARN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT YOUR FARM Sometimes a new management practice will show a statistical advantage on a farm, and sometimes it shows there was no benefit for the practice. For example, participants who conduct variable rate technology projects can see new approaches to developing management zones. They receive aerial images for each trial field, which provides meaningful information about field variability. Farmers can use this data to adjust seeding or application rates within that field in subsequent seasons. “Farmers who conduct strip trials with us almost always learn something new

about their farm regardless of the results from the trial,” Nelson says. Gronau learned about his equipment during a field trial last fall. He worked with the On-Farm Network on a side-by-side comparison of a Draper head compared with Gronau’s soybean combine head. “The guys were out there checking losses from both heads, and they basically found no difference,” Gronau explains. “It was really beneficial to me to know that my equipment is working well and I’m not leaving beans in the field. I know there’s a lot of advantages to the Draper heads, but this showed I’m doing alright.”

On-Farm Network Director Scott Nelson (left) and his team work with farmers and agribusiness representatives to test products, machinery and practices at the field scale on farms across the state.

Farmers who participate in strip trials or pest surveys receive a custom report on the activities on their farm as well as a summary of results from other farms participating in the study. As per ISA’s data privacy policy, all spatial data is considered confidential between the participating partner and ISA. This data is not released to outside parties without the consent of the farmer. “The On-Farm Network is always looking for ideas from farmers as they are often the best innovators in agriculture,” concludes Nelson. “We look forward to helping them test and verify their ideas.” To participate in a strip trial or pest survey, email research@iasoybeans.com.


The Last Word Editor’s Notes by Ann Clinton aclinton@iasoybeans.com

Plant the Field You’re In Priding myself in projecting optimism, I’m disappointed to admit the cold of winter has dampened my spirits a little bit. I love snow, but the crazy frigid temperatures have kept me inside more than I prefer. Popping vitamin D supplements like candy, I am so ready to feel some sun on my skin. As I write this, hope for a warmer next week is in the forecast. It’s about darn time. I am a runner and my training has been confined to treadmills most of the last few months. I keep telling myself I’m cultivating mental toughness, but I’m bored of the monotonous miles. I am just so ready to hit the pavement and chase down some goals. However, some of the best running advice I’ve ever heard is, “Run the mile you’re in.” That little saying has become my mantra for staying grounded. Miles lie. They just do. Some are easy and enjoyable and some are painstakingly long and hard. One doesn’t necessarily predict how the next one will go. Throw in

nature’s unpredictability and all bets are off. The unknown is obviously what makes the challenge fun, but it’s also what makes progress inconsistent. If running has taught me anything, it’s that I need to trust the process. By moving forward, I will get to where I am going. Come what may because standing still won’t serve me. Such is life. I realize my running analogy seems a little trivial compared to your preparations for spring planting, but with a bit of imagination, I’m sure you can appreciate the parallel. I’ve talked to several farmers lately who seem a bit stir crazy themselves, anxious to start the season. You’ve attended the winter meetings, you’ve analyzed your harvest data, you’ve got the plan in place to get rolling. It feels like it’s time for preseason training to wrap-up. The editorial team at the Iowa Soybean Review has been working on content intended to help get you “race ready.” Our intent is to always

provide information that will enhance your competitive edge. However, due to the nature of magazine production, deadlines happen way before we know what actual field conditions are going to be like. Mix in a trade war, and sometimes I feel like we are running in circles. But as experience has taught me, trusting the process is the best approach we can take. My friends, I hope you are all ready for a successful season and that you can enjoy the calm before the storm. May you plant the field you’re in.

P.S. I am seeking a little reader help, please. I’m looking for some unique human interest stories. I truly believe every farmer has a story to tell, so if you’d provide me with some leads on individuals who have made their mark on agriculture, I’d appreciate it.





Ocheyedan, IA OP ERAT ION:

Grain & Livestock Producer View his story at: fcsamerica.com/douglas


WE KNOW ALL ABOUT ECONOMIC CYCLES IN AGRICULTURE. That’s why we deliver financial strength and capacity to help you grow, attractive rates to give you an edge and cash-back dividends that give you something more. All delivered by people who understand your business like no other. Call 800-884-FARM.

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Iowa Soybean Review, March 2019