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March 2020



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President Tim Bardole, Rippey | At Large President Elect Jeff Jorgenson, Sidney | D7 Treasurer Dave Walton, Wilton | D6

March 2020 | Vol. 32, No. 6

Secretary Robb Ewoldt, Blue Grass | 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 Marty Danzer, Carroll | D4 Jeff Frank, Auburn | D4 Tom Vincent, Perry | D5 Morey Hill, Madrid | D5 Bill Shipley, Nodaway | D7 Warren Bachman, Osceola | D8 Pat Swanson, Ottumwa | D9 Tom Adam, Harper | D9 Brent Renner, Klemme | At Large Steph Essick, Dickens | At Large Lindsay Greiner, Keota | At Large American Soybean Association Board of Directors Morey Hill, Madrid Wayne Fredericks, Osage Brian Kemp, Sibley John Heisdorffer, Keota Steph Essick, Dickens Dave Walton, Wilton United Soybean Board of Directors Lindsay Greiner, Keota Larry Marek, Riverside Tom Oswald, Cleghorn April Hemmes, Hampton Staff Credits Editor | Ann Clinton Communications Director | Aaron Putze, APR Creative Manager | Ashton Boles Photographer | Joseph L. Murphy Staff Writer | Bethany Baratta 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.

8 People Wield Influence

People of Bangladesh and Pakistan Wield Influence on Fortunes of U.S. Soybean Farmer.

14 Aquaculture Expertise

Pakistan’s Growing Appetite for Fish Could Net Greater U.S. Soybean.

16 Iowans Have Aisle Insights

Survey shows grocery shoppers are fans of farmers mistrust food marketing.

18 Tillage Timeout

No-till, reduced tillage pays dividends to Iowa farmers.

On the Cover: As Iowa farmers start to prepare for the 2020 growing season, concerns regarding international soybean demand continue. Read more about ISA’s efforts to expand markets on Page 8 of this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.


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

Technology Maximizes Profits


ou remind me of a software update. Whenever I see you, I usually think – not now!” I recently saw this quote on a little magnet in some gift shop and it resonated with me. Over the years, I have come to dread the words, “software update,” whenever I receive such a notice on my phone, tablet, computer, TV or any number of other electronic devices. Software updates never seem to go well. Either they don’t upload correctly or when they do, they make such significant changes to the device or program that I get confused on how to use the silly thing. Some have suggested that this is perhaps just a reflection of my increasing age. While there is some truth to that, I’ve also overheard much younger friends and colleagues complain about the same thing. Why can’t product developers and programmers just get it right the first time? And if it works, why mess with it? I still haven’t gotten over how well my old Blackberry device worked. Who is in charge of developing these new phones? They must enjoy making us feel totally inept. And what was wrong with keeping names, addresses and phone numbers on


Rolodex cards on my desk (for those of you too young to know what a Rolodex is, Google it!)? But technology improvements can also be beneficial, especially when it involves soybean production. This issue of the Iowa Soybean Review focuses on tech and emerging trends in agriculture. The Iowa Soybean Association and our Research Center for Farming Innovation is fully engaged with many of these new technologies as we work with farmers to continually improve their operations. Our one-of-a kind analytics team is developing new tools to help farmers take advantage of the incredible amount of data being collected on farms as equipment and sensors move through and above fields. Our in-house agronomists and environmental specialists are working side-by-side with hundreds of farmers using these tools to help us gain a better understanding of the impact of changes to production practices. In February, ISA conducted Research & Results Forums in Storm Lake, Red Oak, Washington and Ankeny. At each location, farmers, ISA staff and guests engaged with farmers

to share research findings and gain insights from farmers on their ongoing challenges. The communications team also arranged numerous broadcast interviews and expanded coverage to ensure farmers unable to attend also benefited from the information shared at each forum. In a recent meeting with leaders of a major ag equipment manufacturer, I was reminded how much work remains in helping farmers take greater advantage of new tech tools. Based on their analysis, farmers who had purchased new equipment were only utilizing 50% of the new technology (and data collected) included with their equipment. Of course, the question that immediately arises is, “Did they really need all the bells and whistles that came with the new equipment?” It’s a fair question. An even better one is, “How do we help farmers understand the value of some of these bells and whistles to reduce costs and maximize profits?” That’s a question ISA – with your assistance – looks forward to answering. Enjoy this edition of Iowa Soybean Review (no software update needed!) and drop a note to me with your input and ideas.



From researching new uses for soybeans to identifying new markets for U.S. soy, the soy checkoff is working behind the scenes to create new opportunities and increase profits for soybean farmers. 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.

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

Back to the Future


e all have a favorite movie that’s loud and raucous. A film that’s less about depth and more about delivering a great time. You know the kind, those that simply leave you spinning around with a giddy smile on your face no matter how many times you watch. For me, it’s “Back to the Future.” I will argue it’s the best movie of all time. Yep, the BEST blockbuster ever made. Now before you pick up the phone, call the office and tell me about its imperfections, point out its plot holes lecture me on how time travel doesn’t work, please hear me out. I’ll agree that it’s a weird little science-fiction comedy, but from start to finish, the Oscar-nominated screenplay is a marvel. The plot structure is an elaborate concoction that winds itself as tight as possible before unleashing all the pent-up energy in a wonderful wallop. One of the greatest, most overlooked things about “Back to the Future” is how the storyline is centered on the idea of running out of time.


Almost everything is a ticking clock – counting down to the moment when Marty McFly will be stranded forever in 1955, or even to the point when Marty will cease to exist because he’s interfered with his parents’ love story. It’s brilliant, really. Just like the soybean industry, “Back to the Future” has stood the test of time. It’s every bit as classy and clever today as it was 35 years ago. Iowa’s consistently a top-two soybean producing state. The soybeans we grow right here in Iowa feed and fuel the world. While so many variables affect agricultural productivity, one thing is certain, we can’t grow soybeans without healthy soil. We also know that healthy soil begins with smart conservation on the farm. I’m a millennial who grew up in a small, rural community. When I wasn’t shoveling manure, running waters or jumping hay bales on the family farm, I was hiking area trails and fishing nearby lakes. These fond memories and strong agricultural ties are why I’m so excited about

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bold vision and priorities for our state – the Invest in Iowa Act. Looking back, I was proud to see her sign SF512 into law in 2018, which set the stage for dedicated water quality funding and better conservation across Iowa. Even then, we knew it was a gateway to something bigger. The Invest in Iowa Act is that something. It’s a game-changing proposal that would fund a constitutionally protected trust to ensure our state’s natural resources are preserved. It isn’t just about today or tomorrow, but rather the decades ahead. With the last calendar day of the state legislative session less than a month away, the clock is ticking, just as it was for Marty in “Back to the Future.” As the session winds down, so does the opportunity for action. Let’s band together as Iowans to improve our state’s resources, outdoor recreation and water quality. Let’s not strand ourselves in the present, but rather unleash Iowa’s conservation potential and recreation benefits for generations to come.

Spring Planting Tips Farmers know that one of the most important pieces of equipment on their farms is the planter. There is a very true saying that a crop’s yield potential begins to decline the day the seed boxes are filled in the planter. The time you take in making small adjustments in your planting operation returns hundreds of dollars in a higher-yielding crop. Here are a few examples:

Don’t fix problems you don’t have The industry has been good about developing and marketing planter parts from closing wheels, to active down force pressure to speed tubes. Some of these products have merit, others do not. The question you must ask yourself is whether the product is fixing a problem you have. For example, if you don’t regularly encounter sidewall compaction and trench closing problems, then you don’t need to invest in different closing wheels. This seems like an overly obvious point, but I have seen planters with worn opening discs outfitted with very expensive closing wheels.

Be skeptical Be skeptical of some of the research conducted on planter parts. We see research advertisements that recommend one closing wheel over

another, for example. In our on-farm experience, we have seen that no single closing wheel is best for all farms and under all conditions. When you see advertisements with research, ask yourself if this research occurred in conditions similar to your own.

Consider optimum depth Many fields are not achieving optimum planting depth. Last spring, we saw several fields where the soybeans and corn were planted too shallow. Farmers know that the optimum depth for .75 to 1.5 inches for soybeans and 1.5 to 2 inches for corn. What happens is field conditions change and the depth set up at the shop or in another field is not optimum for that field. Time spent digging seed to assure good depth placement has a very high return on investment, especially in no-till or cover crop situations.

Seed singulasim is key Seed singulation is very important. Some of the better after market tools sold for planters provide enhanced seed singulation and spacing. Double seeding in corn is a big problem as is non-uniform spacing. As soybean planting rates decline, we are learning that seed singulation and spacing are important in soybeans as well. Springtime planting is very busy and its hard to juggle all the tasks you must do. Taking time to check your planter settings, seed depth and trench closure are not shortcuts to take if you want a profitable crop.


Active down force might not be needed Active down force systems can be very expensive for a farmer. The purpose of these systems is to ensure optimum depth placement as conditions change across the field. Optimum down pressure can range from 40 to 500 pounds per square inch and active down force systems can be beneficial in changing down force across the landscape. In some of our research, we didn't see a clear economic advantage to these systems on level and tilled farms. In one trial, where soybeans were planted into cover crops, we saw a 10 bushel advantage for an active down force system. The consensus among farmers that have these systems is that they can be very important in no-till, cover crops and in fields with significant soil variability. This spring, check your seeding and stands to understand if sub-optimum planting depth is a problem, and then consider investing in active down force.


Soy's International



Soybean processing employees in Karachi, Pakistan (left); A driver proudly poses with his rig.




eather, planting dates, weed management and seed selection all factor into the economic fortunes of Iowa soybean farmers. So, too, do the lifestyles of people living and working half a world away. A myriad of factors impact growing and selling soybeans. So it’s easy to downplay the impact people have on the business. That’s especially true when nearly 7,000 miles and 13 time zones separate the towns of Ogden, Spencer, Osceola and Maquoketa from the cities of Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. But, “out of sight, out of mind” is no excuse for being unaware about the interconnectedness of U.S. soybean production and the economies of developing countries.

And nowhere is that more apparent than Bangladesh and Pakistan and the nearly 400 million people who live there (the U.S. population is 326 million). “You can read about it but until you experience it, you can’t truly grasp the challenges as well as the opportunities that exist for us as soybean farmers,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Tim Bardole. The farmer from Rippey joined ISA President-elect Jeff Jorgenson and CEO Kirk Leeds for a 10-day trade mission to South Asia in February. Grant Kimberley, ISA’s senior director of market development, and Aaron Putze, senior director of information and education, also participated. Also in attendance were representatives of the USSEC and United Soybean Board.

“The people of Bangladesh and Pakistan need to increase their protein intake, and chicken and eggs are ways to do that efficiently and inexpensively,” Bardole adds. “This presents untold market opportunities for the U.S. soybean industry.” Jorgenson says the developing countries are gaining an economic foothold. As their populations grow and become more productive, they’ll require more abundant and nutritious food. The first step to making a sale is to know who you’re working with. “We need to be here – we need to know the people who are buying and processing soybeans and they need to know us,” he says. “Better protein starts with better feed and you need high-quality soybeans. By making stronger connections, we can make more sales.” IOWA SOYBEAN REVIEW | 9

Selling fruit roadside in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

But fish, chickens and dairy cows aren’t the main driver of soybean demand. It’s the people of South Asia that have the greatest impact on the fortunes of Iowa soybean farmers. “People want to send their children to school, they want good lives and they want good food,” says Moshiur Rahman, a Bangladeshi poultry industry leader. “More people are working and earning. They are no longer living hand-to-mouth. Lifestyles are changing and as they do, their wants and needs change, too.” Rahman estimated up to 85% of Bangladeshis live in small villages where they grow and consume their own rice, fish,

eggs, vegetables and chicken. A similar story can be told in Pakistan. “They don’t buy so much,” he says. “But if we change lifestyles, demand for food will increase dramatically. So, changing lifestyles is our No. 1 priority.” USSEC consultant Reja Masum is witnessing the lifestyle improvements firsthand. His home country of Bangladesh didn’t import a single soybean in 2015. Two years ago, soybean imports totaled 353,000 metric tons, increasing to 921,000 metric tons last year. This year, the country is on pace to purchase almost 1.2 million metric tons (mmt), or roughly 45 million bushels, of U.S. soybeans.

Feed made with U.S. soy bagged and ready for transport in Karachi, Pakistan.

Soybean imports to Pakistan will total nearly 2.2 million metric tons this year.

Wet market in Dhaka, Pakistan.


Posing for the camera in Dhaka, Pakistan.

Masum said it’s not unreasonable to think that amount could more than double again within four years. “More people working and sending money back to villages helps local economies,” he says. “People here are eating poultry more – maybe two to three times each week-as they have better buying and purchasing power.” Unscathed by the ongoing U.S.China trade war, Bangladesh and Pakistan are poised for growth. Both countries have room for existing industries to increase output, particularly in cotton, textiles and manufacturing. But challenges also exist. “Agriculture is not organized here in Bangladesh,” Masum says. “Big feed millers produce good quality feed but smaller feeders don’t. Fish are not up to global export standards and product promotion is sporadic at best.” Becoming more organized and producing a higher-quality product can enable farmers and the ag industry to focus on exports. Doing so will improve farm prices enabling growers to invest in better feed and technology. “This industry needs support from the government,” Masum says. “The farmer is just not getting a good enough price. If they do, they’ll produce.”

Soybean production in Pakistan or Bangladesh is, at best, scarce. Farmers excel at rice, corn and cotton production and grow an array of vegetables and fruits. But the countries have a sizeable oilseed processing industry and must import soybeans to fulfill their growing need for animal feed and oil. That presents opportunities for U.S. farmers, says Kimberley. “Bangladesh and Pakistan are markets that need both protein and oil from soybeans,” he says. “Combined, they believe they can increase imports from roughly 3 million metric tons to around 6 million metric tons in the next three-to-five years. “It’s a growing market with improving economies, and the potential for growth is very good in the poultry, egg, aquaculture and dairy sectors,” he adds. “Per capita protein consumption is still quite low with a lot of room to grow. Feed formulation technology is basic with room to grow soybean meal utilization in the ration. The U.S. soybean farmer can be the catalyst for increased consumption, and thus, increased demand.”

“More people are working and earning. They are no longer living hand-to-mouth. Lifestyles are changing and as they do, their wants and needs change, too.” — MOSHIUR RAHMAN, A BANGLADESHI POULTRY INDUSTRY LEADER


A view from atop City Crush, Dhaka, Pakistan.


Relationships are critical to building demand around the world.



aving multiple buyers is advantageous for those who have something to sell. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), with the support of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), is building demand around the globe to enhance export opportunities for America’s soybean farmers. “I’ve had an opportunity to travel to many different locations on behalf of Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers,” says ISA CEO

Kirk Leeds. “I’m always impressed by the people the soy industry has in 60-70 countries around the world to help us sell soybeans. “It’s no different here in Bangladesh and Pakistan. The representatives here are top-notch and well-respected.” Through a global network of international offices and country representatives, USSEC builds preference for U.S. soybeans and soybean products by advocating their use in feed, aquaculture and human consumption.

Throughout South Asia and beyond, USSEC:

Soybean meal for delivery.

• Organizes technical summits to share latest feed formulations and new technology on feed milling or aqua farming; also touts the benefits of using U.S. soybeans and soybean meal; • Sponsors seminars to educate general public about importance of protein to increase chicken and egg consumption;

Poultry food made with U.S soy.

• Invites buyers (and potential buyers) of U.S. soybean meal and soybeans to attend buyer/ seller conferences and trade shows to enhance connections and relationships with U.S. exporters; • Organizes training in universities for poultry, aqua and crush plant industry for people to increase their knowledge and efficiency of soybean utilization;

Soybeans arriving in Dhaka, Pakistan from U.S. Gulf.

• Invites U.S. experts to assist local feed mills and crush facilities to enhance production; and • Maintains good relations with

large feed millers and crushers and encourages them to buy U.S. soybean and soybean meal. “People like U.S. soybeans,” says USSEC’s CEO Jim Sutter. “The more soybeans they import from the U.S., the more we can assist them in utilizing it most efficiently to boost production and feed optimization. Our work benefits the buyer and seller.” It’s timely and important work. And it was evident to the ISA leaders and staff who met with soybean buyers as part of a recent trade mission to Bangladesh and Pakistan. “USSEC is well-connected and their country representatives introduced us to the right people,” Leeds says. “There’s a general appreciation in both countries for U.S. soybean farmers and the soybean checkoff. It’s always good to be reminded that we have really good people working on our behalf around the world to market U.S. soybeans.”

Trucks ready to roll at City Crush. Iowa Soybean Association representatives at City Crush (from left): Aaron Putze, Jeff Jorgenson, Kirk Leeds, Tim Bardole and Grant Kimberley. IOWA SOYBEAN REVIEW | 13

Iowa and national soybean leaders touring fish production and research facilities at the University of Lahore, Pakistan.



he U.S. soybean industry is providing insights and expertise to empower a new generation of aquaculture expertise in Pakistan. It’s an investment in the next generation of U.S. soybean farmers, too. On the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, surrounded by expansive fields of wheat, rice and vegetables and an imposing brick wall, you’ll find the University of Veterinary and Animal Science. A delegation of Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers paid it a visit in February as part of a broader tour that included stops in Bangladesh. The goal: to better understand how the developing country’s


appetite for soy will evolve in the next five to 10 years and be its preferred supplier of the highquality oilseed. Home to almost 7,000 students, the university established a fisheries department in 2002 to better serve the needs of the country’s rapidly expanding aquaculture industry. Less than two decades ago, there were no skilled professionals in the agricultural field. Today, 600 students are enrolled in the department that boasts state-of-the-art facilities, advanced fish education and skilled faculty. In addition, nearly 700 professionals have obtained degrees from the school.

“We’re here to educate students so the industry can be better served moving forward,” says Dr. Noor Khan, department head. “The fish industry is the fastest growing food production sector in Pakistan. We need skilled workers with technical expertise to aid in that growth.” While fish consumption is only 2 kilograms per person per year (poultry is eight), the industry is ripe for growth. Fish feed produced in Pakistan is comprised largely of soybeans sourced from the U.S. And almost half of the fish formulation is soy. Add to that a population of nearly 220 million and a growing preference for tilapia, shrimp and catfish, and you have the perfect recipe for increased soybean consumption. The USSEC is working diligently in Pakistan to nurture the aqua industry. Backed by Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers, USSEC supports educational summits that expand awareness about the potential in aqua farming. It has also helped establish In-Pond Raceway Systems to enable farmers to grow fish more efficiently and sustainably using U.S. soy as the ideal feed ingredient. “The school is focused on the production of sustainably raised fish meat and value-added products,” says Khurram Shahbaz, USSEC country representative for Pakistan. “USSEC provides expertise, training and funds so it can be a demonstration site and

share the knowledge so that many farmers can grow the industry.” Students conduct basic and applied research in nutrition, processing, disease, disease management, toxicology, value addition and nutrigenomics. It offers undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees. In addition to cooperating with USSEC, the school has linkages with many respected institutions around the world, including The Ohio State University and Purdue University. Shahbaz, who graduated from the university in 2005, says the department will continue to evolve its focus and course offerings. Faculty and students will intensify the study of fish feed conversion, nutrient recycling, genetic improvement and developing of fish vaccine for culturable fish. “We are currently importing catfish and tilapia from Thailand,” he says. “That tells us we need to ramp up domestic production to meet our own needs and to also have product to export.” Grant Kimberley, ISA senior director of market development, says opportunity combined with cooperation can benefit the people of Pakistan and U.S. farmers. “Aquaculture seems like an industry that is in its infancy but could grow exponentially with help from the technical services and expertise the U.S. soybean industry has in his sector,” he says. Contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com.

Butter catfish at Krishibid Farms near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Fish breeding ponds at the University of Lahore, Pakistan.

Soybean imports to Pakistan will total nearly 2.2 mmt this year (roughly 80 million bushels), up from 1.7 mmt in 2018-19 (62 million bushels)

Soybean processing at City Crush, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



Iowans Have Aisle Insights Survey shows grocery shoppers are fans of farmers, mistrust food marketing BY KELLY VISSER, AG AWARENESS MANAGER


ttention-grabbing headlines often paint grocery shoppers to be victims of the latest trends, ready to pull out their pocketbooks for catchy marketing and little substance. According to the Iowa Food & Family Project’s (Iowa FFP) latest Consumer Pulse Survey, those headlines don’t hold true for Iowans. Results show grocery shoppers across the state are growing more and more savvy to misleading food marketing, hesitant to pick up on buzzworthy trends and trusting farmers to grow and raise food with care. Now in its eighth year, the survey


gauges grocery shopping habits, food label influence and attitudes toward agriculture. Year-over-year findings not only give a pulse on perceptions, but also help shape the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and Iowa FFP consumer-focused programming and content development. For Pat Swanson, ISA District 9 Director from Ottumwa, the results help cut through the headlines. “The findings are actionable and Iowa specific” she says. “Rather than being overwhelmed with the constant stream of confusion and misinformation that’s in the media, hearing directly from Iowa grocery

shoppers helps me focus on what I can share as a farmer to help improve their understanding and perception of today’s food system.” The November 2019 survey had 597 responses and 307 were engaged with Iowa FFP as monthly Fresh Pickings eNewsletter subscribers. Respondents’ age groups, income levels, education levels and geographic regions closely follow the state’s population, resulting in a 4% margin of error. Blue Compass, a digital marketing agency in West Des Moines, conducted the survey analysis from data collected through Dynata’s business-toconsumer panel.

Gaining a growing audience’s trust Half of shoppers reported being familiar with Iowa FFP, a 15% increase from 2016. Twelve percent reported being “very familiar” in 2019, a 10% increase from 2016. The ag awareness initiative reaches nearly 130,000 followers each month through its magazine, eNewsletter, website and social media channels. This is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Altoona, Cedar Falls and Dubuque. When asked about the trustworthiness of Iowa FFP as a source of information, three out of four rated the initiative as “very

Do you seek information on frontof-package marketing?

trustworthy” with 90% rating it as trustworthy. “It’s clear, the Iowa Food & Family Project is making impacts, and living out its vision to grow ag awareness and build consumer confidence in modern farming,” Swanson says. Iowa FFP invites Iowans to explore how food is grown around the state and meet the farmers who make it happen; 24/7, 365 days a year. The initiative works with a collaborative network of more than 35 food, farming and healthy living organizations who are proud of Iowa’s homegrown foods and hometown values. Contact Kelly Visser at kvisser@iasoybeans.com.

Three Key Aisle Insights Mistrust in Food Marketing • While half of shoppers seek information on front-of-package food marketing (call outs like “organic,” “hormonefree” or “all natural”), 83% find food marketing misleading. • Since 2016, the purchasing influence of front-ofpackage marketing has dropped from 32% to 19%. • When it comes down to it, quality and price top the list as the most important food purchasing factors.

Bucking the Trend • Almost 9 in 10 shoppers agree they are unlikely to replace meat with imitation meat for any given meal. • Only 3% of food purchasers shop for groceries online.

Fans of Farmers • 78% of shoppers are satisfied with Iowa agriculture.

Do you think front-ofpackaging is misleading?

• Iowa FFP subscribers were significantly more likely than non-subscribers to be “very satisfied” with Iowa agriculture, 50% versus 35%, respectively. • Three-quarters of foodminded consumers give farmers an excellent or good rating for producing safe foods, contributing to the local economy and raising healthy animals with care.



Tillage Timeout No-till, reduced tillage pays dividends for Iowa farmers BY BETHANY BARATTA


xpanded usage of reduced and no-till systems in the state could generate annual savings between $220 million and $265 million, a recent Iowa Soybean Association (ISA)commissioned study concluded. Twenty Iowa farmers were chosen for the study during the 2018 crop year to take a closer look at production and profitability. Study participants were chosen based on their extensive interest in conservation practices. Combined, participants raised 27,535 acres of corn and soybeans and were geographically dispersed throughout the state. ISA undertook the study with support from the Walton Family Foundation, the Environmental


Defense Fund and Iowa-based Regional Strategic, Ltd. Data collected by farmers and shared via interviews were aggregated and summarized in 2019. Researchers observed the crop rotations for each farmer to determine the economic and yield impacts of conservation practices. Those of particular interest were reduced- and no-till systems, nutrient management and cover crop use. Of the combined 27,535 acres included in the study, 67.8% were no-till, 20.8% were in a reduced-tillage system. The remaining 11.4% were conventionally tilled. Detailed production records from some of the participants showed

implementation of a reduced- or notill system saved between $10 to $88 per acre. One participant was able to demonstrate a two-thirds reduction in tractor hours and reduced fuel needs from 5 gallons per acre to 1 gallon per acre. The estimated savings was higher among participants who provided extensive records, the study noted. According to a state-by-state breakdown of agricultural activity gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2017 Census, 5 million acres of cropland were intensively tilled in Iowa. If half of those acres — 2.5. million — were to switch to a minimum-or no-till system, Iowa farmers could recognize annual savings

“Given the current challenges in farmer profitability, it’s surprising that we aren’t seeing more farmers go to a reduced- or no-till system.” — HEATH ELLISON, ISA AGRONOMIST

between $220 million and $265 million in fuel and equipment costs, according to the study. “Iowa famers could be saving money by reducing tillage,” says Heath Ellison, senior conservation agronomist for ISA and principle collaborator in the study’s implementation. “Given the current challenges in farmer profitability, it’s surprising that we aren’t seeing more farmers go to a reduced- or no-till system.” Doug Adams, a participant in the study and a soybean and corn farmer in Humboldt County, says he’s benefited from reduced input costs since moving to no-till soybeans and partial strip-till and no-till in his corn acres nearly 20 years ago. “Farmers are so used to tilling that they don’t question whether it’s making a return on the investment or not,” Adams says. “But this study — and my experience — shows that switching to no-till or a reduced-tillage system has real economic benefits.”

Limitations to no-till Ellison recognizes not every farmer may want to go all-in on

no-till for a variety of reasons. Some farmers who have tried no-till may have experienced slower springtime soil warming or yield losses when compared to conventional tillage. Strip-tillage systems could be a happy medium between no-till and conventional tillage, he says. With strip-tillage, the soil is tilled in rows of 6- to 10-inch strips in the fall or spring, leaving areas of crop residue in between the exposed rows. Because crop residue has been moved away from the rows, the soils dry faster in a strip-till system. Less residue in the tilled strips reduces potential planting concerns, ISA research shows. In many cases, strip-till allows placement of nutrients around 6 inches below the strip of planted seeds. “Strip-till, a reduced-tillage practice, can provide many of the benefits that no-till provides,” Ellison says. “Any practice helping to build soil health builds crop resilience.” Minimal disruption of the soil means opportunities for an increase in organic matter, water-holding capacity and nutrient-holding capacity. Minimal disturbance also allows the

soil to buffer extreme rain or extreme heat, which reduces the potential for soil erosion and downstream flooding impacts, Ellison says. As the results of the ISA study show, reducing tillage is also profitable. “Any reduction in passes across the field improves profitability,” Ellison says. Considerations, such as fuel and equipment costs, soil types, crop rotation and field history need to be included in management decisions to find which tillage system works best economically and environmentally for each farm. For Adams, a sixth-generation farmer, reduced- and no-till systems work on his soybean and corn acres. “It’s a way to reduce equipment needs while saving time and money on fuel,” says Adams, who works full-time as a soil conservation technician at USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Plus, I’m building soil health while also remaining productive and profitable.” Contact Bethany Baratta at bbaratta@iasoybeans.com.


Earlier this year Rick Juchems built on his conservation philosophy by installing a solar panel array at his farm near Plainfield.

Farming Renewably Considering electricity as an input BY JOSEPH L. MURPHY


armers know commodities. Planting soybeans, corn and other crops are the mechanisms for sustaining their operations. More and more, farmers are adding renewable energy to the list of commodities they farm. Rick Juchems, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) District 3 Director from Plainfield, recently incorporated renewable energy into his farm by installing solar panels. The installation was the culmination of 10 years of research that is now allowing him to farm the sun while adding money back into his pocket. “I always want to conserve,” Juchems says. “Conserve our soil, our water and other natural resources. I


thought solar panels would be a good way to add to that philosophy.” Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are made of many individual solar cells. The cells are made of silicon and act like semiconductors found in computers. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like a battery. Juchems installed three 120-feet long solar arrays in June. There are 540 individual solar panels in the array. They produce 63 kilowatts of direct current (DC). That energy is 42 kilowatts of alternating current (AC). The electricity produced powers his farm and the excess energy is to MidAmerican Energy, which is

his power supplier. Juchems then recieves a credit on his power bill. “Most of the time we are using all of the energy produced, especially in the winter when we are running the fans and aeration for the hogs,” Juchems says. “During the summer, pit fans are running and the circulation fans are running. It takes a lot of electricity to power the farm.” Juchems used state and federal tax incentives to defray the cost of the solar array. He also applied for a federal energy grant. “We had a $10.70 monthly energy bill when we turned it on in August,” he says. “Before the solar panels our electric bill averaged $600 to $700 monthly.”

Derek Sadler, a co-owner of Current Renewable Efficiencies (CRE), says farmers plan for input costs as they prepare for planting. Inputs like fungicide and fertilizer can be cut to save costs, but one input that is a constant for farming operations is electricity. “We view electricity as another input," Sadler says, referring to the energy costs of running a farm. National electric rates increase an average of 4% per year. He says farmers can capitalize on that by

using renewable energy. “It’s almost like buying a propane contract for the next seven years, or whatever the payback is, and once you finish the contract the propane is free,” Sadler says. “You’re paying the chunk up front, and you’re waiting to get all your money back. Once you do, your returns keep happening. The equipment could go for a very long time." CRE in Shell Rock has been supplying the hardware, engineering, analysis and installation of renewable energy for agriculture, commercial and private clients across Iowa for 10 years. About 80% of their business comes from the agriculture sector and much of that is comprised of livestock farms. “A lot of these farmers are looking beyond themselves,” he says. “They are looking to the next generation that is going to take over the operation. It is a way to take that expense away for them." Sadler says as the technology improves it will translate into more

savings. He believes more watts will be generated per panel in the future. That will translate to cheaper installation costs. Improving battery technology could also be a gamechanger for solar users. “Farmers will be able to market their energy,” he says. “It will allow you to be more specific on how you manage your energy. If you are over producing you can store it in your battery instead of selling it for two cents." Marketing energy, just like marketing grain, gives the seller better decision making power when it comes to selling energy produced on the farm. Selling at optimal times and being able to store when needed, will allow the producer to build a marketing strategy that can pay more, according to Sadler. “The only drawback I have found is that the solar panels take up more space,” Juchems says. Contact Joseph Murphy at jmurphy @iasoybeans.com

“I always want to conserve our soil, our water and other natural resources. I thought solar panels would be a good way to add to that philosophy.” — RICK JUCHEMS, FARMER FROM PLAINFIELD

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TechnologyDriven Research ISA’s Research Center for Farming Innovation develops and tests tools BY BETHANY BARATTA

Farmers rely on technology and research to be productive and profitable. Today, drones and satellites are giving farmers an unprecedented overview of crop health while ground-level sensors provide realtime data on the soil and climate. The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Research Center for Farming Innovation is creating and testing various tools to assist farmers in making wellinformed decisions on everything from drainage management to conservation implementation. ISA President-Elect Jeff Jorgenson says investing checkoff dollars into testing of various tools makes a difference for farmers. “Finding tools that will work to make the operation more profitable and better for the environment is often time-consuming and expensive,” says Jorgenson, who farms near Sidney. “Having ISA engaged in developing and testing those tools helps find things that can work for your operation.” Here’s a snapshot of a few tools ISA Research is using and testing.


Eyes in the Furrow SMARTFIRMER TOOL

How it works SCOTT NELSON


oil carbon or organic matter is a key factor in crop productivity. But capturing enough measurements of soil carbon to make meaningful decision zones for variable rate applications has been difficult and expensive. Technology is evolving to help researchers and agronomists gather more information about soil organic matter. Tools like Precision Planting’s SmartFirmer and Optic Mapper from Veris could make soil carbon measurements easier and more cost effective. If proven successful through various ISA Rsearch trials, the tool could save money in seed and fertilizer costs.


Photo-optic sensors ride along the soil on a planter or cart and take recordings every several seconds. The sensors pick up the color of the soil, which is related to the organic matter within the soil. The ideasis that the tool would provide improved decision zones for variable rate technology. ISA Director of Agronomy Scott Nelson says this photo-optic sensing is new technology, but we are just now beginning to figure out what insight the data provides and how to use this sensing in a practical way. “We think good, dense reads of soil carbon could improve our decision zones for prescriptions,” he says. The SmartFirmer tool measures temperature, moisture, soil carbon and residue in the seed furrow.

Precision Planting says farmers set up a rate for a given range of organic matter, and as the sensors identify different soil carbon levels in the field, it will prompt the planter to change rates automatically. The ISA research team is using the soil carbon sensor technology in its field trials to test its accuracy. If the technology shows promise, it could have real benefits to farmers, Nelson says. “If you get your prescriptions right, it can be $25 an acre in savings or a yield increase,” he says. “But the problem is we don’t always get the prescriptions right because we don’t have good quality data.” Nelson says the ISA Research team is looking for farmers to test the soil sensor technology in their fields.

For more information on the SmartFirmer tool, contact Nelson at snelson@iasoybeans.com or 515-334-1055.




echnology is helping conservationists and planners streamline data to help farmers make decisions about potential conservation practices. The ISA Research team uses the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) siting tool as part of its farmerfocused approach to watershed planning and implementation. “The ACPF tool allows planners and partners to take a look at a watershed’s

combination of land use, soils and terrain to characterize watersheds and their capacity for potential adoption of a suite of conservation practices,” says ISA Senior Conservationist Karl Gesch. The ISA Research team facilitates discussions with farmers and landowners to determine the goals within the watershed. Team members have a knowledge of conservation practices and understand the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. But additional analysis is necessary to determine where a specific conservation practice could be implemented. That’s where the siting tool comes into play.

“ACPF adds scientific rigor to the outcomes generated in the watershed planning process,” Gesch says.

How it works Using GIS (Geographic Information System) and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data, the tool provides spatial information on soils, land use and topography. Combined with knowledge of conservation effectiveness, the tool maps out where a potential conservation practice can be placed on the landscape. Watershed planners then take this information to farmers/ landowners to discuss the opportunities within the watershed and on the farm. “It adds geographic

robustness to the watershed plan,” Gesch says. “This tool allows us to complete a comprehensive analysis of the entire watershed to identify where practices could be installed and what the capacity is for adoption in the watershed,” Gesch says. He points out that the tool doesn’t replace the work of watershed planners. Instead, he says it saves both planners and farmers/landowners time assessing potential locations for conservation practices. The ISA Research team has utilized the ACPF tool in 20 watershed plans completed within the last few years. The framework is now a standard tool used in watershed planning services that ISA provides.

For more information about the ACPF tool, contact Gesch at kgesch@iasoybeans.com or 515-334-1047.





igital imagery is useful in crop production for a variety of purposes. Currently, most farmers use digital imagery primarily for pest, weed and disease detection, equipment problems or other crop scouting practices where a snapshot is all that's needed. To meaningfully study crop canopy throughout a single growing season, or between years or between fields, digital imagery requires calibration. “Unlike measuring temperature or yield - both of which have specific units of measurement - the raw, digital data of imagery do not have a universal scale system,” says ISA Director of Analytics Peter Kyveryga, Ph.D. This is problematic when

using reflectance of crop canopy to compare one crop year to another, as it’s not an equal comparison. “If your scale is off, it’s difficult to accurately assess your field or develop a plan,” Kyveryga says. Since 2015, ISA has partnered with two Story County farmers and used their 200-acre site near Collins to test imagery from 15 providers for visual quality, current calibration quality, registration/spatial location accuracy and imagery processing quality to determine its potential to produce calibrated vegetation indices of crop canopy. Calibration tarps with known percentage reflectance values were arranged prior to image collection to calibrate imagery taken. The team collected images at the site every two weeks during the growing seasons from 2015 to 2019.


How it’s used

Developed by the ISA analytics team, a webbased “Vegetation Index Time Series Imagery Tool” (VITSIT) was created to:

Users can select a crop and a field to produce time series graphs of different vegetation indices. For example, the tool shows the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a graphical indicator used to analyze remote sensing measurements and assess whether or not the target being observed contains live green vegetation. One recent example shows the greatest separation of yield zones from NDVI of soybean canopy was in early season, mid-June, which is often difficult to see visually on the ground. The tool can also help visualize the average time series for a previous growing season with the same crop. This feature allows tracking of soybean canopy development over time and better and more accurately predicts yield zones or potential soybean stresses. The team is currently working to learn if early season calibrated imagery can be used for prediction of crop yield and seed quality.

• Communicate the differences between uncalibrated and calibrated imagery sources; • Report time series of different vegetation indices of crop canopy to identify within-field yield corn and soybean variability zones; • Identify whether temporal patterns for different vegetation indices change during and across growing seasons; • Report correlation between yield and vegetation indices from the beginning to the end of the growing season; and • Identify how rainfall changes imagery calibration quality and correlation with yield.

For more information about the VITSIT tool, contact Kyveryga at pkyveryga@iasoybeans.com or go to iasoybeans.com/programs/isa-research/tools-services.


Transforming Drainage

AJ Blair (left), Matt Lechtenberg (right) and others discuss a drainage project at Blair’s farm near Dayton.




echnology is transforming the way drainage contractors and conservation planners think about water storage and the ability to reuse stored water back on the land. A new tool, called Evaluating Drainage Water Recycling Decisions (EDWRD), helps assess the multiple benefits of drainage water storage and reuse for farmers and downstream partners. The ISA Research team is using the EDWRD tool to help farmers estimate the

potential benefits that result from capturing drained agricultural water in various sizes of water storage (e.g. pond or reservoir) for reuse as irrigation, a practiced referred to as drainage water recycling. “It’s a combination of multiple win-wins,” says Chris Hay, Ph.D., the senior manager for production systems innovation at ISA. “It’s a practice where we have both an agronomic and downstream water quality benefit. This practice not only addresses both nitrogen and phosphorous capture, it helps provide good drainage while also addressing watershort conditions as well.” The ISA Research team is putting the tool and the drainage water recycling

practice on trial through pilot projects in the state.

Pilot project Using the tool, Hay worked with A.J. and Kellie Blair near Dayton to determine how their farm could benefit from drainage water recycling. Using field and soils information, the model helped determine how large of a pond would make the most sense on their farm. In the project, which is slated to begin this year, the Blairs will transform a 3-acre piece of their land into a holding pond. The excess water captured in the pond will then be used in a pivot irrigation system during drier parts of the growing season.

“As a farmer you’re always cussing the weather because it’s never right,” AJ says. “I always thought that we didn’t need irrigation, but it would sure be cool to have water at the right time.” This project helps do just that. “We don’t need 20 inches of water to irrigate with, but 2 inches at pollination could be huge for us,” A.J. says. “It has the potential to increase yield by putting the right amount of water on at the right time through irrigation, while also taking some nitrogen out of the water, cleaning it up and returning it back on to the field.” Contact Bethany Baratta at bbaratta@iasoybeans.com.

To learn more about the EDWRD tool, contact Hay at chay@iasoybeans.com or 515-334-1068.



Thank you to our Gold Club members: AGP

Jeff Jorgenson

Agri Drain

John Deere

Bayer CropScience

Merschman Seeds

Beck's Hybrids

Mid-Iowa Seeds, LLC


Rueter's Equipment Co.


Stine Seeds

Champion Seed of Iowa

Sunderman Farm Management Co.

Corteva AgriScience


Extended Ag Services, Inc.

Titan Tire

Farm Credit Services of America

West Bank


Chuck White



soybean processor


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

Technology Advances Solutions


s we wrap up this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review and prepare to send it off to the printer, the World Health Organization just declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. No matter how you feel about the world’s perception and reaction to the virus, there’s no disputing the fact that adjustments to everyday life will have to be made. By the time you read this column, I’m sure there will have been many changes that I can’t begin to predict right now. For my family, changes are starting immediately. My oldest daughter, Grace, who is a student at Iowa State University, just learned her classes would be moved on-line. There are still many questions yet to be answered, but we are quickly processing the information and moving forward.

She’ll be transitioning out of the dorms and back home much sooner than anticipated. Grace is sad. She loves living on campus and going to classes. “What would have happened in this situation when you were in college?” Grace asked. I told her I had no idea. We didn’t have the capability to learn remotely. “Why?” she asked. Simple. The technology didn’t exist. At least not to the full capacity that it does today. While it may be frustrating, Grace will be able to finish her freshman year remotely, if need be. That’s pretty amazing. In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we researched ways technology is transforming agriculture during a time of so many unknowns. From renewable energy to satellites and drones,

unprecedented advancements have been made in the way you farm day-to-day. Challenges you have today may very well be solved with ideas you can’t even fathom tomorrow. That’s what’s so exciting and sometimes nervewracking about the speed in which technology moves. We will be taking a more indepth look in our next edition of the Review about how the novel coronavirus has impacted world markets. For now, I am grateful for the power of technology in our lives. Shoot me a note and let me know your thoughts about the role of technology as it relates to overcoming challenges yet to be defined. I’m interested in your perspective. Stay well, my friends.




Chris & Nicole LOCAT ION:


Soybean, Corn & Livestock Producers View their story at: fcsamerica.com/chrisnicole


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