06-19-2012 09:10 AM - edited 06-20-2012 04:29 AM
Took some notes and a couple snapshots on a trip from central Iowa to northern Wisconsin last week. What I've sifted from these impressions (full story) is that there appears to be a fair amount of variability in crop condition in the northern Corn Belt, at least from the perspective of a few ribbons of highway.
The marketing angle I'm wondering about is whether in the expansion that's occurred on marginal land in recent years do we have a lot more unpredictability in how much grain eventually will get produced? Some of this land could produce a good crop. Some of it could be a bust. Does the market "know" this?
There are other issues with this expansion, too, including the political and environmental costs of converting more and more marginal lands to row crops.
06-19-2012 09:41 AM
John - Good morning - interesting thoughts and info --- have some folks that travel a large area of the Midwest , south and southwest of which they report in our daily conversations of crop conditions in their viewing of some good some bad and some down right ugly ---also found an interesting article about crop and livestock thefts in Spain due to economic conditions -- read this on radio KRVN Lexington Nebraska business page with an AP news wire story ---
06-19-2012 09:48 AM
The marginal lands thing is in full bloom here.
I was going to take a picture of a corn field next to a pasture I was mowing for hay yesterday evening. It used to have a beautiful stand of big bluestem on it till RR beans showed up. This is class C/D land. It will be an insurance claim this year again.
The top soil left in the 1930's the subsoil left in the 1990's and the red undercarriage is now in the process of leaving. They have gone to using a moldboard plow to close in the ditches every year.
My cell phone battery was too low to take a picture as I was going to post it up here and ask some of the questions you are alluding to. Will try to do so when I rake and bale there in a day or two (depends on rain or lack there of).
06-19-2012 10:07 AM
Hi John: You drove through some of the better areas of Wi. The southern part has been missing the rains. I am farming some of the "marginal" land that is converted pasture. It is notilled and right now not to bad. I checked this morning and at 9:00 was starting to curl, but it is still growing. It has more cover on it now than it would if we were still running cattle on it. Some of the pastures look like golf course greens with thistles in the middle. As far as what the market knows I have given up guessing. With the huge swings we are seeing some one is making money. I think this link says it the best way I've heard. The people that know aren't telling you and me. They don't need to sell their "expert" advice to make a living.
06-19-2012 11:21 AM
I could show some ground that I have never seen farmed and probably going to be so eroded there are not words to describe. Also tree grove after tree grove being tore out. 166 not possible.
06-19-2012 03:16 PM
John you seem to be awfully worried about the decision making of farmers on a wide scale. Most operators care about there land and will do what's best to produce a good crop. For every operator in the US to switch to no-till would mean we would have many hungry people. Some ground is just not suitable for no-till. We are in a pretty rough drought situation here in the ECB and some of the poorest looking crops are in the no-till fields.... That's pretty sorry considering all the hype about no-tills ability to conserve moisture. A lot of our soils productivity was lost long ago in the moldboard plow and row cultivation days. Had we discovered chemicals to control weeds in the 1930's the landscape would be much different today.
06-19-2012 03:42 PM - edited 06-19-2012 04:01 PM
Just saw a couple of interesting comments on this topic from Tennessee ag policy expert Daryll Ray:
With the current program, there seem to be few-to-no controls on the introduction of crops like corn into fields and areas where the chances of crop failure are high and the chances of collecting indemnities that are larger than the farmer’s premium cost plus the cost of putting the crop into the ground are also high.
We have had farmers tell us that they could rent a marginal parcel of ground at some distance from their base operation and then be allowed to use the higher crop yield from their home place when insuring the additional marginal ground as a part of whole farm insurance coverage.
From a public policy perspective, taxpayers should not be subsidizing policies that guarantee profits by allowing farmers to plant crops on marginal land that should remain in pasture. In this case there are double societal losses—environmental and financial.
06-19-2012 08:25 PM
bsand said "For every operator in the US to switch to no-till would mean we would have many hungry people. Some ground is just not suitable for no-till. We are in a pretty rough drought situation here in the ECB and some of the poorest looking crops are in the no-till fields".
Since you are a young guy, you deserve to be cut some slack.
I would just encourage you to do a little better job researching the issue. Your comment above
simply ignores the facts that are widely available from multiple sources.
Anyone, including us every year, can make a mistake and screw up any system. Nature of the game.
We keep trying to find a soil type across the nation that is better off with tillage. None yet
have been found. :-)
Of course, I didn't say NEVER till. If the soil gets compacted for some reason like flooding,
or any number of other issues arise, a para-till, or straight shank can do a world of good
helping to restart the soil biology, as do cover-crops, etc.
06-19-2012 09:52 PM
Time, take a trip outside the Ft. Wayne Indiana area and you will see what I mean. I made a simple observation.... And no I don't need to be cut any slack, I just prefer not to plant into concrete every year. I bought a farm a couple years ago that had been no-tilled for a very long time.. I have since spent plenty of time getting rid of the giant ruts in the field. I have tilled that ground before planting three years now and not a single washout. Certain conservation management strategies like no-till work well in different parts of the country (i.e. the great plains) but not all.