• P.J. Griekspoor

    Good News, at Least Initially, for Sunflower Electric Power

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 30, 2010

    A 45-day public comment period begins today on a new draft air quality permit that will allow Sunflower Electric Power to build a 895-megawatt unit to expand its generation capacity at Holcomb Station. It will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds during the comment period. Intially, Sunflower had sought to build two 700-megawatt plants but KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby denied the air quality permit, saying carbon dioxide emissions from the plant represented a health hazard for Kansans…

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  • Josh Flint

    I'll Have a News Report, Extra Objectivity, Hold the Spin Please

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 30, 2010

    Last week, you probably saw the news about Roundup Ready alfalfa. Most of the news releases that hit my inbox essentially said the Supreme Court had overturned the lower courts decision and further analysis was needed on USDA’s part to certify the product for commercial use. I say most of the releases, because one in particular came with a sub-head that stated “High Court Delivers Ruling That Leaves Ban on Planting of Roundup Ready Alfalfa in Place in First-Ever Case on a…

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  • John Vogel

    Why We Must Rein In Government Growth

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 28, 2010

     Listen to America’s heartbeat. It’s running ever-faster and coupled with rising blood pressure. Why? The push for more regulations – at any cost – by the “House of Obama” has even cab drivers worried these days. While the lack fiscal responsibility on the part of environmentalists is understandable, the culpability of elected and selected federal leaders is simply mind-boggling. And the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy (put loosely) is the…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Photos Reveal Farmland Flooding Losses

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 28, 2010

    Approximately 400,000 acres of farmland have been flooded in the Devils Lake basin since the land-locked North Dakota lake began rising in 1993. But the numbers don’t do the flooding justice. Check out these aerial photos taken by Huck Krueger, Devils Lake, N.D., from his ultralight, to get a sense of what's happening to farms. Over Mike's Lake and Chain Lake, looking northwest. This is the farm in the center of the previous above. This farm is surrounded by water. A road…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Lesson #1 for Rural Driving: Forget the GPS

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 28, 2010

    Every year at about this time, the population of the greater Bushnell area swells by about 30,000, as young  people from all over the country flock to a hard rock Christian music festival known as Cornerstone. Normally, this doesn't shake the locals up too much; we see a lot more traffic, maybe a few lost drivers, and you definitely want to avoid going to Dairy Queen or the local IGA if at all possible this week. And because the event takes place on a huge campground just about three miles…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Another Roller-Coaster Ride in Indiana

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 27, 2010

    Two weeks ago Ray McCormick, Vincennes, thought he had one of this best corn crops ever. Now, 400 acres are under water in the White River bottoms. And it was just beginning to tassel. The problem wasn't rain at Vincennes, it was rain in central Indiana that goes down the White River. And this was before the flood waters of last week headed south. Two weeks ago farmers in western Benton  County thought they were looking at 220 bushels of corn per acre. In a matter of minutes, some fields…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Tragedy at Grain Elevator Puts Note of Sadness in Harvest

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 25, 2010

    Two young men lost their lives yesterday and the rest of Kansas got a reminder just how dangerous bringing in the harvest can sometimes be. Max Greve, 21, was a Nebraska native and a student at Fort Hays State University. Sean Banks, 19, was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College and an outfielder of the Hutch CC baseball team. The two were unloading a semi full of wheat at the Agco Inc. elevator in Russell when two bins collapsed, burying them in wheat. Their bodies were found about…

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  • Willie Vogt

    A Little Idle Time

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 25, 2010

    This week John Deere announced its strategy for meeting emissions for the 2011 interim Tier 4 (IT4 for Deere) standard - the company will use a combination of a diesel oxidation catalyst, particulate filter and cooled exhaust gas recirculation to hit the target. And for the final Tier 4 standard, company management says its keeping its options open for now. We'll talk more about that in a future blog. However, an interesting fact came out of the media conference too. Farmers idle a lot. You…

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  • Tim White

    A Bulldog at the HSUS Door

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on June 22, 2010

    The Humane Society of the United States has a new dog. It’s a watchdog called Humanewatch.org. Really this bulldog is David Martosko, director of research, at the Washington D.C.-based non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom. Martosko explains that he brings a libertarian sort of notion to his work. People should have choices and actions that limit a person’s choices are not good. He sees the HSUS as one of several animal rights organizations that intend to limit our food choices to…

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  • Josh Flint

    It Seems Like Consumers Enjoy the Image of a Poor Farmer

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 22, 2010

    When was the last time a consumer asked if your farm was profitable? I'm sure you've been asked if you're a family farm, are you sustainable, do you use antibiotics, how do you protect the environment …. and the list goes on. But, when was the last time they cared about how you actually make enough money to continue through to next year? If they did ask, what answer would they want to hear? For some reason, I doubt they'd want to hear that you were making a lot of money. Let's be…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Confusion Reigns As Both Sides Claim Victory in Roundup Ready Alfalfa Case

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 21, 2010

    At first glance, it seems obvious that today's Supreme Court decision overturning the lower court decision to impose a nationwide injunction against the planting or harvesting of Roundup Ready alfalfa is a clear victory for Monsanto. Not so, says the Center for Food Safety, which contends that the court's decision is actually a victory for its case against biotechnology because it remains illegal to plant or sell Roundup Ready seed -- until there is a decision on partial deregulation by the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Her First Show

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 21, 2010

    An upfront confession: my husband, John, and I have been a little overly excited about having a kid showing cattle, since pretty much before we ever had kids. Thinking of how we were "doing this for our kids" got us through long nights of pulling calves in the wee hours, and years of, ahem, budget shortfalls on the cattle side of the operation. We grew up in the showring, and if our kids have any interest whatsoever, we'd love for them to, too. So here we go. A loss in the cow herd this past…

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  • John Vogel

    Do It Right, Dad!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 21, 2010

     Over Father’s Day weekend, I had the privilege of seeing the delightful aspects of being a father . . . and seeing the devastating after-effects of children disillusioned by lesser father role models. Being a successful father is even more challenging than being a successful farmer. When you fail, the emotional scars run much deeper in all the victims – the children and the father. I’ll give you two examples: One is my neighbor whose father walked out on his family…

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  • Tom Bechman

    The Power of the Wind

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 21, 2010

    The official tornado drill week sponsored by safety agencies across the country may have been in March, but the real test was the week of tornadoes that began about one week ago. Tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and hail anywhere from golf ball to softball sized, hit many areas. If you didn't get hit, consider yourself lucky. All I've had to do is pick up a few limbs and small branches. We had a close call with a tornado warning and tornado-capable clouds directly at our location, but they…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    EPA Again Wimps Out on Upping Ethanol Blend

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 19, 2010

    With oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, grain prices struggling and the ethanol industry poised to create thousands of jobs with the stroke of a pen, you'd think the EPA could get off the fence already and just approve what dozens of scientific studies have shown -- upping the blend of ethanol would be good for the economy and the environment and wouldn't have any detrimental effect on the millions of cars and trucks on the road. It's hard to understand the delay. EPA delayed a decision in…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Food Versus Fuel

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 18, 2010

    I saw a good biofuels exhibit by the Minnesota Extension Service at the University of Minnesota Arboretum over the weekend. In one exhibit, a living mass of moss covered a Volkswagon Beetle. In another, a farmer made from living plants sat a stride a Ford tractor. Both exhibits really brought to life the idea that farmers are “green.” Other exhibits included plantings of corn, soybeans, sunflowers, barley, native grasses, aspens and willows. I particular liked the one showing how…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Using Facebook to Build Momentum

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 17, 2010

    Details Sex: Mail Born: Jan. 1, 1923 Looking For: A relationship Current City: Hesston, Kan. Sounds like a want ad for a personal service, short of the "likes to take long walks." In fact, this "guy" likes to clean grain and that description is on Facebook - check out Facebook.com/gleanersuper7 to learn more. That location is where you can find out about a potential new friend - Agco's Gleaner Super Seven combine, which is making its way up the harvest trail (last check it was near Enid…

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  • Josh Flint

    Dad, Thank You For the Life Lessons

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 16, 2010

    With Father's Day coming up, I thought it would be fitting to remember a few of the sayings my dad taught me. I hope to pass these along to my son one of these days. 1. If it were easy, everyone would do it. My dad loved saying this when he was coaching my little league teams. Afraid to stand in front of a ground ball? He'd remind us, "If it was easy…" Even though it reminds me of the days of pitching machines, I find myself applying it to a lot of challenges throughout…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    This Rain Thing Is Just Not Funny Anymore

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 16, 2010

    You hate to wish for an end to rain in Kansas, because all too often it seems like Mother Nature forgets how to start again. But, the situation is getting pretty serious out there. We're not just talking delay in harvesting wheat (which isn't all that ripe anyway.) It seems like every 15 minutes the National Weather Service adds another county to the flood warning list. It's not just creeks and streams; it is now rivers going out -- the Ark River at Arkansas City and the Cottonwood at…

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  • John Vogel

    Why We Love Spring, Early Summer

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 15, 2010

    Hearkening back to my farming days, I still get rev’ed up when I see spring springing, and corn stretching skyward to embrace the sun. It’s as if farmers respond to photosynthesis ever as much as the corn plant does. The only difference is that we respond directly to the sunlight. Corn is a slower processor; it takes in the light during day and mobilizes it at night. Yesterday, while out roadside crop scouting, I was thinking about that the old adage: “Knee-high by the…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Gearing Up for a Farm Show

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 14, 2010

    Our Farm Progress Show Team is hard at work this week near Strawberry Point, Iowa, putting the finishing touches on the 2010 Hay Expo. This is the only outdoor show devoted to hay and forage-making and visitors will get the chance to see the latest technology, and iron, available. For us it's the official start of the 2010 show season - I know the great winter New York Farm Show actually kicks off 2010; but when it comes to outdoor shows for us, Hay Expo gets the ball rolling. All the Farm…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Old Guys Still Know A Few Things

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 14, 2010

    Anyone who doesn't think it takes a blend of youth and old gray-haired people to get the job done these days needs to keep reading. Youth has brawn, the spring in their step, and they have access to all kinds of technology, from Facebook to texting to twitter, whatever all that stuff is. But ask them to mulitply 12 by 8 in their head, and many look at you with a dumb stare. They have to pull out some calculator, usually on their cell phone. So when you're doing farm work, especially a test…

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  • Tim White

    Golfing for Others

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on June 10, 2010

    Maybe it’s golf season at your house, too? I mean, I just got an email from the human resources director urging me to use my 11 days of accumulated vacation this month or lose ‘em. Why would I throw away a perfectly good Wednesday when I could spend it enjoying the natural beauty of a golf course and the cheerful camaraderie of fellow agriculturalists? Never mind that Mike Wilson was in town the week before and I took a Friday off for golfing with him. Or that rain is forecast for…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Widespread Rain Shuts Down Wheat Harvest

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 8, 2010

    It looked like harvest would be in full swing by the end of the week across much of southwest Kansas. Then came the rains. Barber, Harper and Comanche Counties when harvest traditionally begins, got more than an inch of rain on Monday and have cloudy skies and high humidity today. Now, it looks more like next week before things get going again, elevator managers say. OK Coop in Kiowa had taken in about 100,000 bushels of wheat by Sunday night, but area farmers were starting to run…

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  • John Vogel

    Answers To Dairy's Deepening Dilemma

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 8, 2010

     This week, I began getting e-mails from dairy farmers beating the drum for a nationwide milk-dumping protest on July 4. Heart-breaking news of dairy farms selling out is everywhere. And person after person working in the dairy industry tell me “It’s going to get nasty this year.”  Then there’s the side you don’t hear reported. Not all dairy farmers are going broke. Those squeezing through tough milk market times are staying “under the radar&rdquo…

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  • Willie Vogt

    We Have a Winner!

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 7, 2010

    With work that can start as early as last September and carry on right through the competition, the International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition carries its fair share of challenges. But in the end, there are plenty of winners - from students who learn plenty about how to take and idea from paper to iron to advisers who work with those same students in the process - and I bet they learn something too. The results are in and the 2010 overall winner is the University of Illinois…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Lucky Few Haven't Had to Replant

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 7, 2010

    If you farm any acreage at all and have made it to this point without replanting at least an acre or two, consider yourself fortunate. Reports funnel in about replanting one thing or another. The only good part of the story is that it's typically only one field or part of a field. It's not typically been a whole farm as happens some years with flooding or other calamities. One friend from Greene County spotted in less than 50 acres of corn, but he felt like he drove over 200 acres to do it…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Walkin’ in High Cotton

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 7, 2010

    I washed a load of jeans this morning. Here's what I found in the bottom of the machine: That there, fellow Midwesterners, is a handful of cottonseed. It's technically referred to as fuzzy whole cottonseed. We don't see much of that around here. Like, none. And so when my little guys tagged along with me on a photoshoot last week to Steve and Phyllis Hess's dairy farm, they got to see baby calves. Which they've seen before. But they also got to see a bunch of fuzzy whole cottonseed. And…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Kansas Wheat Harvest 2010 Has Officially Begun

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 6, 2010

    The best guess about 10 a.m. today was that wheat harvest would be picking up speed by mid-afternoon. So I packed up the grandkids and we headed southwest about noon to see what we could find. And sure enough, by 3 p.m. we found combines in the fields. LESSON LEARNED: The first lesson for grandkids traveling with grandma is that we don’t just brake for historical markers. We stop and read them. Quiz later. We caught up to Brett Courson, a hired hand for Clay Spicer at Diamond…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Hard Work and Heartbreak

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 6, 2010

    The excitement was high Saturday night with the first round of competition pulling came for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International 1/4-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition - or IQS for short. This was the 1,050-pound class with students putting their machines to the test - with the runs counting - for the first time. It's a lot of fun. The crowd is into it. The students are nervous and some teams shine while others find the work they've done doesn't…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Hard at Work, Facing 'Real World' Test

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 5, 2010

    As noted earlier this week, we're taking part in the 2010 International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, Ill., going on this weekend (June 3-6). For a lot of people who see this event the "sound bite" is the tractor pull. It's where visitors head when they come to Expo Gardens to see machines students have built do the actual work of pulling a sled on the track. But the work begins months before when the competition's latest rules are posted for teams and cover…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Customer Service 101

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 2, 2010

    John, my generally unflappable husband, came home for lunch grumbling today. “Some companies just don’t want to do business,” he said. He held out a little pressure switch from the Tru Count row shutoffs on the planter, and told me how it had quit working. He called Neff Company, the local Deere dealer, to get a new one. They told him to call Tru Count, which is now owned by Trimble. So he called Tru Count. The representative there said they could only sell them through…

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  • John Vogel

    Get Out And Scout, Kemo Sabe!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 1, 2010

    This weekend, most of the Northeast’s corn and soybeans were out of the ground. In fact, the warm, humid weather has a lot of corn fields ready to start shooting skyward. While it’s invigorating to watch (and hear?) the corn grow, getting out there and observing what’s happening throughout the fields is hugely important. That’s because weeds and insects also rapidly develop with the warm weather. You are your best early warning system for trouble. And the sooner you…

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  • Josh Flint

    Locally-Grown Farce

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 1, 2010

    Just like you, I get a lot of magazines each month. Many are free, some I pay for. Most all have some connection to rural Illinois. One I usually enjoy is Illinois Country Living, published by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. It typically features a smorgasbord of topics relating to Central Illinoisans. The May issue featured a cover story, called "Fresh off the Farm." Many of you are becoming increasingly alarmed at our government's bid to push local-grown food. The…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Ethanol is playing nice

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 1, 2010

    Ethanol’s playing nice I’ve been waiting for ethanol to take advantage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to score some public relations points with the American people. Supporters could run an ad with a farmer standing in front in a lush green corn field. In the background there could be birds twittering and deer peeking out of the end rows. A pheasant might even fly across the screen. And the farmer would say,“Yup, corn ethanol hasn’t ruined…

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  • Willie Vogt

    A Chance to Look into the Future

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 1, 2010

    I'm headed to Peoria, Ill., later this week for a peek into the future...really. Peoria, home to Caterpiller, for one weekend is home to the future of agricultural engineering. This is where students from around the country travel as part of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 1/4 Scale Tractor International Student Design Competition. While that's a mouthful - let me tell you it's a great weekend of being with future engineers. The students are competing with their…

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