Farm Talk

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January 23, 2013

“Fueling Innovations” at the 2013 Kansas Soybean Expo

Parsons, Kansas — Fast cars, politics and the latest industry updates all coincided to help highlight the theme of the 2013 Kansas Soybean Expo titled “Kansas Soybeans: Fueling Innovations.” Around 250 soybean producers and industry professionals gathered in Topeka at the Kansas Expocenter Jan. 9 for the event.

Gary Kilgore, emeritus professor of agronomy at Kansas State University, moderated the opening session. A soybean update from K-State Research and Extension covered topics such as “Next Generation Breeding: Phenotyping Using Spectral Analysis,” by William Schapaugh, professor of soybean breeding; “Soybean Inoculation: Trials and Tribulations,” by Charles Rice, professor of soil microbiology; and “Soybean Fungicides and Insecticides,” by Doug Shoup, southeast area agronomist.

During Rice's presentation he explained since soybean acres are increasing in Kan., there is an increasing number of questions about inoculation issues in soybeans.

“One of the problems is a lot of the land being used has not been previously planted with soybeans,” he said.

K-State conducted field experiments in order to test the theory that inoculated soybeans would help increase the yield for newer soybean fields. According to Rice the first year there were an increase in nodules and quality but did not increase yield, due to the weather and drought of 2011 and 2012 the test sites yielded no difference in growing conditions.

“Even though with the drought inoculating didn't increase yield, it was still beneficial,” Rice said. “I'd recommend if you haven't been in soybeans for three to five years to inoculate your plants”

Shoup furthered the session with advice to using fungicides and seed treatments.

“K-State recommends fungicide treated seeds if you are planting conventionally tilled prior to mid-May or planting no-till prior to Memorial Day,” Shoup said.

Higher commodity prices result in higher input costs, he added, but with those input costs the risk of weeds, insects and diseases are lowered.

“I’m a fan of fungicides and seed treatments,” he said. “It’s kind of like they provide insurance and help prevent disaster.”

Following the Extension update, was keynote speaker Brent Hajek, a soybean farmer from Ames, Oklahoma.

“I’m not selling anything but soybeans, just like y’all,” he began.

Hajek shared his story along with the inspiring details that led to his quest of setting a 182-mph land-speed record at the Booneville Salt Flats in August 2011 with a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup running on B20 biodiesel.

“It’s the kind of crazy thing you dream up when you spend too much time on the tractor,” he shared.

During the luncheon, featured speaker United States Senator Pat Roberts, focused on the overdue farm bill. The “fiscal cliff” legislation extended current law, with some modifications, through September. That default action was necessary after the House blocked the Senate’s version of the new farm bill.

“We didn’t have any responsible solution except to extend that bill, with the opposition we faced in the House,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t the best possible bill. It was the only bill possible.”

According to him, the $5 million exemption to the federal estate tax was left intact, rather than letting it fall to $1 million. The tax rate on liable estates will climb from 35 percent to 40 percent instead of the previously scheduled 55 percent.

“We ought to get rid of the doggone thing,” he said. “Just get rid of the estate tax, and we’d be far better off.”

Roberts expressed his frustration with the farm bill and stated crop insurance needs to be improved and strengthened, while also reforming food stamps to reduce fraud and abuse of the system.

One out of every five people in the state of Kansas is in a job either in or related to agriculture, he added.

“They want us to provide the safest food supply — which we do — at an affordable rate — which we do — all while still having a reasonable marginal profit to survive off of. Yet we are told we have to cut spending,” Roberts explained. “Agriculture is always a target.”

“If we are going to get a new farm bill we are going to have to do a better job educating people who know nothing about ag and don’t want to know anything about ag,” he stated.

Looking through the crowd Roberts focused in on a table of high school ag students and said, “Alright FFA you are the future, lead us.” £

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