Texas Agriculture October 21, 2016 : Page 12

Educational trip spotlights agriculture in the Midwest By Gary Joiner Editor The Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) board of directors traveled to the Midwest in late September for an educational tour of agriculture in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Monsanto Research Center The group met with Monsanto Company leadership at the research center in St. Louis, including Presi-dent and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann. They discussed technology and areas of concern to Texas farmers and ranchers. The group toured areas of the facility, including research green-houses and a peek inside a growth chamber, one of more than 170 at the center. The growth chamber visited replicated growing condi-tions in Brazil. There are more PhDs on this Monsanto research campus than at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s important to understand that the company wants the same thing we want as farmers and ranchers. They want a profitable agriculture. They want to do it safely for the environment. They want to do it sustainably,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “I think it’s important that you get to know some of these folks.” “The technology has helped us keep our soil a lot healthier. We’ve gone to more no-till, strip-till. We have just a lot healthier soil than what we did a few years ago,” TFB Secretary-Treasurer (District 1) Robert Gordon said. Mississippi River, ADM facilities The group traveled up the Mis-sissippi River. They visited Lock & Dam #21 at Quincy, Illinois, learn-ing how farm products travel the 12 when the board arrived. “It’s very impressive to see corn like this. Two hundred and fifty bushel corn grown on dryland,” TFB District 2 State Director Dan Smith said. “We just can’t do that where I’m from.” Ethanol Facility ADM Facilities Monsanto Research Center King Corn O CTOBER 21 , 2016 river by barge. It’s a U.S. Corps of Engineers facility, and it takes about an hour and a half for a barge to pass through the lock. The group visited a nearby ADM Pilot feed mill and an ADM research farm in Mendon. They learned about the research and hard work that goes into every bag of feed. King Corn Iowa grows more corn than any other state in the nation. It produces an average of 2.5 billion bushels a year. If Iowa were its own country, it would be the fourth largest corn-growing nation in the world. Yields this year across the state are aver-aging about 185 bushels an acre. Corn harvest in Iowa had just begun “I always heard Iowa was a corn state, but I didn’t realize just to the extent until you drive through the country and just see there is acre af-ter acre. Rolling hills. It’s just beau-tiful,” remarked TFB District 10 State Director Ronnie Muennink. Ethanol facility The group toured Big River Re-

Educational Trip Spotlights Agriculture in the Midwest

Gary Joiner

The Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) board of directors traveled to the Midwest in late September for an educational tour of agriculture in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Monsanto Research Center

The group met with Monsanto Company leadership at the research center in St. Louis, including President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann. They discussed technology and areas of concern to Texas farmers and ranchers.

The group toured areas of the facility, including research greenhouses and a peek inside a growth chamber, one of more than 170 at the center. The growth chamber visited replicated growing conditions in Brazil. There are more PhDs on this Monsanto research campus than at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“It’s important to understand that the company wants the same thing we want as farmers and ranchers. They want a profitable agriculture. They want to do it safely for the environment. They want to do it sustainably,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “I think it’s important that you get to know some of these folks.”

“The technology has helped us keep our soil a lot healthier. We’ve gone to more no-till, strip-till. We have just a lot healthier soil than what we did a few years ago,” TFB Secretary-Treasurer (District 1) Robert Gordon said.

Mississippi River, ADM facilities

The group traveled up the Mississippi River. They visited Lock & Dam #21 at Quincy, Illinois, learning how farm products travel the river by barge. It’s a U.S. Corps of Engineers facility, and it takes about an hour and a half for a barge to pass through the lock.

The group visited a nearby ADM Pilot feed mill and an ADM research farm in Mendon. They learned about the research and hard work that goes into every bag of feed.

King Corn

Iowa grows more corn than any other state in the nation. It produces an average of 2.5 billion bushels a year. If Iowa were its own country, it would be the fourth largest corn-growing nation in the world. Yields this year across the state are averaging about 185 bushels an acre. Corn harvest in Iowa had just begun when the board arrived.

“It’s very impressive to see corn like this. Two hundred and fifty bushel corn grown on dryland,” TFB District 2 State Director Dan Smith said. “We just can’t do that where I’m from.”

“I always heard Iowa was a corn state, but I didn’t realize just to the extent until you drive through the country and just see there is acre after acre. Rolling hills. It’s just beautiful,” remarked TFB District 10 State Director Ronnie Muennink.

Ethanol facility

The group toured Big River Resources, an ethanol plant in Burlington, Iowa, that is an agricultural cooperative. One bushel of corn produces an average of 2.8 gallons of ethanol.

“The ethanol plant was really interesting to me,” TFB District 5 State Director Mark Chamblee said. “I enjoyed seeing how ethanol is made, and I have a better appreciation of how ethanol fits into the economic fuel supply of the United States.”

No-till farming

The group traveled to the farm of Steve Burger in Wellman, Iowa. Burger and his family are well-known proponents of no-till farming and the use of cover crops. They grow 2,200 acres of corn and soybeans. He averages 250 bushels of corn on his no-till acreage.

“There is a lot of no-till being used here in Iowa, a lot of the cover crops being incorporated into these conservation methods of no-till,” TFB Vice President (District 3) Michael White said. “I’m seeing some of that in my area, so it really kind of interests me a little bit of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it—the advantages of it and disadvantages.”

National Animal Disease Center

The group toured the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa. The 530-acre campus is the premier research facility on animal diseases such as brucellosis and chronic wasting disease. TFB leaders discussed animal diseases of concern to Texas farmers and ranchers.

“This was a great facility and a great tour to go through and see what is being done with brucellosis and the other types of diseases they are trying to do research on,” said TFB District 4 State Director Ben Wible.

“The technology. The more the technology advances, the more they learn and one thing leads to another,” TFB District 9 State Director Larry Joiner said. “I’m not technologically savvy, but it has impressed me about what they can do with advanced technology. It’s amazing.”

Hora hog farm

The group met with farmer Andy Hora in Riverside, Iowa. He raises pigs, corn and soybeans in Washington County, the number four hog-producing county in the nation.

“It’s interesting how much it’s changed since I have been in commercial hog operations 15 years ago, 20 years ago,” TFB District 13 State Director Scott Frazier said.

“In many ways, it’s the same, but a lot of the little details are different than it used to be.”

“It’s a really good contrast to the soybeans we see back at home. And we grow some soybeans,” TFB District 11 State Director Bob Reed said. “We were talking to a producer who said that if 30 bushels was their average yield, they wouldn’t be growing them. They’re 70- to 80-bushel yielders up here. Most of the producers in our area, if they can grow and average 30 bushels, would be tickled to death.”

Iowa at a glance

Iowa has a population of nearly 3 million people. Eighty-five percent of land in Iowa is farmland. Twenty percent of the population has jobs related to agriculture. It annually leads the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, hogs and eggs.

“It’s very interesting to see the different innovations that farmers have here,” said TFB District 6 State Director Val Stephens. “By the same token, there’s still some similarities between row crops, cotton in the South Plains and the corn farmers of Iowa.”

“At the farms that we stopped at, the first thing you notice is the differences, and you point out something that’s different than your own farm. But at the root of it, every farmer we meet faces the same challenges that we face, and they have the same love,” TFB District 7 State Director Jessica Richmond said. “They want to take care of their land. They want to provide for their families and they think of the next generation.”

Aerobic digester

The group met with farmer Brian Sievers of Stockton, Iowa. Sievers grows corn and soybeans and has a small monoslope feedlot on his family farm. He takes cattle waste and runs it through an aerobic digester, extracting the methane gas and using it to generate electricity.

“We see how man has used technology to process farm products. Be it the lock and dam system. Be it the ethanol plant. Be it the bio-digester that makes methane and converts to electricity,” TFB District 8 State Director Neil Walter said. “But I guess the most impressive thing is to still go back to the actual production agriculture—soils and climate to produce the raw products that we need. And we’ve got to keep that pipeline going.”

Hill farm

TFB leaders spent time with Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill on his farm near Indianola. He grows corn and soybeans and had a hog finishing operation. The group learned about the history of Iowa, the importance of agriculture to the state and how Iowa farmers are working together toward conservation.

“A whole lot of effort, new effort, new investment. Many speculate that Iowa over the next several decades will spend $4-$5 billion on conservation. And we know we must spend $50-$60 an acre just to maintain what we have,” Hill said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Educational+Trip+Spotlights+Agriculture+in+the+Midwest/2614288/348938/article.html.

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