6 Biggest Farming Trends in 2015

There are always lessons learned following harvest’s end, and the 2015 season is no exception. Challenges faced from weeds, weather and market conditions were tough, but leave room for opportunity in planning.

Now is the time to adjust plans, impact the bottom line and take your profits back. Set yourself up for success and consider these 6 trends from 2015.

6 Lessons from 2015

  • Markets
  • Weeds
  • Disease
  • Insects
  • Technology
  • Equipment
what's trending?

Markets

Multiple record corn yields have made for a steady market in 2014 and that continued to be the trend in 2015. Supplies are high in the U.S. and Successful Farming notes 2015’s fast, bountiful harvest will force little change in pricing. On top of that, corn exports will likely decline as global supplies remain high.

According to Bryce Knorr, Senior market analyst for Farm Futures magazine, input and land costs for 2015 were higher than average, leaving corn growers little profit. However, in 2016 rent and input costs are likely to decline giving corn growers an excellent profit opportunity.


Weeds

The common thread among agronomists and growers alike through 2015 was the continued development of weed resistance in corn with more than 60 species identified by the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. The most notable species contributing to the spread – Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and kochia.

“Weed resistance is becoming a pervasive problem across much of the Corn Belt, and growers need to focus attention to it,” said Jason Manz, senior product manager for Bayer. “These weeds have a rapid rate of production, making them difficult to control. Even one Palmer plant can produce more than 1 million seeds and grow about an inch a day. With that type of reproduction, a small problem can be a big one in just a few days.”

Manz recommends a clean start and to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach using a multi-faceted program with multiple sites of action. Herbicides like Corvus® at burndown and Capreno® during postemergence make for flexible options that feature market-leading residuals for season-long control of tough broadleaf weeds and grasses. Another option for growers is to use the LibertyLink® system. A postemergence application of Liberty® herbicide to corn with the LibertyLink trait can help growers S.T.O.P. tough-to-control weeds like Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, kochia, waterhemp and marestail.


Disease

A relatively wet spring made for solid planting conditions with little crop damage during the season’s early months.  But a dry period had many growers pass on a planned fungicide application during the early summer months, leading to elevated pressure from northern corn leaf blight (NCLB), gray leaf spot (GLS) and southern rust during heavy July rains. Studies by Ohio State University extension suggest that yield loss from infections of NCLB and GLS before silking can be as high as 50 percent.

Thorsten Schwindt, fungicide marketing manager for Bayer, believes a fungicide application is always a nice consideration. “Even when disease pressure is low, an effective fungicide application in corn can offer many benefits to the plant, including improved health, strength, standability and harvestability,” he said.

Just a single early season application of a fungicide like Stratego® YLD has been proven to increase ROI with yield improvements averaging 7 bu/A, Schwindt added. Moreover, these chemicals allow for preventative broad-spectrum control of major fungal diseases that can limit yields such as those faced in 2015.


Insects

2015 presented growers with increased pressure from a variety of insects, but corn rootworm, earworm and cutworms seemed to be the most documented. According to Insectforcecast.com estimates that pests such as corn earworm are responsible for up to 7 percent overall yield loss. And growers noted particular infestations showed signs of resistance to Bt genes in certain varieties.

To help manage and prevent insect pests such as these, it’s good to think about making an application of an effective insecticide like Baythroid® XL. It offers a powerful knockdown ingredient as well as extended residual properties for added protection from secondary pests. For scouting purposes, Purdue University offers growers a useful guide outlining key timing for scouting for common insects on corn.


Technology

Big data and the use of cost-limiting software programs continue to be a trend as growers look for more efficient ways to identify opportunities across their acres while eliminating profit loss in input decisions. Reported by Business Insider, a recent study conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation said 60 percent of farmers are using some sort of precision data and users are reporting reduced input costs by 15 percent; crop yields up 13 percent.

Items like profit-loss maps offered by Profit Zone Manager™ from AgSolver Inc. help growers identify which particular parts of land, down to the acre, are simply less profitable than the rest of their field. By identifying these areas of loss, growers can ‘retire’ that land from planting. In a recent article, according to AgSolver, 3 to 15 percent of each field is unprofitable and identifying those spots can help increase the bottom line by eliminating unnecessary planting costs.


Equipment

According to The Economist, the FAA has estimated that there will be more than 15,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) in the U.S. by 2020. Containing sophisticated technology, UAV’s will play a huge part in fostering cost-effective agriculture programs as agronomists and growers search for better ways to quickly identify and resolve crop issues.

But the influx of UAV use draws heavy scrutiny from governing bodies as many still believe usage should be regulated more closely. Looking forward, legislation will inevitably change since security is the highest concern of unmanned, low-flying aviation tools.

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