Is AgTech Making it to the Farm?

Yes, AgTech Investment is Used by Many Farmers

By Tim Hammerich, AgInfo.net

According to AgFunder, over $6.5 billion was invested in agtech companies in 2019. This brings the total up to somewhere around $30 billion since 2012. But how much of this investment is actually leading to tools farmers are actually using?

Aaron Magenheim of Growers Insight believes the technology is out there that growers need. But, he says, most agtech companies don’t go far enough to help customers fully integrate the technology into their operations.

“I just about guarantee the technology is out there for farmers for the next five years, anywhere in the world. We track through Agtech Insight, our other company, we tracked 3,000 digital technology companies around the world that work in ag,” said Magenheim. “So we know who’s out there globally, what they’re doing, where they’re at. So we really believe that in order to utilize those technologies that are already being paid for and on the farm.

“But to utilize them more, there’s the cultural aspect of these farming organizations. And that’s the challenging piece and nobody’s addressing that. Startups want to sell their technology and train one or two people and, and that’s it. But if you have one or two people in an organization of 300 using a technology, it’s not being utilized anywhere near as much as it could be,” he said.

Magenheim is helping growers understand where technology fits on their operations. Then, he makes sure the technology is fully integrated so growers maximize the return on their investment.

Keeping Spotted Lanternfly Out of State

Spotted Lanternfly is An Invasive Pest

By Tim Hammerich with AgInfo.net

The spotted lanternfly is a colorful insect pest that has been infesting vineyards and orchards in the eastern U.S. So far, we have been effective in our efforts to keep the pest away from California’s multi-billion dollar ag industry. But we must remain diligent in these efforts, says Dr. Surendra Dara, Entomology and Biologicals Advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

D“Spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest because of the reason we don’t have any natural enemies that can suppress their populations in a natural way in a new environment,” said Dara. “And it can actually infest grapes and several other hosts in California of commercial importance. So it is important for us to be aware of the potential impact and do the need to prevent the damage.”

Researchers are trying to develop potential control methods, but the pest is known to spread very quickly and can be very damaging to vineyards and orchards.

“So they mainly feed on the stems and trunks, so they insert their stylets. Then they suck the plant uses. And they also excrete large amounts of honeydew, which can promote the growth of a sooty mold,” he said.

Keeping pests like this out of the state and developing control measures is of the utmost importance to California’s ag economy.

Liriomyza Leafminer Management on Spring Melon

Leafminer is Quite Active in Desert Melons

By John Palumbo, Professor/Extension Specialist, University of Arizona Department of Entomology

With spring melon production well under way, PCAs should be on the lookout for Liriomyza leafminer on cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons.

Recent sticky trap catches from our area-wide monitoring network indicate that leafminer adults are becoming quite active and beginning to disperse where melons are being grown. In these trap locations, both Liromyza sativae and L. trifolii were found on traps. This is important because L. trifolii is typically more difficult to control with insecticides. Furthermore, the 10-day forecast calls for temperatures in the 80’s which will enhance leafminer larval development.

Leafminers can cause significant economic damage to melon plants, particularly on later planted spring melons. Mining of leaves by the larvae can cause direct injury to seedling plants by removing chlorophyl and reducing the plants photosynthetic capacity.

Mines and feeding punctures can also produce an entrance for pathogenic organisms. In severe infestations, leafmining may cause plant death, particularly to seedlings or transplant watermelons. During May and June, excessive leaf mining on older plants can cause leaves to dessicate and defoliate, resulting in sun burning of fruit and reduction in yield and quality.   Damage to mature plants can occur when attempting to hold the crop longer for extended harvests.

The good news is that several insecticide products are available that can effectively control both leafminer species.   Our research has shown that the most effective products are those that work via translaminar activity and can penetrate the leaf surface where they contact or are ingested by the developing larvae. These include Radiant (5-7 oz/ac), Coragen (5-7 oz/ac), Besiege (8-9 oz/ac), Exirel (15-20 oz/ac), Agri-Mek SC (3.5 oz) and Minecto Pro at 10 oz. These compounds can effectively kill newly emerged larvae in the leaf mines before they cause significant damage.

Because these products are selective, they have minimal impact on beneficial parasitic wasps that can be important in naturally suppressing leafminer populations. It is recommended that a penetrating adjuvant (e.g., MSO or MSO/Silicone blend) be added to these products to enhance translaminar movement of the product. For more information on leafminer biology and management please go to Leafminer Management on Desert Melons.

 

 

 

Sanitation for Navel Orangeworm Critical

Mandatory Sanitation and Almonds and Pistachios to Fight Navel Orangeworm?

By Patrick Cavanaugh AgInfo.net

In the cotton pink bollworm program sanitation, a mandatory plow down of cotton stubble was a big part of the bollworm eradication strategy. Similarly in tree nuts the mummy nuts left in the tree post-harvest must be removed as they often harbor navel orangeworm larvae.

Joel Siegel is a USDA ARS entomologist based at Kearney near Fresno. He spoke recently at the American pistachio growers annual conference.

“Sanitation was a key element of the pink bollworm program. In fact, it was mandatory sanitation complete with people going out and checking and there were penalties for people that didn’t sanitize.,” noted Siegel. “One of the things that government does is they like to repeat all of the elements of what they think of as a successful program. If APHIS is making the investment, which they are in terms of providing the sterile insects for this navel orange worm program, logically they’re probably going to want mandatory sanitation as well.”

Again, it may be required to follow through with mandatory sanitation.

“There are challenges because we don’t have a standard. So what I tell people is to plan on getting everything out of the tree,” Siegel said.

Corona Virus and the Farm Economy (Part 2)

With Corona Virus, Farms Stay Strong As People Must Eat

By Tim Hammerich with AgInfo.net

How should agricultural producers be preparing for a slowdown in the global economy, due to the Corona Virus? That’s the question many are asking. UC Davis Economist Dr. Daniel Sumner has a simple reminder: people still need to eat.

“Don’t forget, agriculture is hardly ever cyclical with the rest of the economy. There are booms in the economy when agriculture is struggling, like last year or the year before,” said Sumner.  “There are times when the rest of the economy is not doing well and agriculture is doing okay. And even within agriculture, there are times when the dairy industry and the almond industry aren’t necessarily in sync, to pick the two biggest commodities in California.”

People still eat. People still spend money on food even as incomes fall.”A good bit of what we produce, even in California agriculture is pretty basic products for people. And if they’re stuck at home, they’re buying more of it, not less of it. So we’re going to have some gains here in California agriculture, even if the rest of the economy’s not doing well,” Sumner said.

Sumner adds that animal agriculture supplies have been hit especially hard with issues such as African Swine Fever before coronavirus. This may add to potential agricultural gains even in the midst of a slowdown or even a potential recession in the economy.

National Ag Week Art Calendar Shines!

National Ag Week Art Calendar Contest Winners Announced!

Each year Tulare County Farm Bureau hosts an art contest for local K-12 students. We congratulate the students that participated in our 2020 Farm Bureau Art Calendar Contest, which we host in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education.  While the awards ceremony was postponed in light of COVID-19 and schools being closed, we still want to celebrate the awesome talent in this year’s submissions.

Calendars will be printed and distributed later this summer once normal school and business activities resume.

National Agriculture Week is celebrated March 22-28, so this is still the perfect time to celebrate all things AG, and congratulate this year’s top 14 winning entries. 

Cash prizes and calendars will be awarded to the student artists, and copies of the calendar will be printed by the Tulare County Office of Education and distributed later this year. We hope to be able to present the awards before June 15, but that will be subject to schools re-opening.

 

Featured art is the overall Cover Winner by Jasmin Rivas, 9th Grade, Redwood High School.

 

 

Want more info on National Ag Week?  Visit https://www.agday.org/promote

First Name
Last Name
Grade School  Award
Jasmin Rivas 9 Redwood High School Overall Cover Winner
Rebecca Acevedo 9 Redwood High School Back Cover Winner
Oralia Velasco 6 Tipton Elementary School Monthly Winner
Mia Gonzalez-Verdin 3 Snowden Elementary School Monthly Winner
Catricia Alvarez 8 Washington Intermediate School Monthly Winner
Mary Froula 6 St. Anne’s School Monthly Winner
Ella Boiano 6 Three Rivers Union School Monthly Winner
David Gonzalez 8 La Joya Middle School Monthly Winner
Ashley Carrion 8 Tipton Elementary School Monthly Winner
Lainey Hooper 3 Hot Springs School Monthly Winner
Emma Nicholson 10 Redwood High School Monthly Winner
Anita Fiorino 2 Three Rivers Union School Monthly Winner
Axel Miller 7 St. Anne’s School Monthly Winner
Mason Sowers 5 Denton Elementary School Monthly Winner

 

Dirty Dozen List Hurts Consumption of Healthy Food

“Dirty Dozen” Promotes Fear, Discourages Consumption

Peer reviewed research and a recent survey of registered dietitians nutritionists has shown the potential negative impact on fruit and vegetable consumption caused by the so-called “dirty dozen” list.  Further, the “dirty dozen” list has been repeatedly discredited by the scientific community and peer reviewed studies.

“Why continue to perpetuate misinformation and create another barrier to consumption, when you’ve been shown the negative impact it has on consumers,” says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF).  “With only 1 in 10 Americans eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, we should be promoting consumption to enhance immune function and prevent illness, not discouraging it by inaccurately disparaging popular and safe produce.”

Scientifically Unsupportable
Peer reviewed research found that the substitution of organic  forms of produce for conventional forms, as suggested in the “dirty dozen” list, does not result in any decrease in consumer risk because residues, if present at all, are so low.  This study also found that the list authors follow no established scientific procedures in developing this list.

The AFF also asks that reporters, consumers and others review the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Report, which the list authors state they base the “dirty dozen” upon.  The most recent USDA PDP report found over 99 percent of the samples tested had residues well below the safety standards established by the EPA with almost half having no detectable pesticide residues at all.

Discourages Consumption
A peer reviewed study published in Nutrition Today found that misleading messaging perpetuated in the “dirty dozen” list which inaccurately describes certain produce items as having “higher” pesticide residues results in lower income consumers stating they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organically or conventionally grown.

Further, a recent survey among registered dietitians found that 94% agreed that inaccurate, fear-based messaging regarding pesticide residues has a negative impact on consumers because it causes misplaced concern about whether conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are safe to eat. And, when shown infographics from the “dirty dozen” list authors, an overwhelming 95% of dietitians agreed that the group’s misinformation about residues discourages consumption.

“Fresh, dried, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables comprise the only food group health experts universally agree we need to eat more of to improve health, boost immunities and prevent illness and disease,” Thorne says.  “This recommendation is supported by decades of nutritional science.  Knowing this, why would you choose to perpetuate misinformation about produce safety and raise needless fears among consumers, especially under our current circumstances?” Thorne says.

Consumers who are concerned about residues are advised to simply wash their fresh produce – organic and conventionally grown.  According the Federal Food and Drug Administration, washing fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water is a healthful habit and can help remove or eliminate any residues that may be present on fruits and vegetables.

“We simply want people to know that whatever produce they choose – organic or conventional – both are safe and can be consumed with confidence,” Thorne says.  “Be reassured that the correct and healthy choice is to always eat more.  Don’t let unfounded safety fears or baseless shopping lists get in the way of healthy eating.”

-end-

Corona Virus and the Farm Economy (Part 1)

Wine Purchasing Habits Might Change Because of Corona Virus

By Tim Hammerich with AgInfo.net

How will food supply and demand change as a result of the Corona virus? Consumers in uncertain economic times will adjust their purchasing habits, even for essentials like food. This according to UC Davis Economist Dr. Daniel Sumner, who says different agricultural products will be effected in different ways.

“You do have to think about it commodity by commodity. Which ones are most sensitive to income.  Which ones aren’t,” noted Sumner.

“Let me just give you a quick example from the wine industry. The premium wine industry here in California, which means the grapes that are grown along the coast. Higher proportion is sold in restaurants. Higher proportion is income sensitive. And people that still want to drink wine, they now drink it at home,” explained Sumner.

“They’re a little worried about their job. They say, ‘gee am I going to get laid off?’ whatever. ‘My company’s not making any money’. ‘I don’t get my bonus’, whatever.,” said Sumner. “They move down and move in the direction of Central Valley wines. So you could have the Central Valley wine industry be better off at the same time, the coastal wine industry is hurt. And we saw that in a recession 10 years ago,” Sumner said.

Dr. Sumner says staple goods are more likely to see strong demand while those perceived as luxury items may struggle. This is especially true for products that are sold through restaurant or food service channels.

Almond Buyers Are Curious About The Farm

Buyers of Almonds Are Asking More Questions About Farm Practices

By Patrick Cavanaugh, AgInfo.net

Ben Goudie is membership development with Blue Diamond Growers, who move a lot of almonds around the word.

He noted that buyers of their products for distribution are interested in sustainability growing practices. “You know, in the past sales conversations have been pretty basic, with general questions about price and availability,” said Goudie. “Now, a lot of the sales meetings start with conversations about sustainability, start with conversations about corporate social responsibility and what we’re doing with our growers. What we’re also doing in manufacturing, looking at energy savings, looking at all aspects of sustainability on the corporate level,” h explained.

And the Almond Board of California’s Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) where growers fill out information on their growing practices is part of the information Blue Diamond Growers share where their buyers. “We are using the CASP survey as the basis for our grower information. We are also working on a full and comprehensive sustainability program with our sustainability manager, Catherine Campbell, and she has put together a full package that we supply to our buyers,” Goudie said.

Goudie noted that the in-house sustainability program they’re putting together is comprehensive. “It is pretty robust—everything from energy savings to looking at our distribution and supply chain, how we’ve made savings and looking at our carbon footprint,” he said.

Ag Is Critical Infrastructure—Essential!

Ag Critical Statement from California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson:

 

With agriculture designated “critical infrastructure” by federal and state governments, the California Farm Bureau Federation continues its commitment to assist the state’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses during the statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“As people who work in a sector defined as critical, farmers, ranchers and people working in agricultural businesses recognize our special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We encourage local, state and federal agencies to interpret the guidelines as broadly as practicable, to be sure everyone in agriculture can stay on the job, producing food and farm products during this crisis.”

As with any decisive action, Johansson said, there will likely be some confusion and questions about definitions, but he said he has been reassured agencies remain committed to smoothing the production, marketing and transportation of food and farm products.

“The state Office of Emergency Services has made it clear: People involved in agriculture, food production, distribution and transportation of food or agricultural products—anyone working in the food supply chain—people in those critical jobs are allowed and should continue to show up for work,” Johansson said.

To ensure people working in agriculture can do their jobs safely, Farm Bureau has redoubled its work with employers to make sure they’re aware of the latest guidelines from health officials and government agencies.

“Based on the questions we’ve been receiving from farmers, we know they’re being diligent in having employees engage in sanitary practices,” Johansson said. “That’s already a high priority for reasons both of food safety and employee health. Farmers take a number of steps on a regular basis to protect themselves, their employees, their families and their crops.”

County Farm Bureaus around California and CFBF will remain operational, in order to support their members.

“County Farm Bureaus provide a critical local resource for farmers, ranchers and people in agricultural businesses,” Johansson said. “County Farm Bureaus and those of us at CFBF will remain available to respond to our members and work with government agencies to assure continuity of critical food and agricultural activity.”