FarmTrac USA
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
11 Jul 2019

The Faces Behind Technology

Seed companies invest billions in R&D annually to bring new genetics, traits and more to your farm. We want to introduce you to a few of the faces behind the innovations. Learn more about their story and the challenges they face. Here’s the third of an eight-part series.

Eighteen-year-old Bob Reiter had his heart set on a career in agriculture economics, that is, until his economics professor failed to show up for freshman orientation. By happenstance, a horticulture professor took him under his wing—kicking off what would become an industry-impacting career.

The Canada native entered college with no farming background but had a keen interest in how ag works: the math, the science and the people. His PhD was especially progressive for the time and used DNA markers to assist in developing new plant breeding lines.

“It [identifying DNA markers] was first utilized in human genetics but could be applied to plants,” Reiter recalls. “I was like ‘Eureka! This is going to be the future,’ so I convinced my advisors and did this kind of work for my PhD.”

After a short stint with DuPont, Reiter joined Monsanto in 1998, now Bayer, where he’s been ever since. In his early years at Monsanto, he and his team changed the way researchers breed new seed hybrids and varieties by developing a high-throughput process for crop DNA sequencing, thereby enabling the transition from traditional breeding based on plant phenotypes to large-scale molecular breeding based on genotypes and DNA markers. This shift has dramatically shortened the time and increased the precision with which breedeImage result for tractor fertilizingrs identify plants that will have the best potential for success in farmers’ fields.

He’s not dwelling on accomplishments of the past, however. Now in his mid-fifties, when Reiter looks at the future of technology he’s excited about a whole new look coming down the pike for American farmers’ favorite crop.

“We’re currently working to develop the first short-stature corn hybrids,” explains Reiter, who’s responsible for all research and development for Bayer’s Crop Science division.

“For the grower, the big benefit clearly is the stability of the crop,” he adds. “We think there looks to be a gain in nutrient and water efficiency, too.”

The corn will stand below 7’ tall and allow for late-season herbicide, fertilizer and pesticide passes. The crop could provide new opportunities for farmers and retailers alike.

“I see a fit for this corn on virtually every corn acre,” he says. The company doesn’t have an exact launch date for the new corn product but is aiming for the early 2020s.

While Bayer says it remains committed to tools currently in the market like glyphosate and dicamba, as it looks to the future, the company is also focusing on bringing new herbicides to the market, and it recently pledged to invest $5.6 billion during the next decade in the search for the next weed solutions for growers. Reiter says the company is continuing to invest in soybean genetics in the U.S. and South America, as well.

06 Jul 2019

FS19 – Farming Simulator 2019.

Introduction Of FS19 – Farming Simulator 2019

FS19 Farming Simulator is so realistic to real life farming. With all the tractors like John Deere, FarmTrac, good old Ford, New Holland, International, Massey Ferguson etc. And with all the Harvesters you can think about. Realistic Dairy’s with Cows and trailers. So many more equipment’s you can use.


If anyone’s surprised by the appeal of running a virtual farm and delighting in the minutiae of its mechanical equipment, they shouldn’t be. The Farming Simulator series demonstrates our love for seeing the familiar recreated meticulously, and the irresistible satisfaction of mastering machinery to turn a tidy profit. Farming Simulator 2019 brings a bumper crop of new features, each of them bringing you closer to the freshly ploughed fields and neatly stacked hay bales of your virtual farm than ever before.

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BUILD YOUR OWN FARM

This is the big new feature. Rather than buying fields, you now purchase parcels of lands with fields within them. Those parcels might also contain forests and meadows, which you can cultivate once you own them. Three maps are playable in total: the South American map returning from Farming Simulator 2017, and two new maps: Felsbrunn and Ravenport.

NEW ANIMAL FEATURES

Man’s best friend, the humble hound, joins you in the latest instalment of Farming Sim, keeping you company as you do your rounds and making the inherent stress of managing an agricultural empire that bit more manageable by being a good boy. In addition, birds now feature on the landscape and will follow the seed drill from time to time. You don’t need to worry about them pecking into your profit margin though – they’re just an aesthetic touch. In equine news, horses can not only bekept but ridden around as you explore the world. Just don’t make sure your doggo doesn’t get too jealous.

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NEW CROPS WITH DESTRUCTION

Oats and cotton join the ranks of your potential crops in Farming Simulator 19, and for the first time fruit/crop destruction is implemented in the base game (previously it was a popular mod). This feature can be disabled in the in-game options, however.

VEHICLE INTERIOR ANIMATIONS

Your character now moves around inside the vehicle as you would if you were operating it, bolstering that immersion factor. Accelerating, braking, and steering now all feature bespoke player animations.

NEW EQUIPMENT

This is the biggie. Machinery from John Deere, and Elmer’s Haulmaster, makes an appearance, and that’s the big headline news. The community’s been clamouring for a John Deere tractor for a long time now, and FS19 is the game to deliver it. Elsewhere on the manufacturer list you’ll find Case IH, New Holland, Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra, Deutz-Fahr, Krone, Horsch, ROPA, Kuhn, and Ponsse. In terms of specific equipment, the AGCO / Fendt Ideal combine harvester, John Deere 8400 R tractor, Horsch cultivator, Elmer’s HaulMaster transporter and the Case IH Module Express 635 cotton harvester all feature. You can view all equipment as 3D models in the shop now, also.

05 Jul 2019

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE DRILLDOWN: CONSERVATION AND ENERGY

Earlier this spring, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the long-awaited 2017 Census of Agriculture – a once every five years report that has been in publication since 1840. The Census of Agriculture is a critical tool for farmers, researchers, and food/farm activists because of the wealth of data it contains about everything from farmer demographics to cover crop acreage.

Because farmers and ranchers work so intimately with the land and our shared natural resources, understanding the prevalence and impact of conservation activities is a critical part of understanding agriculture and strengthening our food and farm economy. In this post, the first in a series of Census deep dives, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) examines what the Census has to say about conservation and energy and highlights themes and key takeaways for sustainable agriculture advocates.

  • Grass vs. Cropland
  • Easements
  • Rotational Grazing
  • Cover Crops
  • Tillage
  • Fertilizers and Chemicals
  • Renewable Energy

The Census reports on the extent of pasture and grazing land through two categories:

  1. Pasture and grazing land that could have been used for crops without additional improvement.
  2. Permanent pasture and range land, other than cropland and woodland pastured.

Category one is for cropland used for pasture. It includes high quality land that could easily be used for crop production, but is instead used as pasture. This category also includes crops grazed by livestock, but not harvested prior to grazing. It does not include crop residue left in the field after the 2017 harvest and later grazed by livestock. Category two is for pastureland unfit (without additional improvements) for crop production, and includes both high and low quality pasture.

Graph: Cropland Used for Pasture (Millions of Acres)As illustrated in the chart below, the 2017 Census reports 13.8 million acres devoted to pasture and grazing land that could have been used for crop production. This is an eight percent increase from the 2012 Census, which reported 12.8 million acres.

Despite this increase, the first time in 20 years that the number has increased, it is still well below historic levels. Since the 1997 high of 66.4 million acres, the amount of cropland used for pasture has steadily declined. In contrast, “permanent” grassland decreased between from 2012 and 2017 by 3.5 percent, from 415.3 million to 400.7 million acres. For the past 20 years this number has hovered at around 400 million.

Conservation easements are critical for the preservation of ecologically sensitive lands. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) is the primary federal program through which easement are voluntarily entered by a property owner and a qualified conservation entity, such as a governmental agency or land trust. Established by the 2014 Farm Bill, ACEP includes both wetland and agriculture land easement components. The 2018 Farm Bill increased annual funding available through ACEP, which we expect will increase the availability of conservation easements moving forward.

At the recording of the Census, 53,920 farms were operating under a conservation easement; including federal and non-federal easements. This was a 29 percent decrease from 2012 Census levels, which recorded 76,441 farms under conservation easements.

Pie chart: Total Easement Acres by Farm Size (2012)Between the 2012 and 2017 censuses, the number of farm operations practicing rotational or management-intensive grazing decreased by 8 percent; from nearly 289,000 to about 265,000. As shown in the chart below, only three states saw an increase over this period: Arizona, Hawaii, and Maryland.

03 Jul 2019

Trump Administration Wants to Ease the Way for More GMO Crops

The Department of Agriculture issued a proposal for how to treat genetically modified crops in the future, amounting to an overhaul. As with plenty of other products, the regulation of genetically modified crops generally moves much faster than the regulation. The Trump administration recently announced a proposal for what they call the first “comprehensive revision” of the rules for regulating GM crops since 1987 (at least, if it’s approved; the Obama administration also proposed one). So what does it look like?

The biggest revision for GM crops would be an exemption for those projects that are “similar in kind”—this would have to be spelled out more precisely at some later point—to crops that could be created using traditional methods like crossbreeding. In other words, if you want to make, say, a drought-resistant wheat strain, you could theoretically find a wild strain of wheat that can put up with low rainfall and crossbreed, and crossbreed again, until you get a strain you like. Or, you could simply snip out the gene responsible for efficient water use, splice it into some other strain of wheat, and you’d be done. Under the new proposal, that sort of project would be exempt from USDA regulation.

The administration says that by removing barriers for low-risk projects like these, they’ll free up resources, like money and staff, to more fully examine newer, complex projects that aren’t similar to already-approved stuff. Essentially, the new setup would mean that once something is already approved, “similar” projects would have a green light. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the division of the USDA responsible for inspections, would devote most of its energy to unfamiliar projects.

But companies wanting exemption for their projects would also have the ability to “self-determine” whether that project qualifies. The company could then have the option—but doesn’t seem required to—get official confirmation from APHIS. Basically, this puts power in the hands of agribusiness, who can now stamp their own projects with regulatory exemptions.

Agribusiness and large agricultural groups have been generally in favor of the proposal; the American Seed Trade Association, for example, told Agri-Pulse that the proposal is a “much-needed action.” But the proposal to, effectively, make it easier for GM crops to hit testing and market stages might have some bad timing.

14 Jun 2019

China taking over Agriculture with Drones and Artificial Intelligence

China is facing a number of growing pains, but one in particular has proved more taxing than most: How can China feed its rapidly growing population as the land suitable for cultivation disappears?

The country’s agriculture industry has long been rife with inefficiency, but now the government is doing something about it, ploughing billions into agricultural technology, or AgTech, as a means of maximizing resources –and a raft of private-sector companies are following this lead…And if China, the world’s biggest agricultural producer, can manage to produce more with less, they can help teach the rest of the planet how to feed itself long into the future.

One of the most recent developments in the AgTech field came earlier this month, when China’s answer to Amazon, Alibaba, launched the ‘ET Agricultural Brain’ –a digital tool that…lets farmers digitally record information about their yields in order to better leverage the entire production cycle, raising efficiency and capacity.

The government is also supporting new automation tools for the agriculture sector. This month, Beijing launched a seven-year autonomous agriculture pilot programme in Jiangsu Province to test…unmanned combine harvesters or robotic tractors…The initiative aims to turn tasks that were once done by hand or with heavy machinery – such as pesticide application or irrigation – into seamless, automated process.

Like AI-driven farming technology, automated agriculture could help…improve efficiency, raise yields, and…it will also help make these operations more sustainable.

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