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Items of Interest to the U.S. Agricultural Sector

In a Mar. 1, 2024 news release, the US-EPA announced the establishment of the Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs [OARA] within the Agency. The creation of the OARA expands engagement opportunities with agricultural interests and the rural communities that are mainly supported by agricultural enterprises. It represents a new and enhanced commitment toward improving environmental stewardship and economic opportunity for America’s farmers and ranchers, as well as strengthening the vitality of small towns/rural communities that are heavily dependent on agriculture. This new office is intended to help build “practical, science-based solutions that protect the environment while ensuring a vibrant and productive agricultural system” in the U.S. Hopefully, this occurrence means that soybean producers’ interests will be strongly considered when decisions are made that will affect their long-term ability to produce an economical and quality crop. After all, U.S. agriculture will be the major source of the increased food supply that will be needed to feed an increasing world population.

On Wed., March 20, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology [CAST] will present its Issue Paper titled “Applications, Benefits, and Challenges of Genome Edited Crops”. The paper provides a comprehensive overview of the potential impact of genome edited [GE] crops on producers, consumers, and the environment, and how GE tools are now being used to accelerate improvement of crop plants. The paper will also provide an overview of the recent advances in GE tools and how these advances can benefit both agriculture and consumers. The rollout of the paper will be held at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The event is free, but registration is required. There will be a webinar release of the paper on Apr. 3. Click here and here for articles on this website about GE’s use in developing improved crop plants.

An article titled “Soil-Sampling Grid Size Considerations for Site-Specific Nutrient Management in the Southeastern U.S.” appears in the Mar.-Apr. 2024 issue of Crops and Soils Magazine. This article offers the following major points to consider when/if producers use grid sampling to facilitate variable rate/site-specific nutrient applications to crop fields.

•    One of the most important aspects of variable rate nutrient applications to crop fields is precision soil sampling–either grid- or zone-based–to determine varying soil nutrient levels within a field.

•    Grid sampling is widely used in the southeastern U.S., and one of the most important aspects to consider is grid size since it will affect both sampling resolution and cost.

•    In the southeastern U.S. region, inherent spatial variability is common in crop fields. Thus, variable-rate fertilizer application is often used to address within-field nutrient variability.

•    When using grid sampling, one of the most important aspects to consider is the size of the grids. Thus, questions arise as to the proper grid size to use.

•    Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia used five different grid sizes [1.0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, and 10 acres] for sampling to determine how grid size affected both cost of nutrient application and application accuracy.

•     Results from this research showed that: 1) fertilizer and lime application costs varied little among the different grid sizes, but application accuracy declined from 87% for the 1.0 acre grid size to 64% for the 2.5-acre grid size; 2) the 1.0 acre grid size was the most effective to use for precision soil sampling to capture the spatial nutrient variability in most fields while also providing the greatest return on investment; and 3) depending on the amount of in-field variability of nutrient composition, a grid size no larger than 2.5 acres should be used for precision soil sampling.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Mar. 2024,