New offering from AgLeader

Written by Austin Black on .

Ag Leader has recently designed a high-accuracy automated steering system that intends to bridge the gap between expensive, full-featured and economically simple. GeoSteer can be easily transferred between vehicles and features a Flex Mode, which allows it to continue operating even if a GPS signal is temporarily lost. The system allows service technicians to diagnose problems while the operator is in the field and built-in remote and calibrations provide easy access for in-cab display. This system is ideal for planting, tillage and other field operations requiring precise steering.

Don't get burned during harvest

Written by stevefairchild on .

There is risk of fire every year as the combine rolls out, but this year’s drought, and the extreme lack of moisture in leaves, stalks and husks amps up the chance for mishap.

Everyone knows the routine—a combine is necessarily a messy rig. And it needs to be cleaned and maintained. During years when there is a bit of humidity in the air, you might skimp on the routine, but this year is one to pay attention.

(Video from Antelope Farm via YouTube)

Kent Shannon, Natural Resource Engineer for MU Extension in Boone County reminds operators to take the normal precautions, and be extra vigilant this year.

“Fuel sources such as leaves, stalks, husks, dust, oil and fuel are always present when harvesting fields, and so are numerous sources of ignition on farm equipment or transport vehicles including exhaust, bearings and electrical wiring. Fire safety in the field has two key components—prevention and preparation in case a fire does break out,” Shannon pointed out.

Shannon added that combines aren’t the only source of ignition in harvest fields. Grain trucks exhaust systems reach high temperatures and can come in contact with field residue. In years of extreme dry, limiting field traffic can reduce the chance for combustion.

Shannon offers a check list for operators:

Electrical systems:
• Keep wiring and fuses in proper operating condition and position.
• Properly route and insulate all replacement wires.
• Use heat-resistant insulation.

Fuel systems:

• Regularly inspect fuel lines.
• Keep fuel lines in good condition with tight connections.
• When refueling, always shut off the engine and let the equipment cool for 15 minutes before you refuel.
• Never fill the gasoline supply tank near an open flame, while smoking, or with the engine
• Wipe up oil and fuel spills as they occur. This prevents chaff and trash from collecting and
combining to start a fire.

Mechanical operation:
• Use a pressure washer or a compressed air blowgun to thoroughly clean the machine.
• Remove excess crop residue from rotating units.
• Always inspect the machine for buildup of harvest materials (chaff and leaves) before operation.
• Keep your work area clean.
• Check lubricant levels often, and grease fittings regularly. Fix leaking oil, fuel, or hydraulic lines promptly. Check belts for proper tension and wear to reduce friction.
• Carefully check bearings for excessive heat. Overheated bearings are a major cause of combine fires.
• Check valve covers for oil leaks that can ignite as oil runs down manifolds.
• Check for cracked or loose exhaust pipes, ports and check the manifold.
• Pay particular attention to the exhaust system, checking for leaks, damage, or an accumulation of crop residue.

In the field:

• Always have a fire extinguisher within reach.
• Keep at least one fully charged 10-lb. ABC fire extinguisher on all equipment. (Or carry two: one l0-lb. ABC fire extinguisher in the cab and one 20-lb. ABC fire extinguisher where it can be reached from the ground.)
• Visually check your extinguishers monthly, looking for cracks in the hose and inspecting the gauge to see if the extinguisher is fully charged.
• Invert the extinguishers once or twice a season and shake them to ensure that powder inside the extinguisher hasn't compacted by machine vibrations.
• Have a professional fire extinguisher company inspect your fire extinguishers annually.
• Have a shovel available to scoop dirt onto a fire.
• Carry your cell phone or two-way radio with you at all times so you can summon help.

If a fire does occur, CALL 911 FIRST, and then attempt to extinguish the fire by pulling the pin on the fire extinguisher and squeezing the handles together. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and sweep from side to side. Remember P.A.S.S., which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.


Just saying...

Written by stevefairchild on .

I once stood on the sidewalk outside a conference and debated a PR man about a carbon-trading scheme for the United States. I was skeptical. He was on payroll to make such a trading scheme sound good. It was the early days of the Chicago Climate Exchange. Each time he made a seemingly persuasive point, I'd reply, "But the whole thing is built on a house of cards, innit?" And he'd say it didn't matter if it was built on a house of cards. "It's a market!" he'd say. Last year the CCX stalled out at a nickel per ton of carbon and went the way nickels sometimes go on the streets of Chicago—down a sidewalk grate toward murky nothingness. But rent seekers don't miss nickels. It's the big picture that matters. The sails look flat above the deck of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. Is that a 10c Euro rolling down a sidewalk in Brussels?

Tax information for drought income

Written by stevefairchild on .

I've dropped this in for visitors from September's magazine. Here is a link to the PDF that we've quoted from below and in the magazine.

Remember to visit with a qaulified tax professsional for advice for your particular situation.


Roger McEowen, director of the  Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State reminded farmers that crop insurance payments will bring tax implications for the farming operation.
“For a cash-basis taxpayer, proceeds from insurance, such as from hail or fire coverage on growing crops, are includible in gross income in the year that they are actually or constructively received. In essence, destruction or damage to crops and receipt of insurance proceeds are treated as a ‘sale’ of the crop,” he explained.

However, growers may also elect to defer the income into the next taxable year’s returns if the grower typically reports income from the sale of crops in the later year, “Also the deferral provision applies to federal payments received for drought, flood or ‘any other natural disaster,’” reported McEowen. 
More complicated is reporting tax for newer types of crop insurance because of the interpretation of how and why the products pay claims.

McEowen wades through the technicalities:

A significant issue is whether the deferral provision also applies to new types of crop insurance such as Revenue Protection, Revenue Protection with Harvest Price.

Exclusion (RPHPE), Yield Protection and Group Revenue Protection—to be deferrable, payment under an insurance policy must have been made as a result of damage to crops or the inability to plant crops. Other than the statutory language that makes prevented planting payments eligible for the one-year deferral, the IRS position is that agreements with insurance companies providing for payments without regard to actual losses of the insured, do not constitute insurance payments for the destruction of or damage to crops. Thus, payments made under types of crop insurance that are not directly associated with an insured’s actual loss, but are instead tied to low yields and/or low prices, may not qualify for deferral depending upon the type of insurance involved. For example, payments made under policies where yield loss triggers payment will, at least in part, qualify for deferral. Other types of policies may not hinge payment on physical damage or destruction to crop.

If a crop insurance payment is based on both crop loss and price loss from a revenue-based insurance policy, only the portion intended to reimburse the farmer for crop loss is deferrable. The portion payable because of a decline in market price is not deferrable and is income in the year the payment is received.
McEowen sorts it all out with real-world examples on a PDF available from Iowa State. Check out the examples here:

These kind of complications in the tax return are worth a note to your accountant. The ability to defer income can be a valuable tool, but getting it right is the best policy with the IRS.


Original link:

Yield predictions from USDA

Written by stevefairchild on .

Government officials have updated official predictions on what many already know to be the worst yield on the farm in recent memory. In Missouri, home of MFA Incorporated and Today's Farmer, the numbers are sobering. As of Aug. 1, USDA-NASS is forecasting the lowest yields in years for corn and soybeans, which account for over 90 percent of the row crop acres planted in the state.


Missouri corn yield is forecast at 75 bushels per acres, the lowest since the drought year 1983 when the yield was 51. Currently corn in Missouri can typically be expected to yield about 140 bushels per acre. Corn planted acres are estimated at 3.6 million acres, unchanged from the June 1 estimate, and the largest acreage planted since 1960. Acres harvested for grain are forecast at 3.35 million acres, a reduction of 50 thousand acres from the June 1 estimate. The resulting production for the state is 251 million bushels. If realized, this production would be the lowest since 1999 and 99 million bushels below last year’s production.


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