Dr. Deanna Smith is CropLife Ambassador of the Year

The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Dr. Deanna Smith, MFA Crop Protection marketing specialist, as Ambassador of the Year. She received her award during MACA’s virtual annual meeting Sept. 8-10.

The Ambassador of the Year Award was first presented in 1993. It is designed to recognize an ambassador for his or her efforts in promoting the crop protection industry through presentations to students or consumers. Smith shares the award this year with Bayer’s Brian “Mac” McDaniel, who was named a co-recipient.

Smith said she developed a love for agriculture in high school FFA, prompting her to further her education in the field. She attended the University of Missouri, where she earned a bache­lor of science in plant genetics, master of science in agriculture education and doctor of philosophy in plant science.

In 2015, she joined MFA Incorporated in the Crop Protection Division. She became a member of the CropLife Ambassador Network in 2017 and was elected to the MACA board of directors at its recent annual meeting. As an ambassador, Smith has made 22 presentations to nearly 650 students, reaching 353 students during the 2019-2020 school year alone.

“One day in St. Louis, I made the same presentation seven times to kindergartners,” Smith said. “I love the opportunity to explain the importance of agriculture.”

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Crop residue decisions affect soil life

In some ways, farming is like cooking. Cooking would be much easier if we could leave the kitchen after eating and not come back until we make the next meal. But someone needs to put away the leftovers, do the dishes and clean up the table.

Similarly, there’s work to do in farm fields after harvest and before planting the next spring, especially when it comes to the crop residue left behind.

No-till and prescribed fire are two potential ways to manage crop residue. Both practices help keep organic matter and nitrogen in the soil. However, research was needed to understand how these two practices can affect long-term soil health.

Lisa Fultz, researcher at Louisiana State University’s AgCenter, and her team want to help farmers deter­mine the best way to manage their residue between growing seasons. To do this, they decided to learn more about how no-till and prescribed fire manage­ment affect nutrients and microbes in the soil. The AgCenter team focused their research on wheat and soybean rotations and continuous corn production systems.

“Common practices, like conventional tillage, are highly disruptive to the soil,” Fultz said. “The need to identify viable conservation practices is growing in importance.”

Both no-till and prescribed fire cause minimal phys­ical disturbance to the soil, but they also come with drawbacks. No-till can create poor conditions for crop growth, such as cooler soil temperatures and increased moisture, which promote disease. Burning off the previous crop debris with controlled fire can leave bare soil vulnerable to erosion.

Crop residue and its degradation by soil microbes is an important part of the carbon cycle. Plants store carbon during the growing season, then microbes use the plant residue for food. The carbon then gets stored in the soil in a chemically stable form.

“Fresh, green material in no-till fields is easy to break down and provides rich nutrients for soil microbes,” Fultz said. “Ash from burned residue is more chemically stable, but it doesn’t provide a nutrient source for microbes.”

The team found that impacts from crop management practices, such as crop rotation or fertil­ization, outweighed the influence of prescribed fire for residue management. Researchers found some decreases in microbial activity after yearly prescribed burns.

Findings show prescribed fire had some possible short-term benefits for soil nutrient availabil­ity, but timing is crucial. Prescribed burning of wheat residue provided an increase of nitrogen for about seven days. These benefits should be weighed against other possible impacts, such as carbon dioxide production and crop yield.

“We still need to learn the long-term influence of prescribed fire on the soil biological com­munity,” Fultz said. “While short-term impacts were measured, the long-term influence on soil nutrients, biological cycles and soil health are not known.”

No two farm management systems are the same, and their success is defined by the user. Scien­tists continue to examine possible scenarios to provide accurate and sustainable recommendations to farmers.

“I have always been interested in soil conservation and its potential to impact many facets of life,” Fultz said. “By improving soil health, we can improve air and water quality, store carbon, and provide stable resources for food production.”

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Missouri agriculture donates 8,120 pounds of pork to Second Harvest Community Food Bank

second harvestThe Second Harvest Community Food Bank received a donation of more than 37,000 servings of ground pork from Missouri Farmers Care's Drive to Feed Kids yesterday. In partnership with the Missouri Pork Association, Missouri pig farmers donated 60 hogs for processing under the Pork Partnership providing much-needed, high-quality protein for hungry Missourians.The Second Harvest Community Food Bank received a donation of more than 37,000 servings of ground pork from Missouri Farmers Care's Drive to Feed Kids yesterday. In partnership with the Missouri Pork Association, Missouri pig farmers donated 60 hogs for processing under the Pork Partnership. Harrison Creek Farms and JBS assisted in the effort, including providing the hogs' transportation to Central Missouri Meat and Sausage in Fulton for processing. The donation consisted of 8,120 pounds of ground pork, providing much-needed, high-quality protein for hungry Missourians.

According to Feeding America, before COVID-19 more than 45,000 Missourians faced food insecurity in the 15-county region Second Harvest Community Food Bank serves. With increased unemployment and the challenges of this year, Feeding America projects that number has increased by 5.3% to 63,700 Missourians, including 20,870 children.

"This pork donation from Missouri Farmers Care will allow us to provide quality protein to those in need within our service area," said Second Harvest Communications Coordinator, Blake Haynes. "We are proud to partner with such a community driven organization."

The Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids works to reduce food insecurity across Missouri, in partnership with Feeding Missouri and their network of food banks. Meanwhile, slowdowns driven by coronavirus among major pork processors strained the processing chain in May and June. The Drive to Feed Kids Pork Partnership bridges the gap between Missourians needing a hand up and pork producers who faced a reduction in processing availability.

"Since it launched in 2017, the Drive to Feed Kids has focused on addressing food insecurity in children across Missouri," said Don Nikodim, executive director of the Missouri Pork Association. "We're proud to see how our partners across agriculture have again stepped up to address the needs during these challenging times. Missouri agriculture has a track record of coming together to solve problems, and this is one way to help in today's tough situation. We thank pork producers who have donated their hogs so food banks can meet the needs of our neighbors facing hunger."

More than $100,000 has already been raised for the effort. Missouri's agricultural organizations and businesses, including Brownfield Ag News, Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Soybean Association, FCS Financial, MFA Incorporated, American Family Insurance, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, founders of Protect the Harvest, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Paseo Biofuels, LLC, Biofuels, LLC, and many individuals have donated to cover processing and transportation costs in this partnership.

Since the initial pick up on May 26, 2020, the Pork Partnership has distributed a total of 44,410 pounds of ground pork statewide to Missouri's regional food banks. The program will continue to accept donations of hogs as processing space and funds are available. Pig farmers and meat processors can take part by contacting the Missouri Pork Association. Individuals and companies can donate funds to support the effort at MOFarmersCare.com/drive. Contributions will be recognized as part of the 2020 Drive to Feed Kids.

Through Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of more than 40 Missouri agricultural groups, the Drive to Feed Kids donated 4.3 million meals to hungry Missouri families in 2019. Feeding Missouri's six regional partner food banks distributed the food statewide. To learn more about Missouri Farmers Care and the 2020 Drive to Feed Kids, visit MOFarmersCare.com/drive.

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