Why GMO’s?

Genetically modified organisms, GMO’s, (or genetic engineering) have been around the agriculture world since the early 1990’s when the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Calgene to market their delayed-ripening tomato, FLAVR SAVR. But the reality is that GMO’s date all the way back to Charles Darwin. Darwin was an evolutionary scientist well-known for selective breeding or artificial selection. These terms described the process of choosing organisms with the most desired traits and mating them with the intention of delivering the specified traits to their offspring. This is very similar to how GMO’s function in the agriculture industry.

In agriculture, we can use GMO crops, medication, etc. for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason to utilize GMO crops is to provide resistance to disease for the crop and to create higher yields. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1990 the United States population was roughly 249 million individuals. Today, the United States population is around 326 million people. If the population trends continue the U.S. population is projected to reach 438 million individuals by 2050.

How do farmers continue to feed a growing population with a decrease in available resources? We have to produce more with less. There are many ways to genetically modify a crop both inside and outside of the lab.

Civilization rests on people’s ability to modify plants to make them more suitable as food, feed and fiber plants and all of the modifications are genetic.

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 20 October 2012

Genetic engineering is utilized as a tool among farmers and plant scientists with very specific guidelines and regulations that go with it. The technique of genetic engineering can be utilized to produce many outcomes but among the most common are virus-resistant crops and crops that can survive herbicide application.

Let’s look at MFA Incorporated‘s product, MORSOY for an example. I don’t want to get into specific varieties because they have a lot of quality products that are available. I want to pay more attention to the genetic traits associated with the different varieties. Three of the most common traits among MORSOY varieties include: RoundUp Ready 2 Yield, RoundUp Ready Xtend, and Liberty Link. Each variety is selected based on different factors such as, soil type, common disease, etc.

  • RoundUp Ready Xtend is a product that can be used with both Dicamba and Glyphosate herbicides to control broad leaf weeds along with grassy weeds. This trait allows growers the opportunity for high yield both by an increases in beans per pod and bushels per acre.
  • RoundUp Ready 2 Yield is a product that is able to be controlled by RoundUp technologies and allows the grower to increase yield (often times yields can increase by 3-5 bean pods per plant).
  • Liberty Link MORSOY is product that is controlled by Bayer CropScience‘s Libery Link herbicide. This product (in my opinion) will give the cleanest fields but is reflected in the cost of the product (and is subject to the area in which the product is sowed). Liberty herbicide controls more than 120 broadleaf and grassy weeds that may invade the crop.

All of these genetic additions contribute to alleviation of pesticide and weed invasion and allow significantly higher yields for growers.

FAQ: But I don’t eat soybeans or use soybean meal so why do I care?

Answer: Here is a list of products the North Carolina Soybean Products Association uses soybeans for. Maybe you’ll find that you use these products.

  • Cooking oil
  • Margarine
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Foods packed in soybean oil or containing soybean oil: tuna, sardines,baked breads, crackers, cakes, cookies, and pies
  • Feed for poultry, pork, cattle, fish, and other farm animals and pets
  • Biodiesel fuel
  • Biocomposites (found in recycled products)
  • Particleboard, laminated plywood, and finger-jointed lumber
  • Candles
  • Crayons
  • Lubricants
  • Hydraulic fuel

**This list is not all inclusive and doesn’t encompass all brands and options available to the consumer.

Summer Drought

If you’ve been anywhere in the southern Midwest lately you understand that when the weatherman says the temperature is going to be 92° what he actually means is 115° with the heat index. Heat like this in the world of agriculture makes life tough. We are currently raising corn, soybeans, and milo on our farm and crops require a lot of water to grow. With several rains throughout both spring and early summer ours crops took off in a hurry. That always makes me nervous; we knew the rains would stop, it’s always a matter of time. Our last rain was about 3/10 of an inch on 4th of July. According to the University of Missouri Extension, water is most essential to corn crop development during days 70-100 while the corn is silking and the grain is filling in. The table states that 10 inches of water is needed during this phase of growth. This is quite variable depending on the type of soil in your area and several other conditions, but this is a good standard to go by. During drought like conditions crop growth can be rapidly stunted and crop death may occur. It’s crucial to try to find ways to get water to your crops.

This month is smart irrigation month. Smart Irrigation Month is a campaign used to educate consumers and producers about efficient water use during the summers peak months. Many farmers use irrigation systems. Watch the video below on surge irrigation to see how some farmers are surviving the drought.

Surge Irrigation 

Stay cool and pray for the rain.


Chuck Zimmerman

Chuck Zimmerman, founder of ZimmCom New Media, did a Skype session with my public relations class about new media and how it’s changed.  With old media print publications, you either had to do do voice over on the radio and send in your news releases.  With new media, people has self taught themselves with Google and YouTube how to do online publications.  New media includes the blogs and various aspects of social media that is completely free and critical to public relations.  They allow you to do a lot of traditional media online and educate companies to show them what they do, how and why completely free.  Zimmerman embraced the change to new media and took complete advantage of it.  He decided that he would post about agriculture on his blog, agwired.com, daily.  He advised students that in order to be successful you have to post multiple times a day and or at least a week.  He said that at one point he got to post 6-7x a day on that blog about anything and everything he was interested in.  Zimmerman said that he doesn’t try to think about what his readers want to read, he just posts about what interests in agriculture are and he found out that other people are also interested in the same things.

“It takes hard work and persistence to use new media professionally,” said Zimmerman.

I think that the future of agriculture communications is always changing and will continue to change.  With the way technology advances nowadays, I think there is no telling what the future of agriculture holds.  I do think that social media will continue to incorporate into new media and eventually, today’s new media will make the switch to old media.

Social Media in Agriculture

Today I have been spending a lot of time focusing on a project that was given to me for this course, PR in Agriculture.  After the majority of the semester of the course, I feel like I have learned so much about the importance of social media in agriculture.  I wanted to share some of that with you today.  You may be like I used to be and walk around not realizing how much power your voice actually has.  Tell you story.  It is the one thing that only you can do to get the truth about agriculture out there.  It is the one thing that no matter what happens, people can’t question.  You are the author of it, don’t be shy to tell it.  I know everybody has a Facebook nowadays! Make status updates, like links and pictures and SHARE! Share, share, share! Share things that you believe in and even things that you don’t.  If you come across something that you think is incorrect, research it and post it to your page with the correct information.  Most importantly, be respectful.  I know we are all passionate but sometimes our passion can let us get carried away.  I know we’ve all had our blow up moments.  The ones where we’re just like “THEY JUST DON’T GET IT. IT ISN’T THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND.”  Trust me, I’ve been there, more times than probably you and I can both count.  It is important to understand to get our stories out the right way.  I’m not an Obama fan, but I will give him some credit.  Obama won the 2008 election because of a lot of basic marketing and social media reasons.  One tactic he used is that he didn’t tear down his opponent like the republican candidates did him.  Make sure that when we agvocate, we don’t tear down our opponents.  I don’t care how much you dislike Carrie Underwood because she supports PETA.  Explain why what PETA stands for isn’t correct and what the truth is, don’t shred Carrie Underwood to pieces just because she believes it.  Criticize the facts, not the person.  Just a little bit for you guys to think about today! Have a good day readers 🙂

State FFA Convention

This week is State FFA Convention in Columbia, Missouri. I get the opportunity to work in the media room. Today we started pre-writing press releases for the awards that we knew. We began writing the state degree awards, proficiency awards, and various other press releases. Throughout the week we will be responsible for creating all the press releases, photos and review. We have to post the releases online and send them out to everyone who needs them. We will be travelling around the University of Missouri campus trying to get pictures of all the candidates. The week is going to be busy but exciting! I’m looking forward to the experience.

Farmin’ Issues

Today I wanted to post about something that happens often on a variety of farms.  Throughout last week, we noticed that the corn in the feeder was going down when we didn’t have any hogs in the pen.  So we decided to set a live trap and see what was eating the feed.  After a couple days, we realized it had to be something smart because the bait was gone, but whatever it was wasn’t triggering the trap door to drop; therefore, they knew exactly how to get around it.  The next morning when we went and checked we had a critter, actually, a raccoon.  We didn’t want to shoot it so we let it go, but marked its back to see if it would come back.

We released it and set the trap again.  The next morning, Sunday, we went out to check the trap before church and had a opossum in it.  However, this time, it was dead and we didn’t have to worry about it.  Unfortunately, much to his dismay, the coon came back.

There are many problems that can happen to your livestock, as well as yourself, because of pests like raccoon’s and possum’s.  While most people say that picking up your leftover feed will prevent such pests from entering into your animal pins, that may be the answer for leftover cat and dog food; however, livestock is a bit different.  Being varmints, both of these animals can carry rabies and infect your animals.  The best way to ensure that it never happens again is to set a live trap or a foot trap.  Live traps allow you to see what predation you’re dealing with and how to best protect your animals, but you can also release them.  With foot traps, you will catch them but don’t have to deal with releasing them because the trap usually kills them.

Best of luck with you livestock! Make sure to protect them from invaders! As agriculturalists, we must show we care!

Help From a Mentor

Last week I had the opportunity be mentored by Judy Graff, the FARMnWife.  Graff is an agvocate who uses her blogs to inspire millions.  She helped me to understand how to use Gravatar, which helps you viewers understand a little bit more about who I am.  

The other thing that she taught me to do with my blog was include a contact page.  I already had a questions page for viewers to comment topics they are interested in or would like me to post about; however, I didn’t have a contact page.  The contact page allows my viewers to send me private e-mails and such about questions, topics they want to know about, etc.  Feel free to use these pages to your advantage! I’m willing to research any questions you may have.  

Finally, the last huge advantage I discovered with Judy was how to incorporate a business into a blog.  I have another blog for my brothers company, lastmoto.wordpress.com, and I have to manage his posts, merchandise, etc.  She taught me that it is important to incorporate different pages and links into the site to help consumers understand.  

I really appreciate all her help! She is a great mentor, if anybody has any questions she is always available as well.  Feel free to check out her blog, FARMnWife.