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Purdue Agriculture News

Research News and Events from Purdue University's College of Agriculture


Purdue opens first field phenotyping facility in North America

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Dedication ceremonies were held on Monday (Aug. 29) for the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center, a 25,500-square-foot facility at the PurdueAgronomy Center for Research and Education. The center will support state-of-the-art research in automated field phenotyping, the process of measuring and analyzing observable plant characteristics. The Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center is a core component of the plant sciences research and education initiative, part ofPurdue Moves, announced in 2013 to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for students. It is the first field phenotyping facility in North America. It will require truly revolutionary new technologies to feed a world of 9 billion people and to do so in a way friendly to the environment, said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. The Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center will play a big part in meeting this most urgent of global challenges. Jay Akridge, the Glenn W Sample Dean of Agriculture, said the facility will broaden research. This facility, the only one of its kind at an American university, brings together multidisciplinary teams of faculty and students to develop innovative technologies in plant agriculture," he said. "Scientists, engineers and aviation specialists are collaborating to apply their expertise to the most pressing problems in plant sciences and our food production system." Karen Plaut, senior associate dean and director of research in Purdues College of Agriculture, said, Advances in plant genomics have surged over the last decade, enabling scientists to quickly and cheaply sequence the genetic code of key crops. However, technology that captures how these genes are observably expressed in plants, their phenotype, has lagged behind. This center will close this gap to enhance crop yield, nutritional attributes and protect the environment. The $15 million center is supported with a combined $4 million investment from the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council. AgReliant Genetics, Ag Alumni Seed and ALMACO are also key partners in the project. Indiana soybean farmers know that we need to think outside the box when it comes to new technologies, said Joe Steinkamp, president of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and a farmer from Evansville. We are excited to partner with Purdue University to place our farmers on the forefront of research that will develop technology to move agriculture forward. David Gottbrath, Indiana Corn Marketing Council president and a farmer from Pekin, also praised the facilitys potential impact. This opportunity gives us the chance to invest corn checkoff dollars in a project that will benefit farmers now and in the future, he said. We believe that not only the research but also the students who will be trained here will play a vital role in helping farmers remain efficient and sustainable.

Extension offers workshop to help prevent grain dust combustion

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - APurdue Extensionworkshop and on-site program will help farmers and workers in grain handling facilities learn how to prevent grain dust combustion and explosion. The workshop, which is co-sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 15 at theBeck Agricultural Center, 440 U.S. 52 W., West Lafayette. Session topics will include proper grain unloading, industrial hazards, advanced engineering controls and a demonstration of a dust explosion. "There are, on average, 10 grain dust explosions in the United States each year," saidKingsly Ambrose, Purdue University assistant professor ofagricultural and biological engineering. "These explosions can cause damage, injury and death. Our goal is to hopefully reduce these numbers by raising awareness of the perils of grain dust explosion. Workshop sessions will be presented by Ambrose andChad Martin, Purdue Extension renewable energy specialist. In addition to the session at the Beck Center, the training can be presented on-site at businesses and grain handling facilities within and outside the state. Sessions can be customized to meet each facility's needs, Martin said. "Both large and small facilities that want to provide safety training for their employees can take advantage of this program," Martin said. "We are available in Indiana, in the Midwest and beyond. We have offered trainings as far away as South Dakota." OSHA funded the workshop under grant number SH-27623-SH5. To register or for more information, contact Martin at 765-496-3964,

Purdue entomologist awarded USDA grant for neonicotinoid research

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University entomologistIan Kaplanand his team have received a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture to fund their research into the environmental, ecological and socioeconomic effects of neonicotinoid pesticide use. The five-year grant is part of theUSDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a program providing funds for research in plant breeding and genetics, pests and disease, production efficiency and profitability, technology and food safety hazards. Kaplan and his Purdue colleagues, entomologistsChristian KrupkeandRick Foster, are leading a team of researchers from Ohio State University, Michigan State University, the University of New Hampshire and Clark University. The team will examine how neonicotinoid pesticides are used by growers of cucurbits, or members of the gourd family, such as melons and pumpkins. Their goal is to find ways for farmers to achieve effective pest control while protecting the health of honeybees and other beneficial pollinating insects. "Indiana is a major producer of melons and this research is designed to help growers make informed decisions about insect management on their farms for both pests and beneficial species," Kaplan said. "Neonicotinoids are used widely across many specialty crops that share a reliance on bees as pollinators. We anticipate that the research will also be informative to these other fruit and vegetable systems where similar tradeoffs between pest control and pollination may occur." Neonicotinoid pesticides are chemically related to nicotine and are used to control pests such as beetles, fleas, sucking insects and wood-boring insects. They are valued for their effectiveness against insect pests, low toxicity to mammals and birds and high water solubility, meaning that they are easily absorbed from the soil and distributed throughout the plant. Research is ongoing to determine safe levels for beneficial insects, including honeybees. Each research team will examine the question from a different angle. Purdue researchers will observe how growers' pest management practices are related to bees' pesticide exposure levels and will also conduct experiments to track the responses of both pests and pollinators to the presence or absence of neonicotinoids in corn and melons. Corn treated with pesticides, either in neighboring fields or when planted in rotation with cucurbits, can be an alternate source of exposure for the bees. Several researchers from other universities will assist Purdue's efforts, while a second team will examine the social and economic factors that go into choosing a pest management strategy and the economic results of each choice.

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue researchers discover signaling cascade that drives fatty tumors

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A common cell signaling pathway that controls differentiation of stem cells may also control the formation of tumor cells in fat, according to a Purdue University study. This signaling pathway, called Notch signaling, has been widely reported to determine the identity and control the differentiation of a variety of stem cells in different tissues. Notch signaling occurs between two neighboring cells, in which one cell sends a signal to the neighbor cell to control its gene transcription program that determines the identity of the neighbor cell. Stem cells are basically blank slates, waiting to become a particular, differentiated type of cell. In fat cells, that differentiation is controlled by a regular pattern of Notch signaling. Aberrant suppression or activation of Notch signaling may disrupt the normal differentiation process and maintenance of stem cells. Shihuan Kuang, professor of animal sciences at Purdue, had earlier determined that when Notch signaling is suppressed, white fat cells, which are linked to obesity due to their ability to accumulate excessive lipids, turn into beige fat cells. Beige fat is more metabolically active and breaks down lipids by turning them into heat. It's possible that humans evolved to build up white fat, which acted as insulation but also as an energy store and endocrine organ. The physical activity required to live off the land would have kept white fat from over accumulating in most people. As we have become less active, however, energy stored in white fat is not spent and its over-accumulation is associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. "Beige fat, if you consider human physiology, is wasting energy," said Pengpeng Bi, a former Purdue postdoctoral fellow and lead author. "But it would be good for us now because we are overfed and more inactive." A previous study published by Bi and Kuang in Nature Medicine has shown that when Notch signaling is inhibited in the fat cells of mice, the animals are obesity-resistant and less likely to develop diabetes when fed a high-fat diet. This time, the group wanted to know what would happen if Notch signaling is overactive in fat cells. The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, show that when Notch signaling is turned up beyond normal levels in mice, those same white fat cells degenerate and turn cancerous. "A normal amplitude of Notch signaling is required for a human or animal to develop, but overactive Notch signaling is linked to cancer in several cell types," Kuang said. "Our study demonstrates for the first time that Notch activation is sufficient to drive the development of malignant tumors in fat tissue, termed liposarcoma." Tumors of this kind aren't common, but Kuang said that liposarcomas can be devastating and hard to treat, mainly because surgical excision, the standard treatment, often leads to uncontrolled recurrence that causes death. This new study suggests that pharmacological inhibition of Notch signaling may be effective in treating a subtype of liposarcomas in humans. The degeneration of fat cells when Notch signaling is overactive also makes the transgenic animals created in the current study ideal for modeling another metabolic condition lipodystrophy. In patients with lipodystrophy, the scarcity of white fat cells forces other organs, including the liver and muscles, to pick up additional body lipids. Even though they are thin, lipodystrophy patients have the hallmark signs of obesity, including high blood sugar, fatty liver and insulin resistance. Understanding how overactive Notch signaling shrinks fats cells and turns them into cancerous cells is the emphasis of Kuang's future work. "We hope the study could give clues on the development and treatment of metabolic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, lipodystrophy and liposarcomas," Kuang said. The paper was published Aug. 29 and is available at[...]

Disaster specialist: After flooding, let materials dry before starting house repairs

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

As floodwaters started to recede in some areas of St. Josephs County and elsewhere in northern Indiana, a Purdue University disaster education specialist cautioned residents returning to their homes about another potential threat to their health and property - mold. To prevent mold development in flood-damaged houses, Steve Cain, Indiana state contact for the national Extension Disaster Communication Network, advised homeowners to wait until wood and other materials dried out completely before starting repairs. The tendency is to get to work as soon as possible, but that could lead to problems later, Cain said. Putting up insulation, drywall or paneling before the wood studs have completely dried out could trap moisture in the walls and lead to mold growth. Household mold could cause a number of potentially serious short-term and long-term health problems, including nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose and respiratory problems. Those at highest risk for mold exposure are children and the elderly. We often get calls from people after a flood who have experienced these types of symptoms and suspect they have a mold problem, Cain said. Mold growth can occur weeks or even months after the flood, so it is important to wait for the right time before beginning repairs. Before starting a renovation project, homeowners should remove all wall and floor coverings exposed to floodwaters, including sheet rock, insulation, carpeting, and, if necessary, linoleum paneling or subflooring. Using fans and dehumidifiers can help ventilate the air and remove moisture from wet materials, Cain said. Signs of mold include musty odors and stains on ceilings and walls. Mold can grow on a variety of organic materials including paper, textiles, grease and dirt as well as wood. Wood studs should have a moisture content of less than 15 percent before any wall coverings are installed, Cain said. Homeowners can buy or rent a moisture meter from a local hardware store or lumberyard. The cost is typically less than $20, Cain said. It is a good investment. If damage is extensive, homeowners should consult a professional contractor or building inspector before proceeding with repairs, Cain said. Purdue Extension offers a number of online resources for owners of flood-damaged homes at The publication First Steps to Flood Recovery can be downloaded for free from Purdue Extensions The Education Store at search for product code ACS-101-W. A video, Flood Recovery: Introduction is available on the EDEN YouTube channel at St. Josephs County and other parts of the north-central Indiana region known as Michiana received almost nine inches of rain during a storm Aug. 15-16. The total of 7.69 inches of rain that fell in South Bend on Aug. 15 set a record for most rainfall on any date in the city. Flooded streets were closed, and more than 700 homes were evacuated. Initial damage estimates exceeded $4 million.

Purdue specialist: Back-to-back storms test state's disaster response

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

State relief agencies were calling for more volunteers and financial contributions to help victims of back-to-back storms that triggered flooding and tornadoes across a wide swath of north-central Indiana over the past 10 days, damaging homes, commercial buildings and crops and leaving at least a dozen people injured. While the extent of the damage was still being assessed, it was uncertain how much federal aid would be available for Indiana, said Steve Cain, Purdue Extension disaster communication specialist and Indiana contact for the national Extension Disaster Education Network. "Because of so many recurring disasters, some of which are ongoing across the nation, we will not likely get all of the national disaster assistance that we might have gotten five years ago," Cain said. "This will have to be Hoosiers helping Hoosiers. Regardless of the scale of the disaster, the impact on individual lives and property is the same." St. Joseph County and other parts of the north-central Indiana region known as Michiana received almost nine inches of rain during a storm Aug. 15-16. The total of 7.69 inches of rain that fell in South Bend on Aug. 15 set a record for most rainfall on any date in the city. Flooded streets were closed, and more than 700 homes were evacuated. Initial damage estimates exceeded $4 million. Cain said rebuilding efforts from the flooding alone could take up to two years. The first priority was to help residents clear their homes of waterlogged belongings, a process called "mucking out." "The timetable of the recovery depends on the money that's available," Cain said. "Many of the areas affected by the flooding in South Bend were lower-income neighborhoods where residents had no flood insurance because their homes were not in a flood plain." On Wednesday (Aug. 24), a severe storm system covering much of the central part of the state produced a series of tornadoes. Kokomo and neighboring communities in Howard County, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis, were hardest hit. At least three funnel clouds were reported in Marion County and another was sighted near Delphi in Carroll County. Heavy rains and strong straight-line winds were recorded throughout the region. Damage estimates were just underway Friday (Aug. 26) as residents, emergency workers and volunteers began to sift through the debris. Jane Crady, coordinator of disaster preparedness and response for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and president of Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, said people wanting to help should make a monetary donation to their local disaster relief agency or a trusted charity so officials could purchase whatever supplies were needed in an affected area. "Cash is always better," she said. VOAD members were already on the ground in St. Joseph County and more would be on their way to the areas where the tornadoes hit, Crady said. "We are responding but as we move into the long-term recovery phase, we will need more help," she said. "We encourage all Hoosiers to join us in the rebuilding efforts." Donations to assist tornado victims in Howard County are being accepted by the United Way of Howard County at 210 W. Walnut St., Kokomo, IN 46902. For more information on how to make donations to support relief in St. Joseph County, contact Cain at 765-494-8410,

One-sixth of land on Earth is highly vulnerable to invasive species

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

One-sixth of the Earth's land is highly vulnerable to invasive species, and most countries have a limited capacity to protect their natural resources from non-native animals, plants or microbes, a global analysis shows. Invasive species can spread quickly and dramatically alter landscapes, ecosystems and human health and livelihoods, often with harmful consequences. Notable examples of invasive species in the U.S. include Burmese pythons, West Nile virus, emerald ash borers and tumbleweed. Researchers from multiple institutions, including Purdue University, teamed up to create the first worldwide analysis of invasive species threats, providing a global-scale outlook on how the introduction and spread of invasive species could shift in coming decades as a result of increasing globalization and climate change. They also assessed individual nations' abilities to manage existing invasive species and respond to new ones, the first country-level evaluation of its kind. The analysis showed that invasive species will increasingly threaten developing countries and the last remaining biodiversity hotspots due to increased air travel to these areas and expansion of agriculture, factors that can provide opportunity for non-native species to gain a foothold. This could endanger livelihoods and food security in already-fragile economies, said Jeffrey Dukes, study co-author and Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources and biological sciences. "Low-income countries stand to lose a lot by having their natural resources sapped by invasive species," he said. "We hope this analysis can be a conversation starter for governments around the world to strengthen their protection." Areas in most critical need of proactive management strategies are those with high poverty levels, rich biodiversity and low historical levels of invasion. Developed countries - which have historically had both the highest numbers of invasive species and the strongest management efforts - will continue to face an onslaught of new invasive species, primarily from the exotic pet and plant trade and as climate change disturbs native ecosystems. Native species have evolved over thousands of years to be well adapted for the historical conditions in their ecosystems. But the speed at which trade, transport and the environment have changed in the 21st century is without parallel, Dukes said. "We're rapidly shifting the ground under native species," he said. "While species can presumably evolve to be better adapted to those new conditions, we don't know how long that could take or exactly what their new environment will look like." These changes have led to a surge in the introduction and establishment of invasive species worldwide. Major sources of ecological disturbance - the spread of agriculture, changes in the frequency of wildfires and shifts in ecosystems related to climate change - can also provide an opportunity for a non-native species to gain a foothold. Invasive species commonly travel as stowaways or contaminants in imported goods, planes and ships or are imported as exotic pets or plants that escape or are released into the wild. They can quickly change the nature of a whole region and often outcompete native species for resources and habitat. American forests have been dramatically shaped by accidentally introduced diseases and pests such as Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight and emerald ash borers. Examples of imported ornamental plants that rocketed out of control include kudzu, "the vine that ate the South," and honeysuckle. "You can think of invasive species as biological pollution - a self-replicating change," said Dukes, who is also director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center housed in Discovery Park. "It doesn't take much effort or intention to bring in an invasive species that then wreaks havoc on a landscape." But many nations have not heightene[...]

Purdue entomologist receives NSF grants for collections-based research

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The National Science Foundation has awarded two grants totaling more than $3.6 million to help fund collections-based research in the Purdue Department of Entomology. With support from the NSF, Purdue's collections-based data will be made more readily available to researchers, allowing them to trace the history of insect-borne diseases, determine changes in water quality and monitor climate changes in the environment. The funding comes at a time of heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining natural history collections, said Jennifer Zaspel, principal investigator and director of the Purdue Entomological Research Collection. Specimen data from the collection will be made available to the general public online and training will be provided for junior researchers and undergraduate students in proper preservation and handling of entomological specimens. "This project will raise awareness of the importance of insects and natural history collections through public engagement, aquatic ecosystem workshops, and rural community youth programs," Zaspel said. Purdue entomologists will share one award with Northern Arizona University and 25 other partnering institutions to develop a digital network expansion project called LepNet. The second award will be shared with Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, dovetailing the first award with a three-year preservation and revitalization of the Purdue Entomological Research Collection project. PERC houses the largest insect collection in the state. More than 1.5 million insect specimens from across the globe are stored there. PERC also includes a set of aquatic insect specimens, including the largest and most comprehensive collection of mayflies in the world. The funding will permit facilities to be updated with modern drawers, cabinets and expansion of the specimen database. PERC specimen data will be delivered to educational networks such as iDigBio and SCAN. PERC's mayfly information will also be made available to the public through the Mayfly Central website. Additional information may be found at the PERC website.

Purdue faculty presenting at aquaponics conference

Mon, 22 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Six Purdue University faculty members whose work includes aquaculture will give presentations during a two-day conference on aquaponics in October. The event of the Indiana Aquaculture Association Inc. will be held Oct. 28 -29 at the Kokomo Event Conference Center, 1500 N. Reed Road in Kokomo. Purdue Extension is a co-sponsor of the conference. Aquaponics is a system that combines fish rearing and vegetable production. Nutrients from the fish wastes produce vegetables hydroponically and in a sustainable manner. "Aquaponics is a relatively new discipline," said Bob Rode, Purdue Aquaponics Research Lab manager and a presenter at the conference. "Although it may sound simple, there are many facets to be considered. This conference is an excellent opportunity for potential producers to learn more about it and why it is so appealing." The conference is geared toward intermediate and advanced aquaponics. Presentations will cover a variety of topics that include facilities and equipment, fish nutrition, pest control, current aquaculture research, species selection and food safety. Participants will have the opportunity to talk to experts in the field of aquaponics, fellow enthusiasts, and equipment and supply representatives, and tour Green River Greenhouse in Peru. Keynote speaker is Charlie Shultz, a leading aquaponics expert. Purdue faculty members presenting and their topics: Amanda Deering, clinical assistant professor of food science, on food safety of vegetables. Rick Foster, professor of entomology, on pest control in aquaponics operations. Al Heber, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, on indoor environmental conditions. Hye-Ji Kim, assistant professor of sustainable horticultural systems, on vegetables for aquaponics. Petrus Langenhoven, hydroponic crop specialist, on greenhouse structures. Rode, on fish in aquaponics operations. Early-bird registration fee through Sept. 18 is $90 for IAAI members and $100 for non-members. After that date, registration is $100 for IAAI members and $125 for non-members. Registration includes entry both days, dinner Friday night, lunch Saturday, snacks and beverages. An optional tour of Green River Greenhouse can be added for an additional $20 per person. Registration is available at Space is limited for the conference and tour.

Indiana Local Food Summit set for October in Indianapolis

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

People working on local food initiatives in their communities can learn more from experienced practitioners and meet with their peers during Purdue Extension's Indiana Local Food Summit in Indianapolis. The daylong program will be held 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST Oct. 6 at Ivy Tech Culinary Center, 2820 N. Meridian St. Purdue Extension is committed to fostering a statewide network of food systems and providing technical assistance for a range of community food systems practitioners, said Jodee Ellett, local foods coordinator for Purdue Extension. "This event is an excellent opportunity for participants to learn, network and share about their work and experience in local food systems development," she said. "We expect everyone to leave with a stronger network of peers, new knowledge on food systems and the inspiration to continue this work in their communities." The program is for those working in farm-to-school programs; school and community gardens; food hubs; food access and food insecurity programs; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Women, Infants and Children program; and economic development. It also is for chefs, food service directors, farmers, consumers, elected officials, food entrepreneurs, and city and county leaders. The morning will focus on food councils, farm-to-school programs, food hubs, healthy food access and food business training, and include a presentation by keynote speaker Rich Pirog, director of the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. There will be afternoon sessions on "Getting Started in Farm to School," cooperative business models, creative purchasing of local food for institutions and restaurants, and others. Lunch will be catered by Ivy Tech Culinary students and include a menu of locally sourced food. Tours of the Ivy Tech Culinary facility will be offered during the day as well as an evening urban agriculture Harvest Gathering in Indianapolis. Early-bird registration of $30 includes materials, beverages, snacks and lunch. The registration fee after Sept. 15 increases to $40. Registration online is available at The event is made possible by the state Legislature's AgSEED funding to Purdue University to support Indiana agriculture and rural development.

Two receive top Women in Agriculture awards at state fair

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue Extension has honored two Indiana women for their dedication and service to agriculture with the Women in Agriculture's top awards for leadership and achievement. The awards were presented Wednesday (Aug. 17) as part of the lieutenant governor's Celebration of Agriculture program during the Indiana State Fair. The Leadership Award, for a woman in an agribusiness or policymaking position, was given to Lisa Chaudion of Monroe County, executive director of the Indiana FFA Foundation. The Achievement Award, which recognizes women who are directly involved in a home farming operation, was presented to Sheryl Seib of Seib Farms in Posey County. "We need to spotlight women who are committed to the success of Indiana agriculture," said Danica Kirkpatrick, engagement program manager for Purdue University's College of Agriculture and co-chair of the Women in Agriculture awards committee. "We look for hard-working women who are dedicated to their communities and the industry. These recipients are very deserving of this recognition." Chaudion began her work as a direct sales manager for Mycogen, a seed company of Dow AgroSciences. She then became the Indiana Department of Education's agriculture education specialist and Indiana Young Farmers' Association executive director for many years before starting in her current in 2011. She also was the first female to serve as president of the Indiana FFA. Under Chaudion's leadership, the Indiana FFA has gained numerous charitable contributions, including $50,000 from Farm Credit Mid-America and $25,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. for the Indiana FFA Leadership Center in Trafalgar. Her focus on fundraising for the center will provide leadership training to FFA members and opportunities for learning in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Chaudion is vice president of the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council and a member of the Indiana Young Farmers Association, Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators, National Association of Agricultural Educators, National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education and Indiana Farm Bureau. Seib has been involved in many roles in Seib Farms for over 30 years. She often has been solely responsible for coordinating and carrying out events such as hosting local, state and national leaders and visitors in overseas trade missions. As a preschool teacher and owner of Kinder Schule Academic Preschool for 27 years, Seib incorporated agriculture lessons and instilled in students an appreciation for agriculture in their community. She has served as an agriculture in the classroom volunteer for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. since 1989, and the organization elected her as an agriculture cultural exchange ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in 1992. In 1993, Seib became Posey County Farm Bureau's women's leader, holding the position for five years and returning to it from 2004 to 2009. She also became the first female president of the county farm bureau in 2009 and served until 2014. Beginning in 2001, Seib served as a liaison to farm women in Ukraine at the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She helped to organize a farmers' co-op and establish a government office for it, providing farmers greater access to government leaders and the law-making process there. Women in Agriculture provides local, regional and statewide skill development programs; networking events that engage sponsors and stakeholders; and resources through multiple types of media. More information on the group is available at

Check trees now for Asian longhorned beetle

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Indiana residents are being urged to spend a few minutes checking trees in their yards and neighborhoods for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive and potentially highly destructive pest. Purdue University entomologist Clifford Sadof said early detection is the best way to contain the pest and minimize the risk to healthy trees. "For ALB, the only tool we have is to eradicate the hosts," Sadof said. "No one wants to see apparently healthy trees cut down but the reality is that once the ALB is there, those trees are already dead." Trees at risk of Asian longhorned beetle infestation include maple, birch, elm, willow, ash and poplar. Identifying ALB early means fewer trees would have to be removed, he said. "The sooner we find it, the smaller the area that could be affected," Sadof said. "The best way to protect our trees is by looking at them and reporting any suspicious signs. It takes just a few minutes to look around and it could save a lot of trees." The Asian longhorned beetle originated in Asia and has no natural enemies in the Midwest. Infestations have been reported in Chicago and Cincinnati, putting Indiana squarely in the at-risk zone, Sadof said. He cautioned that the potential damage caused by Asian longhorned beetles is even greater than the risk posed by the emerald ash borer. "That's because the Asian longhorned beetle can affect a greater variety and greater number of trees," Sadof said. Aug. 14-20 was Forest Pest Awareness Week in Indiana but Sadof said an ALB infestation could happen "anywhere at any time." The Asian longhorned beetle is easy to recognize, Sadof said. Distinctive markings include: * A shiny black body about 1-1 1/2 inches long with white spots. * Long antennae with black and white bands. * Six legs with bluish feet. Signs of Asian longhorned beetle infestation are: * Round exit holes, the size of a dime or smaller, in tree trunks and branches. * Round or oval scars in the bark. * Sawdust-like material on the ground near the tree or in branches. * Dead branches or limbs falling from an otherwise healthy looking tree. Residents who detect any of these signs should contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources toll-free hotline, 1-866-663-9684 (1-886-NO EXOTIC). They can also download the Purdue Tree Doctor app for their mobile devices. "The app provides photos that homeowners and professionals can use to identify both the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer," Sadof said.

National Conference for Food and Agribusiness to focus on two new research initiatives

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business and Center for Commercial Agriculture have teamed up to present the 2016 National Conference for Food and Agribusiness, focused on two new research initiatives. The conference, which is themed "Driving Data to Insights," runs Nov. 16-17 at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station. Purdue researchers will provide information on farmers' decision-making processes through the Multi-Generational Farm Study and an in-depth look at the health of the overall agricultural economy through the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The Multi-Generational Farm Study is a research partnership between the Center for Food and Agricultural Business and Agri Studies, Inc., led by Purdue's Scott Downey and Agri Studies, Inc.'s Justin Funk. The research has been driven in part by the fact that, although roughly two-thirds of sales come from large-scale family-owned farms, little is known about the informational needs and decision-making processes of these multi-generational farms. "We know it is extremely important for agribusiness professionals to have access to the information they need about the farmers they serve," said Downey, associate director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business and an associate professor of agricultural economics. "This study is a comprehensive review of the needs and decision-making processes used by the members of multi-generational farms in North America." The National Conference will be the first time Purdue and Agri Studies, Inc., unveil their findings. Downey and Funk will help participants understand how the information can be used to develop better marketing and sales strategies. The second component of the conference features information from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, which is the only ongoing nationwide measure of the health of the U.S. agricultural economy. It's based on a monthly survey of 400 agricultural producers. Quarterly, researchers also conduct an in-depth survey of industry thought leaders to supplement information garnered from the barometer data. The project's principal investigator is Jim Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture and professor of agricultural economics. Additional researchers are David Widmar, agricultural economics senior research associate, and Michael Langemeier, professor of agricultural economics. "Numerous factors influence production agriculture - from weather to commodity prices," Mintert said. "Agribusinesses need insight into the agricultural economy and producer sentiment at all times so that they have a better understanding of the challenges their customers face." Other conference highlights include a panel of farmers from multi-generational operations who will discuss their business management practices, a look at producer plans related to investments and purchases, and an in-depth presentation from futurist Tom Hertel, who is a distinguished professor of agricultural economics at Purdue. There also will be time for networking with agribusiness colleagues and Purdue faculty experts. Registration is $1,095 per person through September 30. After that, the rate is $1,295 per person. Learn more about the conference and register at

Purdue event will explore potential of growing ginseng

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Landowners who have an established reforestation plot or woodlands area can learn how to diversify it by attending a Purdue Extension field day on growing ginseng. The Ginseng Field Day on Sept. 29 will offer an introduction to American ginseng, laws relating to ginseng harvesting and marketing, sources of seed and plants, planting site selection and preparation, planting and management options, timelines and economic models. The event in West Lafayette will be held 5-8 p.m. Sept. 29, beginning at the Purdue University Richard G. Lugar Forestry Farm, 555 N. Sharon Chapel Road, and concluding at the Purdue John S. Wright Forestry Center, 1007 N. 725 W. Dinner will be served. "We are looking at ginseng because there is a good market for it as an herbal remedy," said Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension sustaining hardwood specialist. Most is sold to East Asian markets. In addition, Ginseng requires shade, so it fits well into forest management and agro-forestry systems, he said. Purdue researchers are planting ginseng in tree plantations to explore the potential for landowners to grow and harvest it while they wait for their timber to be ready for sale. "There are a lot of uncertainties with this system, and the ginseng will take 7-10 years to mature, so this program in the first year is about outlining opportunities and resources," Farlee said. "It will take some time to know how to best manage this crop in tree plantings." Farlee explained that most ginseng is collected as wild plants in the forest, grown by seeding into forests or grown under artificial shade in beds. The slow-growing forest ginseng has a much higher value per pound but is subject to deer and rodent damage, disease and theft. Ginseng grown in beds requires a large investment in equipment and supplies as well as management, and the faster growing roots are worth much less per pound than the wild-grown roots. Participation in the field day is free, but registration is required. Registration is available at The field day is made possible by the state Legislature's AgSEED funding to Purdue University to support Indiana agriculture and rural development.

USDA August Crop Production report forecasts bumper grain crops

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

After sluggish harvests last year, Indiana farmers could produce record or near-record grain crops this year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday (Aug. 12). The report forecasts Indiana corn production at 1.05 billion bushels, up from 822 million bushels last year. That would be the second highest production on record. Hoosier farmers brought in 1.08 billion bushels of corn in 2014 on 188 bushels per acre. Yield is projected to be 187 bushels per acre, compared to 150 bushels per acre last year. Soybean production in the state is expected to be a record 312 million bushels, up from 275 million bushels last year. Yield is forecast to be 55 bushels per acre, compared with 50 bushels per acre last year. Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, said the report signaled a bounce back for the state's crop producers after a difficult season in 2015. "In the end it's another testament to Indiana farmers and their management abilities," said Akridge, who moderated a Purdue Extension panel discussion Friday (Aug. 12) at the Indiana State Fair. Panelists evaluated the USDA's August Crop Production report, which provides the first official government estimates of the corn and soybean harvests. Other panelists were Greg Matli, state statistician for the USDA's National Agricultural Statistical Service; Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist; Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist; and agricultural economist Chris Hurt. The USDA forecast calls for healthy grain crops throughout the country. Nationwide corn production for 2016 is projected to be a record 15.2 billion bushels, up 11 percent from 2015, on 175.1 bushels per acre, up 6.7 bushels per acre over a year ago. Soybean production is forecast at a record 4.06 billion bushels nationally, up 3 percent from last year, on a record 48.9 bushels per acre. Last year, U.S. corn production totaled 13.6 billion bushels on an average yield of 168.4 bushels per acre. Farmers produced a record 3.93 billion bushels of soybeans on 48 bushels per acre, also a record. This year's crop projections stood in contrast to last year's crops - especially corn - that were damaged from heavy rains that flooded fields for weeks on end from the spring into July. Compounding the problem were unusually dry conditions in August and September with droughtlike conditions that stressed underdeveloped corn root systems in some areas. Indiana soybeans fared better, totaling 275 million bushels on 50 bushels an acre. More moderate weather conditions this year have enabled grain crops to thrive in many parts of the state, analysts said. As of last week, 73 percent of Indiana's corn crop and 74 percent of the soybean crop were rated good or excellent, according to NASS. Nine percent of corn and 7 percent of soybeans were in poor or very poor condition, with the remaining in fair condition.

Register early for September Bison Advantage Workshop

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Producers wanting to help satisfy consumers' growing appetite for bison can learn more about the opportunities and challenges of raising bison by attending a Purdue Extension program. The Bison Advantage Workshop, co-sponsored by the National Bison Association, will be held from 9 a.m. to1 p.m. Sept.16 at Cook's Bison Ranch, 5645 E. County Road 600 S, Wolcottville. "We love being able to be a part of raising an animal that has deep roots in our American history," said workshop host Pete Cook. "Bison meat is an excellent product with a high consumer demand. The history of bison, along with the advantages of raising this animal, make it an attractive option for producers. It's an exciting time to be involved in the bison business." Sales of low-fat, high protein bison meat in restaurants and retail stores now amount to more than $340 million per year, according to the National Bison Association. Prices paid to producers have reached record highs in each of the past six years. Compared with cattle, bison are relatively easy to raise - hardy and resistant to disease - needing no artificial shelter. Those attending will be introduced to management and marketing of bison and receive a free toolkit of bison production educational materials. There also will be a tour of the host ranch, lunch and a networking hour. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required by Sept. 9. Register by email at or call the National Bison Association at 303-292-2833. For more information, contact Steve Engleking at 260-499-6334 or email or visit for more details.

SW Purdue Ag Center hosts High Tunnel Tour

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

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Pinney Purdue Field Day set for Aug. 24

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The 2016 Pinney Purdue Field Day will provide opportunities for farmers to get updates on current agricultural production issues and visit with neighbors and fellow producers as well as supply and service exhibitors. The field day will be held Aug. 24 at the Pinney Purdue Agriculture Center, 11402 County Line Road, Wanatah, two miles west of U.S 421 and one-half mile north of U.S. 30. Registration and exhibitor booths open at 7:30 a.m. CDT in the new machinery shed on the east side of County Line Road; parking also is on the east side of the road. The program begins at 8:15 a.m. with Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and an agricultural economist, answering the question "Will the Cash Crunch in Agriculture Turn into a Farm Bust?" Field tours will begin at 9:20 a.m. and will include stops with Purdue Extension specialists Bob Nielsen (corn) and Jim Camberato (soil fertility) presenting on the topic of raising optimum economic corn yields, Shaun Casteel (soybean) on soybean management and Kiersten Wise (plant pathologist) on new and emerging crop diseases. Phil Sutton, Purdue Extension educator in St. Joseph County, will review economical integrated pest management strategies. Lori Hoagland, Purdue horticulture professor, and Steve Howe of Howe Farms of Crown Point, will share information about raising hops as a new specialty crop in Indiana. The field day will conclude with a sponsored pork chop lunch by Birky Family Farms of Kouts. A twilight program is planned on the same day again this year for those unable to attend the morning programs. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m., and presentations start at 6 p.m. Tony Vyn, Purdue agronomy cropping systems specialist, will discuss fertilizer management and corn nutrient balance during grain fill. Travis Legleiter, Purdue Extension weed specialist, will address this year's emerging weed problems and the importance of using the herbicide classification chart. Sutton will review economical integrated pest management strategies. Those needing recertification credits for their private pesticide applicator license can receive a credit at either the field day or twilight program. A $10 fee will be charged for PARP credits. Those seeking credit must bring their license with them. Commercial pesticide applicators can get continuing certification hours (CCHs). Certified crop advisers can also acquire needed continuing education units. A field day flier with more details is available at For more information, call the Purdue Extension office in La Porte County at 219-324-9407 or visit the Pinney Purdue Ag Center website at Those needing auxiliary aids and services because of disabilities should contact the La Porte (219-324-9407) or Porter County (219-465-3555) Extension offices at least three days before to the event.

Purdue Extension panel to analyze August Crop Production report

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A Purdue Extension panel of crop and agribusiness specialists will analyze the U.S. Department of Agricultures August Crop Production report during a special program Friday (Aug. 12), from 1:30-2:30 p.m. EDT, in the ballroom of the Farm Bureau Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The forum, which is open to the public, will be moderated by Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture. Panelists are: * Shaun Casteel, associate professor of agronomy and Extension soybean specialist. * Chris Hurt, professor of agricultural economics and Extension agricultural economist. * Greg Matli, Indiana state statistician of the USDAs National Agricultural Statistics Service. * Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy and Extension corn specialist. The August Crop Production report provides the governments first projections of how much grain farmers might harvest this year. It is scheduled to be released at noon EDT Friday (Aug. 12).

Purdue undergraduates uncover mechanism tied to plant height

Tue, 09 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Dwarfed plants add color and a diversity of architectures to landscapes and gardens, and a Purdue University undergraduate class discovered a key mechanism that leads to their small stature. Graduate student Norman Best led an undergraduate plant physiology class in an exercise that identified a mutation in a dwarf variety of sunflower, called Sunspot, that keeps the plant short. The eight Purdue students, along with scientists that supported the work, published their results in the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science. A group of proteins, containing an amino acid sequence with an abbreviation that spells "DELLA," are responsible for suppressing stem growth in Sunspot. When the plant growth hormone gibberellic acid is perceived, it dislodges DELLA proteins from DNA and leads to stalk growth. The dwarf sunflower contains a mutated a DELLA sequence in one of these proteins. Gibberellic acid is unable to remove the mutant protein, suppressing growth. "DELLA serves as a guard on the DNA to prevent cells from growing," said Brian Dilkes, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Best's thesis adviser. "The Green Revolution used mutants of these DELLA guards to redirect the products of photosynthesis from stem growth to seed yield in cereals, such as wheat. But here, the students discovered a mutation responsible for the genetics of aesthetic properties of a landscape variety." The Green Revolution, beginning in the 1950s, and the scientific findings that came from it, significantly increased agricultural output. The finding that the same genes determine the varieties of form that are valued in landscape ornamental plants unifies horticulture and crop plants at a molecular level. Best's integration of research into the classroom created a richer educational experience while making genuine discoveries worthy of the peer-reviewed literature. "You can come to Purdue University, take a class, and in the course of your lab work you can do real science where we don't know the answer. Students in the College of Agriculture uncovered new knowledge that has value to the scientific community," Dilkes said. Best said the mechanism could be used to modify ornamental horticultural plants. "The ability to dwarf a plant is significant for the ornamental industry," Best said. "We could apply this to new varieties by using molecular markers to select for dwarfism and search the genomes of other plants where similar mutations are very likely to have similar effects on architecture."

Wente Vineyards wins top trophy at 25th Indy International Wine Competition

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Wente Vineyards 2013 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon was named Wine of the Year at the 25th Indy International Wine Competition, held Wednesday and Thursday (Aug. 3 and 4) at Purdue University. The annual event is the largest independent wine competition in the United States, featuring 79 classes of wines from commercial and private winemakers around the world. More than 2,000 wines were evaluated by a panel of 52 professional judges. Trophies and medals were awarded on the basis of a comprehensive sensory evaluation, said Christian Butzke, Purdue University professor of enology and chief judge of the competition. Wente Vineyards, located in Livermore Valley, California, is the oldest continuously operated family-owned winery in the United States. Other winners were: * Winery of the Year: Trinchero Family Estates; Napa Valley, California. This trophy honors the best international brand of the competition. * Winemaker of the Year: Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery; Oliver, British Columbia, Canada. This trophy is awarded to the winemaker who wins the most gold medals by brand at the competition. * Red Wine of the Year: Fawnridge Winery; Auburn, California - 2014 Sierra Foothills Petite Sirah. * White Wine of the Year: St. James Winery; St. James, Missouri - 2015 Vignoles. * Ros Wine of the Year: Effingham Manor Winery; Nokesville, Virginia - 2015 Ros Chambourcin. * Sparkling Wine of the Year: St. Julian Wine Company, Inc.; Paw Paw, Michigan - Sweet Nancie Traminette. * Dessert Wine of the Year: Buck Creek Winery; Indianapolis - 2014 Vidal Blanc White Ice Wine. * Fruit Wine of the Year: Galena Cellars, Inc.; Galena, Illinois - 2015 Cherry. The diversity of this years winners is a true reflection of how diverse the industry is and how much the quality of wine has been elevated over the past two decades, Butzke said. In part, this is due to the local grape and wine Extension programs that exist in several states. Ours is one of the strongest, but from coast to coast there has been an enormous increase in wine quality that is recognized by all the judges. Indiana wineries won 320 medals, including 32 double gold, or unanimous best-of-class nominations by the judges; 50 gold; 159 silver and 79 bronze. Additionally, Indiana wines are eligible for several state-specific prizes. Winners this year were: * Indiana Winery of the Year, Governors Cup: Oliver Winery, Bloomington. This trophy is awarded to the Indiana winery that wins the most medals of the highest quality. * Indiana Wine of the Year: Hubers Orchard and Winery, Borden - 2015 Vignoles. * Indiana Farm Winery of the Year: Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard, LaOtto. This award is given to the best winery that produces less than 50,000 gallons of wine annually. * Indiana Traminette of the Year: Two EEs Winery; Huntington - 2015 Traminette. This award honors the best entry of Indianas signature wine. The Indy is a true measure of how much more successful Indianas wineries get every year, said Butzke. We saw a number of medals, including double gold, and these represent a mutual agreement among all those experts from different parts of the national wine industry that these are great wines. For the full list of medal winners, visit

Drink-seeking rats provide sobering look into genetics of alcoholism

Thu, 04 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Alcohol-craving rats have provided researchers with a detailed look into the complicated genetic underpinnings of alcoholism. By comparing the genomes of rats that drank compulsively with those that abstained, Purdue and Indiana University researchers identified 930 genes associated with alcoholism, indicating that it is a highly complex trait - on par with human height - influenced by many genes and the environment. The study confirmed genes previously identified as being linked to alcoholism and uncovered new genes and neurological pathways, some of which could be promising targets for treatment. But the sheer number of genes that contribute to the trait suggests pharmaceutical treatments for alcoholism could be difficult to develop, said William Muir, professor of genetics. "It's not one gene, one problem," he said. "This trait is controlled by vast numbers of genes and networks. This probably dashes water on the idea of treating alcoholism with a single pill." One of the best predictors of alcoholism in humans is the drinkingbehavior of their families. But to what extent this link can be chalked up to inherited genetics - versus a shared environment - has been poorly understood and a challenge to study: Parsing out the influence of genetics on drinking habits from other factors such as stress, boredom or peers who drink is not possible in humans. "It's very difficult to tease out the difference between what your genes are telling you to do and what you choose to do," Muir said. To gain insights into genes that contribute to alcoholism, Muir and Feng Zhou, a professor of neuroscience at Indiana University School of Medicine, used a model based on rats, mammals with which we share a majority of genes. Beginning with a population of genetically diverse rats, researchers at the Indiana Alcohol Research Center bred two lines: one group that displayedclassic clinicalsigns of alcoholism and anotherthat completely abstained from alcohol. Breeding rats to drink was no small challenge and required several decades, Muir said. Like most animals, rats tend to have a natural aversion to drinking a high concentration of alcohol. "But typical of any genetic study, there's always an outlier - in this case, a rat that will drink large amounts," he said. Choosing and breeding the rare rats that would take a tipple of pure grain alcohol eventually yielded a line of rats that compulsively drank to excess, preferred alcohol to water, drank to maintain intoxication, performed tasks to receive alcohol and showed signs of withdrawal if alcohol was absent. Still, rats responded to intoxication in individualized ways, Zhou said. "Under the influence of alcohol, some rats became docile and fell asleep in a corner while others became aggressive," he said. The researchers sequenced and compared entire genomes from 10 rats in each line to determine genetic characteristics of drinking and abstaining. They also repeated the experiment with two additional lines of alcohol-seeking and teetotaler rats to discern which gene alterations were the result of natural selection and which were random genetic crosses. The results highlighted 930 genes associated with excessive drinking behavior, the vast majority of which are in genetic regulatory regions, not coding regions, as many researchers previously expected. Muir compared coding regions to a car and regulatory regions to the gas and brake pedals that determine the car's speed. "We all have the genes for alcoholi[...]

Purdue survey: Indiana farmland values continue to fall

Thu, 04 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Indiana farmland values have continued their downward trend of last year, with average declines of 8.2 to 8.7 percent depending on land quality, according to the 2016 Purdue Farmland Value Survey. Declines of this size have not been seen since the mid-1980s. Over the past two years, the average farmland value has fallen about 13 percent. The declines are largely the result of tighter profit margins from low commodity prices. Cash rents - the amount a farmer pays to rent land to farm - also declined for the second consecutive year. "The collapse in grain prices and the impact of tighter gross margins are working their way through the agricultural economy," wrote Purdue agricultural economists Craig Dobbins and Kim Cook, authors of the report. "While the underlying reasons for multiple years of tight gross margins now are not the same as in the 1980s, a series of years with downward adjustments in farmland values and cash rents like the 1980s may still be the result." The survey shows that top- and average-quality farmland fell by an average of 8.2 percent from last year, and poor-quality farmland declined by 8.7 percent. Top land fell from $9,266 per acre to $8,508, average land from $7,672 to $7,041 and poor land from $5,863 to $5,353. The downward change in farmland values was consistent across the five regions of the state, according to the report. The North had the largest year-to-year drop, with declines of 14.2 percent, 10.7 percent and 10.2 percent for top, average and poor farmland, respectively. The authors noted that declines of at least 10 percent are rare. "In addition, the farmland value change in this region did not support the conventional wisdom of top-quality land maintaining its value better than lower-quality farmland in a downturn," they wrote. This year's decline in cash rents across all land qualities was the largest since 1987. Over the past year, cash rents declined by an average of 9.8 percent to 10.9 percent. Top land had an average cash rent of $257 per acre, average land $204 per acre and poor land $157 per acre. The survey respondents indicated that they believe there will be a continuation of low grain prices, low and stable long-term interest rates and low inflation rates. If they prove to be correct, the authors said there is likely to be slower growth in farmland earnings and that producers' per-unit cost of production would need to be lowered further. "Lowering per-unit cost of production will take time and will likely be a combination of adjustments in lower input costs, higher yields, and lower cash rents and farmland values, each contributing a small change," they wrote. Respondents expected farmland values to fall an additional 1.9 percent to 2.2 percent during the last half of 2016, Long-term, the direction is less clear. "Respondents were divided just about equally across higher, no change and lower," the authors said. Those expecting farmland values to be higher in five years projected an average increase of 7.6 percent. Those expecting declines projected an average decline of 9.5 percent. When asked to project cash rents for 2017, respondents expected a further decline of 4.5 percent. The annual Purdue Farmland Value Survey is based on responses from rural appraisers, commercial bank and Farm Credit Mid-America agricultural loan officers, Farm Service Agency personnel, farm managers and farmers. The results provide information about the general leve[...]

Bit by a tick? Next steps and species to know

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

As you savor the great outdoors this summer, protecting yourself from ticks doesn't just spare you an irksome bite - it might also help you dodge a serious health problem, says Purdue University medical entomologist Catherine Hill. Ticks can carry a wide variety of pathogens, parasites and viruses and can potentially spread diseases to their hosts by regurgitating infected saliva into the feeding wound they create in hosts' skin. "Ticks have a greater impact on human health that we sometimes give them credit for," Hill said. "They can be powerful vectors of disease." Indiana is home to several medically important tick species, including the blacklegged or deer tick, which can transmit Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne illness in North America. Taking steps to prevent tick bites and knowing how to correctly remove a tick if you find one attached are key to avoiding tick-borne diseases, Hill said. How to prevent tick bites To help protect yourself from ticks, Hill advised wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants tucked into socks if you're headed into grassy or wooded areas. You can also use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellent or treat your clothing with permethrin. Nevertheless, checking your person and clothing thoroughly for ticks once you go indoors is crucial, Hill said. "If you can remove a tick within 24 hours, you have a very low chance of acquiring pathogens," she said. "That's why we advise immediate tick checks." Ticks can wander over the body before selecting a feeding site, and they tend to prefer areas that might seem less obvious such as the head, around the hairline, in the armpit and the groin. Remember that ticks can be tiny - the nymph, or juvenile, blacklegged tick is no bigger than a poppy seed before it has started bloodfeeding. How to remove a tick If a tick has anchored into your skin, remove it promptly. Apply a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to the skin, grasp the tick and pull upwards with firm, consistent pressure. The tick will eventually release. Be careful not to break the tick, which could leave its mouthparts in your skin, potentially causing infection. Using a match to burn the tick, smothering it with mayonnaise or freezing it are ineffective ways of removing ticks and could be harmful, Hill said. "Doing those things to a tick might encourage it to regurgitate back into the wound," she said. "Ticks are potentially full of bacteria and viruses, and you don't want those pathogens to be introduced into your body. You don't want to squeeze it for the same reason." Once the tick is out, swab the wound with rubbing alcohol to sterilize it. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses Symptoms of tick-borne diseases can include headache, fever, fatigue, rash, and muscle aches and pains. But reactions can differ widely from person to person, Hill said, and some people could pick up a pathogen without showing symptoms. Skin reactions will also vary. Some people break out in the classic bull's-eye rash associated with Lyme disease or the spotty pink rash that spreads from limbs to trunk associated with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But others show no such reaction. "Using a rash is not a good diagnostic," Hill said. "What's important to know is that if you've been out in tick habitat or you've got a tick bite and develop these symptoms within two to 10 days, you should see a doctor and seek immediate medical treatment."[...]

Purdue researcher takes canine welfare personally

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Candace Croney, director of Purdue University's Center for Animal Welfare Science, was motivated to lead research that resulted in new, higher standards for the treatment of commercially bred dogs not just because she is a scientist. She is a dog owner and wants the best for her pet as well as all dogs. Croney knows that federally mandated minimum standards breeders must meet are just that - the minimum. "My guiding question has been is minimum standard good enough? Do we really want that?" Croney said. "Dogs deserve better than that. We can raise the bar. I would think all dog owners want that. The public wants it, too." The research by Croney and others at the Center for Animal Welfare Science over the past three years resulted in a new national certification program that sets rigorous standards for the care of dogs and puppies by professional breeders. Canine Care Certified was announced Tuesday (Aug. 2) in Las Vegas during a national conference of the pet care industry. The voluntary program has been pilot-tested with 16 professional breeders since early 2015. Croney said every breeder in the pilot has shown improvement in the care of their dogs. Watch $_SerializerTool.serialize($vidTitle) on YouTube Croney said no other program sets standards as comprehensive as those provided by Canine Care Certified. The program exceeds other canine welfare programs and state and federal laws that often provide only a minimum level of standards and do not fully address areas such as dogs' behavioral needs, such as socialization. Also, breeders seeking certification under Canine Care Certified must meet the criteria and pass a third-party audit of their operation. Other voluntary programs do not have substantive measurement and evaluation provisions. Further, the Canine Care Certified program is available to any breeder, regardless of size, that commits to meeting the standards, potentially expanding the program's scope. U.S. Department of Agriculture licensing only applies to breeders with a certain number of dogs. Croney said the program also can be adapted by research kennels and shelters like the one where she got her dog. The standards are based on the work of Purdue researchers from many areas. For instance, Nicole Olynk Widmar, an associate professor of agricultural economics, researched the social concerns consumers have about the treatment and welfare of dogs. "The multidisciplinary expertise we have at Purdue is where the benefits of the research show up," Croney said. "The science involved in this certification program went beyond the basic treatment of dogs and the effects on their physical and behavioral well-being. It also took in the social sciences, including ethics. It's not only an animal-friendly program; it's also people-friendly." Croney likes that the research and certification program align with the three land-grant university missions of education, research and engagement with the public. The science-based program educates interested breeders and the public about best practices for the care and welfare of dogs and improves transparency about their treatment. "People often ask if we can do better for our dogs," Croney said. "The answer is yes, we can. This program accomplishes that." Details of the certification program are available at More information about the Center for Animal Welfare [...]

Field day to focus on forage, grazing topics for livestock

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Experts from throughout the Midwest will discuss the latest livestock pasturing trends and topics during the Dubois-Perry-Spencer Greener Pastures Field Day. The event will be held at 6 p.m. EDT Aug. 23 at the Marion McMurtrie Trust Farm, 7827 W. Old Road 64, in Holland. Session topics include watering systems, pasture renovations and construction, and alternative feed sources, such as annuals, cover crops and crop residues. "The purpose of this workshop is to give livestock farmers information they can use to improve efficiency and productivity," said Kenneth Eck, Extension educator in Dubois County. "In addition to learning about ways to improve their pasturing practices, people can also network and talk to other producers to see how they're managing these challenges." This year's speakers are Jeffrey Lehmkuhler, associate professor and Extension beef cattle specialist at the University of Kentucky; Bret Winsett, national sales manager at Hood River Seed; and Robert Zupancic and Susannah Hinds, grazing specialists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil and Water Conservation District (USDA-NRCS). The Purdue Extension and USDA-NRCS offices in Dubois, Perry and Spencer Counties present the field day jointly. Funding was provided by Purdue Extension and Clean Water Indiana. Registration is $5 per person and must be received by Aug. 12. A catered meal will be provided. Participants can register by calling the Extension offices in Dubois County at 812-482-1782, Perry County at 812-547-7084, or Spencer County at 812-362-8066, or by emailing Sara Dzimianski,

Producer sentiment jumps despite decline in crop prices

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Agricultural producers are feeling more optimistic about the health of the agricultural economy despite declines in key commodity markets in June and early July, according to the latest survey results from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The July Producer Sentiment Index jumped to 112, an eight-point increase over June's 104 reading. The index is based on a monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers. It includes measures of sentiment surrounding both current conditions and future expectations. The increase comes on the heels of falling crop prices and was primarily driven by optimism about the future, said Jim Mintert, the barometer's principal investigator and director of Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture. "The improvement in producer sentiment occurred despite the fact that grain and oilseed prices declined sharply in late June and early July," said Mintert, who also is a professor of agricultural economics. The Index of Future Expectations increased to 121 in July, which is well above June's 107 and is the highest reading of the index since data collection began in the fall of 2015. But while producers were optimistic about future conditions in the agricultural sector, their feelings about current conditions declined. The July Index of Current Conditions came in at 93, a five-point drop since June. "Although the uptick in crop prices this spring was short-lived and prices retreated in late June and July, it appears that the price rally boosted producers' expectations about future economic conditions," Mintert said. "In other words, the spring rally didn't substantially improve producers' perspectives regarding near-term economic conditions, but it did affect how they viewed the future." On the July survey, producers were asked about their expectations for commodity prices. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they expected higher corn prices a year from now, 20 percent said soybean prices would be higher, and 25 percent said they thought wheat prices would be higher. In addition to their optimism about grain prices, 23 percent of producers also indicated they expect higher farmland values in a year. That's the highest percentage recorded since data collection began. Furthermore, the 25 percent expecting lower farmland values in a year is the lowest percentage recorded in the same timeframe. To read the full July report, access additional resources and sign up to receive monthly barometer email updates, visit On Thursday (Aug. 4), Purdue agricultural economists Mike Boehlje, David Widmar and Michael Langemeier will present a quarterly webinar focused on the Ag Economy Barometer findings, including information from the thought leaders' survey. The free webinar will be at 1:30 pm EDT. Register at About the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture The Center for Commercial Agriculture was founded in 2011 to provide professional development and educational programs for farmers. Housed within Purdue University's Department of Agricultural Economics, the centers faculty and staff develop and execute research and educational programs that address the different needs of managing in todays business environment. About CME Group As the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group ([...]

Open Ag Data Alliance, Servi-Tech launch Real-Time Connections API for weather, soil moisture data

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The Purdue University-led Open Ag Data Alliance and partner Servi-Tech, Inc. announced Monday (Aug. 1) a commercial demonstration of its Real-Time Connections initiative, continuing their mission to help farmers better use data in their daily decisions across all of their operations. Servi-Tech, the largest crop consulting and agronomic services company in the nation, and OADA worked together to harness the power of OADA application programming interface (API) standards to publish an open, nonproprietary cloud-based data exchange for weather and soil moisture data. By publishing the data exchange paradigm as open source, it is free for anyone to make contributions and use. The open source computer code is available now and resides at The project will be discussed at the Data Standards session during the InfoAg 2016 conference Tuesday through Thursday (Aug. 2-4) in St. Louis. "Servi-Tech is pleased to support any development to make weather and soil moisture data more accessible and understandable to farmers in their daily operations," said Greg Ruehle, president and CEO of Servi-Tech. "Having an open and freely available data standard for real-time reporting, independent of any specific manufacturer or service provider, helps to make better day-to-day agronomic decisions. When ag data is recorded and transferred in a uniform way across any technology platform, farmers achieve better outcomes." The alliance sees real-time API connection as complementing other open data exchange projects, such as from AgGateway, said Aaron Ault, project lead for OADA and senior research engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems Group at Purdue. He also is a grain and beef farmer. "When Servi-Tech approached us about working together on a project to help design an API for weather and soil moisture data using the OADA open source framework, we recognized a great opportunity to get some real data automatically flowing in a fast, modern, published and secure way that others across the ag industry can use and benefit from," Ault said. "We are excited to see how this open real-time API can be built upon and enhanced by the community to further promote data interoperability in the future." The Open Ag Data Alliance was formed in early 2014 as an open source project with widespread industry support and headed by the Open Ag Technology and Systems Group (OATS) at Purdue. Its goal is to help the industry get data flowing automatically for farmers in agriculture so they can reap the benefits of making data-driven decisions and stop wrangling data and incompatible systems. The alliance has since grown to over 25 commercial partners worldwide. The Real-Time Connections initiative is a core feature of the upcoming OATS Center at Purdue, designed to bring together agriculture industry partners to rapidly develop data-integrated systems that harness the power of open source for grass-roots innovation and adoption. More information about OADA is available at its website, and information about OATS is at About Servi-Tech Servi-Tech Inc. serves thousands of producers across the Midwest. The crop consulting division has nearly 1 million acres under contract annually in crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat an[...]

Nominations open for top Purdue Ag Alumni awards

Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Nominations are being accepted for two of the highest awards presented by the Purdue University College of Agriculture to honor professionals who have made significant contributions to society. The Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award and Certificate of Distinction are presented annually to professionals who have shown dedication to improving their communities and society as a whole through professional and personal achievement and service. "We encourage our alumni, friends and stakeholders to help us identify nominees from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines for these two important awards," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture. "We want to reach out as widely as possible to find alumni deserving of these recognitions through their accomplishments, leadership and service." The Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award is presented to alumni of the College of Agriculture who have made noteworthy contributions in their professions or to their communities during the first half of their careers and who exhibit high potential for continued professional growth, leadership and service. The award program is administered by the Office of the Dean of Agriculture. The deadline to submit nominations for the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award is 8 a.m. EDT Sep. 12. Guidelines are available at Nomination forms are available at Completed nominations should be sent to Cindy Ream at The award will be presented on March 3, 2017. The Certificate of Distinction is awarded by the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association to professionals who have advanced the fields of agriculture, forestry or natural resources through community service and professional achievement. The final selection of up to 10 winners is by the Agricultural Alumni Association board of directors, but nominees do not need to be Purdue alumni or residents of Indiana to be considered. Professionals in all divisions of agriculture, including farming, business, manufacturing, education, research, policy and advocacy, are eligible for nomination. The deadline to submit nominations for the Certificate of Distinction is Oct. 1, and the award will be presented on Feb. 4, 2017. Nomination guidelines are available at, and the nomination form is at Completed forms should be emailed to Donya Lester at For more information, visit

25th Indy International Wine Competition blends tradition, innovation

Fri, 29 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

More than 2,000 wines from around the world have been entered in the 2016 Indy International Wine Competition, an event that blends history and culture with modern science. Now in its 25th year, the competition is the largest independent wine contest in the United States, with participants ranging from small private winemakers to large commercial wineries. It will be held Aug. 3-4 at the Purdue Memorial Union, 101 N. Grant St., West Lafayette. Entries will be accepted from both commercial and private winemakers until Aug. 1. Richard Vine, professor emeritus of food science at Purdue, started the event in 1991. As a wine consultant for American Airlines, Vine created the competition in part as a way to find new wines to be served on first- and business-class flights, said Christian Butzke, Purdue professor of enology and chief judge of the competition. "Dick helped the competition evolve into the prestigious event it is today," Butzke said. "The first year, there were 454 entrants. Today, we have 2,000 or more." Submissions are grouped into 79 classes and each wine is tasted by several of the 55 professional judges on the panel. Entries are considered for Best in Class and double gold, gold, silver or bronze medals. Class winners then compete for Wines of the Year. Trophies are also awarded for the best international winery, winemaker, label and packaging. Indiana winemakers compete for state honors. "Winners use these medals and trophies to promote their products in a variety of ways," Butzke said. "Some go the traditional route of hanging the medals around their bottles in the tasting room, some add the information to their websites and social media pages. But the common factor is that these awards lend credibility to the winners' marketing. It lets consumers know that the wine has been objectively reviewed by experts and is certified as fine wine. The feedback received from judges can be very useful for winemakers seeking to improve their processes and products and setting or responding to consumer trends." There is an educational component to the competition as well. Each year, 12 Indiana winemakers are selected to serve on the judging panel, where they are given the opportunity to sample a variety of wines from each category. The experience helps the winemakers develop their palate and broaden their perspective, Butzke said. As the competition enters its 25th year, organizers are looking to the future. "Our biggest ongoing challenge is learning how to stay relevant in this age of social media and fast-paced marketing," Butzke said. "How do we make this old-fashioned, historically rich competition something that is useful for young people and busy professionals? How can we make the awards, the judges' feedback and the number and quality of the wines entered here something that regular consumers can use when they select wine at the store?" Research and data mining will play a role in shaping the future of the wine industry, he said, ranging from how genetics may affect consumer preferences to how producers could use decision-support technology to aid consumers' wine selections. Butzke said he hopes that tracking past winners will help predict which wines are likely to be successful in the future. "Purdue is a leade[...]

Purdue Extension zombie exhibit has a vital message for fairgoers

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

This year's Indiana State Fair will offer plenty of thrills, but it is unlikely fairgoers will experience anything quite like the ghoulish fun of the newest exhibit in the Purdue Extension Agriculture/Horticulture Building. Called Don't Be a Zombie - Be Prepared, the exhibit consists of a walk-though maze and interactive video game designed to simulate a zombie apocalypse. The adventure ends at an underground storm shelter stocked with all the supplies necessary for survival in an emergency. The goal is to help visitors learn about disaster preparedness, said Steve Cain, Extension disaster specialist and Indiana state contact for the national Extension Disaster Communication Network. "It was originally the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention's thinking that if you are prepared for a zombie attack you're prepared for anything," Cain said. "Purdue Extension wanted to take that message to the Indiana State Fair so that we can help Hoosier families and individuals be more prepared for disasters of all kinds, including tornadoes and floods." Other Extension events at this year's fair will entertain and educate visitors on a wide range of topics, said Danica Kirkpatrick, engagement program manager for the Purdue University College of Agriculture. "We'll have a host of different exhibits and demonstrations to attract fairgoers of all ages and interests," Kirkpatrick said. The exhibits include The Edible Journey, which uses interactive presentations to show how our food goes from the farm to the grocery store, and H2Whoa, where visitors walk through a dome to learn how they can contribute to water conservation efforts. Be Heart Smart offers tips on managing the risks associated with heart disease. Fairgoers can also stop by the Purdue Master Gardeners booth and Marion County Extension demonstration garden to learn more about lawn and garden care. Extension educators will present several food preparation and nutrition programs, including twice-daily cooking demonstrations at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Aug. 7, 10, 12, 14 and 17. Extension will hold its own scavenger hunt during the fair, with prizes awarded to the winners. The quest begins and ends at the information desk in the Ag/Hort Building. Purdue Agriculture will also be represented elsewhere on the fairgrounds: * In cooperation with the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine will present animal surgery demonstrations and interactive displays in a tent on the north side of the fairgrounds. Young people in grades 6-12 can sign up for the Indiana State Fair Vet Camp, which offers basic instruction in a variety of animal health care procedures, including X-rays and suturing. * The Purdue Dairy Club will host a calf petting area and present live cow milking demonstrations three times a day, Aug. 5-11, in the West Pavilion cattle barn. * The annual Extension panel discussion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's August Crop Production Report will be at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 in the banquet hall of the Farm Bureau Building. * Purdue's Women in Agriculture Awards will take place at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Normandy Barn as part of the lieutenant governor's Celebration of Agriculture program. The 2016 Indiana State[...]

Purdue Extension to present farm law and tax workshop

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue Extension is offering a workshop on farm law and tax issues, including estate planning and business transfers. The workshop will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 9 in Room 117 of the MHP Administration Building, 2325 Intelliplex Drive, in Shelbyville. Gerald Harrison, a Purdue University agricultural economist and member of the Indiana State Bar Association, will be the presenter. The workshop is designed for farmers, farm families, farmland owners, accountants, attorneys, insurance providers and certified financial planners. Topics include farmland lease law, farming liabilities, property rights, the Right to Farm law, takings law, real estate transfer taxation, land trusts and conservation easements. Registration is required by Sept. 2. Cost is $30 per person, $50 for couples, $75 for those applying for continuing education credits and $90 for those applying for credits toward a second professional continuing education certification. A continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided. Registration forms and information are available on the Purdue agricultural economics website: To learn more about the workshop, contact Harrison, 765-494-4216.

Gray becomes fellow in food, agribusiness management group

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Allan Gray, Land O'Lakes Chair for Food and Agribusiness at Purdue University, was named a fellow of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association at the organization's World Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, in June. IFAMA nominees must be active supporters of the association who have made outstanding contributions to food and agribusiness management in at least two of four areas: practice of management in food or agribusiness, research and scholarship, teaching or academic administration and service to IFAMA. Read the full story at

Pearson earns Entomological Foundation’s top honor

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Gwen Pearson, outreach coordinator in Purdue Universitys Department of Entomology, has received the 2016 Entomological Foundation Medal of Honor. The award is in recognition of her education and outreach contributions, particularly as a leader in digital outreach through social media, to both traditional and non-traditional audiences. It is the highest honor bestowed by the foundation, given only to those who have attained preeminence in the field. Pearson will be formally recognized at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Florida, in September.

4 from Ag chosen for Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Four College of Agriculture faculty members have been selected to participate in the 2016-2017 Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy through Purdue University's Discovery Park. They are Christian Butzke of the Department of Food Science, Meng Deng and Andrea Vacca of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Kwamena Quagrainie of Agricultural Economics. Since its inception, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy has facilitated the start of several companies, licenses, disclosures and new interdisciplinary centers, as well as graduate and undergraduate courses and opportunities. Participants are nominated by department heads and deans and are chosen based on their interest and potential growth in entrepreneurial activities. Christian Butzke Meng Deng KwamenaQuagrainie Andrea Vacca

Shauna Stapleton chosen for Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Shauna Stapleton, a 2008 entomology graduate, has become the first soccer player to be selected for the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. She will be inducted along with eight other former student-athletes Sept. 9. Stapleton was a four-year letter-winner in soccer from 2004 to 2007. She set a Purdue record by playing in 87 matches (now third all-time), while accumulating 15 goals and 14 assists (tied for 10th in school history) for 44 points as a midfielder. As a senior, Stapleton was tri-captain of the most successful team in program history. She scored 10 goals (tied for the third-most in school annals) and had a school-record 11 assists for 31 points (second all-time), as the Boilermakers went 20-2-3, won the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Stapleton, who was selected Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Big Ten Tournament, was named first team Academic All-American, Soccer Buzz third team All-American, first team All-Great Lakes Region and first team All-Big Ten. She was the National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Player of the Week after scoring the only goal as Purdue beat No. 1-ranked Portland. Stapleton also was an outstanding student. She remains the only Boilermaker soccer player to earn the Big Ten Medal of Honor for demonstrating great proficiency in scholarship and athletics, and the Varsity Walk Award as the outstanding senior who participated as a varsity athlete and brought national recognition to Purdue. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree majored in entomology, was inducted into the Mortar Board national honor society and received the Flora Roberts Award, presented annually to an outstanding senior woman at Purdue to honor her scholarship, leadership, character and service to the university community. After graduation, Stapleton served in Teach for America and earned a master's of public health degree from Purdue. She currently works for the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue and is in her third season as the head girls' soccer coach at West Lafayette (Indiana) Junior/Senior High School.

Indiana teens learn business skills at Entrepreneurship Academy

Fri, 22 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

More than 25 high school students from across Indiana had a chance to learn practical entrepreneurship skills from industry professionals during the Purdue Entrepreneurship Academy last month. The academy, sponsored by Purdue Extension and Indiana 4-H Youth Development, is an annual weeklong event that gives high school students the opportunity to interact with business leaders and entrepreneurship experts from Purdue University and throughout the state. In addition to classroom instruction, one-on-one mentorship and networking, students form teams to create competitive business plans that they present to a panel of judges at the conclusion of the event. This year's winning team - Thomas Brackett of Benton Central Junior/Senior High School, Darcie Patton of Mississinewa High School, Mackenzie Lewis of Highland High School and Jack Moulton of Lafayette Jefferson High School - presented a plan for a product called TopCrop, which would not only trap and kill crop pests, but also identify and log their species to aid pest management planning. The product is based on technology currently under development in the Purdue Research Park. The teens each won $500 in Purdue tuition vouchers. Caleb Schlundt of Benton Central Junior/Senior High School, Vinh Lee of Kokomo High School, Luke Sanders of Valparaiso High School, Jessica Radwick of Lawrence North High School and Angela Lee of Leo Junior/Senior High School won the second place prize of $250 for their product Armordillo, a lightweight armor plating for military vehicles. Madison Burgett of Benton Central Junior/Senior High School, Robert Hastidt of Mississinewa High School, David Paris of Valparaiso High School, Kirsten Mehling of Castle High School and Ivelisse Taylor of Merrillville High School placed third and won $100 each. Their submission, called AlgaeUp, consisted of plans to harvest omega-3 fatty acids from algae instead of fish. "The youth who were nominated and selected to participate in the academy are receiving real-world content that has not been watered down," said Ryan Wynkoop, a 4-H special projects coordinator and coordinator of the academy. "The training is the same as what a Purdue professor or staff member would participate in if he or she wanted to commercialize an invention." In addition to the team awards, the David E. Ross Award for Entrepreneurial Distinction was awarded to incoming junior Chris Holland of Rushville Consolidated High School. Holland was nominated by his fellow students to receive the award, which consists of an additional $500 tuition voucher. The Ross Award is given to a student who demonstrates creativity, leadership, communication, a balanced life, hard work and persistence. The award is named for inventor and Purdue Research Foundation co-founder David Ross. Academy sessions and activities teach "hard" skills such as creating a business model, planning a business pitch and identifying target customer bases, said Wynkoop, as well as "soft skills" such as professional communication, building teams and confidently delivering presentatio[...]

Yeast emerges as hidden third partner in lichen symbiosis

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

For nearly 150 years, lichens have been the model organisms of symbiosis. Now researchers have uncovered an unexpected third partner embedded in the lichen cortex or "skin" - yeast. Scientists have long recognized the fundamental partnership that produces lichens: A fungus joins with an alga or cyanobacteria in a relationship that benefits both individuals. In a study led by the University of Montana and co-authored by Purdue mycologist M. Catherine Aime, researchers show that lichens across six continents also contain basidiomycete yeasts, single-celled fungi that likely produce chemicals that help lichens ward off predators and repel microbes. The finding could explain why many genetically similar lichens present wildly different physical features and why scientists have been unable to synthesize lichens in the laboratory, even when combining species that partner successfully in nature. "This discovery overturns our longstanding assumptions about the best-studied symbiotic relationship on the planet," said Aime, professor of botany and plant pathology. "These yeasts comprise a whole lineage that no one knew existed, and yet they are in a variety of lichens on every continent as a third symbiotic partner. This is an excellent example of how things can be hidden right under our eyes and why it is crucial that we keep studying the microbial world." The study was published online by the journalScienceon Thursday (July 21) and is available at It will appear in the print version ofScienceas the cover story on July 29. M. Catherine Aime Download image Based on his study of lichens, Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener was the first scientist to propose that some organisms are not autonomous individuals but combinations of unrelated species that work together. He observed that lichens are the result of collaboration between a single fungus and a photosynthetic partner - either an alga or cyanobacterium. The alga or cyanobacterium produces food by converting energy from the sun and carbon dioxide into sugars. The fungus, in turn, forms the main structure of the lichen and offers its photosynthesizing partner protection from the environment. This cross-kingdom combination of strengths and abilities has allowed lichens to thrive on a variety of surfaces and in almost every habitat on the planet, ranging from the Arctic to deserts. They come in myriad shapes, colors and forms and produce a rich variety of secondary metabolites. Lichens were also some of the first land-dwelling organisms, suggesting that a communal effort helped life make the ocean-to-land leap. The discovery that specific yeasts act as third symbiotic partners in lichens began with an investigation into why two lichen species seemed genetically identical but had distinctive attributes. The lichen Bryoria tortuosa is yellow and produces a toxic substance known as vulpinic acid while B. fremontii - made up of the same fungus and alga - is dark brown and produces no such acid. An analysis of gene expression of [...]

Rapid, low-temperature process adds weeks to milk's shelf life

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A rapid heating and cooling of milk significantly reduces the amount of harmful bacteria present, extending by several weeks the shelf life of one of the most common refrigerator staples in the world, according to a Purdue University study. Bruce Applegate, Purdue associate professor in the Department of Food Science, and collaborators from Purdue and the University of Tennessee published their findings in the journal SpringerPlus, where they show that increasing the temperature of milk by 10 degrees for less than a second eliminates more than 99 percent of the bacteria left behind after pasteurization. Its an add-on to pasteurization, but it can add shelf life of up to five, six or seven weeks to cold milk, Applegate said. Pasteurization, which removes significant amounts of harmful pathogens that can cause illness and eventually spoil dairy products, is considered a high-temperature, short-time method. Developed by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, the treatment gives milk a shelf life of about 2-3 weeks. The low-temperature, short-time (LTST) method in the Purdue study sprayed tiny droplets of pasteurized milk, which was inoculated with Lactobacillus and Pseudomonas bacteria, through a heated, pressurized chamber, rapidly raising and lowering their temperatures about 10 degrees Celsius but still below the 70-degree Celsius threshold needed for pasteurization. The treatment lowered bacterial levels below detection limits, and extended shelf life to up to 63 days. With the treatment, youre taking out almost everything, Applegate said. Whatever does survive is at such a low level that it takes much longer for it to multiply to a point at which it damages the quality of the milk. The LTST chamber technology was developed by Millisecond Technologies, a New-York-based company. Sensory tests compared pasteurized milk with milk that had been pasteurized and run through MSTs process. Panelists did not detect differences in color, aroma, taste or aftertaste between the products. Phillip Myer, an assistant professor of animal science at the University of Tennessee and a co-author of the paper, said the process uses the heat already necessary for pasteurization to rapidly heat milk droplets. The process significantly reduces the amount of bacteria present, and it doesnt add any extra energy to the system, Myer said. Myer said the promise of the technology is that it could reduce waste and allow milk to reach distant locations where transport times using only pasteurization would mean that milk would have a short shelf life upon arrival. Applegate said the process could be tested without pasteurization to determine if it could stand alone as a treatment for eliminating harmful bacteria from milk. The study was funded by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center for Food Safety Engineering at Purdue University and Millisecond Technologies.

Beaulieu honored by community development association

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Lionel Bo Beaulieu, director of the Purdue University Center for Regional Development and assistant director of Purdue Extensions community development program, received the National Distinguished Career Award from the National Association of Community Development Professionals. The award, presented during the organizations annual awards banquet in Burlington, Vermont, in June, recognizes exemplary members who have served more than seven years in Extension community development programming. It is based largely on the honorees professional accomplishments, size and depth of programs created and implemented, demonstrated program improvements and program innovations. It also encompasses the members Extension Committee work, professional improvement, personal interests and activities related to community development, and related awards received. Beaulieu since 1977 has developed, tested, implemented and evaluated programs that align with the needs of communities. Before coming to Purdue, as the director of the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University, Beaulieu worked to make the SRDC a nationally recognized center of excellence. SRDC took a lead in securing federal funding and coordinating the National e-Commerce Extension Initiative. He was on the core team that started the Rural Community College Initiative and led team development of Entrepreneurs and Their Communities eXtension Community of Practice. A chief architect of the Stronger Economies Together program funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Beaulieu continues to serve as a member of the National SET Coordinating Team. He helped develop and implement the ReadyCommunity program, a Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded effort that helps local communities plan for natural or technological disasters. He also secured funds and implemented the Turning the Tide on Poverty initiative in 12 states across the Southern region. Since becoming director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development in 2013 and later also assuming the role of assistant director and head of the Extension Community Development Program, Beaulieu has elevated and expanded collaborative work with variety of agencies. In 2015 he secured funding to start a signature program, the Hometown Collaboration Initiative. Ten communities/counties in Indiana with populations of less than 25,000 people are now part of HCI, with 11 more to join in 2016-17. Beaulieus collaboration with three Big Ten universities has resulted in the federally funded Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program, an initiative to help companies and communities develop action plans to recover from reductions in defense-related investments. Beaulieu has garnered more than $4 million in extramural and intramural funding in the three years he has been at Purdue. Beaulieu has served as president of the Rural Sociological Society and president of the Community Development Society. In 2014 he received the Distinguished Rura[...]

Specialists looking for possible causes, solutions to tile drain clogging

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Farmers should be on the lookout for roots and sediment clogging their tile drains this year, a Purdue University soil physics specialist advises. Reports of roots clogging tile drains increased dramatically in early 2016 and investigations are underway to determine why, said Eileen Kladivko, professor of agronomy at Purdue. She and two other specialists from the Midwest have published a report - Agricultural Tile Drains Clogged with Cover Crop Roots? - to address potential causes and remedies for the problem. The publication is available at Many of the roots are believed to come from cover crops, which grew exceptionally well during the warm winter and wet spring and grew deeper roots than usual, Kladivko said. Compounding the problem of roots growing into the pipes, heavy rainfall may have washed large amounts of sediment and crop residue into some tile systems through surface risers, which are installed in low, wet areas to let surface runoff enter the tile drains. As these substances accumulate in dips, bumps or other imperfections in the tile, they can restrict the flow of water through the pipes, creating a nutrient-rich place for roots to grow. Topography, ground characteristics and tillage practices that create smaller pieces of residue are other factors that likely contribute to the problem. There are a few things that farmers can do to reduce clogging and determine if there are blockages, Kladivko said. Small imperfections or irregularities in the system can be repaired during routine maintenance and internal couplers, which may catch sediment and residues within the pipe, can be replaced by external couplers. Installing a filter or sock on surface risers may reduce the amount of soil and residue material that enters the system. Also, simply sharing reports and photos of clogged drains can help investigators look for patterns and determine what conditions may increase the risk of root growth into the tile system. For more information or to report root clogging in tile systems, contact Kladivko at, or Barry Fisher of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service at

New Purdue program to focus on talent management

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business is starting a new professional development program to help food and agribusiness leaders better manage talent within their organizations. Managing Talent to Win will be Oct. 18-20 in West Lafayette. It will be led by Purdue faculty experts Allan Gray, center director and professor of agricultural economics, and Michael Gunderson, center associate director and associate professor of agricultural economics, alongside Karen Grabow, organizational psychologist and principal of Grabow Consulting. They will base the program on Purdue's six-part talent management model: strategy and talent requirements, talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, engagement, and retention and succession planning. Covered topics include aligning talent with the organization's strategic capabilities, situational leadership, performance management and execution, managing critical conversations and best practices for developing talent. It is designed so that participants will leave with tools they can immediately use in their workplaces. The program was created to help food and agribusiness organizations thrive amid a rapidly changing talent acquisition, management, retention and succession climate, Gunderson said. "One of the worst mistakes an organization can make is to forego investing in the development of the people who work there," he said. "But that doesn't mean that managing talent isn't hard. There is no single approach that works for everyone. "To add to the complexity, we're also in the midst of a fast-paced, ever-changing business climate. We have to focus on recruiting the right people to move our firms forward, but we also have to make sure we help them succeed and grow once we hire them." The program targets middle- and upper-level managers new to their roles or looking for frameworks and tools to enhance their people management skills. Participants can attend on their own, but they are encouraged to register with a colleague or two to help them more effectively institute new managerial practices when they return to their offices. Registration is $2,445 per person through Aug. 15. After that, the rate increases to $2,595 per person. CEU and CCA credits are available. Learn more and register at

Purdue students working on algae bloom problem

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Students in synthetic biology at Purdue University are researching a way to prevent algae blooms such as those that have developed along Floridas coastlines. Inspired by an annual algae bloom in the Celery Bog near Purdues West Lafayette campus, seven students on the universitys International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team decided to work on a biological solution to take up phosphorus, a nutrient responsible for plant growth and over-abundant algae, from water. To solve this problem, the team plans to engineer a microbe that would take up excess phosphorus in water, preventing algae blooms. The algae blooms in South Florida have been a major concern since the spring. They developed in Lake Okeechobee and have spread to Floridas coastlines, including beaches, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency. Ultimately, the Purdue team hopes to create a small, self-contained unit capable of accepting wastewater as input, stripping it of phosphorus, cleaning it and outputting drinking water. The technology could be implemented at a wastewater treatment facility, in an agricultural ditch, within a city sewer or on the surface of a neighborhood reservoir like the Celery Bog. The possibilities are numerous in both developed and developing countries. The students, all in the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, also recognized an opportunity to generate energy during this uptake process. In microbial desalination cells (MDCs), small bacterial batteries produce electricity as cells munch on waste, cleaning water in another chamber. A second strain of bacteria capable of conducting electricity through tiny external appendages called organic nanowires will be designed to facilitate water purification within MDCs. The beauty of iGEM the Purdue iGEM team in particular lies in the opportunity for creative experimental design and execution entirely by undergraduate students, said Paige Rudin, a sophomore biomedical engineering student from Carmel, Indiana. We want to impact the community with creative ideas and implement the innovations to solve real problems. More information about the project is available at

Zhu selected as 2016 recipient of Purdue's Herbert Newby McCoy Award

Mon, 11 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Jian-Kang Zhu, Purdue University distinguished professor of plant biology and professor of biochemistry, is the recipient of the 2016 Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the universitys top research honor in the natural sciences. The award recognizes Zhu for his groundbreaking contributions to furthering understanding of the mechanisms and role of epigenetics in biology. Dr. Zhu is among the worlds most highly cited biologists. His pioneering research has uncovered the signaling pathways that govern plant responses to environmental stress, said Suresh Garimella, Purdues executive vice president for research and partnerships and the Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. The scope of his research contributions on epigenetics and plant science has great potential to improve crop productivity and human health. The McCoy Award, established in 1964 by Ethel Terry McCoy in memory of her husband, a distinguished Purdue alumnus, is presented annually to a Purdue student or faculty member for outstanding contributions to the natural sciences. The award comes with a cash prize of $4,000 and $7,000 for Zhu's university scholarly activities. It is gratifying to know that the Purdue community recognizes the important work in plant epigenetics by my team, which includes students and postdoctoral researchers, Zhu said. I look forward to staying active in this research to help understand the epigenetic code of life for crop improvement and human health. Zhus research seeks fundamental discoveries about epigenetics and abiotic stress tolerance, and he uses the power of genetics to link them to crop improvement. Abiotic stress - how nonliving elements in the environment affect plants - is a leading cause of crop losses. Adaptation to changing abiotic factors is key to maintaining yield as irrigation increases salinity across greater land area and global climate change simultaneously reduces water availability and increases heat stress. Since arriving at Purdue in 2010, Zhu has added to his longstanding body of work in elucidating plant responses to salinity, drought and cold stresses. Among his accomplishments, Zhu has created novel technologies to manipulate gene expression in crop plants, permitting fundamental discovery in plant genetics to be implemented in crops. He is a pioneer in CRISPR-mediated manipulation of plant genes. The powerful gene-editing technology has permitted the plant genetic research community to manipulate genes outside model systems. The toolkit available as a result of his work has been used for scientific discoveries for enhancing crop yield and stress adaptation. His work has spurred a developing core facility that is part of the Purdue plant sciences initiative, a component of Purdue Moves, a series of university programs designed to broaden the universitys global impact and enhance educational opportunities for[...]

Soil fertility specialist says yellow striping in corn may be linked to sulfur deficiency

Fri, 08 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Yellow striping on corn leaves is more prevalent this year than in the past, possibly because of sulfur deficiency in the soil, says a Purdue Extension soil fertility specialist. Yellow, green-yellow or yellow-white striping on the leaves of corn plants can indicate a variety of nutrient deficiencies or other damage, said Jim Camberato. Analysis of soil and tissue samples shows that many cases of striping are due to sulfur deficiency. "We used to get quite a bit of sulfur from rainfall. The power plants would burn coal that had sulfur in it, so sulfur would be deposited in rainfall or absorbed directly from the air by the soil," Camberato said. "But over the last 20-25 years, these emissions have been reduced, so perhaps now the amounts in rainfall and atmosphere deposition are low enough that plants are not getting enough that way anymore." Wet deposition of sulfur, or sulfur absorbed into the soil from rainfall, decreased by an average of 62 percent in the eastern United States from 1989 to 2013, according to data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The primary source of wet sulfur deposition is through precipitation, known as acid rain. Weather and temperature play a role in availability of soil sulfur as well. Usable inorganic sulfur is mineralized, or released from organic matter, by microorganisms in warm, moist soil, so if weather is cold and dry, this process will be inhibited. "This year doesn't fit that mold, but if we experience dry weather later, it could reduce the amount of mineralization that takes place, and it becomes harder for plants to uptake all nutrients," Camberato said. "So it would allow the problem to persist longer and perhaps be more detrimental." When yellow striping occurs on corn leaves, it is best to send soil and tissue samples to a private lab for nutrient analysis, Camberato said. Samples should be taken from both healthy and affected areas of the field for comparison. In addition to basic testing, Camberato advises farmers to request secondary and micronutrient testing, because striping can also be caused by deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, manganese and iron. "The entire plant including roots and adhering soil should also be sent to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory to be tested for other causes of yellow striping," Camberato said. "These symptoms could be caused by other conditions such as nematode damage, disease, herbicide damage and compacted or dry soil." If the condition is confirmed to be due to sulfur or other nutrient deficiency, the best solution is usually to apply the nutrient directly to the soil, Camberato said. While warm weather can eventually increase sulfur mineralization, or growing roots may encounter sulfur deeper in the soil, neither situation is guaranteed to provide enough sulfur for the plant. In such cases, the lon[...]

Poultry marketing initiative seeks consumer, farmer input

Thu, 07 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Organizers of Purdue Extension's Indiana Pastured Poultry Branding Initiative are looking for public input to help develop a set of common production, processing and branding standards for producers. Consumers are asked to complete an online survey about their poultry buying habits and preferences. The survey is available online at A separate online survey, available at, gathers information from farmers about the current size, purpose and methods of their operations. Respondents need not be planning to participate in the Indiana Pastured Poultry initiative. Both surveys are confidential, take about 10 minutes to complete and will be open until July 29. The Indiana Pastured Poultry Branding Initiative is intended to develop quality standards for nutrition, processing, safety and marketing. The goal is to create a brand that consumers will associate with the highest standards in food safety and value, said Roy Ballard, Extension educator in Hancock County. The project is supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Value Added Producer grant, but the brand requirements will be developed by participating poultry farmers. "The initiative provides a unique opportunity for education and business development as well as marketing," Ballard said. "We want to raise the bar and help farmers achieve quality, modern production standards that customers and the industry need. As new and experienced farmers work together to develop these standards and adhere to them, they will learn from each other and become more competitive." In addition to benefiting individual farmers, the initiative will help to strengthen the poultry industry's visibility and accessibility to consumers, said Michael ODonnell, Extension educator in Delaware County. "Pastured poultry operations vary widely in terms of size, market and production methods," said O'Donnell. "Customers don't always have time to keep up with the different ways food is produced and connect directly with farmers. Through the branding initiative, we're hoping that a core group of poultry producers will agree on a set of production and marketing standards to help raise the profile of their product." Participation in the initiative, both during the planning stages and after the brand has been established, is open to poultry farmers of all experience levels who are serious about quality poultry production, good business practices and collaboration, Ballard said. Participating farmers will have access to advice from experts at Purdue and Ivy Tech. For more information about the Indiana Pastured Poultry Branding Initiative, contact Ballard at 317-462-1113,, or Michael O'Donnell at 765-747-7732,

LobeFinder technology quantifies changes in shape-shifting plant cells

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University researchers have developed an algorithm that quantifies and analyzes shape changes in puzzle piece-shaped plant cells, providing insights into the small-scale processes that control leaf size and crop yield. The technology could also be adapted to measure boundary shifts in other complex geometric forms, from neuron cells and tumors to shorelines and glaciers. Researchers Daniel Szymanski and David Umulis led an interdisciplinary team to create LobeFinder, a tool that helps troubleshoot one of plant biologists' trickiest tasks - quantifying changes in the perimeter of pavement cells, highly geometric plant cells that vary greatly in size and shape. Together, pavement cells form a mosaic that drives the expansion of leaves, which act like solar panels, absorbing sunlight and converting it to energy. Understanding how these cells morph from simple polyhedral shapes into what resemble jigsaw puzzle pieces could enable long-term crop improvement as changes in pavement cells impact leaf area and expansion, key components of yield. But identifying shape changes in pavement cells has largely been a manual and subjective process, a researcher eyeballing a cell image and characterizing what she thinks she sees. LobeFinder is designed to remove the guesswork and standardize the data, analyzing cell shapes and providing graphs of cell growth behavior in a matter of seconds per cell. "Cells are the building blocks of plant tissues and organs. The number, size and shape of cells ultimately control the size, shape and mechanical properties of leaves," said Szymanski, professor of botany and plant pathology and agronomy. "If you want to be able to engineer plant architecture, you need to understand plant processes at multiple scales - how proteins influence the shape of cells and how those cell shape patterns can function collectively to influence plant features such as leaf area and yield." Pavement cells undergo a complicated process of division and expansion to form a leaf, with varying rates and patterns of growth across a population of cells and even within different regions of a single cell. As the cells grow, they form lobes, angled protrusions that signal cell shape change. If a pentagon were a pavement cell, for example, it would have five lobes - the angles that make up its five points. Identifying, counting and analyzing lobes helps researchers understand cell shape behavior and scale up this knowledge to characterize how a leaf reaches its size and shape. A change in cell geometry or shape can signal a change within the cell's chemistry or a defect caused by a mutation. But the manual scoring of lobe number results in great variability in data among individuals. Where one expert sees a lobe, another might not. When results from a panel of experts[...]

Midwest Cover Crops Council appoints program manager

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The Midwest Cover Crops Council has responded to increasing interest in cover crops across the region by hiring its first program manager, a Purdue Extension educator. Anna Morrow began her new role with the MCCC as a staff member in Purdue University's Department of Agronomy on July 1. She now works out of Extension's Shelby County office and will be on the university's West Lafayette campus as needed. "We are excited to have an experienced county Extension educator join our team as our first program manager," said Eileen Kladivko, professor of agronomy and a founding member of the MCCC. "Anna brings experience in working with producers on a variety of challenges in Midwestern row crop and animal agriculture, and we look forward to working with her to move cover crop adoption and the MCCC into the future." Kladivko said the council has continued to grow since its beginning in 2006, as has the interest and use of cover crops across the Midwest. "We needed a full-time program manager to help improve our current outreach tools and develop new ones, provide timely information on cover crops to our website, be a point of contact for the council, and generally improve our capacity to be the go-to source of information about cover crops in the Midwest," she said. Morrow grew up on a small Indiana farm of livestock and crops in Shelby County near Saint Paul, and she still helps on it. She earned a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.S. in agronomy at Purdue, through which she researched soil and pasture management on a Costa Rican dairy farm. She had been Franklin County's agriculture and natural resources educator for Purdue Extension since 2012. The MCCC is a regional group committed to facilitating widespread adoption of cover crops across the Midwest for purposes of soil health, water quality and crop productivity. It creates Extension products such as a pocket field guide and an online Selector Tool and presents educational meetings about cover crops across the region consisting of 12 states and Ontario, Canada. More information about the MCCC is available on its website at

Irrigation of fruit, vegetable crops is food safety matter

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Indiana fruit and vegetable growers bringing irrigation systems into operation as production gets into full swing should have their water tested as part of good agricultural practices for produce food safety, Purdue Extension food safety educator Scott Monroe says. Testing water is one of the most important things growers can do to minimize the risk of microbial contamination in growing crops, Monroe said. Water is used for multiple operations in fruit and vegetable production, making it a potential medium of transfer for foodborne illness. We use water for irrigation, pesticide application, frost protection and washing and packing, and many other uses, he said. The amount of uses and the potential for carrying human pathogens makes water a major food safety focus. Growers who meet certain criteria under the Food and Drug Administrations Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Rule, which took effect in January, must test water that is applied to harvestable portions of growing crops. Monroe noted that the new regulations require frequent testing over two years to establish a baseline, with periodic testing required thereafter. While some growers may be required by the produce rule to do extensive testing, Monroe said it is a good idea for all produce growers to test their water. The frequency of testing is determined by the water source. Surface water is generally unprotected and carries a greater risk for contamination. Consequently, growers using surface water instead of underground water need to have water tested more frequently, Monroe said. Growers using municipal water do not need to have their water tested because the utilities are legally required to do that. All water used for fruit and vegetable production and postharvest processing should be tested for generic E. coli, Monroe said. Generic E. coli testing will indicate potential presence of disease-causing organisms. If E. coli is present in a water sample, it means that the water source has fecal contamination and may, by association, harbor human pathogens, he said. Water samples can be submitted to any certified lab for testing. Monroe said it is important to make sure samples are sent to a certified lab. Always communicate with the lab to make sure they understand what the water is being used for and what test is required, he said. Interpreting lab results is also very important. Monroe said water used for production should not exceed 126 cfu/100 ml generic E. coli. Water used for postharvest operations must not contain any detectable generic E. coli. If water exceeds allowable limits, growers will need to treat it or find another water source. While a bad test will not put a grower out of business, it does indicate a risk factor that needs to [...]

June Ag Barometer shows rebound in producer sentiment

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Producer sentiment surrounding the U.S. agricultural economy rebounded in June after a dip in May, according to the latest survey results from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The June Producer Sentiment Index landed at 104, up seven points from the May reading. The index is based on a monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers and includes measures of sentiment surrounding both current conditions and future expectations. Barometer principal investigator Jim Mintert said the increase can be at least partially attributed to stronger overall grain and oilseed markets over the last three months. In June, corn and soybean both traded at prices not seen since summer 2015. Soybean prices approached $12 per bushel, well above $8.75 that producers saw in April. "Evaluating the barometer more closely shows us that the uptick in producer sentiment was driven primarily by an improvement in the Index of Current Conditions, which jumped from 83 in May to 98 in June," said Mintert, who is the director of Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture and a professor of agricultural economics. "Additional increases in overall producer sentiment came from the Index of Future Expectations, which settled slightly higher at 107, up three points since May." Surveys over the last three months also have shown that producers view their own farm operations' financial health differently than they view the health of the overall agricultural economy, said David Widmar, Purdue research associate who works on the barometer. "Producers hold a more pessimistic view of their own farms' financial situations than they do of the agricultural economy," he said. For example, after declining significantly in April, the number of producers expecting their farm operations to be worse off financially in a year moved higher, increasing from just 27 percent in April to 37 percent in June. In contrast, the share of respondents who expected financially bad times for the overall agricultural economy in the next 12 months trended lower over the same time period, declining from 75 percent in April to 65 percent in June. The reasons why these sentiments vary isn't clear, but a continuation of the trend could be a sign that producers will emphasize controlling costs through reduced spending, Widmar said. One factor weighing heavily on producers' minds is the summer weather. While farmers always have to deal with the weather, there has been some concern surrounding the possibility of La Nia setting in and the impact it could have on U.S. corn and soybean production. Barometer researchers included weather-related questions on the June survey given the impact that weather speculation already has had on rising grain and o[...]

Purdue's FoodLink now available statewide

Wed, 29 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Shoppers at more than 100 farmers markets, grocery stores, food pantries and roadside produce stands throughout Indiana can now connect with FoodLink, Purdue Extension's online hub for information about healthy foods. Participating vendors display cards with QR codes for more than 40 fruits and vegetables. Consumers can use the QR reader on their smartphones to scan the codes for immediate access to the FoodLink website, which provides selection and preparation suggestions, recipes, nutritional information, how-to videos, photos, food safety tips and other resources. No registration is necessary to use the website, and the service is free. "It is a really quick, convenient way to provide healthy eating options for your family," said Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator and one of the program administrators. "If you have a question about the health benefits of a certain fruit or vegetable, or how to prepare it, all the information you need is just a click away." All information posted on the FoodLink website is created and reviewed by licensed nutritionists. The site is regularly updated with new resources. Ballard said the initiative has been well received throughout the state. "We've been overwhelmed by the number of vendors signing up," he said. "We've also had teachers and nutritionists asking to use FoodLink materials for educational purposes. It began as a consumer-focused effort, but people are finding new and creative ways to get involved and spread the word about good nutrition." The state Women, Infants and Children program, commonly known as WIC, is providing vouchers for its participants to buy healthy fruits and vegetables at FoodLink vendors. Financial support has been provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Department of Agriculture. "Our partners have been tremendously supportive, and thanks to their efforts we are looking forward to continuing to grow the program," Ballard said. To access the FoodLink website, go to Vendors, educators, nutritionists, food suppliers, farmers or anyone else interested in becoming FoodLink members can contact Ballard at 317-462-1113, Visitors to the 2016 Indiana State Fair can get more information about FoodLink in the Purdue Extension Ag/Hort Building on the west side of the fairgrounds near the midway. Information will also be available at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture displays in the Ag/Hort Building and Bicentennial Pavilion.

Purdue publication: Water temperature affects herbicide performance

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A new Purdue Extension publication gives applicators of postemergence herbicides insights into the importance of mixing herbicides with water at optimum temperatures to make them most effective. Guidance offered in Water Temperature and Herbicide Performance is based on research by Purdue University weed scientists who studied the effectiveness of certain herbicides on several weed species when mixed with spray water at various temperatures. The researchers concluded that moderate to warm water - but not hot - was better than cold. "We give the guidelines of not using cold water in the early spring or late fall," said Pratap Devkota, the lead researcher and graduate research assistant to weed scientist Bill Johnson. "Make sure you use moderate to warm water. The right water temperature is one of the components of herbicide application." Farmers generally are not aware of that, Devkota said, because there has been little research on the topic. In a greenhouse study, herbicide was applied to weed species giant ragweed, marestail (horseweed), Palmer amaranth and pitted morningglory. Herbicides used were 2,4-D choline, glufosinate, mesotrione and glyphosate plus dicamba premix. Each herbicide solution was held for 24 hours and six hours before application. It also was applied immediately after mixing. The researchers found that performance was reduced on some weed species when the herbicides were mixed with water at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest temperature tested. They also discovered that performance was reduced at 133 degrees, the highest temperature tested. Performance was not reduced at 72 and 102 degrees, the middle temperatures tested. The study found that the herbicide mixtures held for up to 24 hours did not affect weed control in any of the tested herbicide products. The researchers cautioned, however, not to generalize the results for all herbicides. They noted previous research showing that some herbicide products from Group 2 (ALS inhibitors) can undergo hydrolysis when spray solutions remain in a tank for a certain period; likewise, herbicides in Group 1 (ACCase inhibitors) can break down when ultraviolet radiation infiltrates a tank. The researchers said applicators should consider that mixing certain herbicides with water warmer than 41 degrees may enhance - certainly not harm - early spring or late fall burndown applications. They also said the temperature of water stored in tanks above ground for more than one or two days should be monitored. "It is reasonable to expect that the air temperature can give you a rough estimate of the stored water's temperature," they wrote. "You can also use a thermometer."[...]

Annual Butterfly Encounter set for July 16

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Butterfly enthusiasts of all ages and expert levels can visit the Evonik Wildlife Habitat Area in Lafayette for the annual Butterfly Encounter July 16. Participants will help entomologists spot and count butterflies. No knowledge of butterflies is necessary; everyone from novice to expert is welcome to the family-friendly event celebrating the beauty and diversity of Indiana butterflies. Entomologists will help identify the common butterflies of Indiana and discuss butterfly biology, including the importance of habitat and conservation to endangered species and biodiversity. Evonik Corp. and the Purdue University Department of Entomology sponsor the event. The schedule: * 1-1:30 p.m.: Welcome, introductions and short tutorial. * 1:30-3 p.m.: Break into groups and commence the count. * 3-4 p.m.: Tabulation of butterfly count results. Parking is available at the west gate of Evonik Corp., Tippecanoe Laboratories, at 1650 Lilly Road. If coming from the east, go past the main entrance to the west gate, turn at the first gate on the right and park in that area. Walk south across the road to enter the wildlife habitat. Participants will meet at the picnic area. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be canceled. Resource materials for the event are at For more information, contact Jon Neal at or 765-494-4554.

How 'Brexit' might affect U.S. agriculture, Indiana economy

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Britains departure from the European Union would have little direct effect on U.S. agricultural trade but could slow Indianas economic growth tied to manufacturing, Purdue University agricultural economists say. Their greatest concerns are whether the current shakeup in the financial markets from Britains vote last week to leave the EU is short-term or longer, whether an already-strong U.S. dollar would continue to rise in value and how access to global markets might be affected. The indirect effects will matter the most, said Philip Abbott, a professor of agricultural economics who researches international trade and agriculture. The effects on agricultural trade will be through the exchange rate mechanism and through any negative business cycle effects involving global demand. How big those are depend on whether this is a temporary or longer-term situation and how long the very recent changes in exchange rates and interest rates persist. He pointed out that a strong dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive to the rest of the world and that a widely held belief in the agricultural industry is that trade and a weak dollar are good for U.S. agriculture. Still, agricultural exports to the United Kingdom amount to a very small portion of U.S exports worldwide, Abbott said. In 2015, the United States exported $8.3 billion in corn globally but only $62,000 of the crop to Britain. Of the $18.9 billion worth of soybeans the United States exported worldwide, $76 million of that went to Britain. Of the $133 billion in overall U.S. agricultural exports, $1.8 billion went to the U.K. Exports of what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls consumer-oriented products, including wine, nuts, fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, amounted to $62 billion worldwide, $1.1 billion of it to the U.K. Wine led in that category with U.S. exports of $282 million to Britain. The Britains vote of June 23 drew more attention to the issue of globalization versus nationalization - essentially open or closed markets - said Mike Boehlje, distinguished professor of agricultural economics. Supporters of the referendum to withdraw contend that the influence and sovereignty of Britain has suffered under the EUs trade and economic regulations and its policies on immigration and the free movement of people within the 28 European countries in the bloc. Similar issues have come up in the current U.S. presidential election campaigns. Generally, agriculture is much more dependent on international trade than other parts of the economy, Boehlje said. Globalization is important to U.S. agriculture to ke[...]

Nominations sought for Purdue's Hovde Award

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue Extension is accepting nominations for the 2016 Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence, given to a Purdue University faculty or staff member who has contributed to the improvement of rural Indiana. Any active faculty or staff member is eligible. A person may have made a contribution through the classroom, counseling, research or Extension. "Fostering powerful, purposeful connections with Indiana's rural communities and residents is fundamental to Purdue's mission as a land-grant university," said Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and associate dean in the College of Agriculture. "We are always proud to present the Hovde Award to one of Purdue's own for their outstanding commitment and exceptional support for the people of Indiana." Nomination deadline is Sept. 7 at noon EDT. Nomination packets should be sent to Ruth Ann Weiderhaft by email at or fax at 765-494-7420. Additional information is available by contacting Weiderhaft by email. The award winner will receive an $800 cash prize and a plaque. A permanent display of award winners' names is in the Agricultural Administration Building at Purdue's West Lafayette campus. The award, sponsored by the Indiana Farm Bureau Inc., was created in appreciation of Purdue's seventh president, who served from 1946 to 1971. The award has been given annually since 1972. Nomination forms and guidelines are at The 2015 award recipient was Freddie Barnard, a longtime leader in Purdue Extension agribusiness management and agricultural finance programs.

Purdue program to focus on effective marketing strategies

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A Purdue University program will offer marketing managers the opportunity to learn how to powerfully and strategically direct their organizations' marketing efforts. Executive Agri-Marketing, hosted by Purdue's Center for Food and Agricultural Business, will be held Aug. 15-17 in West Lafayette. Participants will learn to position and influence their companies and gain a deeper understanding of their clients' needs based on the results of Purdue's Large Commercial Producer Survey. The program is taught by marketing experts Scott Downey, associate center director and associate professor of agricultural economics, and Justin Funk, managing partner of Canada's Agri Studies Inc. They will focus in part on the difference between what customers already think about companies versus what companies want customers to think. Participants will work through what their customers need, how their organizations meet those needs and how they can share that message. Executive Agri-Marketing is targeted specifically to marketing managers and leaders responsible for making marketing decisions and directing their companies' marketing strategies, including branding, product management and strategic direction. It includes sessions on: * The discipline of segmentation. * Aligning the organization around the customer experience. * Marketing decision tools. * Putting ideas to work. Included is a panel of marketing experts from a variety of industries who will give participants insights into best practices and lessons they can learn from industries outside agriculture. Prospective participants must apply for this program. More information and applications are available at Registration fees (payable after the application is accepted) are $2,245 per person by July 15. After that, they increase to $2,395 per person. The program will be at the Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52 W., West Lafayette.

2 Purdue AgEcon students in USDA scholars program

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics students Nathan Carson and Shelby Swain were among six students nationwide who went to Washington, D.C., May 31-June 10 for the Ag Econ Scholars Program of the U.S. Department of Agricultures Economic Research Service. The program, in its first year, was created to expose masters students to the resources available within USDA agencies and highlight career opportunities for graduate professionals. The visit included touring a variety of USDA agencies to learn about their organizational structure, duties and employment opportunities; networking with USDA and other government employees; and learning about agricultural policy. Carson is a second-year masters student from Plant City, Florida, and Swain is a first-year masters student from Fishers, Indiana.

Farmer veteran workshop set for Beck Ag Center

Fri, 24 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Military veterans, active duty members and their families can learn more about how to start or operate a farm during a daylong program sponsored by Purdue University's Indiana Beginning Farmer program. The Beginning Farmer Veteran Workshop is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 30 at the Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52 W, West Lafayette. Sessions will cover both the business and production sides of agriculture. Topics will include small fruit and vegetable production, livestock management, business planning, equipment for small farms, beekeeping, forestry, marketing and regulatory requirements for meat and food sales. There will also be information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, as well as an opportunity for participants to network with Purdue Extension educators from throughout the state. "We have had a tremendous response to our farmer veteran tours and we are pleased to be able to offer this workshop to explore these topics in greater depth," said Cindy Chastain, farmer veteran coordinator for the National AgrAbility Project based at Purdue and one of the workshop organizers. "It is a terrific opportunity to meet other veterans who have an interest in farming." There is no cost to attend but registration is required. Lunch and refreshments will be served. To register, go to Space is limited. For more information about the workshop or other farmer veteran programs, contact Chastain, 765-496-2377, For more information about the Indiana Beginning Farmer program, contact Kevin Gibson, 765-496-2161,

Purdue, DuPont Pioneer to host plant science symposium

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A team of graduate students from Purdue University's agronomy and botany departments is partnering with DuPont Pioneer to host the first Purdue Plant Science Symposium. The program is part of the DuPont Plant Science Symposia series, which is co-sponsored by DuPont and host universities around the world. The goal of the series is to improve collaboration and problem solving among universities, government organizations and the agricultural industry. Purdue's symposium will be 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette. The theme is "An Interdisciplinary Approach to Abiotic Stress." "The main goal of the symposium is to build interdisciplinary partnerships within the plant sciences," said Heather Pasley, a doctorate student in agronomy. "We hope to inspire the research that will improve abiotic stress tolerance in plants and close the global yield gap." The global yield gap is a gauge of how well global food production is keeping up with demand. It is measured by a number of factors such as abiotic stress, which is stress inflicted on living organisms by nonliving substances or forces. Abiotic stress can be caused by wind, heat or cold, or natural disasters. Speakers at the symposium will include researchers from Purdue, the universities of Missouri and Nebraska, DuPont Pioneer and the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maz y Trigo, or International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Events will include roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, a tour of Purdue's new phenotyping facility and a graduate student poster session. Registration is free and open to the public but especially encouraged for graduate students, Pasley said. Organizers hope to include participants from all subdivisions of agriculture, including physiology, soil science, plant genetics and breeding, molecular genetics, agricultural and biological engineering, weed science, entomology, horticulture, agricultural economics, forestry and food science, as well as agronomy and botany. "We are hoping these symposia are one way to work together to address complex issues like food security and abiotic stress," Pasley said. "We want to create networks among graduate schools and dialogue between public and private sectors." The poster competition is open to graduate and postdoctoral students from any agricultural discipline at any university. Posters will be judged on clarity, succinctness, ver[...]

Purdue professor Gray named 2016 IFAMA fellow

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Allan Gray, Purdue University's Land O'Lakes Chair for Food and Agribusiness, was named a fellow of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association Wednesday (June 22) at the organization's World Conference in Aarhus, Denmark. IFAMA fellow nominees must be active supporters of the association who have made outstanding contributions to food and agribusiness management in at least two of four areas: practice of management in food or agribusiness, research and scholarship, teaching or academic administration and service to IFAMA. With Gray's induction, Purdue becomes the only university to have two professionally active fellows. Michael Boehlje, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, was inducted in 2004. "Dr. Gray is a highly influential leader in the agribusiness community locally, nationally and internationally," said Jay Akridge, Purdue's Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. "The needs of stakeholders drive his research program, and he is an extraordinary educator at every level - undergraduate, graduate and executive education. This international recognition is most deserved." Gray, who also is the director of Purdue's Center for Food and Agricultural Business and the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management program, serves on the IFAMA board of directors where he has worked with committees to develop academic symposium sessions, coordinate symposium paper reviews, develop sessions for the World Congress and help strengthen the association's scholarly journal, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. Since becoming director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business in 2008, Gray has provided strategic leadership for full-time professional staff and affiliated faculty. He oversees the development and execution of 10 open-enrollment course offerings each year and a number of company-specific custom programs, which reach about 1,000 participants annually. Gray's research interests include agribusiness management, strategic planning, making decisions in uncertain environments and business simulation. He also works on the center's Large Commercial Producer Survey. The survey, now conducted every four years, explores the attitudes and buying behaviors of large commercial producers. Gray has won many awards during his tenure, including the American Agricultural Economics Association's Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program Award, the Purdue University Dean's Team Awar[...]

Vegetable growers to get updates on food safety regulations

Tue, 21 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue Extension in July will offer two programs to update vegetable growers on federal regulations involving postharvest food safety and show how they can reduce the risk of contamination. "Food safety in produce has become a major issue due to standards set by the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Rule and recent outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to fresh produce," said Scott Monroe, Extension Food safety educator. "In addition to informing growers on recently implemented regulatory standards, we will give them practical information that will enable them to reduce the risk of contamination by foodborne pathogens on their farms." The workshop will be offered July 6 at the Oaktown Produce Depot, 13990 Old U.S. 41, Oaktown, and July 12 at the Nelson Hall of Food Science on Purdue University's West Lafayette campus. The program will be 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EDT) at both sites. The program will offer an update on the Food and Drug Administration's produce rule as well as updates by both the Indiana Department of Health and Indiana Department of Agriculture. The workshop will include sessions on postharvest good agricultural practices, use of postharvest sanitizers, good manufacturing practices, and food safety in the retail environment. There is no cost to attend. Participants can register online at

EAB research: Saving trees early less costly than replacing them

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Cities and towns with "urban forests" such as parks and streets lined with trees could spend less money by taking steps to save emerald ash borer-infested trees early rather than wait until they can only replace them, Purdue University researchers concluded in a study. A five-member team co-led by Cliff Sadof, professor of entomology, and Matt Ginzel, associate professor in the Department of Entomology and Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, developed a model to help foresters predict the progression of ash decline over time. This model helps them use early reports of damaged trees to alert the community to the imminent threat posed by EAB. The percentage of damaged ash trees in a city typically doubles every year. "Damaged trees are often not noticed until they have lost 30 percent of their canopy. Unfortunately, by then it's usually too late to save them from EAB," Sadof said. Although it is possible to protect the remaining green canopy in infested trees, the damage that has already occurred increases the potential for loss of structural integrity and aesthetic value. For these reasons, Sadof recommends calling in a certified arborist to assess whether a tree with this level of damage is worth saving with recommended insecticide treatments. An adult emerald ash borer feeds off a leaf. (Purdue Department of Entomology photo/John Obermeyer) Download image The research team was tasked with examining early EAB infestation and developing a system to estimate canopy decline over time. Their work was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the state Legislature-funded AgSEED, short for Agricultural Science and Extension for Economic Development. The researchers developed a model for predicting the progression of the decline and eventual death of infested ash trees and validated it with two kinds of data - the removal of 14,000 ash trees destroyed by the EAB in Fort Wayne and the accumulation of ash trees in Indianapolis and Lafayette that lost at least 30 percent of their canopy. "By systematically surveying ash trees, a community can figure out where they are in the progression of ash decline," Sadof said. "We hope that putting a timeline on the wave of ash destruction could get communities to start saving their trees before it is too late." The researchers also developed a web-based EAB cost calcul[...]

Chastain speaks to congressional committee on AgrAbility’s vital role for veterans

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Cindra Chastain, veteran outreach coordinator for the National AgrAbility Project based at Purdue University, testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture about the importance of AgrAbility services to veterans interested in farming. In her May 18 remarks, Chastain encouraged the committee to continue supporting efforts of AgrAbility, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and to consider how its services could be expanded to 30 states that do not yet receive funding for it. She noted that they include some of the nations most important agricultural states, such as Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Florida, Oregon, Alabama and Washington. As a veteran and a farmer, and now as a provider of AgrAbility services, I am keenly aware of the benefits this program has had on the lives of many farmer veterans, including my own, said Chastain, who served as an Army officer for more than 31 years, including as deputy commander of the 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team from 2008 to 2010. The team was deployed to Afghanistan 2009-10. Chastain began employment with AgrAbility in 2014 following her retirement from the Army. She continues to serve as president of the family-owned Chastain Farms Inc. in Crawfordsville, and she and her husband also operate their own small hobby farm. Chastain told the committee that AgrAbility is vital to helping supply the nation with farmers as their numbers decline. With the estimated dearth of farmers to take this country into the next 20 to 30 years, we need veterans to consider careers in agriculture, she said. Chastain gave the committee a history of AgrAbility, which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary in helping people with disabilities stay productive in agriculture, and its predecessor, the Breaking New Ground Resource Center in Purdues Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. She pointed out that AgrAbility efforts are carried out through the Cooperative Extension Service in partnership with other organizations. Many of the first clientele of the program were veterans who had come home to their farms and rural communities with service-related disabilities, she said. Committee members learned of the experiences of many of them, including a disabled World War II Navy veteran who was expanding his New York dairy operation to include blueberry production and needed be[...]

Purdue in coalition urging more federal funding for ag research

Fri, 17 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University is among 13 U.S. research institutions in the United States joining theSupporters of Agricultural Research Foundationin calling for a "new surge" in federal support of food and agricultural science. "Retaking the Field," a report released by the coalition known as SoAR, highlights recent scientific innovations and illustrates how it believes that U.S. agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors. "Publicly supported research is critical if we are to meet the grand challenge in front of us - the need for more food, energy and other products from agricultural feedstocks, produced in a more sustainable way, using even fewer natural resources, in the face of a changing climate," saidJay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture. "And, given lags between when research is initiated and when the knowledge generated by that research makes its way into the hands of farmers and the broader food sector, we need to be investing now to maintain a globally competitive agricultural sector." The report looks at the importance of agriculture and its related industries to the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this sector was responsible for nearly 1 in 10 jobs in 2014 and contributed $835 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. The coalition said even though every public dollar invested in agricultural research provides $20 in economic returns, the federal budget for agricultural research has remained flat for decades and that the U.S. today trails China in both agricultural production and public research funding. "Researchers are discovering incredible breakthroughs, helping farmers produce more food using fewer resources and keeping our meals safe and nutritious," saidThomas Grumbly, president of SoAR. "However, the science behind agriculture and food production is starved of federal support at a time of unprecedented challenges. A new surge in public funding is essential if our agricultural system is going to meet the needs of American families in an increasingly competitive global market." "Retaking the Field" profiles groundbreaking projects at the 13 public and private universities across the U.S. At Purdue, agronomy professorPhillip Owensdeveloped a process to integrate satellite data and landscape features wi[...]

Indiana summer weather outlook: Drought looming again

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Indiana could be headed for another drought this summer, according to the Indiana State Climate Office. Some northern Indiana counties already are abnormally dry. It depends on the strength of a developing La Nia weather pattern. Stronger La Nia conditions in summer typically result in hotter and/or drier Midwest summers, such as what happened during the historic drought in the summer of 2012. Changes in large-scale weather patterns such as the demise of El Nio and strong possibility of La Nia conditions in coming months are leading to local scale impacts of reduced rainfall and hotter landscapes, said Dev Niyogi, state climatologist based at Purdue University. "This, combined with the need by plants to replace water lost through evaporation, is setting a classic scenario for a regional drought," he said. If La Nia does develop quickly and with at least moderate intensity, drought conditions may develop in Indiana by August, said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist. "In recent years, there has been a trend to fall droughts in Indiana," he said. "For example last year, moderate drought occurred from late September into late December." The climate office expects the second half of June to be drier than normal, followed by equal chances that July and August will be wetter, drier or near normal in precipitation across the Midwest and a slightly higher chance of drier-than-normal conditions over Indiana. Neutral weather conditions began in late May after what the climate office said was one of the strongest El Nios on record. The El Nio generated eight consecutive months of above -normal temperatures in Indiana through April and a mix of above- and below- normal precipitation. "Historically, a quickly developing La Nia after a strong El Nio can be moderate to strong in intensity," Scheeringa said. La Nia conditions occur when Pacific sea surface temperatures in a specific area near the equator persist cooler than normal by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. The "signature" impacts of La Nia are Indiana summers with above-normal temperatures and less-than-normal precipitation. Signs of extended dryness have been reported in the June 9 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, with several counties in the far north and northeast portions of Indiana abnormally dry. (A map of Indiana as part [...]

Specialist: Late-planted crops could require early irrigation

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Late-planted grain crops may be reaching a critical stage of development just as the weather is turning drier, possibly meaning farmers will have to irrigate earlier than normal, says Lyndon Kelley, irrigation specialist for the Purdue and Michigan State Extension services. Wet spring weather in much of the Midwest delayed cover crop removal, tillage and planting by as much as two weeks, meaning that instead of seedlings coming up during the spring rainy season, they are already encountering drier, summerlike conditions, Kelley said. Farmers in some parts of the state should be irrigating now to ensure optimal germination, he added. Typically, our crops would be about two weeks further ahead, so now were trying to grow younger crops in the drier time of the year, Kelley said. Even in an average year, midsummer is the driest point of the growing season, and that low point is going to hit us at a more crucial stage of development this year. Remaining cover crops could drain even more moisture from the soil, Kelley said. Cereal grains and annual rye grasses use more moisture than corn or soybeans. The moisture is typically replaced by rain after the cover crops are removed by tillage. But this did not happen in some areas, Kelley said, particularly where field operations were significantly delayed. In order to replace moisture lost during the tillage process, farmers should apply one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water per application, which will wet the soil down to 6 inches, the minimum depth needed to keep roots growing into moisture, Kelley said. If no rain has fallen since removing the cover crop, 1 to 1.5 inches may be needed to replenish the soil moisture in the future root zone. Some soils may form a crust if the soil surface dries too quickly, possibly preventing seedlings from penetrating the surface, Kelley said. A small application of two-tenths to three-tenths of an inch of water may soften the soil enough to allow seedlings to emerge. Farmers have several tools available to help them determine whether their crops need irrigation, and how much. A quick test is to probe the soil below the roots. Soil below the roots should be able to form and hold a ball when squeezed if adequate moisture is present, Kelley said. A U.S. Department of Agr[...]

Purdue, OSHA workshop to help prevent grain dust combustion, explosion

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A Purdue Extension workshop will help farmers and those who work in grain handling facilities better understand how to prevent grain dust combustion and explosion. The workshop, funded by a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, includes sessions on handling and unloading grain, industrial hazards and engineering controls, as well as a demonstration of grain dust explosion. Participants who finish the training will receive a certificate of completion. The training workshop will be held on three dates during the summer: * June 22, 3-8 p.m. EDT, Northeast-Purdue Agricultural Center, 4821 E. 400 S, Columbia City. * June 27, 1-5 p.m. EDT, Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center, 11371 E. Purdue Farm Road, Dubois. * Aug. 17, 1-5 p.m. CDT, Jasper County Fairgrounds, 2671 W. Clark St., Rensselaer. A complimentary dinner, sponsored by Purdue Extension, will be provided during the June 22 training. On average, there are 10 grain dust explosions every year in the United States, causing damage, injury, and death, said Kingsly Ambrose, assistant professor in Purdue Universitys Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Our goal is to raise awareness of the perils of grain dust explosion and reduce this number. Our participants will be able to identify active steps to mitigate immediate threats, improve their knowledge of dust reduction methods and better understand the combustion and explosion potential of grain dust. Ambrose is co-presenting the workshops with Chad Martin, Purdue Extension specialist. While these workshops are designed for individuals, businesses and larger grain handling facilities may schedule customized trainings for their employees, Martin said. For more information or to register, contact Martin at Registration will remain open until one week before each workshop date. OSHA funded the workshop under grant number SH-27623-SH5.

Indiana transportation guide makes compliance easier for farmers

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A new publication from Purdue Extension will help clarify the rules of the road for farmers. A Farmers Guide to Indiana Transportation Regulations is designed to help farmers determine what category they fit in under state and federal transportation laws, then quickly look up the regulations that apply to them. Topics include vehicle weight and dimension limits, securing loads, fuel, license plates and permits, as well as reasons why compliance is important. The publication was written by Fred Whitford, coordinator of the Purdue Pesticide Programs, with input from farmers, consultants, police and legal advisers. Ive been getting so many questions from farmers about transportation regulations that I knew it was time to develop this publication, Whitford said. Many of the states farmers rely on Purdue Extension for the latest information on these complex and confusing rules. The good news is that we have a team of experts to make sure we are providing the best, most up-to-date answers to the questions. Under the states transportation regulations, a farmer is defined as someone who transports only his or her own products, supplies and equipment to and from designated locations, such as a marketplace or properties that he or she owns. Farmers are classified into four categories depending on how far they typically travel when transporting their goods and whether they cross state lines. Each category has its own set of regulations. Compliance with these regulations is important from a liability standpoint as well as a safety standpoint, Whitford said, as penalties for noncompliance can be severe. The publication is available electronically and in print from Purdues The Education Store at

Purdue researchers awarded $2.5 million to study effects of perfluoroalkyl substances on amphibians

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $2.5 million grant to a team of Purdue University researchers within Discovery Parks Center for the Environment to study how amphibians are affected by perfluoroalkyl substances, chemicals used in everyday commercial products and in firefighting foams. The Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, a division of the Defense Department, is funding the five-year research project as part of efforts to develop an environmental risk assessment for military testing sites. Forestry professor Marisol Seplveda and her co-researchers, forestry professor Jason Hoverman and agronomy professor Linda Lee, will examine the effects of exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances over the life course of three amphibian species native to Indiana: the eastern tiger salamander, northern leopard frog and American toad. Perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of chemicals that are fire-resistant and repel water, fat and other substances. They are used extensively in materials as diverse as pizza boxes and popcorn bags, nonstick cookware, carpet and water-repellant clothing. But their resistant properties also make them difficult to eliminate from the environment; they do not dissolve in water, take decades to break down and are pervasive and spread easily, having been found in environments as remote as the Arctic Circle. In military and rescue operations, PFAS are an integral component of firefighting foams - a concern at military testing and training sites, where the foams may be used repeatedly in the same area for many years. This research will be one of the first studies to examine the effects of PFAS on amphibians. Additional funding was awarded to groups studying birds and reptiles. We tried to choose three species that are representative of most of the amphibian species of North America, said Seplveda. The researchers will study the effects of these chemicals throughout larval development and then the chemical uptake after metamorphosis - for example, when the tadpoles become froglets. The chemicals are thought mainly to affect the thyroid gland, which controls rate of metabolism, growth and development. The thyroid is integral[...]

Purdue nematologist: Cool, wet spring may increase risk of needle nematodes

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A cool, wet spring may put corn planted in sandy soils at greater risk of attack by the destructive needle nematode, Purdue Extension nematologist Jamal Faghihi says. Nematodes are microscopic, cylindrical worms that live in a variety of habitats, sometimes living parasitically in or around plant and animal hosts. The needle nematode feeds around the roots of corn and other grasses, requires moisture and prefers loose, sandy soil, making corn in northern and western Indiana a prime target, Faghihi said. The needle nematode must have certain conditions to show up. If spring is cool and wet, the likelihood of its showing up is very high, he said. In the northern and western parts of the state, the nematodes are a very prominent problem and can cause a lot of damage. Symptoms of needle nematode infestation in corn include short, brown roots with clubbed ends and stunted yellow plants. While the symptoms may initially resemble those of herbicide injury or moisture damage, symptoms from these causes will be more widespread across the field, while nematode damage will appear in random patches. As few as 10 needle nematodes can damage a corn plant, but in a severe infestation numbers can be much higher, as in this sample of more than 600 nematodes taken from a single plant. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jessica Merzdorf) Download image Nematodes are nearly impossible to see without a microscope, so the only way to receive a definitive diagnosis is to send a sample to the Purdue Nematology Laboratory or other nematology labs for testing, Faghihi said. The sample should include the entire root ball of the plant and should be kept cool and moist. Its important to send the entire root system and the adjacent soil, rather than only a soil sample, because we can only detect nematodes in a soil sample if the number around that plant is very high, he explained. But as few as 10 nematodes can cause damage, so we want to make sure we arent missing even a small number. Needle nematodes are temperature-sensitive and either die or burrow deeper in the soil once the soil temperatures reach 85 degrees, typically toward the beginning or middle of July. For [...]

Innovative process produces biodegradable cellulose-based films

Tue, 07 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University researchers have developed tough, flexible, biodegradable films from cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls. The films could be used for products such as food packaging, agricultural groundcovers, bandages and capsules for medicine or bioactive compounds. Food scientists Srinivas Janaswamy and Qin Xu engineered the cellophane-like material by solubilizing cellulose using zinc chloride, a common inorganic salt, and adding calcium ions to cause the cellulose chains to become tiny fibers known as nanofibrils, greatly increasing the material's tensile strength. The zinc chloride and calcium ions work together to form a gel network, allowing the researchers to cast the material into a transparent, food-grade film. "We're looking for innovative ways to adapt and use cellulose - an inexpensive and widely available material - for a range of food, biomedical and pharmaceutical applications," said Janaswamy, research assistant professor of food science and principal author of the study. "Though plastics have a wide variety of applications, their detrimental impact on the environment raises a critical need for alternative materials. Cellulose stands out as a viable option, and our process lays a strong foundation for developing new biodegradable plastics." Cellulose's abundance, renewability and ability to biodegrade make it a promising substitute for petroleum-based products. While a variety of products such as paper, cellophane and rayon are made from cellulose, its tightly interlinked structure and insolubility - qualities that give plants strength and protection - make it a challenging material to work with. Janaswamy and Xu loosened the cellulose network by adding zinc chloride, which helps push cellulose's closely packed sheets apart, allowing water to penetrate and solubilize it. Adding calcium ions spurs the formation of nanofibrils through strong bonds between the solubilized cellulose sheets. The calcium ions boost the tensile strength of the films by about 250 percent. The production process preserves the strength and biodegradability of cellulose while rendering it transparent and flexible.[...]

Ag Barometer: Producer sentiment falls slightly in May

Tue, 07 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

After a surge in economic sentiment in April, agricultural producers said they were slightly less optimistic in May, according to the latest survey results from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. At a value of 97, the May Producer Sentiment Index was nine points lower than in April, bringing it back in line with January (98) and February (96). The index is based on a monthly survey of 400 agricultural producers. Survey responses showed that the shift came from producer feelings about current conditions rather than future expectations. The Index of Current Conditions fell from 107 in April to 83 in May, while the Index of Future Expectations fell just one point, from 105 to 104. Increased pessimism is likely due in part to falling livestock prices, according to Jim Mintert, director of Purdues Center for Commercial Agriculture, professor of agricultural economics and principal investigator for the barometer. "Some of the decline in producer sentiment in May can likely be attributed to changing perceptions about the livestock sector," he said. "In May, just 36 percent of producers surveyed expected widespread good times for livestock producers over the next five years, which is a substantial drop from the 46 percent in April who expected good times for livestock production." One explanation for the drop is price declines in feeder and live cattle. June live-cattle futures traded above $130 per hundredweight as recently as March. By mid-April, those prices fell to $122, and in early May they hit $115. Feeder cattle futures followed suit, which Mintert said diminished profit prospects for both cattle feeders and cow-calf producers. In contrast, crop sector sentiment exhibited a modest decline from April to May. "In short, the sentiment regarding the future for livestock producers, which had been strong, showed signs of eroding relative to expectations about the future for crop producers," Mintert said. In the May survey, producers also were asked about their expectations for farmland values. This same question was also part of the surveys in November, February and March, which gave resear[...]

Purdue report: Applying too much nitrogen is wasteful, risky

Mon, 06 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Using more than the recommended amount of nitrogen-based fertilizers on a corn field is a waste of money and could pose environmental risks, two Purdue Extension agronomists say in an updated report. Applying more than enough nitrogen is no longer the cheap insurance it once was many years ago, said Jim Camberato, soil fertility specialist and co-author of Nitrogen Management Guidelines for Corn in Indiana. High nitrogen fertilizer costs and environmental impacts should encourage growers to critically evaluate their nitrogen management program, including application rate, fertilizer material and timing. Nitrogen is the most expensive nutrient used in corn production. If applied properly, it makes individual plants stronger and increases yield. Beyond some level of applied nitrogen, grain yield stops increasing with more additions, said co-author Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist. Consequently, applying more nitrogen than the crop requires is dollar wasteful and environmentally distasteful. Plants are able to use only a certain amount of nitrogen, depending on the soil type, weather conditions and other factors. Excess nitrogen can be lost by leaching or runoff or by passing off as vapor through volatilization, potentially polluting the air or water systems. In the report, Camberato and Nielsen provide updated, region-specific guidelines for nitrogen use based on field trials throughout Indiana. For corn grown after soybean, the economic optimum nitrogen rate, or EONR - based on corn grain at $3.50 per bushel and nitrogen fertilizer at 40 cents per pound - varied considerably across the state. The authors conclude the EONR for the medium and fine-textured soils commonly found in the southern and west-central regions of the state is 176 pounds of nitrogen per acre. The EONR for the northwest and north-central regions is 183 pounds, 201 pounds for the central region, 220 pounds for the east-central region, and 223 pounds for the northeast region. Non-irrigated sandy soils have an EONR of 191 pounds per acre. Any previously applied spring or at-planting nitrogen or[...]

USAID representative to discuss global food security challenges in Monday address

Mon, 06 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Margot Ellis, deputy assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will discuss the importance of U.S. government strategies and university research in tackling global food security challenges on Monday (June 6) at Purdue University. Ellis's talk, "Feed the Future: Meeting the Challenges of Global Food Security," is the keynote address of the Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security. The address is at 9:00 AM in Room 121 of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and is open to the public. Ellis will discuss how the government's Feed the Future initiative builds upon the yield-boosting successes of the Green Revolution and supports U.S. policies in improving the world's food security. She will also talk about U.S.-led strategies to empower women in agriculture and improve resiliency to global food crises caused by epidemics and climate change. The address will be followed by a question-and-answer session. "Margot Ellis has played a crucial role in leading global initiatives in humanitarian assistance over the past 25 years," said Gary Burniske, managing director of the Center for Global Food Security in Purdue's Discovery Park. "Working in highly influential positions, she has helped translate policy into boots-on-the-ground efforts to address hunger and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and in vulnerable regions around the world." Prior to her appointment as Deputy Assistant to the Administrator in USAID's Bureau for Food Security, Ellis served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and Deputy Commissioner-General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Northern Indiana Dairy Trail to celebrate past, future of dairy industry

Fri, 03 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A series of farm tours this summer will allow families to explore modern dairy farming practices in northern Indiana. The Northern Indiana Dairy Trail, co-sponsored by Purdue Extension, will take place June 18 and 25, with five to six dairy farms open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. each day. Participants will have an opportunity to visit each farm's facilities and talk with the operators about animal care and feeding, milk production, and the influence of dairy farming on the community and environment. Visitors may tour as many farms as they like each day. All tours and events, including milk and yogurt tastings and children's activities, are free. The 12 participating farms are in Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble and St. Joseph counties, which together contain 28 percent of all dairy cows in the state. Farms on the trail range in size from 110 to more than 3,000 cows. "Each of these outstanding farms does something a little different in how they produce milk," said Kelly Heckaman, Kosciusko County Extension director. "Each has a different herd size. Some have robots, some have automatic calf feeders, one is organic, one has a digester and one is Amish. We wanted a representative cross section of the dairy industry in northern Indiana." A panel of private and public volunteers and sponsors, including the American Dairy Association Indiana and Indiana Dairy Producers, organize the Diary Trail. Funding for the event comes from more than 40 industry and state sources. In addition to the focus on modern dairy farming, some farms will feature displays and activities based on historical farming methods as part of Indianas bicentennial celebration. The trail has been designated a Bicentennial Legacy Project by the state. No registration is required. Volunteers and tour guides will assist with parking and guide visitors around each farm. For more information about the participating farms and the history of the Dairy Trail project, visit

Seedling blight possible in young Indiana soybean plants

Fri, 03 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Soybean farmers with plants that have emergence issues should consider that seedling blight diseases might be the cause, a Purdue Extension field crops pathologist says. This would especially be the case in fields that were planted before the cool, wet conditions that persisted across Indiana in recent weeks, Kiersten Wise said. "Several different organisms can cause seedling blight diseases under a range of environmental conditions," she said. "There are several different seedling blights that can occur in soybean, and, unfortunately, they are difficult to diagnose in a field." Symptoms include wilting or discolored seedlings, poor stand establishment and seedlings with discolored or rotted roots. Wise said farmers who suspect that their plants have seedling blight should submit samples to a diagnostic laboratory such as the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory for testing. That would either confirm the disease or determine that the problem might be the result of herbicide injury or simply too much moisture. A video with Wise and Gail Ruhl, senior plant disease diagnostician at PPDL, showing farmers how to properly take samples from their field and submit them for testing is available at The website includes links to publications, sponsored by the North Central Soybean Research Program and United Soybean Board, that can help farmers and agribusiness staff understand and manage soybean seedling diseases. More information about the Purdue PPDL is available at

Purdue helps to found Agricultural Data Coalition

Thu, 02 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University has become a founding member of the Agricultural Data Coalition, a group formed to build a central repository where farmers can safely store and manage their farm's production information. Extracting more value from yield maps, soil tests, remote sensing, equipment sensors and dozens of other sources should help farmers better understand their growing environment and in turn fuel innovation and drive efficiency on the farm. The process of turning that data into knowledge and eventually management enhancements will be streamlined by storing and transmitting information in a centralized and usable way. "As the amount of data collected on farms grows exponentially, farmers and their service providers are transforming how data is captured, analyzed and utilized to make decisions or recommendations," said Joe Anderson, head of the Department of Agronomy, Thursday (June 2) in announcing Purdue's participation in the Agricultural Data Coalition. "ADC is focused on giving farmers the tools needed to maximize their asset's value." Once the repository is built, farmers will be able to upload information and manage who has access to it through the equivalent of an online banking system. The ADC will then securely transmit the data to whomever the farmer instructs - whether they be data service providers, university researchers, insurance agents, government officials, farm managers, input providers or any trusted adviser. "We are proud to be at the forefront of an effort that will have such a profound impact on Indiana's agricultural community," said Bruce Erickson, agronomy education distance and outreach director, who will coordinate activities for Purdue in this venture. "We have seen how data analytics has transformed other industries. There has been good progress made in agriculture, but the opportunities are immense." Other ADC founding members are AGCO, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn University, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Mississippi [...]

Purdue Extension educator Burbrink assists with Obama town hall meeting

Thu, 02 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

When organizers of a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama in Elkhart needed people in agriculture to be in the audience, they went to Jeff Burbrink, Purdue Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Elkhart County. They knew he had strong local connections in his work, so they asked him to bring several representatives of the agriculture community to the meeting that was held Wednesday (June 1). He brought dairy, beef and swine producers; a row crop farmer, a fruit and vegetables producer; and a conservationist. They were among about 100 people who met with Obama at the Lerner Theater. The town hall was broadcast as a PBS NewsHour special program and was moderated by Gwin Ifill. Two people who Burbrink brought to the meeting had the opportunity to ask questions of Obama. Fifth-generation fruits and vegetables grower Bill Kercher, a Purdue graduate, expressed concern to Obama about increased federal regulations, which affect all aspects of our business. He wanted to know how young people can be encouraged to be small-operation farmers when the barriers to entry are higher than ever. Obama said his administration wants farmers to succeed but conceded that some regulations have hindered small businesses such as family farms. He said regulations that have not worked well need to be reviewed and possibly eliminated. Local famer Dean Rink told Obama he is spending 22 percent of his income on health care in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, even though his subsidy has been decreased and his income has been about the same. Obama responded to Rink that his subsidy should not have decreased if his income stayed more or less the same unless there was a significant change in his tax status. The president said he would try to find out about that. Burbrink said someone met briefly with Rink immediately after the program to get more information from him. So it looks like he will get some assistan[...]

Long-Range Forecast

Thu, 02 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Keith Cherkauer is an engineer, ​not a meteorologist. He can't tell you if it will rain tomorrow. That's weather. But Cherkauer, an expert in hydrology at the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, thinks he knows what kind of conditions Midwest farmers will be facing in a hundred years. "A lot like 2015, with wet springs and hot, dry summers," he says. That's climatehow conditions develop over a long time. In 2015, extreme weather events widely attributed to climate change were headline news. Globally, it was the warmest year in history, breaking the record set just the year before. Deadly heat waves were reported in India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and throughout Europe; floods in Ghana and Myanmar; droughts in Brazil and California. Unprecedented and unpredictable weather roiled agricultural markets and raised fears of a potential long-term threat to the global food supply. Back home, Indiana had its wettest two-month period on record in June and July, followed by near-drought conditions in August and September. Fields that were flooded in spring were parched by late summer. Farmers increasingly are finding that they have either too much water or not enough of it. "We need to be planning for water use," Cherkauer says. "The question is, how do we better manage our water resources?" Managing Farm Water Could Be a Key to Preserving Water Quality​​​​ Weather and Climate Weather patterns can change noticeably over short periods, especially in years such as 2015 when strong El Nio or La Nia systems add to the atmospheric instability. Climate change happens gradually and almost imperceptibly to untrained observers. Researchers say the trend is real and unmistakable. "The climate is already changing," says Jeffrey Dukes, Purdue professor of forestry, natural resources and biological sciences and director of the Climate Change Center. "Temperatures have increased quite a bit over the last century or so. [...]

Beginning Farmer workshop series starts in New Albany

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

New and aspiring farmers will learn more about production systems, business planning and other agribusiness topics in a series of regional workshops sponsored by Purdue Extension's Beginning Farmer program. The first workshop is set for noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute in New Albany. Discussion will focus on food safety issues, available resources for beginning farmers, livestock production systems, beekeeping and on-farm animal processing. Participants will also have an opportunity to network with Purdue Extension educators and other agribusiness professionals. Future workshops will be held at locations throughout the state. "Each workshop will cover a variety of different issues that are important to beginning farmers and small-scale producers," said Tamara Benjamin, one of the coordinators of the Beginning Farmer program. "Our goal is to provide practical, real-world guidance and to help participants develop their own professional support networks." Workshop dates and locations: Aug. 20 - Purdue Polytechnic Institute, 3000 Technology Ave., New Albany. Nov. 15 - Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, 1010 Teal Road, Lafayette. Nov. 19 - Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, 2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard, Fort Wayne. Dec. 14 - Normandy Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St., Indianapolis. The workshops are free, but registration is required. For more information, contact Benjamin at 765-496-1930, To sign up for the Aug. 20 event, go to The Beginning Farmer program is also offering a series of farm tours through October at locations throughout the state. For more information on the tour series, or to sign up, go to

Tapping citizen scientists to test water quality can yield valuable data

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

With a little training and simple equipment, members of the public can generate data that provides valuable insights into the health of local streams, a Purdue University study shows. Twice a year, hundreds of volunteers participate in the Wabash Sampling Blitz, a water-quality monitoring program in central Indiana. Over four hours, they collect water samples from 206 sites within the region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed and assess the samples for temperature, pH, water cloudiness, levels of nutrient runoff and pathogen concentrations. The Blitz proffers local watershed managers far more information about the water quality of the Wabash and its tributaries than they could gather on their own. But how valid is the data? Purdue researchers found that Blitz volunteers proved consistently able to estimate nitrogen concentrations in the water with "moderate to substantial agreement to lab values," said Indrajeet Chaubey, principal author of the study and professor of ecohydrology. This graphic shows location and land use of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed from the 2001 U.S. Geological Survey Land Cover Dataset. (Muenich et al.) Download image "Volunteers' analysis of nitrogen levels were directionally correct," he said. "When you hone in on exact numbers, the accuracy gets cloudier, but the values are generally true. This suggests that citizen scientists can provide meaningful and highly valuable data for watershed groups." According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 52 percent of assessed streams in the U.S. have degraded water quality. Agricultural operations, in particular, can be sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, which can leach or drain off into waterways. The majority of the land that drains to the Wabash River is used for row crop agriculture, and the watershed is also home to the urban areas of [...]

Workshop covers seed treatment technology, safety

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A Purdue Extension workshop in northern Indiana will give farmers and agribusiness professionals an overview of seed treatment safety and regulations. The workshop will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. June 23 at the Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center, 4821 E. County Road 400 S, Columbia City. Topics include insecticidal seed treatment, state regulations, pesticide breakdown in soil systems and production management. The workshop will feature speakers from Purdue's agronomy and entomology departments, the Office of Indiana State Chemist and Agrilead Inc. The workshop is open to the public. Credit will be available for farmers seeking their Category 4 seed treatment license and certified crop adviser license. "The goal of this workshop is for participants to learn the latest technologies and research updates, while hearing about ways to protect themselves," said Ed Farris, Extension educator in Huntington County. "There are safety issues surrounding seed treatments so we want people to be able to treat seed effectively, efficiently and safely and at the same time earn credits toward their licenses." Registration of $75 is due by June 17. Participants can download the registration form at For more information, contact Farris at 260-358-4826 or

Crop management, diagnostic sessions at Pinney Purdue center

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Agribusiness professionals, consultants and educators who work with farmers will learn new strategies for identifying and responding to a variety of crop problems at two workshops beginning in June at Purdue University's Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center near Wanatah. Participants will gain practical knowledge that will help them assist farmers in managing the nutrient, pest and environmental factors that influence crop growth. The workshops are presented by experts from the Purdue Extension field crops team. The schedule: * June 22, 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. CDT: Early-Season Diagnostic Workshop. Early-season corn and soybean growth and development, weed management update, herbicide performance plots, irrigation management and insect pest management while protecting pollinators. Cost is $50. * Sept. 7, 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. CDT: Late-Season Diagnostic Workshop. Late-season plant disease identification and management, corn and soybean growth, development and harvest issues, end-of-season nutrient and weed management, and cover crops establishment. Cost is $50. In addition, the annual Pinney Purdue Field Day will be held on Aug. 24 for farmers, professionals and the public. More details about the field day will be available this month. Continuing education credits will be available for crop advisers, commercial (CCH) and private applicators (PARP, with $10 fee). Farmers are reminded to bring their pesticide applicator cards for registration. Lunch is included. Registration is required at least one week before each workshop. For more information, go to and click on "Agriculture" for a registration form and flier. For specific details and available credits, contact Purdue Extension at 219-324-9407. Pinney Purdue Ag Center is at 11402 S. County Line Road about two miles we[...]

Purdue researchers survey 'ethical consumerism' views

Tue, 31 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Research at Purdue University draws a connection between lifestyles choices and demographics of consumers and how they view not only their own social responsibility in their buying decisions but also that of corporations. The study on "ethical consumerism" brings attention to how consumers' attitudes regarding socio-ethical issues might align with their expectations for corporate social responsibility, or CSR. "Collectively, this analysis suggests that a wide array of ethical concerns are considered by many U.S. consumers in their current purchasing behaviors and that the values underlying their actions may indeed hold implications for consumer perceptions of and support for corporations and their CSR initiatives," the researchers wrote in their report "Exploring Relationships between Ethical Consumption, Lifestyle Choices, and Social Responsibility." The research was conducted by Nicole Olynk Widmar, associate professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture; agricultural economics master's student Carissa Morgan; and Candace Croney, associate professor of comparative pathobiology and animal sciences in the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture. Their study builds on existing research involving consumer social responsibility behaviors. The researchers conducted an online survey of 1,201 U.S. consumers in April 2015, targeted to be representative of the U.S. population in gender, age, income and geographic region of residence. Women, younger respondents and more educated respondents were more likely to value and support environmental protection aspects of social responsibility in their consumption behaviors, the researchers found. Women and younger respondents also were more sensitive to animal welfare concerns, as were vegetarians and vegans, w[...]

Honeybees pick up host of agricultural, urban pesticides via non-crop plants

Tue, 31 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season. Christian Krupke, professor of entomology, and then-postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Long collected pollen from Indiana honeybee hives at three sites over 16 weeks to learn which pollen sources honeybees use throughout the season and whether they are contaminated with pesticides. The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids - common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, insecticides typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests. "Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected," said Krupke. "The sheer numbers of pesticides we found in pollen samples were astonishing. Agricultural chemicals are only part of the problem. Homeowners and urban landscapes are big contributors, even when hives are directly adjacent to crop fields." Long, now an assistant professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, said she was also "surprised and concerned" by the diversity of pesticides found in pollen. "If you care about bees as a homeowner, only use insecticides when you really need to because bees will come into contact with them," she said. The study suggests that overall levels of pesticide exposure for honeybees in the Corn Belt could be co[...]

Eliminating mosquito breeding sites can help reduce risk of Zika, West Nile virus in Indiana

Wed, 25 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Taking steps to knock out potential mosquito breeding sites can greatly reduce the risk of Zika and West Nile virus in Indiana as the local mosquito season ramps up, says Purdue University medical entomologist Catherine Hill. According to recently revised maps from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, the possible geographical range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary vector of the Zika virus, could include southeast Indiana. The estimated range of the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which is also capable of transmitting Zika, could cover most of the state. Indiana is already home to species of Culex mosquitoes, the vectors of West Nile virus. Because Culex and Aedesmosquitoes typically breed in containers, eliminating these sites can go a long way toward both reducing the transmission of West Nile virus and preventing Zika from becoming established in Indiana, said Hill, Showalter Faculty Scholar. "This is a two-for-one deal," she said. "While the chance of Zika infecting local mosquito populations is probably low, we can further reduce this risk by controlling Aedesmosquitoes. These steps have the added bonus of helping us control the mosquitoes that vector West Nile virus, a perennial problem in the state." Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been detected occasionally in Indiana - probably brought in via imported goods such as used tires, Hill said - but local populations are not likely to become established because they cannot survive the winter. Still, the mosquitoes could produce several generations in the summer, heightening the need for the public to exercise smart mosquito control efforts and take steps to prevent mosquito bites. "Getting rid of sites that collect water around houses, workplaces [...]

Forage specialist: Be sure hay is dry enough for storage

Wed, 25 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The rainy weather that has settled over much of Indiana for the past month has made harvesting and drying hay for safe storage more difficult, potentially raising the risk of barn fires, a Purdue Extension forage specialist says. Storing hay with a moisture content of more than 20 percent without using a preservative could allow the growth of bacteria that release heat and cause mold formation, said Keith Johnson, professor of agronomy. This process increases the inner temperature of the bales, sometimes high enough to cause spontaneous combustion. Johnson said it can take three to four weeks for temperatures to reach critical levels. He advised farmers to check stored hay regularly for warning signs of moisture or heating, including checking the temperature within stored bales and touching bales to see if they are hot. Farmers should also be alert for steam rising from bales, condensation on the walls or ceiling of the barn, mold on the outer surface of the hay or an acrid odor. Hay temperature probes are commercially available. If the internal temperature of a bale or stack is around 150 degrees, farmers should move the hay to allow air to circulate while continuing to monitor the temperature. If the temperature exceeds 175 degrees, fire may be imminent, and the fire department should be called. Smoldering hay can ignite and burn rapidly when exposed to air, so if fire is suspected, farmers should not attempt to move the hay themselves, Johnson said. To help forage dry faster when cut, farmers can lay it in a wide swath with a mower-conditioner, Johnson said. This exposes the hay to more sunlight and helps it dry faster. Additionally, the mower-conditioner crimps the stems of the hay, a[...]

Program to help non-financial managers think like CFOs

Wed, 25 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University's Agribusiness Finance for Non-Financial Managers program will offer deeper understanding of financial management responsibilities and how they fit into broader organizational goals. The workshop-style program, which runs July 26-29, is designed specifically to help mid- to upper-level managers who don't work in finance gain a better understanding of business from a financial standpoint. It will be at the Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52, West Lafayette. Purdue faculty experts Michael Boehlje, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, and Michael Gunderson, associate director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business, will present the program alongside Jaclyn Kropp, assistant professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida. "The goal isn't for these managers to do the accounting but to use accounting statements strategically and understand the relationships between accounting statements and what they do in their everyday jobs," said Gunderson, also an associate professor of agricultural economics specializing in finance. "We want to build financial vocabulary and help participants understand how chief financial officers think so that they can have improved conversations. That way, these managers can be more persuasive when they have good ideas that could positively impact financial outcomes." Program topics include thinking like a CFO, financial statements, financial evaluation, financial concepts-profitability analysis and financial management-practical tools for examining profitability. Participants will understand how their daily decisions affect company profitability, learn to use financial statement[...]

Teen 4-H members invited to apply to dairy youth academy

Tue, 24 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Applications are being accepted for a 4-H program that gives teens a firsthand look at agribusiness management in the dairy industry. The Indiana 4-H Dairy Youth Academy is a yearlong program open to teens entering 10th through 12th grades this fall, who are currently enrolled in the 4-H program and who are interested in pursuing careers in the dairy industry. Accepted students will develop leadership and communication skills while interacting with dairy industry professionals and learning about veterinary science and agribusiness management. Applications for the academy are due June 1 and are available at A panel of Purdue Extension and industry representatives will select the top 14 delegates, based on their written applications and demonstrated leadership. After being accepted, the cost of attendance is $150. The purpose of the academy is to help teens explore dairy career options and develop leadership and communication skills by exposing them to facets of the industry, including crop and herd management, business management techniques and veterinary science. Delegates will attend the National 4-H Dairy Youth Conference; attend technology, finance and leadership workshops; tour dairy facilities across the Midwest; and participate in demonstrations at the Indiana State Fair. "The Indiana 4-H Dairy Youth Academy program is a unique opportunity for youth," said Megan Hoffherr, 4-H youth development Extension educator. "It combines a love for the dairy industry with leadership and career readiness development. Participants will gain international experience and meet other Indiana youth who share[...]

Farm Management Tour highlights innovative northwest Indiana farms

Tue, 24 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

This year's Purdue Farm Management Tour will include stops at four northwest Indiana farms, focusing on innovative methods to improve soil health and nutrient management with the goal of improving profitability. The tour, sponsored by Purdue Extension and the Center for Commercial Agriculture, will take place June 23-24 in Jasper and Newton counties. "This is an opportunity for farmers, agribusiness professionals and anyone interested in agriculture and food production to see firsthand how Indiana's farmers are adopting new technologies and practices to ensure a safe, secure and sustainable food supply while also improving profitability," said Jim Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture and a tour organizer. Each stop includes an interview session with farm operators. The tour schedule (all times CDT): * June 23, 1 p.m. - Styck Family Farms. The interview will take place at the Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Dairy. Participants will learn how the Styck family incorporates cover crops, irrigation and tile drainage to improve profitability on their challenging sandy soils. Operators will discuss their use of a high-clearance sprayer to seed cover crops in addition to the opportunities and challenges they face in growing specialty crop soybeans in northwest Indiana. * June 23, 2:30 p.m. - Fair Oaks Dairy. This nutrient management interview will also take place at the Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Dairy. The environmental manager at Fair Oaks will explain how this large-scale dairy's approach to dairy cattle manure management has evolved over time with an emphasis on their recently impleme[...]

Purdue study: Designing cities to combat climate change possible

Mon, 23 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Urban planners can take steps to reduce the heat cities may experience from climate change, but there would be other consequences and tradeoffs to consider, according to a study at Purdue University. Dev Niyogi, a Purdue University professor of agronomy and earth, atmospheric and planetary science and Indianas state climatologist, wanted to know what effect, if any, urban planning could have on mitigating rising temperatures associated with urban heating and climate change. The amount of concrete and lack of vegetation in many large cities could make those places heat islands, where temperatures rise higher than in the suburbs or rural areas. Are there ways the two synergize and make the combination of climate change and urbanization worse? Niyogi said. Or are there ways that we can utilize urban form and function in a way that can help us mitigate what is happening with climate change? Niyogi and colleague Long Yang, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University who had been a visiting scholar at Purdue, looked to Beijing, China, as a model. The two collaborated with researchers from Tsinghua University, IBM and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The city is developing in different ways, with some concentration in the city as well as areas where satellites cities are branching out. It is sort of emblematic of the rapid urbanization taking place, Niyogi said. Yang said most studies look at thermal loading as cities develop, but little is known about how the design of a city can affect its heat. In this scenario, they considered population doubling and either bei[...]

Prokopy selected for Purdue’s Spirit of Land-Grant Mission Award

Mon, 23 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Purdue University forestry and natural resources professor Linda Prokopywill receive the 2016 Corinne Alexander Spirit of the Land-Grant Mission Award for her work in soil and water resources management. The award is presented yearly to a Purdue faculty member in the colleges of Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences or Veterinary Medicine whose work exemplifies the university's land-grant mission of discovery, engagement and learning. Alexanders name was added to the award in honor of the agricultural economics professor who died in January. Dr. Prokopy has contributed greatly to the research, Extension and education missions of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture and Purdue University, said Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and associate dean in the College of Agriculture. She has done this in truly successful, integrative ways that help people care more for the environment and our precious natural resources. Prokopys programs have focused on the role of decision-making in natural resource management. Her research and Extension work generally fits into three overlapping areas: conservation behaviors of farmers, agricultural adaptation to climate change and social dimensions of watershed management. Prokopy has published 77 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, seven Extension publications and four opinion articles for the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation and the Journal of Extension, and her work has been cited by many other scholars. She received the Soil and Water Conservation Societ[...]

Rain holding back Indiana's planting progress

Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

After a brief stretch of dry weather midweek, rain was expected to return to parts of central and southern Indiana Friday night into Saturday (May 19 and 20), dealing another setback to farmers who have fallen significantly behind schedule in planting the state's grain crops. According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crop Progress report released Monday (May 16), Hoosier farmers had just 45 percent of the corn crop in, compared with the five-year average of 61 percent and 68 percent at this time last year. Analysts were especially concerned about the lack of progress during the week ending May 15. With fields in many parts of the state muddy and inaccessible, only 7 percent of the crop was planted during what should have been one of the busiest weeks of the season. "The rains have certainly been a problem," said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist. "A late start doesn't necessarily mean lower yields, but we have to hope the weather starts to cooperate soon." Further delays could force some farmers to switch to shorter-season hybrids, which could be less productive than full-season varieties, or plant soybeans instead, Nielsen said. The Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue, said precipitation has been above normal for the past month in nearly all parts of the state, especially in southern counties. And there have been few warm, sunny days to help dry out rain-soaked fields. "It's cold and wet and the farmers are understandably stressed," said Amanda Mosiman, Extension educator in Warrick Count[...]

Workshop to explore anaerobic digestion, renewable energy for livestock operations

Thu, 19 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

The Indiana Biomass Energy Working Group will offer a workshop at Fair Oaks Farms on management of wastes from large-scale livestock operations, including anaerobic digestion, a mechanism for transforming biological waste into bioenergy. The Anaerobic Digestion and Phosphorus Recovery Project will be 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST June 3. The workshop, co-sponsored by Purdue Extension, will begin at the Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms, 856 N. 600 E, Fair Oaks, and end with a tour of the anaerobic digester at Fair Oaks Farm in Lake Village. Session topics include nutrient management with manure and biosolids, overviews of available resource guides for feedstock and digesters, and opportunities in electricity, transportation fuel and other forms of renewable energy made possible by anaerobic digestion. The purpose of the workshop is to alert Indiana livestock owners to opportunities in renewable energy and nutrient management, said Chad Martin, Purdue Extension renewable energy specialist in Purdue University's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. "We want to help uncover the opportunities found within nutrient management practices associated with large-scale livestock operations, as well as the opportunities within the field of renewable energy in Indiana," said Martin, who is working with Jiqin Ni, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, to coordinate the workshop. The anaerobic digester at Fair Oaks Farms, installed in the summer of 2008, produces [...]

Purdue survey finds 'agritourists' have environmental concerns

Tue, 17 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

While most agricultural tourists responding to a Purdue University survey indicated that agriculture is an important industry, those who said they had visited a livestock farm tended to have concerns about how animal feeding operations affect water quality in their county. The results suggest that livestock producers who open their operations to "agritourists" will have a receptive audience but should be prepared to potentially address questions about environmental concerns, said Nicole Olynk Widmar, associate professor of agricultural economics and co-author of the study Exploring Agritourism Experience and Perceptions of Pork Production. "We can safely say that agriculture professionals are increasingly aware of how the industry is perceived by the media and consumers," Widmar said. "We hope this data provides context for future studies that could help us better understand changing perceptions about agriculture and the demographics of people who participate in agritourism." The study was designed to measure the demographics and attitudes of people who have visited a working farm or food production facility and compare those to people who have not visited an agricultural production operation. Researchers conducted an online survey of 857 U.S. households from July 23 to Aug. 6, 2014. The survey was administered by the market research firm Lightspeed GMI and targeted to be representative of the overall U.S. adult population for age, gender, pre-tax income and region of residenc[...]

Top Farmer Conference to explore growth opportunities, demand

Tue, 17 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Farmers and agribusiness professionals can learn about the agricultural business climate, strategies to successfully grow their operations and implications for agricultural producers of changing consumer demand July 7-8 at Purdue University's annual Top Farmer Conference. Farm management experts and agricultural economists from Purdue, the University of Illinois, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and EMI Analytics will guide participants to analyze financial challenges and opportunities for their operations. "There has been a major shift in agriculture's financial climate over the last couple of years, and margins have significantly tightened - especially in the crops sector," said Jim Mintert, Purdue agricultural economics professor and director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture. "We've developed this year's conference with that in mind. We want producers and agribusiness professionals alike to really understand the current economic climate and identify strategies that will position their operations for future growth and success." The conference, in its 49th year, will be at Purdue's Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52, West Lafayette. It starts with registration at 7:30 a.m. on July 7 and concludes by 4 p.m. on July 8. Session topics and presenters: * "The Business Climate: Current Perceptions and an Outline for the Future," Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president and lead expert in agricultural economics for the Federal Reserve B[...]

Tyner: Gasoline prices should stay low for summer despite supply disruptions

Mon, 16 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Current supplies of gasoline and expected production this year should keep prices at the fuel pump 40-60 cents per gallon lower than last summer despite supply disruptions that have pushed prices higher in recent months, especially in the Midwest, Purdue University energy economist Wally Tyner says. "We enter the summer season with gasoline and crude oil markets a bit out of kilter," he said. Tyner said U.S. crude oil and gasoline supplies are above normal, which would suggest that prices should fall. But he noted that several disruptions in supplies globally have moved prices higher. Crude oil prices have increased about 80 percent since January, from $26 per barrel then to $47 on Monday (May 16). "Yet all the forecasts call for global production to exceed consumption through the end of 2016," he said. "So what, we might ask, is going on?" Here's the situation, as Tyner explains it: * There have been long-term supply issues in Nigeria and Venezuela. Production in Nigeria is at a 22-year low because, in part, of civil war, and political instability in Venezuela "continues to put a drag on production," he said. * A labor strike in Kuwait halted production there for several days. That strike has now ended. * The biggest disruption affecting the Midwest involves the Canadian oil sands, where a widespread fire in Alberta province shut down Canadian oil sand production. Although the fire was not in the oil sands area, it destroy[...]

Strong interest in Purdue forum on well-being of dogs

Mon, 16 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Registration for a new Purdue Extension forum on the care, welfare and societal issues associated with breeding of dogs has sold out, underscoring the increasing need for expert, science-based information on how to ensure the well-being of companion animals. Among the registrants for the Canine Welfare Science Forum on Thursday (May 19) are breeders, scientists, veterinarians and policymakers, among others concerned about the ethical treatment of dogs. The forum, which can hold 200 people, is a joint presentation of the colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. "This is Purdue's leadership in action, but it's also the interest and collaboration among breeders, policymakers, thought influencers and other stakeholders in animal welfare that is really making this possible," said Candace Croney, associate professor of animal behavior and well-being in both colleges and the lead organizer of the forum. Croney, who is leading research to develop national standards for the care and well-being of dogs bred commercially, said the treatment of such dogs is a major issue in the pet industry and among the public. An update on the research will be presented. "It's a time for positive action based on science, ethics and collaboration," she said. "That is what this meeting is about - sharing information to help us work together in trying to meet all of the welfare needs of dogs." Croney also is director [...]

Hurt: Now could be the time to switch to soybeans

Wed, 11 May 2016 04:00:00 GMT

Farmers who have been delayed in planting corn could take advantage of a market rally in soybeans and switch to that crop, Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt says. Soybean prices surged Tuesday (May 10) after a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed a sharp reduction in global soybean inventories and stronger-than-anticipated demand for U.S. exports. "Delayed planting this spring may actually turn out to be a financial blessing if farmers end up planting more soybean acres," Hurt said. "Soybean prices have been rising rapidly this spring while corn prices have increased much more slowly." Since March 1, soybean prices have risen 25 percent, or $2.20 per bushel, while corn prices are up only 4 percent, or about 14 cents per bushel. "Given prospects for high priced soybeans and low priced corn, the financial incentive to shift intended corn acres to soybeans has reached new highs," Hurt said. Based on crop budgets projected by Purdue agricultural economists, soybean farmers stand to earn $116 more per acre than corn producers this year. "This is one of the highest incentives to shift from one crop to another we have ever seen," Hurt said. Soybean prices have been moving steadily higher since January, buoyed by a weaker U.S. dollar, which triggered unexpectedly high demand from China, the largest export market for U.S. beans. A weaker dollar makes U.S. exports [...]

Website helps farmers identify, respond to corn ear rots
A website developed by plant pathologists from Purdue University and a nationwide partnership of research institutions could help farmers better understand and respond to the threat of mycotoxins and ear rots in corn. The site, Corn Mycotoxins, includes management information as well as photo and video reference materials about Aspergillus, Diplodia, Fusarium and Gibberella - the four most common and economically significant ear rots. The website also provides information on how to properly store moldy grain and the characteristics of various types of mycotoxins. Ear rots occur when certain fungi infect corn. Several of those fungi produce mycotoxins, which accumulate in grain. Mycotoxins can be harmful to livestock and humans if contaminated grain is used in livestock feed or human food products. Mycotoxins are natural chemicals that are very stable and not easily eliminated from contaminated grain, said Charles Woloshuk, professor of botany and plant pathology and member of the website development team. "Prevention is the most effective management strategy to reducing the impact of ear rots and mycotoxins," Woloshuk said. "We created the website to make management information readily accessible to farmers and agribusiness personnel so they can take appropriate precautions to prevent ear rots and manage mycotoxins if they occur in the grain." The website is a product of the Integrated Management Strategies for Aspergillus and Fusarium Ear Rots of Corn project, which was established in 2012 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of the project is to coordinate and promote a research and Extension collaboration that provides corn producers with new tools for managing ear rots and mycotoxins. In addition to the USDA and Purdue, participating institutions are the University of Arkansas, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University and Texas A