Seed World

Cross Pollination

NCGA’s Corn Yield Contest Pushes the Boundaries

Sonny Ramaswamy

Randy Dowdy of Valdosta, Georgia, hit an all-time high yield of 503 bushels per acre in the National Corn Growers Association 2014 National Corn Yield Contest, now in its 50th year. Of the more than 8,000 entries, six entrants surpassed 400-plus bushels of corn. Advanced production techniques, informed growing practices and improved seed varieties helped corn growers achieve these high yields.
“While this contest provides individual growers a chance for good-natured competition with their peers, it also advances farming as a whole,” says Don Glenn, NCGA chairman of the Production and Stewardship Action Team. “The techniques and practices contest winners develop provide the basis for widely used advances that help farmers across the country excel in a variety of situations, including drought. This contest highlights how innovation, from both growers and technology providers, allows us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

“We are on the cusp of seeing incredible advancement in the use of robotics and sensors supporting agriculture in this country.”
— Sonny Ramaswamy

Advancing Robotics to Improve Production Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the release of $3 million worth of grants to advance the use of robotics in American agriculture production. “We are on the cusp of seeing incredible advancement in the use of robotics and sensors supporting agriculture in this country,” says Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “These technologies, which are components of the ‘internet of agriculture things,’ have the ability to make agriculture production more efficient, saving time and money — benefits that can be passed on from producers to consumers.”
The four grants are part of the National Robotics Initiative, a federal research collaboration of NIFA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense.

Coalition Launches Growing Matters

growing matters logoBayer CropScience, Syngenta and Valent USA came together to form a coalition, called Growing Matters, that seeks to present the stories, facts and expert research outlining key issues around crop production and plant protection. The website,, features a number of studies that highlight the value of neonicotinoid insecticides and seed treatments. For example, one study of North American corn, soybean and canola farmers, conducted by independent agricultural economists with AgInformatics LLC, finds that the value of neonicotinoid seed treatments is among the highest of all insect management practices. The research examined the pest management operations of farmers in the United State and Canada, including the use of non-monetary factor analysis and econometric methods, to estimate a total farmer value of $1.4 billion in these crops — surpassing the value of alternative practices. In addition, research shows a loss of neonicotinoids would force growers to rely on a few, older classes of insecticides. More foliar sprays of broad-spectrum insecticides would be used in place of targeted seed or soil treatments. Across selected commodity crops evaluated, the study found that each pound of neonicotinoid lost would be replaced by nearly five pounds of older insecticides. The consequences of this change would result in reduced crop yield and quality, disrupted pest management practices impacting beneficial insects including honeybees and, in some cases, catastrophic damage due to a lack of suitable alternatives to manage invasive pests.