Agriculture news

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Researchers identify first cases of bovine kobuvirus in U.S.

Bovine kobuvirus is so new to scientists that there’s a lot they still don’t know about about the disease. First discovered in Japan in 2003, bovine kobuvirus is now known to have made its ways to the U.S. The findings have been published in a report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Bovine kobuvirus belongs to a family of viruses known as Picornaviridae, which includes Rhinovirus, a source of head colds and sinus infections in humans; and Poliovirus, which causes polio.

Previous studies conducted elsewhere in the world have found bovine kobuvirus in fecal samples of cattle with diarrhea. The new study confirmed this association by sequencing the microbial DNA in samples from cattle in the U.S. and analyzing the intestines of two calves that died after infection.

“Only bovine kobuvirus was detected in both cases,” said University of Illinois veterinary clinical medicine professor Dr. Leyi Wang, who led the new study. “This provides evidence that this virus is the causative agent for calf diarrhea.”

So far, no other negative associations with bovine infection have been observed. However, since almost no one in North America is looking for the virus in cattle or other species, it remains to be seen how this emerging disease agent influences health, Wang said.

“Continued surveillance of bovine kobuvirus is urgently needed to determine how widespread it is,” Wang said. “Scientists have access to only a few genetic sequences of this virus in public databases. We need to be sequencing these viruses to learn more about their genetic diversity and evolution.”

Four of nine samples tested at the U. of I. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were found to harbor bovine kobuvirus, the team reported. All of the infected cows were from the state of Illinois.

Elsewhere in the world, bovine kobuvirus has been detected in about 10 countries in Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa.

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Farmers Edge expands satellite imagery technology to specialty crops

Backed by the largest private constellation of satellites in the world, digital-agriculture company Farmers Edge has begun offering its imagery and mapping technology for specialty crops, in hopes to help meet the evolving needs of growers worldwide. The FarmCommand technology integrates four imagery-derived map layers (NDVI, Scouting, Variation, and Health Change Maps), cloud filtering technology, and field-centric weather for growers to accurately identify, predict, and respond to issues before yield is impacted.

Using rapid data processing, high-resolution imagery is transformed within 48 hours, significantly faster than the average turnaround time of seven to 10 days seen elsewhere in the industry, and with enough clarity to zero in on individual trees, or specific areas of a field so corrective action can be taken at the first sign of a problem. Advanced cloud filtering eliminates false reports of crop issues, preventing needless scouting on fields that do not require it. These advances build on the expertise Farmers Edge has developed since bringing daily satellite imagery to agriculture in 2017.

Adding a layer of efficiency, growers have access to an exclusive suite of digital tools to optimize crop production and increase the profitability of their farm, including:

  • field-centric forecasted, current, and historical conditions powered by on-farm weather stations;
  • automatic Crop Health Change Notifications to automatically detect and alert growers of changes in their fields that may impact yield, including: pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, irrigation irregularities, equipment malfunctions, and more;
  • live equipment and fleet tracking;
  • predictive crop growth stage models.

This technology is available now.

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USDA extends deadlines for DMC & MFP support programs

Due to the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events this year, the USDA extended the deadline to December 20 for producers to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage program for the 2020 calendar year. The deadline had been December 13. The USDA announced is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20.

“2019 has challenged the country’s ag sector — prevented or late planting followed by a delayed harvest has been further complicated by wet and cold weather,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Because some of our producers are still in the field, time to conduct business at the local USDA office is at a premium. We hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.”

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and available through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the program offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

The Market Facilitation Program is part of a relief strategy to support American agricultural producers while the Administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. MFP payments are aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.

For more information, visit the DMC webpage, the MFP webpage or your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit their website.

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Purina leads effort to recycle plastic feed tubs used by livestock

Purina is spearheading a campaign with other retailers and customers in the agricultural industry to collect used feed tubs and recycle them into eco-friendly options that give back to the community, such as smarter fencing, benches and more

Feed tubs are a staple in the animal nutrition industry — they house nutritional supplements for livestock, and once those tubs are licked clean, farmers and ranchers end up using them for things such as storage or as planters. Or the tubs end up stacked high in the some out-of-the-way spot on the farm, collecting dust.

That’s what Purina hopes to change.

“As our feed tub product line continues to grow, we are increasingly aware of the responsibility and opportunity to create more of a closed loop system,” says Dave Hoogmoed, president, Purina Animal Nutrition and executive vice president or Land O’Lakes Inc. “We will strive to walk the walk on sustainability.”

Image courtesy of Purina

Here’s how it works:

Purina partnered with a retailer in the Northwest and piloted a “Tub Return Program” in conjunction with Check-R-Board Days this past September, during which they offered customers discounts on new feed tubs if they brought back any old ones — including competitors’ — to be recycled. Working with Northstar Recycling, it was organized to have the used tubs sent to a plastic lumber manufacturer, Bedford Technology in Southwest Minnesota, to be recycled into lumber used in items like smarter fencing, benches, rails, and more.

The tubs from the pilot are chipped, melted, extruded into various sizes and shapes. (Fun fact: Every linear foot included in a 2-inch by 6-inch plastic lumber board contains more than 3 pounds of recycled material.)

The aim going into 2020 is to expand the recycling program to California, as well as the Southwest and Northeast U.S.

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