Monday, December 15, 2014

The Last Time Oil Crashed

The last time oil prices dropped this fast was in 2008.  Remember 2008?  We have not recovered from it, if we ever will.

I posted this article in Market Talk and got some great feedback on the article.  We are all enjoying cheaper fuel at the pump right now as that frees up money for other purchases.  When gasoline drops in half in a short period, that event is going to affect a lot of other things, too.  It could also be a sign of some very bad things to happen.

"There has only been one other time in history when the price of oil has crashed by more than 40 dollars in less than 6 months.  The last time this happened was during the second half of 2008, and the beginning of that oil price crash preceded the great financial collapse that happened later that year by several months.

Well, now it is happening again, but this time the stakes are even higher.  When the price of oil falls dramatically, that is a sign that economic activity is slowing down.  It can also have a tremendously destabilizing affect on financial markets.  As you will read about below, energy companies now account for approximately 20 percent of the junk bond market.

And a junk bond implosion is usually a signal that a major stock market crash is on the way.  So if you are looking for a “canary in the coal mine”, keep your eye on the performance of energy junk bonds.  If they begin to collapse, that is a sign that all hell is about to break loose on Wall Street."

E-85 is $1.79 in Blanchester.  That's about as low as its ever been.  My picture shows what it was not too long ago!

The discussion on market talk is very interesting.  I have a lot of farmer friends who post there I trust.  They all have some interesting points.

The point is we are all enjoying this reprieve in fuel prices.  What are the consequences?  In our tightly connected world market, when one thing goes down, so do other things.  Those things may impact our income and even our retirement.

It all looks scary to me.

Ed

Sunday, December 14, 2014

History of EWTN

I watch and listen to a lot of EWTN TV and radio.  EWTN has a very storied history.  It falls under the miracle category, too.

"When Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was launched on Aug. 15, 1981, many felt there would be little demand for a Catholic network. In fact, when Mother M. Angelica, a cloistered nun, fulfilled a promise to our Lord in the early 1960s by founding Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala., she had no idea she would one day found the largest religious media network in the world.

Who could have imagined that a cloistered nun would found a global television network? Who could have predicted that a network funded entirely by donations from “people in the pews” instead of advertising would become the largest religious media network in the world? Yet that is the story behind the EWTN Global Catholic Network.

The future Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN, was born on April 20, 1923 in southeast Canton, Ohio to Mae Gianfrancesco Rizzo and John Rizzo. The couple named their daughter Rita Antoinette Rizzo.

Realistically, no one could have expected the child to amount to much. Her parents were not religious. In fact, when Rita was only 7-years-old, her abused mother filed for divorce, which was quite a stigma in those days. Rita was so poor and her mother so mentally fragile that the child had to go to school and run her mother’s dry cleaning business at the same time. As a result, she was distrustful of outsiders, never made friends and never dated.

But Rita experienced two miracles in her pre-convent days, which changed her life. The first occurred in 1934. The 11-year-old adolescent went running for a bus – and missed seeing an oncoming car. When she finally saw the car, she froze. However, “two hands” pick her up and placed her on the median. The bus driver would later say he had never seen anyone jump so high.

Her second miracle occurred in 1942. For years, the teenager suffered from ptosis of the stomach, which made her hands shake, her left arm go numb, and her stomach spasm, which made it hard to eat or sleep, But after a visit with Mystic Rhonda Wise, Rita experienced a miraculous healing. That healing made her realize that God loved her personally – and she began to love Him back. Her love became such that on Aug. 15, 1944, she entered a Cleveland convent and became Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, a Franciscan Nun of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The order would later change its name to the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration."

Look how the prayers of one woman changed people's lives to such a great extent by doing the impossible and going out and actually doing what the answers to those prayers said to do!

Blessed Sunday to you all,

Ed Winkle


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Improve Your Soil With Radish

We've talked at great length about cover crops on this blog, especially radishes.  This article and video reminded me of the great topic of radish.

Over the past decade, radishes have been redefined; once known almost exclusively as a pungent vegetable, radishes have recently gained recognition for their cover cropping potential. After reading this article, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether cover crop radishes are worth a try on your farm.

Radishes have made rapid inroads as a cover crop for several reasons. First, the radish phenotype is well suited to perform many valuable cover crop functions—provide soil cover, scavenge nutrients, suppress weeds, and alleviate compaction—while creating few of the residue management challenges associated with many other cover crops.

Second, recent research including many on-farm trials has documented beneficial effects of radish cover crops on soil properties and subsequent crops. Third, the seed industry has ramped up production of radish seed, brought new branded products to market, and promoted radish as a cover crop. Fourth—but perhaps most important in terms of the exponential growth in interest by farmers—radish cover crops have become a hot topic of discussion in rural coffee shops and on-line agricultural forums. Between 10/1/2011 and 12/1/2011, there were 51 threads about radishes in the Crop Talk forum of New Ag Talk, with over 500 responses and more than 240,000 views.

Radish have been one of the fastest adopted ideas I've seen in my lifetime.  There must be good reason for so many to try them and keep planting them.  When an old friend even plants them on his alfalfa hay farm, you know their characteristics must have spurred some interest.

We've been blessed to travel around the world to see radish seed production and meet the producers.  We haven't made a one of them rich but we have made their industry viable just like they are improving our crop production and soil health.

When I planted garden radishes as a child I never would have dreamed that plant family would have turned into something like this!

Ed

Friday, December 12, 2014

US 52% No-Till

"Soil health improves when farmers refrain from disturbing the soil. While no-till production systems are increasingly used on land in corn, soybeans, and wheat -- the three largest U.S. crops by acreage -- they are not necessarily used every year.

Field-level data, collected through the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, show that farmers often rotate no-till with other tillage systems.

Farmers growing wheat (in 2009), corn (in 2010), and soybeans (in 2012) were asked about no-till use in the survey year and the 3 previous years.

No-till was used continuously over the 4-year period on 21 percent of surveyed acres. On almost half of the cropland surveyed, farmers did not use no-till.

Some of the benefit of using no-till, including higher organic matter and greater carbon sequestration, is realized only if no-till is applied continuously over a number of years.

Nonetheless, because tilling the soil can help control weeds and pests, some farmers rotate tillage practices much like they rotate crops."

That's higher than I would expect, especially with all the tillage you read about and see.  If this is true, it is a good trend for soil conservation.  With the Marestail problem, I know a few who have went to some tillage just to try and control it.

I can see where today's economics help push no-till, because it's a potentially less expensive way to farm.  Less trips means less inputs into growing a crop.

Do think this number is fairly accurate for your area?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Global Meat Demand

Highlights from presentation by Brett Stuart, Global AgriTrends.

Demand side
·         Asia has more people than the rest of the world combined.  This population continues to grow and their income is also growing quickly as they become economic powers.

·         China has recently passed the US as the world’s biggest economy.

·         Demand comes from an increase in population and an increase in income – both are happening in Asia.

·         We (farmers globally) will need to produce more food in the next 50 years than the total food that has been produced over the last 7,000 years.

·         Global need (demand) will be 9 million more tons of beef over the next 10 years.

·         China has 300 million people in their middle class (equals total US population) and this will double by 2022.

·         Sheer numbers – the wealthiest 10% of China’s population represents more people than the total population of Japan

·         The Middle Class is globally 2 billion people today and is expected to be 4.9 billion by 2030.

·         The demand for beef is not only steady but growing.  As people move into the middle class, they want to buy beef.

·         China’s own beef production has kept up with demand in the past.  This is no longer the case.
o   Because of income growth, demand for beef is up 42% in China over the last 2 years.

o   Chinese consumers want to see white fat beef, not yellow fat beef, so they want grain fed and not grass fed beef.

o   China’s corn policy has their corn prices at $9.70/bushel to encourage their farmers to plant corn – this is forcing their own livestock producers to cut back production.
·     

I thought this was pretty interesting stuff, hope you enjoy it!  My livestock friends have been quietly and modestly happy because they quickly remember how it was before $8 corn.  Cost of production is still an issue and we haven't seen people rush in to produce much more yet.

Ed


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

60 Years Left

"ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world's top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.

About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.

The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.

"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."

Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation.

Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported. Soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded.

"We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum at the FAO's headquarters in Rome.

"Organic (farming) may not be the only solution but it's the single best (option) I can think of."

Now I know most American farmers don't trust the FAO but you really have to think about their point.  The point is we still lose too much topsoil even with the advancement of reduced, minimum and no tillage.  I can lose a ton of topsoil a year with my no-till method but cover crops helps reduce that while providing other benefits.

You and I don't have to be overly concerned about 60 years from now but I do have 12 grand children.

I do care and I am concerned.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Indiana Illinois Farm Show

Next week is the Indiana Illinois Farm Show at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.  It is held Tuesday through Thursday just like other farm shows like Farm Science Review.

"36TH INDIANA-ILLINOIS FARM SHOW SET FOR
DECEMBER 16 THRU 18 2014
WHEN THE 36TH EDITION OF THE INDIANA-ILLINOIS FARM AND OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT SHOW MOVES INTO THE WEST PAVILION OF THE STATE FAIRGROUNDS, INDIANAPOLIS, FOR ITS ANNUAL 3 DAY RUN, TUESDAY THRU THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16 THRU 18, IT WILL GIVE AREA FARMERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE EVERYTHING THAT’S NEEDED FOR THEIR FARM FOR THE NEXT PLANTING AND HARVESTING. THE SHOW WILL FEATURE OVER 350 COMPANIES SHOWING EVERYTHING THAT’S NEW; LONG LINE FROM YOUR JOHN DEERE, CASE AND CAT DEALERS, SHORT LINE, SEEDS, SUPPLIES, CHEMICALS, LIVESTOCK EQUIPMENT, GRAIN HANDLING, STORAGE, BUILDINGS, REPLACEMENT PARTS AND ALL THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES SO VITAL FOR PROFITS FROM COMPUTER SOFTWARE TO GPS SYSTEMS, PLUS GREAT DISPLAYS OF SELF-PROPELLED SPRAYERS, SEED TENDERS AND AN OUTSTANDING SELECTION OF OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT.

ACCORDING TO SHOW MANAGER RICHARD SHERMAN, “ALL OF OUR EXHIBIT SPACE IS SOLD OUT, THE FULL 170,000 SQUARE FEET, WITH SOME COMPANIES EXHIBITING FOR THE FIRST TIME,

WE WILL AGAIN HAVE A GREAT FREE SEMINAR SERIES COORDINATED BY GARY TRUITT OF HOOSIER AG TODAY, WHICH WILL FOCUS ON TWO OF THE HOTTEST TOPICS IN AGRICULTURE TODAY, DRONES AND THE NEW FARM BILL PROGRAMS. HOURS ARE FROM 9:00 AM TO 4:00 PM ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY AND FROM 9:00 AM TO 3:00 PM ON CLOSING DAY, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. SHOW ADMISSION IS FREE BUT THERE IS A $5.00 PER VEHICLE FEE TO PARK ON THE FAIRGROUNDS."

I will be talking about gypsum and anything you want to talk about at the AgroSoil booth, so look us up!

Ed