Archive for the ‘seed’ Category

Tokyo Here I Come

Posted: September 8, 2014 in agriculture, farming, seed, technology, water

As many people know, agriculture, especially corn, is near and dear to my heart. Getting to talk to groups about what we do in Nebraska and specifically on our farm is something I love to do. So when the opportunity arose for me to travel with US Grains Council on a trade mission to Japan and Korea I was more than willing to accept the challenge of presenting half way around the world.

One of the great partnerships the Nebraska Corn Board has is with the US Grains Council (USGC). We are proud supporters of them, understanding the importance of foreign markets to the farmers in the United States. With these foreign markets we have many great rewards and many challenges depending on the quality and quantity of the crop produced. Because of this, it is important to get farmers in front of the foreign markets from time to time.

This year I have the privilege to be one of those “faces of the American corn farmer”. As it turns out I also get to be the technology spokesman, which is something that I thoroughly enjoy. And I get to spend this time with 4 other farmers from some of the major corn growing states. They are
– Denny Vennekotter, Ohio Corn Marketing Program
– Dan Cole, Illinois Corn Growers Association
– Kevin Hurst, Missouri Corn Growers Association

– Carl Jardon, Iowa Corn Growers Association
Also on the trip are
– Sean Broderick, CHS

– Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey, Director of Industry Relations, USGC
– Manuel Sanchez, Manager of Global Trade, USGC

– Tetsuo (Tommy) Hamamoto, Director USGC Japan


After a long day of travel with a couple hour “maintenance” delay in Denver, we hit the ground in Tokyo, made it through customs, changed the dollar to Yen and crashed at the hotel.

Outside our hotel

On Monday morning we found my home away from home…Starbucks. It did cost me about 50% more than back home but it was worth it. After this we had our briefing meeting at USGC’s Tokyo Office followed by an amazing lunch.


This all lead up to our first official presentation in the afternoon in front of different Japanese groups and media. This was a great time which allowed me to appreciate the challenges in communication. As I was presenting in English they needed to translate into Japanese. The challenge was speaking mainly in 2 sentence bullet points so as not to get too far ahead of the interpreter. But it was a great and receptive audience which had very good questions.

Kevin Hurst gave a great “farmer” look at the 2014 corn crop followed by an overall look at the corn crop from Manuel Sanchez. After this was a great look from Sean Broderick at DDGs with the pricing, usage worldwide and consistency of the overall product.

The importance of explaining how we do things in America to produce our corn crop should never be forgotten or minimized. We need to continue to spread this message whether to our neighbors down the street or our neighbors across the globe.

Tomorrow is another day of meetings but with more face to face time instead of a seminar format. We will see what tomorrow holds.


As we entered into the planting season this year, we had the opportunity to put some of the newest, and hopefully greatest, seed technology into the ground. This is the technology that helps us in making sure we are taking care of the environment in a healthy and sustainable manner. Anything we can do to help reduce our usage of chemicals and continue to increase yields are something we will continue to look at.

We started out this year by actually planting some of the newest in seed technology from Monsanto and DowAgro, known as SmartStax. This is an 8-way stack with a great explanation here. This allows us to have protection against may pests that cause damage to the plants. Damage that can cause us economic harm. Damage that can cause the plant, and subsequently the grain, harm as well. Ultimately, we have a healthier plant that will ultimately lead to healthier feed for our livestock and a better product to produce ethanol and bio-plastics as well.

We have had the opportunity this year to look at other new and exciting products that will be coming down the line in the coming years. One plot has what is called “refuge in a bag“. This will allow us in the future to make sure we are easily following the refuge guidelines needed to keep these technologies viable for years to come.

As we continue to look at the newest in seed technology it is exciting to see where it will take us. Up to this point, it has mainly been input traits we have looked at. The kind of traits that protect against insects and allow us to utilize different chemicals. The next thing to see will be the output traits. Traits that will ultimately help the end user and consumer.

These are exciting times in the merging of technology and agriculture. Being able to grow a safe and healthy product is something that I am proud to do.