WILLMAR -- Working with colleagues at the University of Illinois, scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that future levels of ground-level ozone could reduce soybean yields by an average of 23 percent.
The study involved testing plants in open-air field conditions under atmospheric conditions predicted by the year 2050. By then, ozone concentrations are expected to be 50 percent higher than today's concentrations.
During 2007 and 2008, several scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service tested 10 Midwestern soybean varieties that had been released between 1952 and 2003.
The researchers found that exposure to 82 parts per billion ozone reduced soybean yields by an average of 23 percent across all 10 varieties.
Study results also found significant differences in ozone tolerance among the varieties. This shows the potential for breeding more ozone-tolerant varieties.
Since ozone concentrations have been rising for decades, the scientists initially thought that varieties developed more recently would be more ozone-tolerant. But the scientists didn't see any significant improvement in ozone tolerance in soybean varieties released since the 1980s.
income in 2011 expected to
rise 31 percent
According to the latest economic forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, net farm income is expected to total $103.6 billion in 2011, up $24.5 billion or 31 percent from 2010.
Net farm income reflects income from production in the current year, whether or not sold within the calendar year, and is a measure of the increase in wealth from production.
Crop receipts are expected to increase by $33.6 billion, an increase of over 19 percent, with corn, wheat, hay, cotton and soybean receipts expected to show the largest percentage increases.
Receipts from wheat sales are forecast to increase almost 37 percent. The price of wheat is expected to jump $2.35 per bushel as the quantity of wheat sold is expected to decline by over 5 percent in 2011.
Sales of corn for grain are expected to increase by over 38 percent in 2011. While the quantity of corn sold in 2011 is expected to decline less than 5 percent, this will be more than offset by an increase in price of almost $2 per bushel.
However, corn exports are suffering as rising U.S. corn prices have made feed-quality wheat, a feed substitute, more competitive. Tight U.S. corn supplies, due largely to severe drought conditions in southern corn producing states, have also hurt U.S. corn exports.
Receipts from soybean sales are forecast to increase by more than 17 percent. The soybean gains reflect a price increase of $2.76 per bushel, offsetting an anticipated 5.2 percent drop in quantity sold in 2011.
Livestock receipts are expected to increase by $22.4 billion in 2011, led by rising cash receipts for dairy, meat animals and turkeys.
Dairy receipts are expected to rise as milk prices received by farmers increase by more than $4 per hundredweight. Dairy cow numbers are expected to increase slightly in 2011, as is the milk-per-cow ratio.
Large sales increases are also anticipated for all three categories of meat animals, and to a lesser extent for turkeys.
Cattle and calf cash receipts are anticipated to increase despite declining production in 2011, reflecting large price gains as global demand for U.S. beef is expected to remain strong.
Hog cash receipts are expected to increase due to large gains coupled with a small increase in pork production.
While cash receipts for grains and livestock will see sizeable increases in 2011, so will the expense side of the ledger.
After falling $12 billion (4.1 percent) in 2009 and rebounding a modest $4.5 billion (1.6 percent) in 2010, total production expenses are set to rise by $32.5 billion (11.4 percent) in 2011, to a nominal record high of $318.1 billion.
This is the first time that expenses will have exceeded $300 billion. But despite the increase, when adjusted for inflation, 2011 expenses remain slightly below those in 1979.
One aspect of the farm income forecast that will see a decrease in 2011 is the amount of money that farmers receive from the government. According to USDA, government farm payments are expected to total $10.2 billion in 2011, a decrease of 17.7 percent from 2010.
Applications being accepted for organic cost share program
Minnesota organic farmers and processors will have until Oct. 31 to apply for a rebate of up to $750 to help cover the cost of organic certification.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting applications for the Minnesota Organic Cost Share Program. Funds for the rebate program come from a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Certified organic operations are eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of National Organic Program certification-related costs incurred between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011, up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has already mailed application packets to more than 900 certified organic operations in the state. Any certified organic farmer or processor who did not receive a packet can obtain the necessary materials by calling 651-201-6012.
Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.