DTN Ag Headlines

The Jan. 14-15, 2022, eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcano in the Pacific Ocean was truly one for recent history notation. The blast had a force greater than an atomic bomb; created tsunamis throughout the Pacific Basin, including the U.S. West Coast and Russia; and sent shock waves multiple times around the world.

The explosion was so strong its booms were heard as far as 6,000 miles away in the Yukon Territory in northwestern Canada. Tsunami damage was extensive in the island nation of Tonga and the immediate region. Tsunami waves also resulted in fatalities as far away as the coast of Peru in South America and caused some severe property damage in Hawaii.

There are also questions about whether the ash cloud and particulates from this big eruption could be far-reaching enough to affect the global climate and, in turn, possibly the upcoming growing season for U.S. agriculture.

The Hunga Tonga eruption was a major event; it is estimated to be the largest volcanic eruption since the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991.

Hunga Tonga certainly blew its top; the first eruption on Jan. 14, 2022, sent ash clouds 12 miles high into the atmosphere. A second eruption on Jan. 15, was even stronger, sending the eruption cloud possibly 34 miles high. An estimated 400,000 metric tons (444,444 short tons) of sulfur dioxide gas was injected into the stratosphere from the Hunga Tonga eruption.

However, even with the force and volume of discharge involved, Hunga Tonga is not expected to have anything close to the impact on the atmosphere that Mount Pinatubo had during its eruption event in 1991. Mount Pinatubo blew up on June 15, 1991, with the second-largest volcanic explosion in terms of scientific recordkeeping.

The Wikipedia description of volcanic material that was shot into the atmosphere is astounding: "It ejected roughly 10 billion tonnes (1.1 x 1010 short tons) or 10 km3 (2.4 cubic miles) of magma, and 20 million tonnes (22 million short tons) of sulfur dioxide, bringing vast quantities of minerals and toxic metals to the surface environment. It ejected more particulate into the stratosphere than any eruption since Krakatoa in 1883."

Haze from the huge injection of sulfuric acid led to a definite world temperature effect. Analysis of global temperatures shows a decline of almost a full degree Fahrenheit from 1991-93 due to the sulfur dioxide haze from Mount Pinatubo's eruption. Along with the cooling, cloud seeding from the Mount Pinatubo particulates may have contributed to a rainy growing season in the U.S. Midwest in 1992 and a catastrophic wet year with extensive flooding in 1993. In that year, U.S. corn production dropped by a full one-third to only 6.34 billion bushels (bb) after a then-record 9.48 bb in 1992. Flooding impact also led to government payments for Prevented Planting as spelled out in H.R.2579-103rd Congress (1993-94). So, the Mount Pinatubo event could quite possibly have contributed to a crop insurance component that has been used frequently during the last several years.

The Hunga Tonga eruption, powerful as it was, did not load up the atmosphere with volcanic matter on the order of the Mount Pinatubo event. But its harsh regional impact and reference to another cataclysmic event serve as reminders once more of the tremendous forces and laws of physics constantly in action on land and in the sea and sky.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at Bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN

OMAHA (DTN) -- A Russian invasion of Ukraine will most certainly affect the global fertilizer market, but to what extent is not known. Several factors, including what sanctions Russia would see and if those sanctions included crop nutrients, would dictate how fertilizers are affected.

We do know a conflict in the Black Sea region would probably lower the prospects of less-expensive fertilizer prices for U.S. farmers in 2022, according to fertilizer analysts.

MORE FERTILIZER VOLATILITY

It took less than 30 days into the New Year for the global fertilizer market to see yet another potential dramatic world event that could affect nutrient supplies and thus prices.

This comes on the heels of the well-documented supply challenges of 2021. Record-high fertilizer prices, trade disputes resulting in tariffs, supply disruptions because of various reasons and higher manufacturing costs for fertilizer producers all came together to push nutrient prices significantly higher in 2021.

The hope for relatively calm waters in the fertilizer industry in 2022 may be fading as the world waits to see if Russia invades Ukraine.

Samuel Taylor, RaboResearch farm inputs analyst, told DTN the conflict between Russia and Ukraine really has not had much of an effect on global fertilizer markets yet. For the North American market, this time of year is a seasonally slower time for fertilizer buying, so there have not been many signs of a nervous market, he said.

Obviously, a military conflict would have a huge negative effect on both global nutrient supply and price, he said. Many fertilizer analysts were calling for lower fertilizer prices in the second half of 2022.

DTN wrote a Global Fertilizer Outlook series in December 2021, and in the potash outlook, this particular subject was discussed (https://www.dtnpf.com/…).

FERTILIZER PRICES DECLINE

With fewer market disruptions and even more nutrient supplies in 2022, fertilizer prices in the world market were actually on the decline. Nitrogen in several different forms was seeing lower world prices, Taylor said.

Chris Lawson, head of fertilizers for business consulting firm CRU, said the global urea market has dropped sharply in recent weeks.

Urea FOB (free on board) NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) ended 2021 at $765 per short ton. Last week, the price was only $578/short ton, he said.

"So, it will be interesting to see if those prices bound back this week over these concerns to Russian supply," Lawson said.

Russia is a major player in the fertilizer industry, producing nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, according to Lawson. Russia exports almost 50% of its fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate, with most of this fertilizer ending up in Europe.

This opens Europe to possible fertilizer shortages and price spikes if a conflict would happen, he said. The continent also depends on Russia for about a third of its natural gas supplies.

Phosphorous and potash prices have also not reacted much to this latest world geopolitical issue, Lawson said.

RUSSIAN NUTRIENT SANCTIONS?

Taylor said if Russia invades Ukraine, most likely it would incur a whole host of sanctions from other countries. These measures could affect many industries.

"These sanctions sometimes specially target different industries within that country," Taylor said. "Whether or not possible Russian sanctions would include fertilizer is, of course, not known yet."

For a guide to what might happen to the Russian fertilizer industry under sanctions, examine what happened to another Black Sea region major fertilizer producer. Belarus, a leading producer of potash, saw sanctions in 2021.

In June 2021, the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on Belarus because of an EU/Belarus border dispute. The U.S. issued their sanctions in December of 2021.

The EU sanctions were imposed on several different industries, including oil, tobacco and potash (file:///…).

Belarus is the third-largest producer of potash in the world, with just under 12 million metric tons (mmt) produced in 2019. The country accounts for 18% of the global potash production.

In addition, Belarus was the second-largest potash exporter in 2019, delivering 10.3 mmt of potash to overseas market. This is about 21% of the global trade.

TRANSPORTATION ISSUES

Lawson said Lithuania's government has terminated the transport contract with Belarusian potash producer Belaruskali, effective Feb. 1. This leaves the company without a freight carrier to move volumes from its biggest export terminal.

CRU estimates the Lithuanian port handled around 92% of the company's exports in 2020, equivalent to 10.8 mmt.

In addition, Yara will stop its purchases from Belarus because of the sanctions imposed on the nation. This is expected to take place by April 1, he said.

"We don't expect cessation of exports from Belarus; it should be able to continue moving product through other ports," Lawson said. "But these sanctions will nevertheless severely hamper global potash supply."

Taylor said the supply chain for potash should adjust somewhat, and other potash producers should be able to fill in the gap.

Canada, which is also a large potash producer, would have to supply more into the world market if Belarus and possible Russian potash producers are hampered due to sanctions, he said.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Sulfur has long been a necessary ingredient for corn crops to grow, thrive and maximize yield. But how your corn crop gets its fill of this key nutrient is changing every year.

"The huge change is in sulfur deposition," explained University of Minnesota soil science researcher Jeff Vetsch in a university webinar on Jan. 26. Back in the 1970s and '80s, coal-fired power plants filled the air with millions of tons of sulfur dioxide each year.

Since then, a series of new regulations, most stemming from the Clean Air Act, have scrubbed our air of this pollutant, lowering sulfur dioxide concentrations by 94% between 1980 and 2020, according to EPA's latest estimates.

While that's good news for Americans' lungs, it means corn plants are getting less sulfur from the atmosphere, with the concentrations slipping below 1 lb per acre annually in the upper Midwest, Vetsch noted.

As a result, sulfur fertilizer applications increasingly pay off for Minnesota farmers, Vetsch and University of Minnesota soil scientist Dan Kaiser noted in the webinar. You don't need much, they cautioned. Most Minnesota cornfields won't show an economic return on much more than 10 lbs/acre, Kaiser noted, with the needs of even the most sulfur-hungry forage fields topping out at 25 lbs/acre.

But before resorting to sulfur fertilizers, here are four places your corn field might get enough of this important nutrient.

1. ORGANIC MATTER

Organic matter remains the most common and best source of sulfur for corn crops, Kaiser said. That's why he values a field's organic matter composition above even soil lab tests when determining a field's need for extra sulfur.

"There are all kinds of different soil tests out there, but to me, organic matter is the best option to gauge the availability of sulfur," he said.

As soil organic matter breaks down, the sulfur is mineralized, making it available for plants. Minnesota farmers, for example, can expect three to five pounds of sulfur to be mineralized and available for each percent of organic matter in the top six inches of soil each year, according to the university's Extension guide to sulfur management.

As a result, sandy, low-organic matter soils can often be at higher risk for yield-robbing sulfur deficiencies, the Minnesota scientists explained.

2. THE AIR

Yes, sulfur dioxide emissions have plummeted, but power plants still pump out well over half a million tons a year, according to EPA's latest measurements. This form of sulfur is absorbed by rainfall, which falls on soils and crops. Fields near fuel-burning industrial facilities are more likely to have higher sulfur dioxide levels in the air, EPA says.

You can find estimates on how much sulfur dioxide is in the air in your region here: https://www.epa.gov/…. In general, most Minnesota farmers probably can't bank on getting any more than a pound of sulfur per acre from the air, the Minnesota scientists said.

3. YOUR IRRIGATION WATER

For farmers with access to irrigation, a lab test for sulfates in your water might be worthwhile, Kaiser said. For some, this source could meet your crop's total sulfur needs.

"The numbers we've seen from [Minnesota] wells we've tested have been relatively high," he said. "They all have been at least 20 lbs annually -- minimum."

4. FERTILIZERS

Fertilizer sources of other nutrients, namely nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, can sometimes offer some sulfur, but that likelihood has declined in recent years, the University of Minnesota guide notes.

"In the past, commercial fertilizers supplied considerable [sulfur] in addition to the usual N, P2O5, and K2O," the guide noted. "Today, as the fertilizer products become more concentrated and the analysis increases, [sulfur] contents are less."

Livestock manure is another good source of sulfur. See an estimate of sulfur concentrations in different manure types here: https://extension.psu.edu/….

The good news is if your corn isn't getting enough sulfur from organic matter, air, irrigation water or fertilizer, the plants will tell you.

Sulfur deficiency tends to be highly visible, resulting in pale or striped corn leaves early in the season. See more from DTN on diagnosing this deficiency -- and preventing it -- here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

For more information on sulfur-based fertilizers and sulfur management, see this guide from the University of Minnesota: https://extension.umn.edu/… and this recent article from Purdue University here: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/….

For more information on the University of Minnesota webinar on sulfur, visit this webpage: https://extension.umn.edu/….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee

A new year often brings hope for a better year. In a family farm or ranch, a better year is not limited to economic improvement but includes hope for better family communication.

The challenge, however, is that better family interaction doesn't happen without intentionality and focus. Just like you take concrete steps to improve yield or reduce expenses, you must encourage plans and embrace discussions that reduce uncertainty and create clarity. Someone -- whether it be you, a sibling, a parent or a spouse -- has to champion the goal of improving the "family" part of a family business, and his or her work begins by getting people to talk.

OPERATIONS DISCUSSIONS

In a family-owned business, there are two overlapping categories of interaction. One category is operations, where people are focused on the specific tasks they perform every day. Topics in this area of discussion might include how we are attracting, compensating and retaining staff for the farm or ranch.

It can include talks about planting or harvesting logistics, grazing plans or calving schedules, or equipment, barn or bin maintenance. You might discuss inputs, vendors, equipment needs or marketing decisions. The topics here are the basic ingredients of what makes the business perform each and every day.

This is where the day-to-day operating decisions come into focus, and if the conversations are not happening, there can be confusion and inefficiency in the operation. As a business grows, and more people are involved, it becomes necessary to have meetings to discuss the management plan for the day or week to determine who will do what.

Few people may truly enjoy having or running these meetings, but the consequences of not having management and operational discussions are often very painful in the short run and create a culture of chaos and reaction in the business.

OWNERSHIP DISCUSSIONS

The other category for discussion in the family business is ownership. This includes talks about debt levels, land or equipment purchases, and the financial return on your investment. You might discuss your entity's bylaws or operating agreements. This category involves discussions about who the future partners (owners) of the business will be, how people enter and exit ownership, and what the estate plan looks like.

Often, younger family members become frustrated because the senior generation will not talk about ownership and its many facets.

In fact, in the ownership arena, silence breeds uncertainty, and uncertainty leads to family-business tension and conflict. If you don't discuss significant capital decisions, partnership ground rules and anticipated transfers of land or other assets, people are left to assume what will happen. Those assumptions, in turn, form the basis of (often difficult) actions by your family members and their spouses. The consequences of not talking about ownership issues results in long-term relationship strain in the family business.

COMMUNICATIONS CHAMPION

As the consequences of poor communication become clear, one strategy is to ask or encourage a family member to assume the role of communications champion. Someone becomes a "facilitator" of important family-business discussions. The word "facilitate" means to "make an action or process easier," and in this case, we are trying to "make easier" the conversations about operations and ownership.

The facilitator role can be filled by different people; that person doesn't need to be the operational leader or have all the answers. He or she just needs to be granted the authority to encourage discussions. The role can be filled by members of either the senior or junior generations, and can even be rotated among family members. Consider appointing a communications champion this year to achieve your goal of making the family business better.

**

Write Lance Woodbury at Family Business Matters, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email lance.woodbury@kcoe.com.

OMAHA (DTN) -- In a shake-up for agricultural commodity companies, Viterra Limited announced Wednesday it is acquiring most of the assets of rival Gavilon from Japan's Marubeni Corp. for $1.125 billion.

The move helps Marubeni get out of what turned out to be a bad purchase when it bought Gavilon nearly a decade ago. Viterra and its parent companies see the opportunity to increase their agricultural footprint in the United States with Gavilon's 120-plus grain elevators around the country.

Viterra, based in the Netherlands, is an agricultural commodity marketing company with operations in 37 countries, including more than 180 grain elevators in 14 countries. The company also owns more than 30 processing plants, including oil crushing, biodiesel facilities and mills. Viterra also owns 25 port terminals in nine countries.

Viterra is owned 49.99% by mining and commodity company Glencore, with another 39.99% of the company held by Canada Pension Plan Investments and 9.99% held by British Columbia Investment Management Corp.

Gavilon, based in Omaha, has a network of more than 120 grain elevators throughout the U.S., as well as operations in Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia. Gavilon also has some minority ownership in two port terminals in Oregon and Washington state. Gavilon reports the company employs about 2,000 people and is the second-largest grain handler in North America based on storage capacity.

In a news release, Viterra CEO David Mattiske said adding Gavilon's assets would support Viterra's long-term strategy to increase its presence in the U.S., citing the production and export value of U.S. agriculture. Viterra's owners Glencore and the Canadian pension fund had been looking for ways to expand in the U.S. and Australia, Reuters reported last November.

"The combination of the Gavilon and Viterra origination businesses will enable us to provide more value and flexibility to our customers," Mattiske said. "We will be able to rapidly enhance our sustainable supply chains, provide higher levels of quality control and reliability, while creating exciting opportunities for our customers and employees."

Viterra expects the transaction would go through regulatory approval and be closed in the second half of this year.

Gavilon was created in 2008 by investors who acquired the ConAgra Trading Group. The Japanese trading group Marubeni bought Gavilon in 2013 for $2.7 billion but saw years of financial losses as grain prices fell. Gavilon suffered financial losses in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, but generated $300 million in profit in FY 2021, which ended March 31, 2021.

Marubeni stated the company's reevaluation of its grain business strategy and goals led the company to revisit its Gavilon purchase. "Under the circumstances of the uptrend in the grain supply industry and Gavilon's good outcomes recently, Marubeni recognized an opportunity to transfer Gavilon's grain business on appropriate terms and decided to conduct the transfer as it assessed it would be able to maximize its own consolidated asset value."

Reuters quoted Akira Terakawa, a senior executive vice president at Marubeni, saying at a press conference that Marubeni had a goal of becoming a global grain trader like Archer Daniels Midland or Cargill when it initially bought Gavilon, but that did not work out as Marubeni saw itself instead exposed to higher market risk.

"We have struggled also as our acquisition price was too high," Terakawa said. Reuters also cited Terakawa saying Marubeni's executives in Japan had a difficult time controlling Gavilon's grain business.

Marubeni stated the company is still looking to satisfy grain demand in Asia, especially for Japan. To do that, Marubeni will be holding on to some Gavilon assets. Eight grain elevators operated by Gavilon in northern states will be transferred to Columbia Grain International, a subsidiary of Marubeni. Part of the interest of a grain export terminal business in the Pacific Northwest that also is held by Gavilon will be transferred to Columbia Grain International as well.

Gavilon's fertilizer business also will be transferred to Marubeni America Corp., another subsidiary of Marubeni.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Climate trends and agronomic improvements were the overwhelming factors leading to higher corn yields on farmland in Nebraska from 2005 to 2018, while improvements in genetic traits accounted for a small percentage of yield gains, a new study by the University of Nebraska found.

Most yield studies have focused largely on improvements in corn genetics as a reason for growing yields, as well as reason for hope in feeding a growing world population.

The findings were published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by scientists in the department of agronomy and horticulture, as well as the department of statistics at Nebraska.

"The fact that these findings were so different from most previous studies, which gave much-greater weight to genetic yield potential improvement, gives urgency to the need to reevaluate contributions to yield advances for all major food crops to help guide future investments in research and development to achieve sustainable global food security," the study said.

"If genetic progress in yield potential is also slowing in other environments and crops, future crop-yield gains will increasingly rely on improved agronomic practices. Demographic, economic and dietary trends will require substantial increases in yields of staple grain crops on existing production area to avoid conversion of natural ecosystems to farmland. However, there is evidence of slowdown in yield gains and even yield plateaus in some high-yield cropping systems of the world, including rice in China and California (United States) and wheat in northwestern Europe."

YIELD GAINS ATTRIBUTED TO CLIMATE

Scientists conducting the study relied on a large farmer-reported database, "high-quality" weather and management practices data and "robust" crop simulation.

The information comes from a database maintained by Natural Resource Districts in Nebraska. The information used for the study includes field-level data on yield and applied inputs in three NRDs including the Lower Niobrara, Tri-Basin and Upper Big Blue.

"We found that nearly half the yield gain from 2005 to 2018 was attributable to a favorable climate trend during this period," the study said.

"In addition, our analysis estimates a technology-driven yield gain associated with widespread adoption of agronomic technologies and improved hybrids, accounting for the other half of total yield gain. We view this finding with optimism, because others have found strong evidence of yield plateaus and negative impact of climate change on U.S. maize yield.

"However, from a global perspective, the technology-driven yield gain estimated for irrigated maize in Nebraska is only half of the global rate of yield gain for maize during the same time period (2005 through 2018)."

The study said the finding was consistent with the notion of yield gains becoming more difficult to achieve in cropping systems where average farm yield is near yield potential, as is the case for irrigated corn in the U.S.

Genetic improvement in corn-yield potential accounted for just 13% of the total yield gain in the study.

"The contribution of genetic technologies found here is three to four times smaller than that reported in previous studies for well-watered maize grown at optimal plant density, ranging from 0.60 to 0.83% (per acre)," the study said.

"Our estimate of genetic yield potential gain may be inflated, as it includes contributions from insect- and herbicide-resistance traits, which may have helped to increase farm yields but not yield potential per se."

Researchers said the study shows previous predictions of sharp increases in corn-yield potential with the advent of biotechnology and molecular techniques, have fallen short of reality.

"Indeed, we found the rate of genetic gain in maize yield potential to be less than a third of the yield gain due to management, suggesting that the rate of yield increase of maize grown in favorable environments will slow markedly over coming decades," the study said.

"This finding is of particular concern, considering that investment in maize genetic-improvement research and development in the public and private sector has been considerably larger than that for other crops. If similar trends are occurring in the other major staple food grains, as it has been reported for rice and wheat, opportunities to increase yields on existing farmland in irrigated and favorable rainfed environments will more likely come from increased cropping intensity (more crops per year) rather than higher yields per crop and especially so when global-warming trends are considered."

The study said caution should be taken in using recent crop yield trends to estimate future food production potential without correction for recent climate trends, "because doing so can give misleading estimates of global capacity to meet future food demand on existing cropland."

In addition, the study said the rate of yield-potential gain from adoption of new technologies is "below that needed" to meet maize demand on existing land by 2050.

"If these trends persist over the long term, future production gains will rely on increasing yields in areas where current yields are well below their potential or from further expansion of cropland area at expense of natural ecosystems, highlighting the importance of raising crop yield potential to meet future food demand and reduce associated land and water requirements," the study said.

Read the study here: https://www.pnas.org/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

OMAHA (DTN) -- Most retail fertilizer prices were slightly higher the third week of January 2022. But as was the case last week, one fertilizer was lower in price looking back a month.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher, although none were up a considerable amount. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

DAP had an average price of $863 per ton compared to last month, MAP $932/ton, urea $916/ton (all-time high), 10-34-0 $800/ton, anhydrous $1,433/ton (all-time high), UAN28 $585/ton (all-time high) and UAN32 $683/ton (all-time high).

10-34-0 hit the $800/ton level for the first time in this historic rise of retail fertilizer prices. The last time it was this high was the first week of March 2012 when starter fertilizer was $807/ton.

Like last week, one fertilizer was just slightly lower in price compared to a month ago. Potash was down just slightly and had an average price of $807/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $1.00/lb.N, anhydrous $0.87/lb.N, UAN28 $1.04/lb.N and UAN32 $1.07/lb.N.

Crops such as corn and wheat probably jump to most peoples' minds when discussing fertilizer applications. However, other crops such as forages also need to be well fertilized to produce high yields.

In a post titled "Fertilizer Prices: How to Get Most of Your Application," Mississippi State University Extension Forage Specialist Rocky Lemus wrote that livestock producers also need to be conscious of how much fertilizer is applied. (See http://extension.msstate.edu/….)

In fact, forage crops export far more nutrients off the field than grain crops because most of the above-ground growth is removed as utilized forage, he wrote in the online Forage News newsletter.

Most of the time, forage producers are applying fertilizer without knowing the needs of existing forage crops and without knowing the soil nutrient reserves that are available. To have a better understanding of fertilizer needs and cost, producers should do soil samples, Lemus wrote.

"Producers should collect a representative soil sample in field sections no greater than 10 acres and to a minimum depth of 6 inches," Lemus wrote. "If legumes are present in the pasture, the percent of legumes and species in the stand should be included to obtain a more effective fertilizer recommendation."

Forage producers need to develop a well-managed and efficient fertilization plan, which can increase profitability depending on soil tests. Select a fertilizer mix that will give you the needed nutrients but at an economic advantage, he wrote.

Retail fertilizer prices compared to a year ago show all fertilizers have increased significantly, with several fertilizers having well-over 100% price increases.

MAP is now 69% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 71% higher, DAP is 78% more expensive, potash is 116% higher, urea is 146% more expensive, UAN32 is 176% higher, UAN28 179% is more expensive and anhydrous is 202% higher compared to last year.

DTN surveys more than 300 retailers, gathering roughly 1,700 fertilizer price bids, to compile the DTN Fertilizer Index each week. In addition to national averages, MyDTN subscribers can access the full DTN Fertilizer Index, which includes state averages, here: https://www.mydtn.com/….

The Federal Reserve Board is expecting the income of U.S. farmers to drop in 2022, according to Dow Jones. You can read it here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

The DTN Global Fertilizer Outlook series in December focused attention on world expectations for 2022. This series examined the supply and demand of nutrients globally as well as what direction fertilizer prices could go this year.

Read the nitrogen outlook here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Read the phosphorus outlook here:

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Read the potash outlook here:

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

DRY
Date Range DAP MAP POTASH UREA
Jan 18-22 2021 493 563 379 387
Feb 15-19 2021 600 648 404 457
Mar 15-19 2021 616 693 424 496
Apr 12-16 2021 624 702 432 509
May 10-14 2021 631 702 437 515
Jun 7-11 2021 656 717 450 527
Jul 5-9 2021 690 729 491 549
Aug 2-6 2021 695 755 557 556
Aug 30-Sep 3 2021 697 756 571 557
Sep 27-Oct 1 2021 722 800 647 620
Oct 25-29 2021 812 873 731 751
Nov 22-26 2021 830 915 775 868
Dec 20-24 2021 862 932 807 910
Jan 17-21 2022 863 932 807 916
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Jan 18-22 2021 481 482 215 251
Feb 15-19 2021 522 530 245 288
Mar 15-19 2021 596 671 331 373
Apr 12-16 2021 609 700 345 387
May 10-14 2021 620 713 361 406
Jun 7-11 2021 620 718 363 414
Jul 5-9 2021 624 732 371 421
Aug 2-6 2021 631 738 367 418
Aug 30-Sep 3 2021 632 749 371 420
Sep 27-Oct 1 2021 638 782 388 444
Oct 25-29 2021 663 982 458 522
Nov 22-26 2021 755 1308 574 660
Dec 20-24 2021 791 1424 583 679
Jan 17-21 2022 800 1433 585 683

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A California court halted the enforcement of Proposition 12 on Monday, moving back enforcement of the animal-welfare law to six months after rules are finalized.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is more than two years late in finalizing rules for the law that places animal-welfare restrictions on pork producers who sell products in the state.

In addition, the Supreme Court continues to delay a decision on whether to consider a petition on Proposition 12 filed on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council. Though the court issued orders on Monday that included accepting a petition on the Clean Water Act and other cases while denying other petitions, the court did not accept or deny the NPPC challenge.

The Supreme Court's next scheduled conference is set for Feb. 18.

Judge James P. Arguelles, in the Superior Court of California for the county of Sacramento, ordered the delay in enforcement after the California Growers Association, California Retailers Association and the California Restaurant Association said in court filings the industry was given no time to comply with the law because regulations have yet to be completed.

Proposition 12 went into effect on Jan. 1. The law bans the sale of pork from hogs that don't meet the state's new production standards. A federal appeals court upheld the law.

The law requires hog producers to abide by certain regulations to sell pork in California. Voters in the state passed Proposition 12 in 2018 with nearly 63% of voters supporting it. The law forbids the sale of whole pork meat in California from hogs born of sows not housed in conformity with the law. Proposition 12 forbids sows from being confined in such a way that they cannot lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, or turn around without touching the sides of their stalls or other animals.

The National Pork Producers Council argued in briefs filed with the Supreme Court that the law violates the Commerce Clause by regulating businesses beyond its borders.

In the California state case, state officials argued in court filings the pork and grocery industries should be subject to penalties if not in compliance with Proposition 12, even if rules for the program have yet to be finalized.

"The state respondents assert that much of the act is clear enough to enforce without additional guidance from" the state, the court said in its ruling.

"To be sure, the square-footage requirements and many of the act's definitions are explicit. Again, the act offers no guidance about the steps sellers must take before they should know that a particular product is traceable to a breeding pig that at some point in the distribution chain was confined in fewer than 24 square feet."

The ag and grocery groups had asked the court for a 28-month delay on enforcement, but the request was denied.

"The court must be mindful of the act's concern about cruel confinements, and the enforcement delay must not exceed a period that is necessary," the court said.

Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said the court's action was necessary.

"Judge Arguelles' decision recognizes the complexity of the pork supply chain and the burdensome and costly provisions of Prop 12," she said in a statement.

"To enforce the law without final regulations leaves the industry unsure of how to comply or what significant changes must be made to provide pork to this critical market."

Read more on DTN:

"Ag Awaits SCOTUS Decisions on Big Cases," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Ag Groups Appeal to SCOTUS on Prop 12," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

Greg Entinger, New Prague, Minnesota, gave himself a huge pay raise when he switched from conventional tillage to strip-till in 2015. The extra money in his pocket comes from fewer trips across fields, reduced fertilizer rates and selling off unneeded equipment.

As a process engineer, Entinger's day job was making food processors' factories more efficient. He farmed nights and weekends with his dad. When his father died in 2012, Entinger challenged himself to streamline farming the same way he did his day job. "I asked myself why I hadn't applied new technologies to streamline farming the way I did at work," he said.

Entinger, 50, now saves 155 hours of tractor time annually by strip-tilling corn and no-tilling soybeans compared to conventional till corn and soybeans.

COST-CUTTING MOVES

Fertilizer and equipment savings represent $38,729.40 annually (in 2020-21 prices). He sold several pieces of tillage equipment and the larger horsepower tractor. Applying P (phosphorus) and K (potassium) in bands instead of broadcasting, and increased microbial activity making N (nitrogen), P and K more plant-available have enabled him to cut fertilizer rates over time. Plus, Entinger estimates he's cut his fuel bill in half with fewer field passes and downsizing his equipment lineup.

"But, I focus on my time as a measure of efficiency: I'm actually home now for Thanksgiving -- no more late nights V-ripping," Entinger said.

"I'm an accidental conservationist," he continued. "I had never thought about all of this stuff." His 6% to 18% slopes and related erosion were his initial reasons for cutting tillage and banding nutrients in 6- by 6-inch zones. "In 2013, one rain event alone was 5.5 inches in 45 minutes. Half of my acreage went into prevent plant," he said. "The following year wasn't much better, with heavy rains and soil erosion. I had to change something."

Entinger started researching strip-till rig options, settling on a 12-row, single-coulter Environmental Tillage Systems SoilWarrior 3100 to save on horsepower requirements. The cost ranges from $108,000 to $120,000, depending on number of rows and options.

Entinger no-tills soybeans into the previous year's undisturbed stubble and strip-tills corn. "By spring, soil microorganisms have partly deteriorated last year's corn stubble. And, as root masses decay, they leave highways for water, nutrients and earthworms," he pointed out.

"People still think I'm crazy when they see the residue I plant into. But, once the soybeans canopy, it looks like any other field."

Entinger spoonfeeds N in three doses: 20 pounds per acre when he bands the P and K while building strips in the fall, 5 pounds per acre at planting with starter fertilizer, 50 pounds per acre while using 32% N as a carrier when he sprays the burndown herbicide. The rest is sidedressed.

MACHINERY CHANGES

Initially, he used a Deere 7200 planter, but Entinger replaced it with a 40-foot Kinze 4900 to take advantage of downpressure, SharkTooth row cleaners and spiked closing wheels.

To help with the cost of the strip-till bar, he sold the following equipment:

$58,550 JD 8770 300-hp tractor

$23,044 JD 455 drill

$25,266 JD 22110 36-foot field cultivator

$29,912 JD 5 x 30 disk ripper

Total: $136,772

Entinger kept his Deere 7260R, 7 Series 260-hp tractor since strip-tilling enabled him to shed the more powerful tractor.

Since switching to strip-till, he has observed a stark improvement in soil structure compared to a neighbor's compacted soil: "The difference in soil structure is like comparing ice cubes (his soil aggregates) to a solid block of ice," he said.

Over time, Entinger has cut P and K rates by 33% to 50%, as more active soil organisms and root mycorrhizae fungi make nutrients more plant-available. Soil microorganisms and mycorrhizae are known to thrive in undisturbed soils. In 2022, he's considering cutting P and K rates to 25% of what they once were.

In 2020-21, Entinger's fertilizer costs per acre were $45.50 for corn using a 33% reduced rate of P and K. On 500 acres, that's a $22.75-per-acre savings, or $11,375 annual savings in fertilizer costs. "This spring (2022), I'm down to 25% of where I once was," he said.

"I'm also trying to get down to about 145 pounds per acre of applied N. I'll use a nitrate test in coming years to see what is currently out there.

"This system has worked for me," Entinger added, even with 19 soil types and 1% to 18% slopes in one of his 90-acre fields. "Each person has to figure out what works for his situation. I advise people to initially strip-till or no-till on 5 to 20 acres," he said. "Time and inputs are lower and there's a learning curve."

"When I combine corn at the end of the season, there's no ripping to do, I just put my equipment away. I can't imagine going back to another pass after harvest," Entinger said. "In the spring, there is no more field cultivating; I just go plant. Your time is valuable."

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