National briefs

Wisconsin State Farmer


Counting carbon on the farm topic of symposium

Agriculture is in the middle of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission equation, as well as carbon storage. The soil is a potential sink for carbon though “carbon sequestration” in soils as well as agricultural biomass.

The “Counting Carbon on the Farm: Science, System, and Support” symposium planned at the Resilience Emerging from Scarcity and Abundance ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, will address this important topic. The symposium will be held Monday, November 7, at 9 a.m. The meeting is sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.

The symposium will focus on research, development, and applications of farm to project-scale systems to support GHG reductions from soils and land use systems.

One tool, COMET-planner, will be discussed by Amy Swan, Colorado State.

“If conservation planners wish to incorporate greenhouse gas impacts in their planning process, they will need access to quick, easy-to-use tools to assess greenhouse gas impacts of conservation practices on farms,” says Swan.

COMET-Planner was developed to provide generalized estimates of GHG impacts of adoption of National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practice standards in a simple, web-based platform. Conservation scenarios were modeled in COMET-Farm, a whole farm and ranch carbon and greenhouse gas accounting system based on USDA entity-scale quantification methods, across a range of agricultural management, climate and soil types within Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA).

Steven Hamburg, with the Environmental Defense Fund, says “we need to look at the net benefits of specific practices and how they compare to alternative scenarios. Comparisons need to be robust and realistic, including limitations on land and organic matter availability. Both are required for providing a host of other important services, resulting in competition with many climate friendly alternative uses.”

Allison Thomson, Field to Market, will talk about “updates on plans for metric revisions as well as a prototype system for independent verification of continuous improvement at the field and region level. One tool designed specifically for use in supply chain programs and increasingly being applied across commodity crop land in the US is the Fieldprint Calculator (FPC), a web based tool which provides results for seven key sustainability metrics - including greenhouse gas emissions and soil carbon - from individual fields based on farmer data inputs.”

For more information about the Resilience Emerging from Scarcity and Abundance 2016 meeting, visit Pre-registration by Oct. 26, is required. Visit for registration information. For information about the “Counting Carbon on the Farm: Science, System, and Support” symposium, visit

Johnston, Iowa

DuPont Pioneer scientists demonstrating future potential of new insect control traits

DuPont Pioneer researchers have discovered a protein from a non-Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium source that exhibits promise as an alternative means for controlling corn rootworm in North America and Europe.

“This research represents a breakthrough for addressing a major challenge in agriculture,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development, DuPont Pioneer. “We have discovered a non-Bt protein that demonstrates insecticidal control of western corn rootworm with a new and different mode of action than Bt proteins currently used in transgenic products. This protein could be a critical component for managing corn rootworm in future corn seed product offerings. The work also suggests that bacteria other than Bt are alternative sources of insecticidal proteins for insect control trait development.”

An extremely destructive corn pest, corn rootworm larvae and adults can cause significant economic loss for growers. The current biotech approach for insect control sources proteins from Bt soil bacteria. Field-evolved insect resistance to certain Bt proteins has been observed in some geographies.

Another Pioneer study related to non-Bt insect control, recently published in Scientific Reports, shows how RNA interference (RNAi) can be applied to control corn rootworm feeding damage.

RNAi is a biologically occurring process that happens in the cells of plants, animals and people. By employing the RNAi process, a plant can protect itself by carrying instructions that precisely target specific proteins in pests.

“Growers need a next generation of solutions to help protect their crops. Our researchers are developing innovative, new modes for insect control to help meet future demands. Non-Bt proteins and RNA-based products highlight our efforts to identify alternative methods for effective control of insect feeding damage in agriculture,” Gutterson said.

Pioneer is committed to delivering superior germplasm, native and biotech traits, seed treatments and agronomic advice for the most productive products to its customers. Pioneer has a robust product pipeline. Maintaining trait durability and promoting world-class stewardship practices are among its top priorities.


UN, Arkansas nonprofit launch $4 million program in Africa

A United Nations agency is partnering with an Arkansas-based nonprofit group to launch a $4 million program for dairy farmers in East Africa.

The three-year initiative between the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Heifer International will set up dairy hubs to help farmers in Tanzania and Rwanda collect and sell their milk. The program will involve 3,850 families in the two countries.

Heifer International is contributing $2 million to the project. A $2 million grant will be provided by the specialized U.N. agency, which works to end rural poverty.

Half the funds will be spent in Zanzibar, Tanzania, where five dairy hubs will be established. The rest will set up six hubs in Rwanda. The participants will be men, women and youth living on less than $2 a day.