El experto del IICA fue el conferencista principal de un encuentro organizado por el Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería de Costa Rica (MAG) para conmemorar el 70 aniversario de su creación.
El funcionario añadió, que entre esos desafíos está el cambio climático, la seguridad alimentaria, la pérdida de biodiversidad y una mayor exigencia de calidad e inocuidad de los alimentos por parte de consumidores mejor informados.
Rocha, quien es especialista del IICA en biotecnología y bioseguridad,destaca la importancia estratégica de las info, nano y biotecnologías para aumentar los rendimientos productivos y reducir el impacto negativo de la agricultura en el ambiente.
De acuerdo con el investigador, la nueva revolución agrícola, basada en el uso de tecnologías de punta para satisfacer la creciente necesidad de alimentos, requiere un marco institucional robusto.
En este marco --señala el representante del IICA-- "se debe establecer la posición nacional sobre el uso de las biotecnologías y vincular a agricultores y científicos para el desarrollo de mejores técnicas de producción".
Ante esos retos, la agricultura actual, como agente de la innovación, debe echar mano de las info, nano y biotecnologías, explicó Rocha.
"Mientras el fundamento de la revolución verde era investigar para producir más, el de la nueva revolución es innovar en toda la cadena para aumentar los rendimientos, mejorar la calidad de los productos y usar los recursos naturales en forma más eficiente", agregó el experto.
Rocha destacó que la investigación de organismos genéticamente modificados (transgénicos) es solo una de muchas biotecnologías, pero su desarrollo ha impulsado la creación de marcos institucionales y de bioseguridad, como los protocolos de Cartagena, Nagoya y Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur en el contexto mundial.
Estos marcos regulan temas que van desde el uso de la biodiversidad con fines de investigación, hasta la repartición justa y equitativa de los beneficios que generan esos estudios.
Según Rocha, las biotecnologías son una caja de herramientas para el sector agropecuario, con aplicaciones enormes y estratégicas, pero su aprovechamiento depende del trabajo conjunto entre los sistemas nacionales de innovación (encargados de investigar), los productores (quienes definen la tecnología más apropiada para producir alimentos) y el gobierno (que provee los marcos regulatorios).
"Cada actor tiene un papel relevante, los Ministerios de Agricultura son los agentes que harán posible, en gran medida, el cumplimiento de los retos planteados y generados por esta nueva revolución", expresó el especialista del IICA.
The author, Noémi Nemes, examined the results of more than fifty studies that compared the economics of organic and conventional agriculture.
Today, drip is an irrigation method of choice throughout the United States, especially for high-value crops.
The process continues to be refined as technology improves and as water conservation becomes an increasingly significant concern.
At the forefront of these refinements is Gilbert Miller, area vegetable specialist who heads the soil moisture monitor project at Clemson University.
Miller has come up with a system that uses moisture sensors to determine when and how much to water crops.
The sensors have copper bands that send radio waves through the soil at depths of 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 inches. By monitoring the strength of the radio waves that come back to the transmitter, Miller can determine how much moisture is in the soil.
Signals typically are sent out every 15 minutes, but the timing can be adjusted. The signals are sent to a radio that, in turn, sends them to the Internet, allowing Miller to monitor moisture levels from anywhere he has access to a computer or even a smart phone.
The system is powered by solar panels and can be set up to automatically trigger irrigation. Or Miller can activate irrigation manually.
A computer screen has an icon for each electronic valve that indicates when the valve is open and supplying water to the field.
“The system bases the need for irrigation on what is in the soil,” he says.
Growers already have several models that measure inputs—like rain and irrigation— and outputs—like drainage and evaporation.
But then the grower must figure out theoretically what a plant needs.
“The sensors pretty much do all of that for us,” Miller says.
It’s just as important not to over-irrigate as it is to not under-irrigate, he says.
“We’re trying to apply only as much water as what the plant can take up,” he says. The irrigation is often in short bursts, five or six times a day, rather than inundating the plant once a day or so.
Miller’s goal is to keep the water saturation as close to field capacity as possible— to the point where the water level is stable, not moving, and the water is present for the plant to use as needed.
When 15 percent of the water is depleted, Miller triggers the system to refill the “bucket” not quite to field capacity.
Labor, water saver
The system can help save labor, save water, increase yields, improve the quality of the product and reduce environmental risks, he says.
Miller has been conducting his research in small plots at a research station for five years and now is beginning to conduct tests at larger locations in satellite research sites with varying soil types.
In one such test, he compared his results irrigating with sensors in a test plot in grower Billy Jenkins’ field in Jefferson, S.C., with Jenkins’ traditional method of irrigating once a day.
“We were able to get 15 percent to 20 percent over his yield and used 20 percent less water,” Miller says.
During the test, Jenkins noted that the system started irrigating whenever the water level dropped, no matter the time of day, whereas on the control portion, he would irrigate at certain times each day, whether it was needed or not.
The system would be “worth its weight in gold,” especially on farms of about 40 acres or more, he says.
The number of sensors can vary, depending on the number of soil types in a field. Usually one or two sensors are sufficient for up to 75 acres.
They are fairly durable. Miller has used 12 sensors for five years with few problems, but they are electronic components, he emphasizes, and need to be installed properly.
The Enviro Scan sensors he uses are made by Sentek Pty Ltd. of Kent Town, South Australia. They’re available in the United States from Earthtec Solutions LLC of Vineland, N.J.
A simple manual monitoring system with two sensors and a weather station can cost less than $3,000, says David Lankford, general manager for Earthtec.
A more elaborate setup with automatic irrigation and controller valves can range from less than $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the irrigation system the grower already has.
Coosaw Farms in Jefferson has been using sensors for about eight years, says Brad O’Neal, operations director.
“They’ve definitely worked,” he says. “We’re very pleased with them.”
Coosaw Farms uses six sensors to monitor 30 acres of blueberries and 70 acres of cabbage on various soil types. During the spring, they’re used on 65 acres of watermelons along with blueberries.
O’Neal hopes to incorporate more sensors into the farm’s 500 acres over time.
He says quality is improved, and yields can increase by 10 percent, depending on conditions.
He found the system to be most effective in drought years, when low humidity and high temperatures “are really sucking the water out.”
O’Neal says he actually saves more on fertilizer than water, since the system prevents overwatering, which can leach nutrients below the plant root zone.
He’s especially pleased that the data is accessible via the Internet. On a recent vacation, he was able to check to see that pumps were running and monitor the moisture content of fields, even though he was outside the country.
Eventually, sensor-based drip irrigation will be the norm, Miller says he believes. “In the future, we as growers are going to have to account for our irrigation a little bit more rigorously and have a little bit more scientific justification for how we apply our water, when we apply it, how long we apply it,” he says. “Down the road, this will be very necessary.”
On Thursday, the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred brought in experts on olive production from California.
Doctor Jackie Burns, director of the center, says many citrus growers came to her with inquiries on growing the crop.
“I think our citrus growers are very much innovative,” she said. “They are thinking of ways to always fill their land, and create more opportunities for themselves.”
Between citrus greening disease and the latest PR problem with imported orange juice, citrus growers have had a tough few years, and many are not shying away from new opportunities.
Growers who attended Thursday’s seminar got to try a variety of olives, taste olive oil, and learn what it will take to tap into the market.
The experts said there is a demand for domestically grown olives because most are imported from other parts of the world.
But growing this crop comes with its fair share of risk.
“This is not a slam dunk, because this is a really peculiar crop that needs really specific things in order to flower and fruit,” said Paul Vossen, a farm advisor from California.
Vossen said that olives thrive in a dry climate where it’s not too hot and not too cold. He also said a rain during bloom season could wipe out the crop.
The risk is worth a shot for Darren and Heather Jackson who plan to get into the olive industry here in Florida.
“We just love olives,” Darren said. “There’s always a risk with anything you do, especially farming, so we’re just trying to do as much research as we can ahead of time, and minimize the risk as much as possible.”
If all goes as planned, the Jackson’s will start planting olive trees on 18 acres of their farm, Suwannee River Olives in Mayo, FL.
It will take about three years before the trees produce a crop. If successful, the Jacksons plan to expand to up to 200 acres.
Virginia Beef Quality Assurance is a program that operates in Virginia under the guidelines of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic BQA alliance and through the efforts of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Cattleman’s Association.
The BQA program has certified a large number of cattle producers in Virginia that represent a majority of the cattle produced each year in the state. The program requires that producers be recertified every 3 years.
During the 2012-2015 cycle all re-certifications will involve training in cattle handling.
In recent years, appropriate handling has been tied to impacts on cattle health.
Cattle have two major systems to protect themselves. The first system is to deal with external threats. This system is sometimes called the “fight or flight” system.
Think about this system as how a calf deals with a wolf attack. Most of the calves’ resources are directed towards getting away from the wolf. There are a set of hormones and metabolism all geared to this fight-or-flight system.
When we talk about the effects of “stress” on cattle health we are really referring to the switch to dealing with external threats.
The other protection system that cattle have is the one designed to deal with internal threats. People often call this the immune system, but it actually involves more than the cells and substances that are technically the immune system.
The metabolism of energy and protein and systems that clear infectious agents from the respiratory or digestive systems are also part of the internal defense system. This system deals with cattle diseases caused by infections.
An important concept in cattle health is that the fight-or-flight system gets priority over the internal protection system. In the evolutionary history of cattle, it was more important to get away from the wolf than to deal with the bugs in the lung, for example. If the wolf got the calf, what did a few bugs in the lung matter?
Not only does the fight-or-flight system have priority over the disease protection mechanism, but once the external protection system is turned on, it stays on for a time.
Can last for several daysHence, a calf that is subjected to a long chase at gathering before sale might still be in the external protection mode for several days.
Cattle handling can, itself, be severe enough to suppress disease prevention and allow cattle to get sick.
Often there are a series of stresses that shift the internal priorities of calves into the external-protection mode.
Think of calves that are roughly gathered, sorted with whips and hits, crowded with strange calves, roughly worked through a chute, separated from their dams and subjected to a long truck ride.
Proper cattle handling involves many factors.
Three important aspects of handling include: 1) having appropriate equipment; 2) employing proper handler actions; and 3) using cattle handling aids in the proper way.
Each of these factors will be discussed in future articles. All three of these aspects must be appropriately dealt with if cattle handling is to be a non-stressful event.
Even with a good set of working equipment, improper actions by handlers can trigger external protective reactions in cattle.
Anxious use of a hot shot can negate all the arrangements made to have a low-stress working facility.
The goal for Beef Quality Assurance in Virginia is to have all personnel involved in the beef cattle industry in Virginia make improvements in cattle handling so that cattle can have maximum internal protection operating at all times.
Besides, our consumers are increasingly concerned about how the cattle that produce their product have been handled.
(Last January, Temple Grandin visited with Virginia cattlemen at the winter beef conference. She also had some interesting points to make on the subject of cattle handling. Her remarks can be found here).
In 2011, an estimated 40% of the U.S. corn crop was diverted to the production of ethanol. With more and more corn going into ethanol, producers are faced with growing feed costs, higher land values, and less revenue from what they produce.
According to Schroeder, for every 1 bu. of corn made into ethanol, 2.8 gals. of ethanol are produced, and 17 lbs. of dry distillers grain (DDGs).
“When 40% of corn is used for ethanol production, it amounts to about a 28% reduction in feed volume availability,” Schroeder says. “Roughly 30% of the feed volume of corn used in ethanol production is converted into another feed ingredient that is a partial substitute for corn,” he explains. Although DDGs can be used as a partial feed substitute for beef and dairy cattle, it isn’t an equal substitute.
Most segments of the cattle industry have suffered as ethanol production continues to increase each year. “Ethanol production has increased the cost of corn,” according to Schroeder. “However, there are other factors that have also driven up the price of corn. In fact, research has shown corn would be only $1 to $1.50 lower today without ethanol expansion,” he says.
A wide effect
For cattle producers, ethanol expansion hasn’t only impacted the price of corn, but other grains and forages as well.
“As feed grain and corn prices increase, forage prices increase because hay ground can be used for other things. In some cases, it’s been converted to corn,” Schroeder says. “In addition, increased ethanol production and associated corn prices have increased the value of land that is capable of forage production, and indirectly increased grazing land values as well,” he explains.
Producers are also seeing higher costs to just maintain their cowherd and develop replacement heifers. “Conservatively, I think costs have increased $15/head for cows, while revenue has decreased about $60/head, for each $1 increase in corn price. Conservatively speaking, a $75/head loss is a lot of money for producers who already operate on thin margins,” he explains.
In addition, Schroeder says that, as corn prices increase, it’s becoming harder for feedlots to pay more for feed supplies, and afford to keep their lots full. “With every $1 increase in corn and the increase in forage that goes along with it, revenue is probably reduced about $60/head.”
Since beef cattle have a higher feed-to-gain conversion compared to pork and poultry, the increased input costs make it harder for beef to compete against the other two leading protein sources in the marketplace.
“Although ruminants may be better able to utilize DDGs than other livestock, this isn’t enough to fully offset the higher corn prices. Cattle convert feed into meat less efficiently than hogs or chickens,” he explains. “But, cattle are more flexible in that they can also gain on cheaper forages; so, as grain prices increase, more gain can be secured by feeding more forages and less grain in contrast to hogs and poultry,” he explains.
The beef industry will adjust to the reduction in profitability by shrinking the beef cowherd, Schroeder believes, with some producers eventually exiting the business. “A smaller beef cow industry is likely to result with the individual producers who are left in the industry being more profitable than they were prior to the industry contraction. This is the result of several factors, but the most important are increased prices for beef, fed cattle and feeder cattle,” he notes.
Since feedlot and packing facilities are most efficient when operated at capacity, the shrinking cowherd will increase costs at these facilities, and ultimately force some out of business.
“This excess capacity has helped support calf prices at higher levels in the short run, at least until either the capacity is utilized more fully, or downstream firms or plants exit the industry,” he explains.
A smaller beef industry
But, in the long term, the end result of the increase in feed grain prices associated with ethanol production is a smaller beef industry, restructuring of the industry with the most efficient producers growing in size and higher beef and cattle prices, Schroeder says.
To survive and become more efficient, Schroeder suggests producers continue to invest in technology development and adoption, as well as seeking out intensive management strategies that improve their production efficiency.
Gayle Smith is a freelance writer based in Kimball, NE.
- Debes ser conciso. Como ya hemos mencionado tu CV no debe pasar de dos hojas, a menos que la empresa así lo requiera.
- Escribe con un tipo de letra (fuente) fácil de leer.
- La presentación de tu CV debe estar espaciada correctamente (recomendamos 1.5, aunque varia de acuerdo a la cantidad de información que tengas). Esto facilita la lectura y lo hace más presentable.
- Investiga el perfil de la compañía que publica la vacante y el tipo de vacante. De esa manera sabrás qué tanto puedes jugar con los colores y las fuentes que emplees en tu CV. Algunas empresas buscan perfiles más sobrios, mientras que otras buscan perfiles más creativos.
- Sin importar el tipo de CV que realices recuerda algo: debe verse profesional.
- Puedes emplear negritas y subrayar algunas partes que consideres necesario destacar en tu CV. Pero debes tener cuidado de no emplear excesivamente estos recursos.
- Ya hemos mencionado esto, pero: tu CV no puede tener errores ortográficos; recuerda que tu CV es una de las primeras impresiones que das ante una empresa.
- A la hora de escribir trata de emplear tu riqueza verbal, pero siempre siendo directo. Del mismo modo, emplea sinónimos y evita las repeticiones excesivas.
- Si bien en el CV buscarás poner lo mejor de ti, recuerda ser honesto: haz hincapié en tus habilidades y pon énfasis en tus logros. Pero no inventes información. Recuerda que lo que escribas en el CV será corroborado en una serie de entrevistas o a la hora de ser contratado.
- Te recomendamos que antes de enviar tu CV le pidas a alguna persona que lo lea, ellos podrán notar si se te escapo algún error, si toda la información se entiende bien y si se ve profesional.
Cosas que un CV sí debe de tener:
- Datos para contacto. Teléfono, email, dirección física. Si tienes cuenta en linkedin pueden poner el link. Recuerda que el formato tiene que ser profesional (puedes usar el mismo formato que en tu carta de presentación).
- Si el mail que usas es email@example.com considera abrir una nueva cuenta con tu nombre completo o un nombre de usuario más profesional.
- Describe tus responsabilidades y logros específicos de trabajos anteriores.
- Escribe las materias estudiadas durante el periodo educativo y los cursos, capacitaciones y diplomados importantes para el puesto al que estas solicitando.
- Recuerda que es muy importante resaltar qué te hace especial / diferente a otros posibles candidatos (ej. características y habilidades personales).
Cosas que un CV no debe de tener:
- Faltas de ortografía o gramática.
- Ser más largo de dos hojas (a menos que especifiquen lo contrario en la descripción de la vacante).
- Información falsa.
- Estar mal organizado. Dedica tiempo a darle un formato simple y atractivo. Puedes jugar con diferentes tipografías y colores dependiendo del puesto al que solicites.
- No es indispensable poner fotografía.
Tu CV es la primera interacción que tendrás con una empresa y un posible empleador. Si estás solicitando directamente a un puesto, probablemente estarás compitiendo con muchas otras personas. Por estas razones es indispensable que tu currículo esté bien hecho y tenga buena presentación.
Cada trabajo especifica diferentes características o tipos de experiencia dependiendo del puesto. Por lo tanto, un CV genérico no es la mejor alternativa para solicitar trabajos. Toma en consideración lo anterior antes de enviarlo. Esto significa revisar si tus características personales cumplen con lo que está buscando la empresa; si las tienes hazlo evidente y elimina del CV lo que no sea relevante para el puesto. Si por ejemplo estás solicitando a una vacante de Ingeniero Forestal no es necesario que la empresa sepa que cuidaste niños cuando tenías 15 años.
También toma algunas horas para investigar qué es lo que hace la empresa y demuestra tu conocimiento sobre ella en la carta de presentación. Así también sabrás si realmente quieres trabajar ahí.
Hay dos formatos de CV que son los más comunes.
El primero - que es el que usamos en la página de EMPLEOS VERDES - es cronológico. En éste se establecen de forma cronológica (comenzando por lo más reciente): la educación, experiencia laboral y voluntariados, así como habilidades.
El segundo formato está basado en habilidades. Éste establece cuáles son las características y experiencia del solicitante indispensables para el puesto. Después resume la educación y lugares de trabajo. Este CV es útil para personas que tienen mucha experiencia en diferentes sectores o que han estado involucradas en diversos proyectos.
El “Ruter” es un alimento especial para la cría del ganado bovino, que acorta hasta seis veces el tiempo de lactancia de los terneros y libera a las vacas de la responsabilidad, permitiendo que vuelva a quedar preñada en tiempo récord.
A quantum leap in hydroponics nutrient technology has been made. A new pH balancing technology now automatically adjusts and balances growers’ nutrient solutions and growing mediums without the use of “pH up” or “pH down” chemicals, totally eliminating the need for pH monitoring and balancing equipment.Advanced Nutrients has just released a new generation of “pH Perfect” hydroponics nutrients containing this technology.
Hydroponics growers spend considerable time and money attempting to balance nutrient solution pH. This is because plants only absorb nutrients in a narrow pH range.
“Growers have always had to carefully monitor chemical conditions in hydroponics root zones and hydroponics nutrient reservoirs, but no more,” explains Advanced Nutrients co-founder Michael Straumietis.
Straumietis says the company’s pH Perfect® Technology and Bigger Yields Flowering System® contain proprietary ingredients and utilize a “systems approach.” This means hydroponics growers can more efficiently deliver better nutrients to their plants without worrying about water alkalinity or acidity (pH).
Advanced Nutrients plant scientists and dozens of research assistants spent 109 man-years creating the company’s unique new nutrients system. For the first time, the mixing and application of nutrients have been standardized, sending quality nutrients into plants faster. This also frees gardeners from pH worries, according to Straumietis.
The company explains that the pH Perfect Technology and Bigger Yields Flowering System provide growers with a unified hydroponics program that enhances root size and nutrients absorption. In addition, it protects plants from pests and diseases, speeds growth rates, and increases harvest size and quality.
“Our new system helps growers increase their mastery of hydroponics gardening by streamlining their feeding program, saving money on hydroponics nutrients and utilizing our integrated systems,” says Straumietis. “This approach helps even hobbyist growers quickly learn high-profit, professional hydroponics techniques.”
According to hydroponics journalist and grower Chris Jefferson, who has covered the hydroponics industry for two decades, the pH Perfect Technology and the Bigger Yields Flowering System are the most significant chemistry and manufacturing innovations in hydroponics nutrients since hydroponics gardening was introduced in 1937.
“This is not an add-on or minor change to existing nutrients categories,” Jefferson emphasizes. “It’s a completely different kind of hydroponics nutrients. What you might call the hydroponics nutrients equivalent of putting a man on the moon.”
To find out more about Advanced Nutrients, pH Perfect Technology, the Bigger Yields Flowering System, and hydroponics gardening, visit http://advancednutrients.com/ph-perfect/.
Advanced Nutrients is the world leader in hydroponics nutrients, hydroponics equipment, hydroponics education, and hydroponics media. The company utilizes top scientists and rigorous testing worldwide to create proprietary nutrients and equipment technology that have modernized the hydroponics industry. By connecting directly with tens of thousands of hydroponics growers worldwide through Rosebud magazine, Rosebudmag.com, and technical support, Advanced Nutrients is credited with increasing the popularity and importance of hydroponics gardening.
This week, there seemed to be as many questions as answers. Winter grass is vital for cattle to gain weight. A skinny cow brings little return. The inch or two of rain that fell over the weekend will start the grass growing again, but how much and how fast? Once started, will the rain return, or will the rest of the winter be dry?
Some ranchers, like Livermore's Paul Banke, made the decision to ship some cattle out to make room for others. Some, like San Ramon's Jeff Nielsen, were postponing the decision a little longer. "If it gets dry again, we'll have to send some away," he said.
Banke is a third generation rancher who raises his own cattle and manages herds for others. Hikers at Del Valle Regional Park often see his managed herds.
In a typical year, Banke manages 240-360 steers in pastures at the southeast end of Del Valle. This year, the herd belongs to Monson Ranches of eastern Washington State. Last week, because of the lack of grass, he sent off 100 head to a small feedlot in Winnemucca, Nev., to make room for 173 that remained.
He also has cattle of his own, 280 cow-calf pairs that he hopes to build up to perhaps 350 pairs if the rain returns.
Managing herds for distant owners means making sure the cattle are healthy and have adequate food during the winter months. Like most ranchers, Banke is a good amateur veterinarian. "Eighty percent of the problems I see, I know what to do," he says. Being competent also means knowing when to call in a professional vet, which he does when necessary. But he runs a business, and if he can keep the cattle healthy at no cost by his own efforts, he does.
In managing herds that belong to others, Banke receives payment based on weight gain. The herds typically consist of yearling steers called stockers that are weaned and can fend for themselves. If they arrive in November, the year turns wet and the grass grows tall, it is reasonable to expect a gain of 300 pounds or more per head by the time they are ready for shipping to a processing center in spring.
Shipping off 100 head in January means taking a loss, at least on those. Despite the recent rain, there is no guarantee that the rest of the winter will be much better. In fact, with one-third of the grass growing season already lost, Banke estimates there is no better than a 20 percent chance that the remaining season will be "perfect," meaning rainy enough to generate the grass to fatten up the cattle.
Banke attended Livermore High School and then Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, where he graduated in agricultural business in 1968. He worked for Well Fargo Bank and two professional cattle associations before returning to his family's business. He bases his estimate of the remaining growing season on near and long-range forecasts from the various weather services and on historical weather trends for this area. He also uses his professional judgment to consider the health and well being of the cattle.
Organizations like the Cattlemen's Association offer resources for cattle management, and Bay Area ranchers can talk things over among themselves. "Everyone is looking at when to pull the trigger" - when to make the hard decision to sell early if that becomes necessary, Banke says.
The feedlots where the cattle will go are generally east, from Nevada at the closest to Kansas and Nebraska. Banke once shipped to Indiana. The timing is crucial. In January, the ground at the feedlots will be frozen and covered with snow. Even if it's possible to truck them over the mountain passes, anyone who buys the Tri-Valley cattle will have to pay for feed and won't be likely to offer a good price in California.
So local cattlemen are hoping the rain picks up again, the grass grows and the cattle can be kept around at least until April, when grass will be plentiful at the feedlots.
Jeff Nielsen, a San Ramon rancher, is part of the longtime Dublin Nielsen family. He and other family members have herds in Tehama, Glenn and Siskiyou counties as well as locally, so in some years a diversity of weather can protect their cattle business the way a diversity of stock holdings can protect an investor.
This year, though, the weather has hit them all about the same, he says. "Agriculture is always a gamble."
Cattle ranching in the Bay Area is particularly challenging, Banke and Nielsen both say, because the industry is centered elsewhere. Here, a lot of agricultural land has been built over. Land and feed costs are high. Feedlots are hundreds if not thousands of miles away.
Banke is particularly annoyed at U.S. ethanol policy, which promotes the use of corn for biofuel and drives up the cost of other crops to replace the corn. Apart from corn's energy inefficiency as a fuel source, he sees U.S. policy as "a Third World disaster" because of higher food costs there. Locally, he finds that it adds $1200 to $1500 to his annual feed bills.
On the positive side, demand for American beef is high in Asia. That keeps sale prices high for some producers, he says.
In the meantime, waiting for the weather to make up its mind as the growing season slips past, there is plenty of work to do. Banke works a 6-day week, with at least a couple of hours of chores on Sundays.
It's a life that he loves, but as a business, it is hard and just about as unpredictable as the weather.
Breeding decisions can greatly influence the profitability of a cow-calf operation. Leading researchers with the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) shared the results of several studies that examined breeding strategies for producers.
Here’s a roundup of the key results of those studies.
“Today’s cattle look much different than those of the 1950s. Today, we are looking for a lean carcass with high commercial appeal. The differences between Continental and English breeds are closing in, except in the area of carcass traits. For example, 95% of Angus in our study graded USDA Choice, compared to 57% of Limousin making the grade. The difference in weaning-weight advantage between Simmental and Angus was 61 lbs. in 1972, 38 lbs. in 1990 and only 0.4 lbs. today,” explains Larry Kuehn in his presentation on how different breeds have influenced beef industry trends over the years.
“Cattle can be looked at in one of two ways -- as a profit center or entertainment center. The inputs into the profit center include replacements, interest, forage, feed, medical, labor, bulls and artificial insemination. Outputs should, in theory, result in cash from a sold calf or cull. Cattle start to look like entertainment when we put more inputs than we are getting out of the animal,” says MARC researcher Gary Bennett on cow efficiency.
Bennett recommended breeders look at complementarity (i.e. the concept that cross-breeding systems are more than the average of the cows plus the bull plus heterosis). “Smaller cows eat less, which means fewer inputs of forage and feed supply, and these smaller cows can be bred to terminal bull sires to transmit value traits to progeny.”
“The primary challenge of obtaining sufficient number of replacements can be a challenge. The current lack of a substantial supply of maternal-oriented young bred cows in the marketplace makes it very challenging to convince all-purpose producers to specialize in either terminal or maternal calf production. Large ranches can focus on both and maintain two different kinds of herds,” says MARC's Mark Thallman.
Thallman brought together the key conclusions of all three presenters:
- The notion that beef breeds should be all-purpose is pervasive, but not counter-productive.
- Beef breeds have become far too similar. Heterosis is important and under-utilized.
- Great production comes at the expense of higher inputs.
- Complementarity and terminal cross-breeding systems should be a focus.
- A change in industry structure with regard to replacement females could benefit the entire industry. For example, large producers should sell their second-calf heifers to small breeders; it’s not time- or cost-effective for a small producer to calve out first-calf heifers.
- An economically feasible sexed-semen technology could make terminal cross-breeding more practical.
- Smaller cows may or may not be more efficient, but they are more profitable if they can be bred to bulls of greater genetic potential for growth.
“What best describes volatility?” Nevil C. Speer, Western Kentucky University, asked at Pfizer’s Cattlemen’s College, part of the opening day of the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, TN.
Ranchers in attendance were polled and 73% see it as a shifting market.
“In 1998, $16.95 billion came into the beef production sector; in 2011, it was $33.10 billion. This doesn’t necessarily mean more profit, but it does mean more opportunity. In December 2009, fed cattle traded at $125/cwt. That’s a 55% increase in prices. During the same time, the S&P 500 increased by only 15%. This is the first time the beef industry has outpaced the broader economy. If there has been one winner in the past two years, it’s been the cattle business. We have earned it; we have paid our dues.”
With an ongoing liquidation of the U.S. beef cattle inventory, there are less than 4% of U.S. cow-calf operators who have more than 200 cows; this represents 7% of the total cow inventory. And, the cost of doing business continues to grow.
According to the USDA Ag Resources Management Program, the annual cash cost for running a beef cow is $535/head. This number grows to $1,065/head for operators with fewer than 50 cows.
“Capital requirements have increased in recent years for commercial operations,” says Speer. “This is due to higher commodity prices and market volatility. There will be no reprieve from needing to be hyper-vigilant in terms of decision making, marketing and risk management decisions. The most important factor in guarding against external event risk is managing costs, evaluating expansion opportunities, increasing your working capital reserve, refinancing long-term debt and paying down short-term debt.”
Speer ended his presentation by polling the audience, “Do you plan to expand your cowherd in the next 1-5 years?”
Showing their resilience to continue to compete in a volatile market, a resounding 73% said yes. How about you? Are you planning to increase your cow numbers? What factors are you considering when buying cattle?
Turnkey solar power equipment for agriculture
GreenVolts is known for its fully integrated “turnkey” photovoltaic system. Until now its primary focus has been on commercial and industrial facilities, a recent contract to install its solar modules for a pesticide manufacturer being one example. The concept of a scalable, all-in-one solar package easily translates to agricultural use, though, with the added advantage that farms are more likely to have open, shade-free land available for building solar arrays. GreenVolts’s system is modular and can be downscaled for use in scattered sites, such as a network of irrigation pumps. It can be scaled up to provide for larger centralized uses such as refrigeration systems, and it also includes software for remote monitoring – a big plus for widespread operations, especially on larger farms.
Taking the Hassle out of Solar Installations
Where GreenVolts specializes in the equipment supply part of the solar power equation, Independent Solar Developers (ISD) takes over the nitty gritty of financing, land use, planning, energy audits, and other details that go into a fiscally successful solar installation. The company already has a narrow focus on agricultural customers, so one of its strengths is the store of experience it is accumulating in dealing with agricultural land use issues.
On the road to low-cost solar power for agriculture
In paying close attention to overall costs including siting and installation, GreenVolts and ISD are closely paralleling President Obama’s SunShot initiative. SunShot, announced last year, is designed to bring the cost of solar power down to parity with fossil fuels within a few years not only by improving the efficiency of solar cells, but also by streamlining the procedures and equipment needed to get a new installation in the ground.
Federal support for solar technology
As it happens, GreenVolts does have a highly efficient solar cell to its credit, and to get there it had help from the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2009 DOE awarded GreenVolts a grant of $500,000 to develop advanced photovoltaic technology in partnership with the Nation Renewable Energy Laboratory. The lab provided equipment, modeling and other analytical tools that a start-up company would otherwise find difficult if not impossible to finance, enabling GreenVolts to test and refine its solar technology.
More Alternative Energy Help for U.S. Farmers
Easy access to low-cost solar power is just one federally supported program that is already benefiting U.S. farmers. President Obama has also ramped up the AgStar biogas initiative, which is designed to help dairy farms and other livestock operations convert manure to energy, and the Department of Agriculture has distributed millions in loans and grants to hundreds of farms for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. Last summer the President also toured the midwest to promote his biofuel initiative, which aims to boost rural economies through investment in growing, transporting and refining biofuel crops.
Energy projects for 21st century farmers
All this activity on the part of private sector solar companies, farmers, and federal agencies makes up a pretty clear picture of an agricultural sector in transition from old energy to new that directly benefits the bottom line of U.S. farms. This invites comparison with that “other” energy project proposed for the midwest, namely, the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline would transport crude oil from Canada down to Gulf Coast refineries, contributing nothing of value to farms along the way while creating potential risks from leaks or breaks and likely causing the price of conventional fuel in parts of the region to rise (the pipeline would relieve a local glut that has kept prices relatively low). In the context of 21st century farming, the Keystone project sticks out like a sore thumb.
Image: Solar panels courtesy of GreenVolts.
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Diversas condiciones como el incremento en la carga animal y la disminución en las precipitaciones durante los últimos años determinaron que haya aumentado su importancia en las cadenas forrajeras de los sistemas ganaderos.
Durante la gran sequía de 2009 hubo muchos casos de intoxicación por el consumo de sorgo, un sorgo estresado, reprimido en el crecimiento.
El veterinario Gustavo Breschneider, del INTA Rafaela, explicó que “los casos de intoxicaciones estuvieron asociados a ácido cianhídrico y nitratos”.
La planta de sorgo es capaz de acumular ambos, otras como el maíz, el trigo, la cebada, cuando están reprimidas en su crecimiento, acumulan nitratos. “La realidad es que hay que tener mucha precaución si estamos pensando en pastorear un sorgo”, dijo.
Todos los sorgos, todos
El especialista detalló que tanto los forrajeros, graníferos y de Alepo, en mayor o menor medida, tienen algún grado de toxicidad. para los rodeos vacunos.
El agente tóxico más importante es el ácido cianhídrico porque es el que mata al animal de forma más aguda y rápida. “En quince o veinte minutos el animal puede morir, estamos hablando de cianuro”, sostuvo.
La planta acumula el cianuro, el ácido cianhídrico inhibe la cadena respiratoria del animal, el animal no tiene la capacidad de tomar oxígeno y por eso mismo mata rápidamente. “En el caso del nitrato, es un compuesto tóxico que también mata rápidamente pero se necesitan dos o tres horas para que aparezcan los efectos, es menos agudo”, comentó Breschneider.
Luego de las precipitaciones el tema que se plantea ahora es que al cabo de unos días las plantas van a tener una reacción lógica, y el productor lo va a ver con mucho entusiasmo porque va a tener una salida del crítico problema que estaba viviendo.
Al respecto, el veterinario indicó que no hay ninguna regla sobre esta cuestión, pero lo que se recomienda normalmente es cortarlo y orearlo. “El oreo es fundamental, no sólo el corte, porque el ácido cianhídrico se evapora”, explicó y recomendó hacerlo entre 12 y 24 horas antes de utilizarlo.
El especialista comentó que uno de los síntomas que demostrará el animal cuando detecte el compuesto tóxico es que “dejará de comer, lo vamos a ver inquieto y eso es un indicador de que la planta todavía tiene el compuesto tóxico y que necesita más tiempo de oreo”.
Ojo también con el maíz
Muchos de los maíces que estaban destinados a picado o silaje se encuentran en situaciones límites donde muchos productores han decidido pastorearlos para poder aprovecharlos.
El maíz es principalmente una planta acumuladora de nitratos que es potencialmente tóxico. “En este caso el oreo no tiene ningún fundamento, es decir, no serviría para nada, ya que el nitrato no se evapora”, aseguró Breschneider y recomendó “mucha precaución, estar preparado con los antídotos necesarios y usar un animal testigo”.
“It’s time to start thinking like a CEO,” says Robert Milligan, senior consultant for Dairy Strategies LLC. “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder. As we move up, leadership becomes more important than management. Failure to achieve a common vision results in irresolvable differences in decision making. Every decision then becomes a disagreement over the vision. The future of the farm business needs to be someone’s top priority.”
External factors add particular challenges to producers when developing a strategy and a vision for their operations.
“Turbulence and uncertainty in a slow general economy, along with the worst price-cost squeeze in animal agriculture history, make things incredibly volatile. The farm and the industry contain great opportunities but also great hazards,” he says.
Every farm must have a strategy, Milligan stresses, which includes a vision for growth in the business. This can either be through expansion, entering into the value-added market or diversifying to enter new avenues for competencies and skills.
While offering many tips and tricks for becoming a better leader and CEO, Milligan says the agricultural culture helps define our business values.
“We are all products of, and proud of, our agricultural legacy. However, in turbulent times, we must broaden our perspectives and be proactive in viewing change as an opportunity for growth. A leader must learn to value family collaboration on decisions. Farming is more than just a way of life; it’s a family business.”
Whether it’s becoming a more effective manager, transitioning to the role of CEO, encouraging the next generation to get involved on the ranch or trying to implement new strategies and a clearer vision for the operation, Milligan recommends producers focus on what is important, be proactive, show great leadership and instill in family members a desire to win and achieve goals that align with the vision of the ranch.
Does your ranch have a vision for the future? Are all family members on the same page? What are your goals for 2012 and beyond?
La ganadería intensiva está sujeta a la disponibilidad de granos forrajeros y a la volatilidad de los precios. Por su parte, la disponibilidad de pasturas en los sistemas de producción extensivos está íntimamente ligada al comportamiento de las lluvias y a los fenómenos meteorológicos.
La producción de forraje sin suelo ofrece una alternativa en la alimentación animal, como complementaria y no sustitutiva de lo tradicional.
Esto es el resultado de la germinación de semillas de gramíneas y leguminosas sin sustrato (maíz, trigo, cebada, alfalfa, sorgo, avena, arroz, etcétera), en condiciones controladas de luz, temperatura, humedad y aireación. En un periodo de ocho a 15 días, un kilogramo de semilla viable llega a producir de ocho a 15 kilogramos de forraje verde, en cualquier época del año y localidad.
El alimento producido es de alta palatabilidad, digestibilidad y contenido nutricional, mejor que la mayoría de los forrajes (buen contenido de proteína, energía, vitaminas y minerales). Los animales consumen toda la planta incluyendo la raíz, tallo y los restos de semilla no germinada.
Con esta tecnología se optimiza espacio, lo que significa una menor presión por el uso del suelo. Además, se ahorra 50 veces o más agua con respecto a la producción tradicional, se optimiza el uso de fertilizantes, se produce un alimento de alta calidad, se puede programar la producción eliminando la dependencia estacional.
Por si no fuera suficiente, es una tecnología de bajo costo dado que la inversión para producir la misma cantidad de forraje es aproximadamente 10 veces menor que la producción de forraje convencional.
Finalmente, se optimiza el costo al elegir la semilla de menor precio en el mercado y por no requerir semilla certificada, únicamente es exigible 80% de germinación y que ésta se adapte a los entornos locales.
Esta tecnología se debe adecuar a las condiciones específicas de cada proyecto, así como contar con acompañamiento técnico en el inicio, dado que esta actividad exige disponibilidad y compromiso por parte del productor.
Con la aplicación de esta tecnología es posible incrementar la oferta de carne y leche, así como mejorar la rentabilidad en las empresas de los pequeños y medianos productores de manera sustentable. Hay que considerarla.
*Carlos Javier Almanza Gaviña es especialista de la Subdirección de Consultoría en FIRA. La opinión es responsabilidad del autor y no necesariamente coincide con el punto de vista oficial de FIRA. firstname.lastname@example.org