Tech Tuesday

Putting Farm Benchmark Tools to Work

Potent calculator can help measure your farm environmental impact, DuPont makes an investment and the 'Woodstock of Science'

A few months ago we highlighted the Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator 2.0, which is an in-depth tool you can use to benchmark your farm's performance. The enhancement announced in January helps pull in Natural Resources Conservation Service data for your farm, making it easier to use the program.

Why talk about it now? As you're moving full-speed through the field (though this little cold snap may have slowed a few of  you) start thinking about the fuel you use, the tillage and other tactics you employ and ways you could manage them for enhanced productivity and reduced environmental impact. Why should you care?

These days consumers have a bigger voice in all we do, even indirectly, and steps farmers take today to manage their resources and enhance their management of the tools they use can have a long-term benefit. Sure, it sounds like a speech with all the "do the right thing" baggage attached, but it turns out that if you reduce your "fieldprint" as the folks at the Keystone Alliance call it you'll have a better handle on your own costs and efficiency.

Benchmarking is a pretty powerful business tool and this system allows you to measure your farm and management against a pool of others using the calculator (data is anonymous). Are you using more fuel than other farms your size? This tool can tell you, and offers you a way to prioritize management moves on your farm. It's worth checking out.

Research Facility Opens its Doors

DuPont cut the ribbon on a new $40 million plant genetics research facility in Johnston, Iowa, this week. The facility, which will create 400 new jobs in the region, will also enhance the company's research and development capabilities. And it is housed in a new 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art building. If you've had the chance to visit the Johnston facilities Pioneer has, to tout this as state of the art is really saying something.

In the release announcing the building's opening, Paul Schickler, president of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, says: "Beaver Creek will take DuPont's research and development efforts in seed and plant genetics to the next level and ensure we are consistently providing new solutions and products to farmers and communities around the world."

Experts in plant physiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics at the research facility will focus on plant breeding and the development of new transgenic products.  Together, these groups discover, develop and test the newest products and traits in Pioneer’s research and development pipeline.

DuPont will invest $10 billion globally in research and development dedicated to the food, agriculture and nutrition sectors by the end of 2020 as part of its targeted food security goals announced earlier this year. The opening of the Beaver Creek research facility is part of that effort.

Science Event

It's not every day that a person is invited to Woodstock, of course in this case it's the Woodstock of Science. The second USA Science and Engineering Festival is slated April 28 and 29 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. This very science-focused event is drawing some pretty big science celebrities from Bill Nye the Science Guy, to those dudes from Myth Busters on the Discovery Channel. There will be a range of displays, 150 stage shows and a total focus on science.

That's important these days, as science and science knowledge has fallen from favor in a lot of circles. They're even including a demo of the chemistry of Thanksgiving Dinner.

While you'll probably be planting, this event may be something to put on the calendar for 2013. If you want to know more, visit

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