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Volume 11, Number 6 - June 2005

This Month in Ag Connection

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Fuel Efficient Farming

The types of field equipment used in crop production vary by individual preference, available equipment, crops grown, soil type and drainage. With the constant rise in fuel prices, it might be time to reevaluate your operation based on fuel consumption and consider possible changes. Fuel pump

Tillage systems vary by the number of trips across the field, pesticide applications needed, soil erosion potential and timing. Changing your tillage operation during these times of high fuel cost is an option, but you must take into consideration any other practices that might have to be changed in this process.

Can you make the change without additional capital investments? Are you taking into consideration indirect costs? "The North Central Region publication Energy Requirements For Various Tillage-Planting Systems" (NCR-202-W) provides a procedure for determining total energy requirements of any tillage-planting system and provides the other factors to consider when making a change.

Fuel Consumption Examples
Field Operation Gallon//acre
Moldboard Plow 1.85
Chisel 1.25
Offset Disk 0.95
Tandem disk, plowed ground 0.55
Tandem disk, second trip 0.50
Harrow, Spring tooth 0.40
Apply NH3, No-till ground 1.05
Apply NH3, plowed ground 0.70
Plant, conventional 0.50
Plant, No-till 0.50
Spray fertilizer 0.20
Spray pesticides 0.15

This publication compares the indirect costs associated with equipment wear and tear, expected life of equipment, additional cost considerations with no till such as pesticide and fertilizers. A worksheet is in the publication that will help you calculate your own crop production practices and compare them with alternative operations. Minimal changes in your operation could help save considerably on input costs and make a big difference to the bottom line.

(Author: Todd Lorenz, Horticulture/Agronomy Specialist)

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Two New Mosquito Repellents


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has just listed picaridin and the oil of lemon eucalyptus as effective as the currently recommended DEET. Both of these repellents have been used in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand since the 1980's. Recent tests by Australian and Israeli military scientists indicate that picaridin and the oil of lemon eucalyptus are as effective as DEET. Further testing is needed in the United States.

"Since West Nile virus is present across the entire country at this point and it's here to stay, we constantly need to be vigilant," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's division of vector-borne infectious diseases. "It gives consumers a better option to protect themselves."

The oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural ingredient extracted from Eucalyptus citriodora. Many of the oil of lemon eucalyptus products on the market are being used in aromatherapy and these extracts are not labeled as repellents. The oil of lemon eucalyptus repellants have been shown to protect from mosquitoes for up to 6 hours, the equivalent of milder formulations of DEET. However, if you want to try the oil of lemon eucalyptus extract as a repellent, be sure it is labeled as a repellant.

Picaridin research shows it is the equal of DEET products. Picaridin containing repellents are less oily and do not have an odor like DEET. The current labeling for United States products will include ticks, chiggers, no-seeums, and mosquitoes.

Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus repellants may not be locally available. They can be ordered over the Internet. Check several sources as there may be a big difference in pricing from different web outlets.

One last point is these are still chemicals. Adults and especially children should introduce themselves or be introduced slowly to these new products. We are all different and may react differently to products deemed safe for the general public.

(Author: Jim Jarman, Agronomy Specialist)

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Taxation Tidbits: The Estate Tax Debate

The debate to reform or repeal federal estate tax is raging again in congress. First, there are valid pros and cons for reforming or repealing the federal estate tax. However, some arguments being rallied just do not hold water. For example, it is frequently stated that repealing estate tax will eliminate the need and expense of estate planning. If saving estate tax was the only goal in estate planning that would be true. However, in practice other goals and objectives are identified with equal or greater importance. Some of the frequently identified goals include: providing for income and security for life; treating heirs equitably; providing for special needs; transferring a family business; and making provisions for long-term care.

Repealing estate tax does little or nothing to help resolve or accomplish these goals. Yes, the thought of saving taxes is what motivates many people to begin the estate planning process - however, it is not what motivates people to finalize and implement their plan.

The fact is that very few estates currently have to pay any estate tax. In 2001, less than 2.3 percent of the people who died owed any federal estate tax at all, and only a tiny fraction of that 2.3 percent were farmers. Neil Harl, a prominent farm estate and business planning attorney in Iowa, is quoted as saying, "I have never seen a farm business that had to be sold in order to pay federal estate tax."

Yes, settling an estate can take a financial toll. There are creditors to be paid, attorney's fee for settling the estate, off-farm heirs as well as on-farm heirs want their fair share of the assets, and frequently there are probate costs. These expenses of settling an estate will continue even if federal estate tax is repealed.

How much wealth can a farmer have and avoid federal estate tax? For 2005 the equivalent exemption from estate tax is set at $1,500,000. Additionally, most family farm estates with real estate are eligible to utilize a special-use valuation provision that can reduce the estate up to a maximum of $870,000. Thus, a farmer with a substantial wealth in farmland could die with up to $2,370,000 and not owe any federal estate tax. For 2006 the equivalent exemption increases to $2,000,000 and the indexed special-use valuation should be at least $880,000.Given a moderate effort and expense of estate planning, a farm couple could shield $4.74 million from estate tax in 2005 and $5.76 million in 2006.

Nearly everyone agrees that federal estate tax laws need to be reformed or repealed. As we debate the issues - we will be better served if we challenge perceptions against facts and analyze the long-term consequences of any suggested changes. For example, if estate tax laws are repealed - what impact will that have on the method and timing of transferring a family business from the senior generation to the junior generation? Many business planners do not believe the impact will be positive.

Remember the ole saying: Be careful of what you ask for - you might get it!

(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Management Specialist)

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Technology Tips: Internet Searching -- Part Two

Some simple techniques will ensure better results. The best advice is to be specific with your search. General words will get many hits by a search engine, but it may be impossible to go through them and find what you want.

Let's look at a simple example: We want to find some information on soybean rust. We could go to a search engine and type in soybean rust. Doing that, we will get hits on web pages that have the word soybean and that have rust. Some of these may not be related to each other. To narrow the search we can put the words in quotation marks making the search engines look for the phase "soybean rust". This will narrow the search down some. We might also want to narrow the search down to sites that have the word Missouri in them. We could search for the following: +"soybean rust" +Missouri. Using the plus signs causes the search engine to give us pages that have both the phrase soybean rust and the word Missouri in them.

Since I work for the University of Missouri, I have a prejudice that education related information might be more reliable and less biased than other information sources. We could further refine the search by looking for the following:
+"soybean rust" +Missouri +edu. Putting the edu in the search will tend to give us sites that are education related.

The following are results in number of hits I got with three search engines using this technique:

Search Engine Soybean rust "soybean rust" +"soybean rust"
+"soybean rust"
+Missouri +edu
Altavista 433,000 372,000 25,100 930
Google 167,000 112,000 7,110 578
Yahoo 434,000 373,000 25,100 927

We have made no attempt here to evaluate the quality of what we found. This simply show the difference in numbers of hits with the various search engines and search techniques. Results will vary on a daily basis. Space doesn't allow for more discussion on this. Watch for future issues for other searching suggestions.

(Author: Don Day, Natural Resource Engineer)

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Soybean Rust Update -- Spraying For Soybean Rust

The following material was summarized from a publication, "Using Foliar Fungicides to Manage Soybean Rust." The entire publication can be found on the web at:

Environmental conditions at the time of spraying can have a great influence on final disease control outcome.

There will be soybean rust updates throughout the season so watch for more information. Updates can be found at:

Be sure to check ahead of time on accessibility of fungicides.

(Author: Don Day, Natural Resource Engineer)

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Missouri Pest Management Guidelines

The following web site gives you good updates throughout the season on pest management. It gives information on weeds, diseases, and insects of most crops. This includes identification, cultural, and chemical control. The site is under development so watch for updates.

(Author: Todd Lorenz, Horticulture/Agronomy Specialist)

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Small Swine Herd Breeding Workshop

A workshop entitled "Boar Semen Collection / Processing Workshop for Small Scale Farms" will be held at the University of Missouri's Trowbridge Livestock Center on August 8 and 9, 2005.

The workshop will be conducted by Dr. Tim Safranski, Swine Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri, and Dr. Wayne Singleton of Purdue University. The techniques will be the same as those taught to large swine farm stud managers. The focus, however, will be toward owners of small herds, especially those with rare or endangered breeds of swine.

At the workshop, breeders will learn to collect and preserve the semen for use in artificial insemination without major laboratory equipment investments. Breeders could then share their boar genetics across the country to help maintain diversity in rare breeds. Producers are encouraged to bring a boar to the workshop to learn the collection process. However, boars will be available for participants who are unable to provide their own animals.

Registration for the workshop is $100. If producers contribute two boar semen collections to the National Germplasm Center in Ft. Collins, Colorado, the registration fee will be waived. More details on the workshop are available from Dr. Safranski at (573) 884-7994 or by e-mail at

(Authors: Mark Stewart and Gene Schmitz, Livestock Specialists)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.