In the video below Rob Saik, professional agrologist, certified agriculture consultant, and founder of Agri-Trend, argues that the technology to feed people already exists. He urges the audience to celebrate the accomplishments of fertilizer, pesticides and genetic engineering in boosting agricultural production while also providing more sustainable ways of farming.

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Video provided by TEDx Talks

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Corn exports increased for the second week in a row, the highest volume since the beginning of harvest. Corn sales decreased after large increases the past two weeks, but remain above the 10-week average. Soybean sales increased significantly from low levels reported last week, although exports declined slightly. Wheat sales increased for the third week in a row, reaching their highest level since late September.

The harvest in Brazil has begun and early reports are suggesting average to below average results. The lack of rain in major growing areas caused significant crop stress throughout the season. The drought has also impacted the Tiete-Parana waterway, a key source of transportation for grain from Mato Grosso and Goias, two high producing agricultural states. Brazil’s already stressed infrastructure may again struggle to transport grain to ports in 2015. ...continue reading

(TheWesternProducer) A key waterway in Brazil used to transport grains, pulp and other bulk goods will not reopen, as planned, for the start of soy exporting season, the Sao Paulo state government said on Tuesday.

The Tiete-Parana waterway has been closed since May, and rains in January, usually the rainiest month in southeastern Brazil, have not raised the draft enough for barges to pass.

The closure shows the growing economic impact of the climate crisis in a region responsible for 60 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product, and economists are considering the impact of potential energy rationing as water levels drop in reservoirs that feed hydro-electric dams. ...continue reading

(Bloomberg) Ukraine reached an agreement with exporters that would limit shipments of wheat used in flour out of the country in an effort to preserve food supplies.

Agriculture Minister Oleksiy Pavlenko said at a conference on Friday that milling wheat exports of 1.2 million metric tons from January through June are being discussed, adding that the figure may vary by 10 percent. The pact with grain exporters will be signed Jan. 26, Pavlenko said from Kiev.

“The memorandum is a gentlemen’s agreement that in fact means an informal restriction,” Nikolay Vernitsky, director of market researcher Pro Agro, said by phone from Kiev. “There is a risk of a shortage of wheat at the end of the season.” ...continue reading

(AGProfessional) The creation of genetically modified and entirely synthetic organisms continues to generate excitement as well as worry.

Such organisms are already churning out insulin and other drug ingredients, helping produce biofuels, teaching scientists about human disease and improving fishing and agriculture. While the risks can be exaggerated to frightening effect, modified organisms do have the potential to upset natural ecosystems if they were to escape.

Physical containment isn’t enough. Lab dishes and industrial vats can break; workers can go home with inadvertently contaminated clothes. And some organisms are meant for use in open environments, such as mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria.

So attention turns to biocontainment: building in biological safeguards to prevent modified organisms from surviving where they’re not meant to. To do so, geneticists and synthetic biologists find themselves taking a cue from safety engineers. ...continue reading

(Teucrium) The concept of adding commodity exposure as a way to reduce portfolio volatility may seem counterintuitive, but the main drivers of commodity prices often vary from those of other asset classes, particularly bonds and equities. This makes commodities important as both diversifiers and volatility reducers in a well-designed, risk adjusted portfolio. Advisors and investors can turn to the commodity sector as a potentially effective means of achieving higher risk adjusted returns in a portfolio. ...continue reading

Corn sales exploded this week, increasing to over 2,000,000 metric tons (MT) of the first time since October 2013. Wheat sales also increased, but soybean sales fell to their lowest level since September 2014 due to large returns from China and unknown destinations. Corn and wheat exports increased moderately, while soybeans exports declined.

Reports of China returning U.S. soybeans caused the price of soybeans to fall over the past two weeks. Continued returns are expected as China looks to purchase cheaper soybeans from Brazil as their Safrinha crop will soon be harvested. Expectations have been tempered as weather in the region has been uncharacteristically dry throughout the second growing season. ...continue reading

Farmland is a limited resource, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated that since 1960 50% or more of the arable land around the world has disappeared due to erosion, pollution, or urbanization.

Below are images of the U.S. and Europe created by Geo-Wiki showing the land classification in 5km sections. The pink areas show what is currently cultivated land used for agriculture. Though the area depicted as currently farmable is significant, the continued degradation of land with crop yielding potential must be sustained if we are to continue to provide for the growing population of the world.

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(Reuters) As the season for wheat planting in Iraq wound down early last month, farmers in areas under the control of Sunni militant group Islamic State grew worried.

More than two dozen farmers told Reuters they had not planted the normal amount of seed, because they could not access their land, did not have the proper fertilizers or adequate fuel, or because they had no guarantees that Islamic State would buy their crop as Baghdad normally does.

Farmers, and Iraqi and United Nations' officials, now fear a drastically reduced crop this spring. That could leave hundreds of thousands of Iraqis hungry. But another big loser would be Islamic State, which controls territory that normally produces as much as 40 percent of Iraq's wheat crop. ...continue reading

(AgProfessional) As we begin a new year, we take time to reflect on what has been, and what may be coming. 2014 proved to be a pretty good year for producers across the country. A pretty solid wheat crop was harvested, despite some chronic drought conditions over the western high plains. The corn and soybean crop benefited from some timely rains and tolerable summer temperatures. With higher yields came lower commodity prices as well.

Looking forward, we all read about Trends in Agriculture. Sometimes looking at the big picture doesn't seem to be very relevant as we prepare for this year's upcoming crop. But, it does help us see where we are going, or where we should be focusing our attention.

Below are five trends in agriculture that I see taking center stage in years to come: ...continue reading