Q&A with MN Soybean’s marketing communications intern

Minnesota Soybean has hired a summer intern to work within the marketing and communications department. This intern will assist with various forms of marketing and communications, as well as help with local and state events. This year’s intern is Kaelyn Platz.

Learn more about Kaelyn as we ask her some questions. 

To start. Introduce yourself.

Hi everyone! My name is Kaelyn Platz. I grew up on a farm near Comfrey, Minn. I am currently majoring in Agriculture Communications with minors in Marketing and Ag Business at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. 

Are you involved in any organizations?

I am Vice President of the Ceres Women’s Fraternity at SDSU. Ceres is a Greek organization that places an emphasis on women in agriculture, which has better enabled my development as a leader. 

I am also a part of Little International, or Little I. Little I allows students to compete in judging contests, showmanship competitions and other challenges.

Not only am I busy on campus, this last year I became a mentor with the Brookings County Youth Mentor Program.

What made you want to continue in agriculture?

I want to work in agriculture because of the impact the industry has had on my family.

Ever since I was little, my family has owned and operated a 10-acre fruit and vegetable garden. Every year, we would have an excessive amount of plants to sell at the farmer’s market and local grocery stores. To give you an idea, we would plant 25,000 onions, 300 pepper plants, 500 muskmelon plants and many other fruits and vegetables. Seeing the positive impact the agriculture industry has had on my family makes me want to continue in this industry. 

What are you hoping to get from your summer internship?

I am hoping this internship will better my knowledge of the soybean industry and get hands on experience working directly in the marketing and communications department. Ultimately, I want to continue learning within my area of study. 

Now for the fun questions…

Favorite food: Shrimp Alfredo

Favorite color: Pink

Favorite animal: Giraffe

If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Honest. Optimistic. Passionate.

If you were to get on a plane tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Europe. I want to learn more about how they farm, as well as visit all the historic places.

What is one fun fact about you?

I love to travel! Next summer, I will be traveling to New Zealand to learn more about their agriculture industry.


Tools of the Trade: Dicamba spring ’18 update

As the weather warms, soybean fields are being planted, and the focus on weed control increases. One of the new tools, dicamba for dicamba-tolerant soybeans, continues to evolve. The products really have not changed, but the information concerning proper utilization continues to be updated. 

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USDA: Minnesota’s chemical use on soybeans lower than other states

Minnesota has a lower input of fertilizer and pesticide use than other top soybean-producing states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2017 Agricultural Use Survey of soybean producers. The survey gathered data about fertilizer and pesticide use and pest management practices in growing soybeans. 

“This report clearly shows that Minnesota puts out less fertilizer and pesticides than other states,” says David Kee, Minnesota Soybean’s director of research. “Our farmers are doing their part in ‘going green’ and using best management practices.”

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MnDOT asks motorists, farm equipment operators to safely share the road

Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this spring need to be aware of large farm equipment moving from farm to farm, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

“Planting season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out on the highways,” said Ray Starr, acting state traffic engineer. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.” Read more


The Researcher Roundup: shedding light on integrated white mold management

Each year, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council is charged with directing checkoff dollars to support unbiased production research projects. Unbiased production research is crucial to farmers throughout Minnesota. Projects supported by MSR&PC help gather valuable management information and new soybean cultivars available to farmers across the state. In 2018, the Council has invested in 28 major production research projects, ranging from agronomy to plant breeding and genomics. 

Our first 2018 Researcher Roundup, authored by a team of Midwest plant pathologists, is a regional soybean study that sheds light on integrated white mold management. 

White mold continues to be one of the major yield-limiting soybean diseases in Minnesota and other northern soybean growing states. Management of most soybean diseases starts with selecting a variety with good levels of resistance to the targeted disease. However, the development of white mold resistant varieties has proven difficult.

The result is that resistant varieties can only address part of the disease management puzzle for white mold. An integrated approach using several tactics is needed. Specific agronomic practices can help to manage white mold. For example, wide row spacing and decreasing population density may help reduce white mold incidence and severity.

Targeted fungicide applications can also be used to reduce white mold incidence and severity. In the quest to optimize fungicide application timing, disease prediction models are under development to assist farmers in determining when fungicides should be applied to manage white mold more effectively.

The white mold management strategies mentioned above, variety resistance, changes to row spacing and plant population, and the timely application of foliar fungicides, have often been studied individually. However, it has become increasingly clear that a holistic approach to managing this yield-limiting disease, which combines several of these management strategies, is necessary. This integrated approach will better equip farmers, agronomists and others to reduce the impact of white mold on soybean production. Continued research is needed to develop best practices for this holistic approach.

Trials in 2018 are planned at multiple sites across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Row spacing (15-inch vs 30-inch rows) and planting population (110,000 to 200,000 seeds/acre) are the primary factors being examined simultaneously. In addition, fungicide applied in a conventional two-spray program, where applications occur at the R1 and R3 soybean growth stages, will be compared with fungicide application based on a new white mold prediction model.

In preliminary research, well-timed fungicide applications and increased row spacing had strong effects on reducing white mold incidence and severity and maintaining yield, with disease averaging significantly lower in the 30-inch row spacing compared to the 15-inch row spacing. While soybeans planted in a 15-inch row spacing can generally out-yield soybeans planted in a 30-inch row spacing, disease levels in the 15-inch row spacing were high enough that little yield advantage over the 30-inch row spacing was observed in a high white mold environment. The effect of plant population was not as significant as row spacing. Planting populations over 140,000 seeds/acre resulted in marginally higher disease compared to lower planting populations regardless of row spacing.

These studies need to be repeated to determine if these results are consistent in different environments and locations. However, fungicides can be a valuable component of integrated white mold management and based on one study it appears that wider row spacing and planting populations at 140,000 seeds/acre or below in southern Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin can potentially reduce white mold severity and preserve yield potential in a highly disease-conducive environment. Further research trials are planned for Minnesota and across the North Central region to produce a robust set of white mold management strategies.

Figure 1. Disease severity index of soybean plots planted in 30-inch or 15-inch row spacing, at planting populations ranging from 110,000 seeds/acre to 200,000 seeds/acre and treated with Aproach fungicide applied in a conventional program or according to the disease risk model, or not treated. Trial was located at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station, in Hancock, Wisc., in 2017.


Figure 2. Yield of soybean plots planted in 30-inch or 15-inch row spacing, at planting populations ranging from 110,000 seeds/acre to 200,000 seeds/acre and treated with Aproach fungicide applied in a conventional program or according to the disease risk model, or not treated. Trial was located at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station, in Hancock, Wisc., in 2017.

This Research Report was written by Damon Smith (University of Wisconsin , Dean Malvick (UMN), Daren Mueller (University of Iowa , Shawn Conley (University of Wisconsin) and Mehdi Kabbage (University of Wisconsin). 

Melanoma: a survivor’s story

This story will appear in the upcoming May/June issue of Soybean Business Magazine. 

For most people who spot the first signs of skin cancer, detection often begins with the discovery of an abnormal mole.

Jay Zielske was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma in 2014.

Jay Zielske’s circumstances are unusual in more ways than one.

“I’m very fortunate and blessed,” Zielske says four years after he was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma.

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Minnesota Soybean pumps it up for B20

Minnesota’s biodiesel advocates have had May 1, 2018 circled on their calendar for a long time. After all, it’s not every day a state officially enacts a move to a B20 (20 percent biodiesel) minimum blending requirement. 

Some naysayers doubted if the B20 launch day would ever arrive. But breathe easy, Minnesota. The wait is over. 

“We’ve come a long way since the days of B2. We had some early bumps in the road, but we worked through them, and I couldn’t be prouder of this organization,” says Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Director Bob Worth, who was the organization’s president in 2005 when B2 was implemented. “This is a big moment for everyone involved in Minnesota agriculture who helped make biodiesel a reality in Minnesota.” 

The biodiesel truck, built by the DieselSellerz, made its appearance in Minnesota on May 1.

To celebrate the long-awaited move to B20, the Minnesota Soybean team traversed the state in biodiesel powered trucks to promote the homegrown, renewable fuel and its benefits. Five diesel trucks covered more than 1,500 miles and dozens of biodiesel vehicles received free tanks of biodiesel, a ‘May Day’ gift basket and a Minnesota biodiesel history lesson, courtesy of the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.

May 1 was also highlighted by the Minnesota debut of the new biodiesel truck built by the DieselSellerz, stars of Discovery’s “Diesel Brothers” reality show. The truck will be making appearances throughout the state in 2018, and is expected to air across multiple episodes of the upcoming season of “Diesel Brothers.” These episodes will showcase Minnesota’s biodiesel industry and soybean farmers on a national stage.

Minnesota has been a leader in biodiesel since B2 was implemented in 2005. Today, biodiesel contributes $1.7 billion to the state’s economic impact, adds 5,400 jobs to the state and increases demand for soybeans by 13 percent. Biodiesel is the only Advanced Biofuel recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency; as B20 goes into effect during the summer months, the use will equate to removing the emissions from 202,000 vehicles from Minnesota roads. 

Minnesota Soybean’s CEO Tom Slunecka says Minnesota’s biodiesel success story wouldn’t have been possible without the cohesion between MSGA, which handled the policy side of protecting the statue in St. Paul, and MSR&PC, which marketed, promoted and highlighted the many ways biodiesel works for all Minnesotans. 

“This is a landmark day for Minnesota soybean farmers, the state’s economy and environment, and the biodiesel industry,” Slunecka says. “It was a total team effort – MSGA and MSR&PC worked hand-in-hand throughout this process to ensure a smooth transition. Ultimately, moving to B20 will continue to increase the profitability of soybean farmers.”  

Olmsted farmer elected to MSR&PC board

Dover, Minn., farmer Ben Storm is the newest MSR&PC director

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) is pleased to announce the addition of a new director in 2018. In late April, Ben Storm, a soybean grower from Dover, Minn., was elected to serve as the Council’s District 9 representative. Storm is replacing Eric Thorn, who served on the board for 12 years. 

“I have a lot to learn, but this will be a really good opportunity,” Storm says. “I’m just here to learn, so I’ll be going in kind of blind at first.”

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soybean partnership

Former MSR&PC chair honored by alma mater

In late April, Sander “Sandy” Ludeman’s career came full circle. 

The Lyon County farmer and former Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) chair was honored as the 2018 recipient of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades-long service to agriculture. 

Ludeman accepted the award in the St. Paul Student Center, where, 50 years earlier, Ludeman worked overnights as a janitor when he was an agriculture economics major. 

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MDA: Landowners should heed advice when buying, planting seed for conservation areas

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is issuing a warning to landowners: Be cautious when buying and planting seed, especially for conservation plantings.

Recently, the MDA has encountered several issues with seed sold in the state. In 2016 and 2017, the highly invasive weed Palmer amaranth was introduced through conservation seed mixes. The department found seed mislabeled with improper information regarding the contents of the mix. Also, seed has been sold with very low germination rates. All of these issues are violations of state law.

“Minnesota’s seed industry is very important to agriculture and conservation efforts,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “We are fortunate to have many reputable native seed producers that benefit conservation and pollinator habitat. However, a few bad players can bring in invasive weeds. It is important we are vigilant as we try to better our landscapes.”

Here is the MDA’s advice for landowners who plan to purchase and plant seed for conservation efforts.

When selecting a vendor to plant a conservation area:

  • Ask the seed vendor to provide you a copy of the seed label before buying the seed. Be sure the seed has been tested and confirmed free of Palmer amaranth.
  • Make sure the contract with the seeding contractor covers your risks as a landowner. If prohibited noxious weeds are introduced during the project, the vendor should be accountable for their eradication.

At the time of planting:

  • Have someone on site when planting to ensure the vendor is performing the work agreed to in the contract.
  • Count the number of bags of each seed source and compare that to the invoice.
  • Reject any unlabeled seed.
  • Be aware of the labels. Examine and keep all seed labels used in a specific planting.
  • If any noxious weed seeds are listed on the label, verify that only restricted noxious weed seeds are present at a rate of less than 25 seeds per pound.
  • Reject any seed with prohibited noxious weed seeds listed on the label.
  • Require the seeding contractor provide planting records. The records should note which seed lots were planted in specific locations, the planting procedures used, site preparation, and equipment used and how that equipment was cleaned.
  • Retain the invoice and all paperwork for the project.

After planting:

  • When the conservation plantings begin to grow, note that you are seeing the species that should be there. If a plant looks suspicious, contact the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 888-545-6684 or your County Ag Inspector.

Landowners with any questions or concerns should consult with their local conservation staff associated with the specific conservation program. They may also contact the MDA for advice and assistance by calling Denise Thiede at 651-201-6531 or emailing her at denise.thiede@state.mn.us.