Southeast Asia Soy Buyers Tour Minnesota Farm

Participants in a trade mission from southeast Asia,  visiting an area crop and livestock operation,  now have a better understanding of U.S. agricultural products and soybean production practices thanks to a tour of the Mike Riley family farm near Amboy.

Organized by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in conjunction with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), the Southeast Asia trade mission included 45 executives representing 37 companies from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia.

For the Riley family, this was the second time a trade delegation has spent time on their farm to learn more about crop and livestock production.

The stop at the Riley farm provided the delegation with a close look at the equipment necessary to harvest soybeans and to learn more the production practices the family follows on their operation.  The group was particularly interested in learning more about the cost of production, grain storage and the latest in machinery technology.  Riley and his wife Cathy, along with their sons, Dusty and Ross, their ag lender and crop insurance advisor took time to answer questions from the delegation.  The group also spent time at a hog nursery facility to learn more about swine production and diets.  

“The group was very curious about the soybean production in this part of the state as they had heard this area had been hit hard by frost a week or so ago, so they were curious as how that may affect our yields,” said Riley. “This group really seemed interested in our operation and what it takes to produce soybeans.  It was a privilege for our family to share our crop and livestock operation practices with them.”

According to USSEC Regional Director for Southeast Asia Timothy Loh, the group was eager to visit the Riley farm to learn more about Minnesota crop and livestock production agriculture.

“Many of the companies represented on this delegation are importers of U.S. agricultural products,” Loh said. “The annual import requirement for this group is approximately 3.7 million metric tons of soybean meal, 2.5 million metric tons of commodity grade soybeans, and 37,000 metric tons of identity preserved, variety specific soybeans.”

Prior to arriving in southern Minnesota, the buyers participated in the Midwest Shippers Conference in Milwaukee, WI. The delegation also spent time at the farms of soybean producers in southeast Minnesota and in northern Minnesota.   

Soybean Research RFP Reflects Grower Input

Yield is of primary importance to soybean farmers across Minnesota and is a key focus of research funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC). This year, research into different types of soil and climate conditions ranging from northern to southern Minnesota is especially important as prices have dropped, climate conditions are changing and the geographical production of soybeans has steadily increased into northern Minnesota. 

The MSR&PC invests millions of dollars in soybean research to address the challenges soybean farmers face regularly. This year’s request for proposals (RFP) for soybean research will look a bit different as the organization addresses specific needs of northern Minnesota’s growers.

During the first week of August, soybean farmers were surveyed at plot field days held by county soybean organizations and the soybean checkoff. These surveys provided valuable feedback for the future of soybean production.

Notable results include:

  • 42% of respondents indicated Iron Deficiency Chlorosis was important
  • 36% of respondents indicated Information on Seed Treatment need and effectiveness was important
  • 24% of respondents indicated Root and Stem disease was important
  • 24% of respondents indicated Soybean Cyst Nematode was important
  • 17% of respondents indicated Row Spacing; Fertility; or Yield (for each) was important

These recommendations, made by soybean farmers themselves, were taken into account by the MSRPC Production Action Team. The team then incorporated those needs into the RFP to request research and technology transfer soybean projects that will continue to meet the needs identified by soybean growers across Minnesota.

“The MSR&PC Production Action Team has members from across the state representing Minnesota soybean farmers. Using farmer expressed needs assessment provides us with the most accurate determination of what questions funded research and extension projects can address to help all Minnesota farmers improve their soybean management and increase yields and profitability,” Paul Meints, MN Soybean Research Programs Manager, said. “Region specific needs are incorporated into the request for proposals (RFP) as well as general statewide needs to assure we are finding answers for growers in newly expanding Minnesota soybean production areas as well as established growing regions.”

The RFP for soybean research projects will be released Oct. 1, primarily to University researchers.

The MSR&PC oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of the state’s soybean farmers. The council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers to pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. Funds are used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.

soil tillage field day

U of M Extension to Release Tillage Videos

Do you often wonder what type of tillage is really best for your soil conditions and crop rotation? Or maybe you’re unsure how tractor and implement traffic affects your soil?
While there is no one answer for all farmers, there are many aspects that factor into what is best on your farm. Soil health is valuable to your crop yield year after year, so choosing tillage that will minimize damage to soil structure and avoiding compaction is important. Read more

Frost Damage Being Assessed

An unwelcome early dose of frost across Minnesota over the weekend has left many soybean and corn farmers assessing the damage and wondering about their yield potential. Many areas of Minnesota saw temperatures dip below freezing at least once in the past week.

Damage reports are varied across Minnesota, with some areas being hit hard by frost while others escaped unscathed.

“There seems to be a great degree of variability in the frost damage both in terms of geography and genetics of the fields that were impacted,” says Paul Meints, director of research programs for Minnesota Soybean. 

Meints says information he has gathered from surveys and from scouting puts the estimated yield loss at 5-10 percent statewide. If the top 6-10 inches of the plant are lost, so too is much of the plants photosynthetic capabilities, meaning yields will be impacted.

With the late spring planting conditions throughout many regions of the state, the impact of this early frost was compounded.

Another Look in the Field–Soybean Yield Potential

A number of agriculture news sources released an article last week reporting extraordinary yields in soybean trials at Weslaco, Texas ( EG: The trials were conducted by Stoller Enterprises, Inc. at the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Research center in Weslaco, Texas and reported yields of 214 bushels per acre in replicated trials. This may offer a little insight into soybean genetic yield potential and what Minnesota farmers should consider when trying to maximize their own yield and profit line as well as limitations that may be present in any farm operation.

The trials at Weslaco were irrigated under a drip line and received supplemental fertilization (610 lb/ac N, 40 lb/ac P, 200 lb/ac K) to alleviate those factors as yield limiting. When looking at fertility needs and soybean yield, Salvagiotti et al reported that rhizobium ability to supply N demand in high yielding environments (yield above 5 Mg ha-1 or 74 bu/ac) was uncertain based on their review of the literature. (F. Salvagiotti, K.G Cassman, J.E. Specht, D.T. Walters, A Weiss, and A Dobermann, 2008. Nitrogen uptake, fixation and response to fertilizer N in soybeans: A review. Field Crops Res 108:1-13). John Schmitt, DuPont Pioneer Research Scientist, reported that soil residual and fixed nitrogen were sufficient up to 60 bu/ac but that nitrogen may be limiting as soybean yields approach 80 bu/ac (

University of Minnesota Extension publication AG-FO-03813-C “Fertilizing soybean in Minnesota” by Daniel E. Kaiser and John A. Lamb cited early UMN research that showed conclusively that application of additional nitrogen had no effect on Minnesota soybean yield. It is also commonly reported that the Rhizobium become “lazy” under fertilization and cease fixation. The results reported in this Texas trial indicated that this was not the case here and that the nodules appeared healthy and functional. Finally, keep in mind that Salvagiotti et al reported that unless the soybean to N price ratio was large (high soybean price – low N price), supplemental fertilization would not provide a significant return on investment for the years 2002-2006 that the data was examined. The financial return on additional N remains a vital question that UMN research indicated was not sufficient to warrant application and Salvagiotti et al indicated would only be profitable in specific scenarios in their publication.

Possible questions you might ask are: Can we dramatically increase yields like those in Texas here in Minnesota?; and Could we do it profitably? There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you ask those questions. First what is the true yield potential in our growing environment? Here in Minnesota, yield trials at Becker last year had a few lines at just above 90 bushels, but that yield was not achieved across the state in similar trials. Water, rhizobium activity and soil fertility must be adequate and yield limiting pests and/or pathogens reduced or eliminated to realize full yield potential in the range of relative maturity zones from south to north in Minnesota. Certainly the potential observed at that single location/year and relative maturity group grown at Becker encourages us to consider what might be possible given an optimum field environment over the relative maturities grown across the rest of Minnesota. A solid response to the report out of Texas is to begin now to improve your strategy for soybean production from cultivar selection, rotation, tillage and soil health, and pest management for next year. The best management practices (BMP) and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies available from University of Minnesota Extension and Research should also be part of the seed selection and the planning phase examining how each might be more efficiently integrated into your farming practice.


Will you be able to produce 214 bushel beans next year? Maybe not, but our strategy at Minnesota Soybean is to work with our research and extension partners to increase your yield 10% over trend line in the next five years. That is the goal driving the kind of research and technology transfer the Production Action Team looks to support to assist Minnesota soybean farmers in achieving the maximum yields and profit in any given growing season.

Rail, Transportation Concerns Power Discussions

Participants at the 2014 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange were treated to a harsh reality Tuesday and Wednesday at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee–infrastructure drives growth, and infrastructure, both globally and in the United States, is degrading.

Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist for Moffat & Nichol, painted a bleak picture about the U.S. Economy, one that involved a path to a stagnant economy with outdated infrastructure.

“If you want the economy to grow, you need to hitch it to something that will help make it grow,” he said. “We need to concentrate on exports to get that growth.

Kemmsies pointed to Brazil as a country that has developed a plan for infrastructure, one that could have lasting impacts on the U.S. Soy industry. He says Brazil has invested in a major highway that will change how it ships grain to Asia, which means China will be able to buy much cheaper beans then those currently bought from the U.S.

That prospect worries Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Chairman Paul Simonsen.

“The big thing with Brazil is they are going to be such a low-cost seller of soybeans that we aren’t going to be in the same ballpark with them,” he said.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Joel Schruers, who sits on the Market Development action team at Minnesota Soybean, agrees.

“If we lose this market to Brazil it is going to be very upsetting because we don’t have to lose it,” he said. “If we do, we just gave it to them.”

Kemmsies says the U.S. can avoid future troubles by concentrating on rebuilding infrastructure, and then by pushing exports.

Rail Concerns present
Several breakout sessions at the conference focused on rail transportation and the logjam affecting all sectors of rail shipments. Jay O’Neil of O’Neil Commodity Consulting and Senior Agricultural Economist at Kansas State University, says the rail epidemic is bigger than just agriculture.

“Rail business across all sectors has increased,” he said. “It’s not just a grain story. If it were only a grain issue, the problem would be much easier to fix.”

Anne Erickson, General Director of Feed Grains, Feed Products, Oilseeds and Meals for Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, said their company acknowledges the current struggles with the rail shipments and has pledged to invest $5 billion into capital investments, including adding an additional 500 locomotives to the rail line and increasing and staggering the number of sets produced to accommodate the growing grain industry.

“It’s not about putting more cars out on the railways but getting more out of the assets we already have,” she cautioned the group of industry leaders, agribusiness professionals and international buyers.

O’Neil echoed the comment.

“We need greater efficiencies,” he said. “We need to move more cars in an efficient manner and not just clog up the railroads. We don’t want to play Whack A Mole and just feed the squeaky wheel.”

Even Minnesota Assistant Commisioner of Agriculture Charlie Poster, who presented an overview of crop production and food security in Minnesota, couldn’t escape questions about the rail situation in the U.S.

“Minnesota farmers have done well over the last several years and that is because they are highly productive,” Poster said. “We are producing more and more every year, but we need that effective rail partner to get the goods to the river or to the port and to the people when they need them.”

Buyers Conference Bolsters Global Trade Relationships

International grain buyers, farmers and agribusinesses spent the better part of the 2014 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Tuesday and Wednesday in Mlwaukee, Wis., sharing ideas and making connections.

According to Minnesota Research & Promotion Council Chairman Paul Simonsen, that’s the way it should be.

“The value of the conference are the people who are here,” Simonsen said. “This conference gives us access to international people who we normally wouldn’t see unless we traveled oversees.”

Roughly 600 people descended on Milwaukee to learn about the state of the soybean industry as well as other grains, with messages on transportation, sustainability and food security. For farmers like Simonsen, the experience is invaluable.

“The amount of connections and networking that is done is really important,” he said. “This conference empowers our U.S. industry leaders a chance to connect and develop new ideas to reach our industry partners oversees.”

While soybeans were largely on everyone’s minds, an early panel Tuesday also highlighted the importance of diversity in the agriculture industry, not only domestically, but abroad as well.

Teresa Babuscio, Secretary General for COCERAL, says the culture of a business plays a big role in whether women can not only advance, but be taken seriously and contribute. Babuscio encourages women to seek out those companies and to aggressively pursue those positions.”

“Remain dependent in your way of thinking,” she told the audience. “Do not hesitate to challenge and express ideas, even if they are without cause and met with resistance.”

Mariela Urguia, First Vice President, AFACA, Venezuala Feed Manufacturers Association, says women continue to be hired or promoted into prominent roles, and for good reason.

“Our long careers show the strength of the work that can be done,” she said. “We’ve been able to move up the ladder and advance because of the hardwork we’ve done.”

Newly elected U.S. Soybean Export Council chairperson Laura Foell, of Iowa wrapped the Forum with an open plea to minorities and women in agriculture.

“Women and minorities represent new a different viewpoints that we don’t have right now,” she told the audience.

The conference wraps Wednesday, but the work building relatioinshs with international partners continues as approxiametly 55 buyers from SE Asia will continue their journey with a tour of a few Wisconsin facilities before a tour of the Mississippi River at Winona, stops at a pair of Minnesota farms, and presentations at the Minnesota Soybean office in Mankato.

Petefish Taiwan

Taiwan Soybean Meal Buyers Learn Value of Soybean Production

Daniel Goleman, a best-selling author with a Ph.D. in psychology, once said Western business people often don’t grasp the importance of establishing human relationships. When it comes to Minnesota soybean farmers and their customers abroad, nothing could be further from the truth.

Thanks to farmers such as Mike Petefish of Claremont, Minn., and Jeremy Hanson, who farms near Nerstrand, Taiwanese soybean meal buyers have a better understanding of the value of Minnesota soybeans and the dedication that goes into the production of those soybeans, all of which comes from the family farm.

Read more

Soybean Yields Focus of Chinese Buyers Visit to Martin County Farm

A group of Chinese soybean buyers now have a better awareness of U.S. soybean yields and production practices thanks to a tour of a southern Minnesota that included a stop at the Lawrence Sukalski family farm south of Fairmont.

The buyers, visiting Minnesota as part of a tour coordinated by the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and in conjunction with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), were in the state to learn more about soybean production and quality.

Read more

big iron farm show

Thousands flock to West Fargo for Big Iron Farm Show

One of the upper Midwest’s largest farm shows is underway this week, bringing farmers from Minnesota, North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere together to see what’s new and important in agriculture. The Big Iron Farm Show features more than 700 exhibitors and annually draws about 85,000 visitors to the three-day event at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

Minnesota Soybean participates in this premier event, promoting the value of the soybean checkoff and the importance of membership in the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Soybean farmers Kurt Krueger, Jim Kukowski, Theresia Gillie, Cecil Deschene, Kevin Amiot, Elliot Solheim, Bill and Karolyn Zurn all spent time in the Minnesota Soybean booth interacting with their fellow farmers. They joined Justin Ge of MEG Corp and Tom Verry of the National Biodiesel Board, who were on hand to promote biodiesel and answer questions about the industry.

Despite chilly temperatures, rain and gusty winds at times, strong crowds filled the buildings on the Big Iron grounds looking at everything from the newest precision planting equipment to the newest seed genetics, livestock handling equipment and more. Hundreds of farmers took part in information sessions on a range of topics including grain marketing.