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By Staff | Jan 27, 2017

We have had our January thaw and for that we are grateful. Any days over freezing during our normally frigid Januaries are welcome.

Normally such warm weather days are spent melting down snow drifts, but surprisingly there is no snow to melt off in central Iowa. That trend is so unbelievable that no one saw that coming. What would those odds have been in Vegas?

The winter planning and decision season continues. Those issues and choices vary in importance and order for most farmers. By now most have made decisions on which seed corn varieties to plant. Soybean variety choices are still on the docket for the lesser volume products that looked good in plots or advertising and now deserve a look on your farm.

All along herbicide choices were demanding a closer look as the memories of the weed escapes in 2016 in certain fields arose and each grower recognized that the most expensive weed management program was going to be the one or ones that didn’t work.

Winter reading

I had a few readers and visitors asked if I would make a list of books they might read over the winter to build their educational repertoire and better understand more of the principles related to achieving higher yields and soil biology.

This includes me as my learning curve the last decade has been almost straight up. So here are the books I am either reading or already have on the shelf for this winter’s agenda.

  • “Madness and Memory,” by Dr. Stanley Pruisner. Prusiner is in the neurology department at the University of California, San Francisco and busted his butt for about 20 years to solve a medical mystery. The mystery centered on a cannibal disease call Kuru, a cattle disease called BSE, and a human disease called CJD, when research teams around the world were trying to figure out what was causing those debilitating and fatal brain diseases.

The mystery deepened as they could find no DNA or RNA in their samples. Prusiner was born in Des Moines in 1948. The book is interesting and so far has had no dry or dull patches. He won the Nobel Prize for medicine so what he found and what it explained was considered important.

  • About 12 years ago I wrote about a book by Richard Rhodes called, “Deadly Feasts,” where neurologists working with cannibals in New Guinea correlated Kuru with scrapie in sheep and BSE in cattle. Interestingly enough a novel by the late Kurt Vonnegut accidentally gave the researcher clues that let them solve their riddle.

A friend who read this book mentioned it is a great science read, but that without a background in plant nutrition Prusiner missed an important facet that can lead to avoidance and potentially treatment.

  • “Fatal Flaws,” by Jay Ingram. He was co-host for shows on the Discovery Channel-Canada and authored 11 books so far. Again this deals with neurological disease and a disease causing organism.
  • “Everything I want to do is Illegal,” by Joe Salatin. He runs Polyface Farm in Virginia. He raises food crops for the fresh market and trains many “want to be farmers” who desire to produce for the fresh market, higher-dollar consumers. He is a regular lecturer and part-time comedian who gets frustrated at government oversight people who have little common sense and often don’t know how to get out of the way.
  • “The Farm as Ecosystem,” by Jerry Brunetti, a holistic dairy nutritional consultant who delves into topics that caught his interest and stretched a human’s thinking capacity.

He was a great lecturer and was willing to visit with audience members who wanted to gain knowledge from him. He died three years ago from cancer. This book goes down the list of topics that he felt will produce significant changes in how we raise crops and contribute to soil health in the future.

  • One book I just purchased and have on my pile and will read it to better understand the mentality and purpose of the biggest ag merger so far (in 2016/2017) is “The Planet Rothschild and the Secret History of the NWO, WW2 to 2015.”

After buying a 1,300-page book by Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton’s mentor and former historian at Georgetown University, titled “Tragedy and Hope,” which held the premise that nothing that happened in the 20th century was by accident, this book looked worth buying.

Planet Rothschild may explain why major companies keep trying to enhance their power and control of people and countries.

  • “Tuning into Nature,” by Dr. Phil Callahan, a radar equipment specialist in the U.S. Air Force before he got his education in entomology. After realizing the radar he was developing and building to detect German bombers during WW2 looked similar to insect antenna he was seeing under the scope he spent 20 years proving that insects found their mates, found food and navigated via electromagnetic waves in the environment.

Most of his colleagues scoffed at this idea, but he proved he was right. They continued to ignore his findings because it created too many embarrassing questions, but the Air Force sponsored many years of his research and led to many advances in radar and stealth technology.

His prize grad student is in our think tank and continues this work, with most of it still be classified.

Investing in yourself

Times and conditions were tough during the 1980s crisis. It finally took self-funding and developing the ethanol industry along with the RFS to chew through enough bushels of corn to remove the burdensome stockpiles that were depressing prices. Now after the high prices of 2008 – 12 which brought another 134 or 143 million acres of row crops into production around the world – we seem to be in the same bind.

It will likely take the same sort of effort combined with a few good droughts to bring good prices back. One self-investment that you may be interested in hearing about is that there will be a new soybean crushing plant east of Grinnell where conventional soybeans will be crushed to create meal and oil.

The demand for such products is huge and has been greater than expected. The company that is being formed and is installing the equipment now is seeking investors now.

The payoff for a $20,000 investment is the right to sell 20,000 bushels of 2016 or 2017 soybeans for a $1.50 per bushel premium.


As most of you realize the Iowa Power Farming Show will be coming up next week in Des Moines. Marv, Steve, Carol and I will be in our booth in the Iowa Events Center at our regular location. Stop by when you are there and visit with us.

We will be telling people about what we have learned this year about raising high yield corn and possibly how to seek out the high ROI inputs.

Carol and I just got back from a Friday and Saturday Functional Medical Conference so we are more versed in human health, as well.

Two of Big Tony’s (top plant pathologist from Argentina, Antonio Ivancovich) students from Argentina will be arriving Monday night and hopefully will be at the show on Tuesday.

If you would like to learn the latest on ag in that country they will be around. Stop by if you get the chance. We hope to be able to play two new videos you will like on the widescreen.

Included in the first one will be two of us giving a tour through fields that produced 300-plus bpa corn talking about how the crop was managed.

In the second will be several top scientists talking about soil health and biology, mineral nutrition and how to achieve optimal plant health for maximum yields, nutrient dense grain and profitable crops.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or www.CentralIowaAg.com.

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