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GMO Spells NO In Some Countries
GMO is an acronym for Genetically Modified Organisms that are causing a lot of controversy in many parts of the world. It is difficult for us in the US to understand the feelings of European Union (EU), Japanese, and other foreign consumers on this issue. Some are concerned about "tinkering" with nature, others have food safety concerns, and still others may be using this issue as a trade tactic to discriminate against imports and to support their domestic policies. Getting GMOs approved also involves "bureaucratic red tape" which delays what is eventually approved.
Do not laugh this off. Many foreign consumers are more opinionated about this issue than we are on converting to the metric system. European governments are even putting together disaster plans to deal with the possible effects of GMO contamination similar to nuclear disaster plans. Yep, that's how they feel.
Who Will Buy GMOs And What Will They Pay?
The ban on GMO corn raises a number of questions. How will the companies monitor the situation? Testing is time consuming and difficult to do. Evidentially, ADM doesnt plan to check every truck, but use "spot checks", which leaves open the possibility of missing some. Apparently part of Cargills strategy for seeking to buy out Continentals grain business is to acquire facilities that will allow them to segregate identity preserved grains (including GMOs) for specialty markets and export. But keeping GMO grains separate is a difficult task no matter how they go about it.
What does this mean for corn producers? How can a farmer guarantee GMO free corn? The planted acreage of GMO hybrids continues to grow. Some estimate they will account for nearly one-quarter of the corn acres this year. Even if a producer doesnt plant it, what about cross-pollination from adjoining fields? If a farmer grows both GMO and non-GMO hybrids, keeping them separate means thoroughly cleaning out planters, combines, grain carts, trucks, augers and dryers along with separate bins. This all adds to increased time, labor, equipment and management costs.
There are two sides to the marketing question. One side says, "Plant what the market wants!" The GMO hybrids offer solutions to difficult insect control or weed problems, creating potential economic benefits from their use. Some, especially those opposed to GMO, argue that producers ignore what the market wants and only plant whatever is more efficient or yields better. They say, regardless of any production benefits, producers should produce for the market and if the market doesnt want GMO, then plant non-GMO. This may actually give some farmers an opportunity to produce and market non-GMO as value added products. Non-GMO grains would probably need to be kept in on-the-farm storage. At this time, no real idea on how this might work has been formulated. The work of keeping these grains separate may be more trouble than the added value may be worth.
But what is the market offering for non-GMO? Segregating varieties or producing non-GMO varieties gives up the GMOs production efficiencies and can add inefficiencies resulting from increased handling and management costs. Is the market willing to pay a premium for this? So far, ADM and Staley are saying they wont take GMOs. They arent saying anything about paying more for non-GMO!
Its getting to be a complicated question and it wont be resolved overnight. Will non-GMO get a premium? Will GMO be discounted? Who will buy what? If they dont test every load, how can they be sure? Will non-GMO premiums or GMO discounts offset the production advantages of the GMO varieties or the cost of keeping them separate? How these questions are eventually answered will impact future production and marketing decisions.
For this year, producers able to separate non-GMO grain may want to look for opportunities to market it at a premium. Ask seed dealers for actual event names (i.e. E176) and for export restrictions that might apply.
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Help! My Pond Has Become A Jungle
Not all aquatic plants are a nuisance for people and animals that use the pond. In fact, aquatic plants are necessary for good fish and wildlife habitat. Excessive plant growth in ponds can be attributed to natural soil fertility and the addition of nutrients into a ponds watershed. Proper pond management can help control the growth of aquatic plants as well as enhance the aesthetic qualities of the pond.
The largest buildup of nutrients in a pond normally occurs during the winter and early spring when plants are dormant, allowing nutrient levels to accumulate in the ponds water and sediments. When waters warm up later in the spring, a pond goes through a process known a "turning over" in which the ponds surface waters and waters at the pond bottom mix vigorously due to temperature differences. This turning action brings the nutrients that were trapped in the sediment into the water column. The warming of the water stimulates aquatic plant growth, which can develop into a nuisance.
The first part of aquatic weed management is knowing the boundaries of the ponds watershed and managing its nutrient sources. Common sources of excess nutrients include commercial fertilizers, animal manure and home septic systems. Nutrients from these sources should be managed so that they are used for watershed plant growth, not washed into the pond.
The second step is to determine how the pond will be used and what aquatic plants complement those uses. Ponds can be used to supply water for homes, livestock, irrigation, and human recreation fishing, swimming, boating, wildlife observation, etc.
The third step in aquatic plant management is selecting the proper method of control, if needed. The occurrence of aquatic plants is a natural process, but what types of plants dominate the aquatic community can be controlled through mechanical, biological or chemical methods. Each method has additional effects on the ponds environment that should be considered prior to use.
These methods can be used singularly but are most effective when two or more methods are utilized. The right method of control will depend on what plants are present and how the pond is being used.
Mechanical control consists of physically removing the plants for the aquatic environment, manipulating water depth, or covering area infested for excess growth to prevent the plants from receiving sunlight. This is labor intensive plus you must properly dispose of the material so as to not reintroduce plant nutrients back into the pond. Mechanical control is usually only recommended in extreme situations.
Using a rake or seine is usually recommended for removing thick mats of filamentous algae on the ponds surface. Cutting and removing can be used for emergent plants. Changing the waters depth is an effective practice for submersed and floating plants. Submersed plants can be effectively controlled in small areas by using floating covers. Mechanical treatments usually require a secondary treatment to prevent plants from growing back.
Biological control usually means introducing a plant or animal species that changes the ponds environment. One of the few recommended biological treatments is stocking of grass carp. Grass carp are only effective for submersed aquatic plant control and some algae control.
Another method of biological control is to add the aquatic plants that you would prefer to have growing in the pond. These preferred plants will not only provide excellent fish and wildlife habit but can help in removing excess nutrients in the water, thus helping to keep unwanted plants at bay. Biological treatment will take longer before results will be realized be patient.
Chemical treatment should always be considered a temporary control method. Chemical labels must be strictly followed. Chemical treatments include the use of specific herbicides to kill vegetation and the use of color dyes to shade out algae and submersed plants.
Before using chemical treatment you will need to identify the plant and know the pond water volume. When treating aquatic plants with a chemical only treat part of the pond at a time, usually one-fourth of the ponds surface. Treating the entire pond can result in a fish kill due to a large mass of dead material using up the waters oxygen during the decaying process.
Ideally, a pond should have about 20% plant cover on the ponds surface and bottom to provide good habitat for fish and wildlife. Control is usually not necessary or recommended until plant cover exceeds 40%, depending on how the pond is used.
To prevent your pond from becoming an aquatic weed patch, manage the level of nutrients in a ponds watershed and establish the aquatic plants you want. For more information on pond management and aquatic plants contact your local University of Missouri Extension Office or the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Ag Connection - June 1999