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Matthew Meisner, Ph.D.

Matt Meisner, Ph.D., is FBN Head of Data Science, where he leads scientific, research and technical development and creates the FBN analytics system. While in graduate school at University of California-Davis, Matt worked with hundreds of cotton and citrus farmers in California to develop novel pest and crop prediction models by applying big data, statistical computing, and machine learning techniques. Matt has more than a decade of research experience using quantitative tools to analyze agricultural biology, and has co-authored a number of peer-reviewed journal publications. Matt earned his doctorate in population biology and master’s degree in statistics from University of California-Davis, and earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from MIT.

New agricultural technologies have tremendous potential to improve farmer efficiency and profit potential, while at the same time meeting growing regulatory and consumer pressure to enhance sustainability.  However, adoption of new technologies is sometimes slowed down by the scarcity of data on how new technologies perform in the real world. Testing in labs, greenhouses and small plots on research farms can be a critical part of the development process. But it doesn’t always provide enough information about how new technologies will work at scale on real-world farms under diverse and realistic farming conditions.  An innovative solution to agricultural technology testing  These testing challenges led FBN® to launch the Innovators Research League , a game-changing approach to new product development and testing that can accelerate and improve the way in which technologies are commercialized and distributed to farmers. FBN partners with dozens of leading technology developers to test their technologies — including innovations in biologicals, other crop inputs, and even equipment and robotics — in the real world through large-scale, on-farm trials with FBN members .  These rigorous trials get around these typical limitations by testing new products at scale in realistic conditions on actual farms, generating unbiased data to validate performance in different environments and establish credibility with growers. These carefully managed trials generate statistically robust data on product performance, and help speed the path to commercialization — with FBN providing a possible path to market for technologies that show the most potential in these on-farm trials.  Looking ahead to 2023 season trials As the 2022 trial season nears its close, FBN is eagerly looking ahead to the 2023 season and planning is already well underway. (Technology developers can submit interest here .)   One 2023 trial partner we’re excited to highlight is Solinftec , a leading agricultural technology company with an exciting innovation in ag robotics. Solinftec has developed a cutting-edge, autonomous, fully electric robot that promises to transform the way farmers manage their fields. The “Solix” robot provides real-time in-field scouting data, including pest and disease identification, nutrient deficiency detection, and crop health assessments, as well as a novel platform for the precise, targeted application of crop protection products. This technology is particularly exciting because of its potential to drive improvements in efficiency, sustainability and profit potential for farmers. "Solinftec focuses on solving structural problems in agricultural management and offers solutions that genuinely promote low-impact agriculture, while reducing cost and improving yields,” said Leonardo Carvalho, Solinftec’s director of operations. “Solinftec sees FBN as the ideal partner with shared values in helping farmers.”  On-farm testing with FBN members will begin in 2023 in the Midwest with the goal of expanding to other geographies in the future. Stay tuned for updates on the field testing and possible future commercial offerings! Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network” and “FBN” are trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc.

At Farmers Business Network℠ , we are working to put buying power back into the hands of farmers like you. One of the ways we do this is by using anonymized data contributed by FBN members to deliver increased seed price transparency .  Investigating Reported Corn and Soybean Seed Prices The average reported price for corn seed remained fairly consistent year-over-year in 2019, coming in at a $305 per bag list price ($244 per bag after discounts). Member-reported prices for traited products also remained roughly the same between 2018 and 2019. But, as you can see below, the price member farmers paid for conventional corn seed lowered in price further in 2019 and continued to sell for $100-150 less per bag than traited hybrids. For soybeans, the average reported price per bag also stayed consistent with the previous year, but individual traits and trait stacks saw some variation.  Member-reported prices for glyphosate-tolerant (GT) soybeans dropped below $30 per bag. And with the exception of LibertyLink® GT27TM (LLGT27), other traited varieties also lowered, albeit incrementally, in average reported price. New Opportunities Change the Seed Landscape for FBN Members Our primary observation here is that the overall cost of seed has remained high, which makes breaking even a challenging proposition for farmers given current market trends for corn and soybeans.  But a secondary takeaway is that FBN members took advantage of new seed offerings available on the market in 2019. It was the first year we sold F2F Genetics Network™  seed, which was planted on nearly 1,000 member farms across the U.S.  The introduction of F2F Genetics Network conventional corn hybrids that sold for as low as $99 per bag in 2019 and competitively priced GT soybean varieties available to members clearly played a role in lowering average reported prices for those seed varieties in particular. Planning for Future Seed Purchases At  Farmers Business Network® , we’re committed to putting  Farmers First®  and powering the prosperity of family farmers. Here are a few ways to start working with our team and let us support your farm this growing season: Download this year's F2F Genetics Network Seed Guide  to review  FBN 's broad set of seed options focused on great performance and price. The portfolio includes products that have top quality genetics and industry leading traits enabling you to diversify your operation whether you're looking for conventional, traited, or organic seed options. Explore our latest Interactive Seed Performance Report , which provides data on some of our most impactful products to date. The report also offers an opportunity to hear directly from our seed team about the products highlighted through the use of QR codes. Discover how you can save on seed purchases  this year through  FBN 's simple, easy to use programs.  FBN   Direct  offers conventional, traited, and organic corn seed, in addition to soybeans, alfalfa, millet, and more. Join the conversation on FBN Community  to connect with and share insights with other farmers as part of the FBN member network. Watch Now: FBN Seed Finder Tool Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and SmartStax® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Company. LibertyLink® is a registered trademark of BASF. GT27™ is a trademark of M.S. Technologies, L.L.C. Enlist™ E3 is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Optimum® AcreMax® and Optimum® AcreMax® Xtreme are registered trademarks of Pioneer. VT Double PRO® and VT Triple PRO® are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. F2F Genetics Network™ is a trademark of Farmer's Business Network, Inc.

Farmers are always looking for ways to maximize their return on investment (ROI), and one pathway to that objective may involve changing up agronomic practices. By adjusting seeding rates or tinkering with row spacing, for example, you might be able to get more out of the acres you farm and potentially boost your ROI. Farmers Business Network℠ members tend to be on the cutting-edge of agricultural innovation, so tracking their trends can provide insight into where practices are headed across North America.  We published our 2020 Farming Trends Report —utilizing anonymized contributions from more than 6,800 operations covering 135 million acre-events of agronomic data—with this in mind, to give you a clearer picture of practices, trends and more. Want to catch up on some of the latest trends in agriculture? Here are three agronomic trends to note in this year’s report The report is loaded with takeaways, but we’ve identified three trends related to agronomic practices that are worth a closer look as we head into planting season. 1. Tillage practices align with soil conservation trends  As farmers increasingly see the importance and agronomic benefits of soil conservation, no-till farming continues its upward trend across the network. In fact, no-till and minimum-till farming now account for approximately 75 percent of FBN member acres.  Meanwhile conventional tillage continued its downward trend in 2019 and is now practiced on less than one-fifth of member acres. 2. More farmers opt for tighter row spacing for soybeans While corn row spacing hasn’t changed much over the past five years, more and more farmers are turning to 15-inch row spacing for soybeans. This trend most likely reflects heightened focus on ROI against the backdrop of high production costs and a softened soybean market. 3. Seeding rates showed some variance in 2019 Seeding rates have varied year-over-year across member acres. Average seeding rates for soybeans had followed a steady downward trend over the past five years but saw a slight increase in 2019. Average seeding rates for corn have been relatively constant since our analysis began in 2014. Tap into the power of a network of farmers Creating access to information that can help you make decisions to potentially improve ROI on your operation is just one of the ways we’re putting Farmers First® . Want to know more? Download a free copy of our 2020 Farming Trends Report to read our analysis of agronomic practices, seed selection, input costs, commodity prices and more.

By comparing NDVI (a measure of vegetative growth) at the end of June this year, versus the same time last year, we can see just how severely behind this year’s crop really is. Southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Western Ohio show the most severe gaps compared to last year. The map below shows the change in vegetative growth across the corn belt, based on satellite data from NASA’s MODIS program. Darker red means more severe gaps in vegetative health compared to last year. At this early point in the season, imagery comparisons versus last year tell us mainly about planting delays, and don’t correlate exactly with changes in yield. However, later plantings increase the risk of suboptimal weather during key growth stages, as well as fall frost risk . Crop Condition Ratings How much have planting delays affected the quality of the crop that was planted? To help understand this, we also looked at the USDA’s end of June crop condition ratings. The maps below show the percentage of the corn and soybean crops rated as good or excellent, along with a comparison to the 5-year average.  For example, in Illinois, just 42% of the corn crop is rated as good or excellent, 30% behind the 5-year average for this date of 72%. As we saw in the satellite data, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are some of the most severely affected by this year’s extreme weather. Stay tuned to FBN throughout the season as our data science and agronomy teams track the latest imagery, weather and anonymously contributed farmer data to update 2019 yield expectations. Read this next: What Does the Unprecedented 2019 Rainy Spring Mean for Your Planting Plans and Yield?  Analysis for this story included contributions from Jay Ahalawat, data scientist, and Hunter Stone, senior staff agronomist, both with FBN. 

There isn’t an exact date that’s always optimal for planting. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were? Instead, you have to do your best to plant into the best possible field conditions. To get your corn crop off to the best start, you generally want to look for soil temperatures (at seeding depth) of at least 50 Fahrenheit, or quickly approaching 50 F, which is the temperature needed to start the germination process in corn. As you can see from anonymously contributed 2018 FBN member data from North Dakota and South Dakota, the highest corn yields in FBN were observed when planting occurred at soil temperatures between 58-61 degrees. In Illinois, FBN farmers saw highest yields when planting in the 52-55 degree soil temperature range, and in Minnesota, corn yields were highest on fields planted at soil temperatures below about 60F. Soil temperature varies throughout the day, and as the days begin to warm up, soil temps begin to stay above 50F for longer periods of time. The key is finding the balance — planting early enough to allow for the most growing time possible, without planting so early that growth is inhibited. As long as you’re seeing soil temps that are moving into the 50 degree range and looking to stay there or increase, you should be in an excellent planting window based on soil temperature. In FBN, you can see tens of millions of acres of data on yield by soil temperature at planting and by variety. The planting data above is based on real-world farming data. I nformation on seed hybrids  has been aggregated across  millions of acres of data  from 2018. Maturity range includes 108-114 days in Illinois; 93-106 days in Minnesota;  83-98 days in North Dakota; and 93-105 in South Dakota.  Sources: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/?p=3068 https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/corn-planting-consider-soil-temperature-and-date

Row spacing is a planting factor that can help you optimize yields and profitability. For decades, researchers have claimed narrow rows as the next big thing in higher yields, so we wondered what farmers in FBN are actually choosing for row spacing in their fields. As equipment and practices have evolved over time, agronomists have studied the benefits of adjusting row spacing. Some have found that narrower row spacing offers plants even more access to light, water and nutrients and leads to faster canopy closure, meaning less lost solar energy and reduced moisture evaporation. Eventually, 30 inches became the row width of choice for many farmers and a standard width for headers and planters alike. As you can see in this data, from 2014-2018 farmers in Illinois have pretty consistently stuck with 30-inch rows - at a rate of 95 percent. South Dakota shows a similar trend, with only 14 percent of acres planted to narrower rows. Studies have shown yield advantages in moving from 40- to 30-inch rows, but the move from 30- to 20-inch seems to be less conclusive. For much of the country, results vary year over year and don’t tell a consistent story. This could be caused by the multiple factors that play into how changes in row spacing impact each individual farm. The data tells a different story in the northern Corn Belt, particularly in North Dakota, where 22-inch rows have been steadily gaining in popularity. This could be because the narrower row spacing allows for some growers who plant corn, soybeans and sugarbeets to keep the same planter set up across three crops, reducing the costs associated with equipment change over. It could also be because the shorter growing season farther north leads to the selection of earlier maturing hybrids, which have less leaf area to intercept sunlight, according to research from the University of Minnesota 2 . Whatever the reason may be for each individual operation, farmers in Minnesota and North Dakota have been more willing to move to narrower corn row spacings, with 40 percent of acres making the leap in Minnesota and 44 percent in North Dakota. Which way should you go on row spacing? The overall profitability for your operation should be the main consideration when deciding whether or not to change your row spacing plan. While there is data indicating that narrower corn rows can achieve higher yields in certain circumstances, it’s unclear if this yield advantage outweighs the other costs of changing row spacing, such as equipment and labor. Analyzing yield data from different row spacings, along with other planting factors, such as soil temperature, seeding rate and planting date can provide a more complete look at what planting practices have been successful for farmers in your area. The planting data above is based on real-world farming data. Information on seed hybrids has been aggregated across millions of acres of data from 2018. Maturity range includes 108-114 days in Illinois; 93-106 days in Minnesota;  83-98 days in North Dakota; and 93-105 in South Dakota.  Sources: 1.  https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/corn/production/management/planting/row.html 2.  https://extension.umn.edu/corn-planting/narrow-row-corn-production-minnesota 3.  http://www.dakotafarmer.com/story-case-narrow-row-corn-north-9-121047

Historical data is one of the best tools we have for estimating when the conditions will be right to plant. We can look at previous planting dates to have a good estimate of when to be ready, but another useful piece of information is the average date on which the last frost occurs in your area. The map below shows the 10-year average of the last spring frost date across the U.S. , which we computed using data from over 50,000 weather stations. Based on this data, we can see that in a number of southern states, such as Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, for example, there is typically no concerns of a frost after mid to late March. In the northern plains states, however, a frost can occur in late spring, or even in the early summer. The blank (white) locations in the map above indicate that there was no frost at all in at least 5 years from 2009 to 2018. What to remember about frost damage in corn and soybeans Corn generally keeps its growing point below ground until it reaches the 5-leaf collar stage, so it is somewhat protected from above ground frost. However, if temperatures stay below 28 degrees F for more than a few hours, even the growing point that is protected by soil can be damaged. Soybeans are more susceptible to frost damage because their growing point emerges as soon as the crop does. The most important thing to do if your crop gets hit by a late frost is to give it a few days to see if the crop can recover. As long as the growing point survives, you may lose some leaves, but your crop may maintain its yield potential. Next up: "Is Planting Date All It's Cracked Up To Be?" Sources: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/articles.02/frost_freeze-0520.html

With spring just a few days away, it’s easy to start feeling the pressure to get your corn in the ground and take advantage of every second of the growing season you can fit in. Choosing the right planting date is a vital part of ensuring the success of your crop each year. Planting early is said to encourage higher yield potential for many reasons, including an extended growing season, decreased early pest and disease pressure, and better conditions at pollination. So, if the window opens to plant early, it is important that you be ready to take advantage of it. As you can see from data across Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, in 2018 earlier planting did consistently correlate with higher yields. While early planting did correspond to higher yields in 2018, that is not the case every year. The most significant factors to consider when deciding if it’s time to plant are favorable soil conditions that are expected to remain that way in the weeks that follow. Planting too early means a higher risk of frost or freeze, which could require replant. And planting too late can result in a shorter growing season and less-than-ideal weather at pollination. This often means we’re planting in mid- to late-April across much of the Midwest. Analyzing how yields have varied in the past based on planting date and planting conditions can help you understand when is the right time to plant with the highest probability of success. In FBN, you can see tens of millions of acres of data on yield by planting date and variety. The planting data above is based on real-world farming data. I nformation on seed hybrids  has been aggregated across  millions of acres of data  from 2018. Maturity range includes 108-114 days in Illinois; 93-106 days in Minnesota;  83-98 days in North Dakota; and 93-105 in South Dakota. 

Finding the best seeding rate for the farm can perplex many farmers — where is the balance between too few and too many seeds, and how can you tell if you’re getting the population right? While most seed companies will provide a seeding rate recommendation, it helps to know for yourself why it matters. Seeding Rate Trends in FBN As you can see from 2018 data from Illinois and Minnesota, the highest yields from FBN network farmers were achieved where seeding rates were around 36,000-38,000 seeds per acre. In both states, yields increased with seeding rates, up to 36,000-38,000 seeds per acre. However, above 38,000, yields decreased—most likely because competition for resources caused diminishing returns. In South Dakota, however, the greatest yield average occurred at 34,000-36,000 seeds per acre; and in North Dakota, it occurred at a lower rate of 32,000-34,000 seeds per acre (34,000-36,000 was only 1 bushel lower, with the significant drop occurring at over 36,000). This just goes to show that geography can have an impact on what works best for farmers. There’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. The ideal seeding rate helps plants optimize light interception during grain fill, allowing each plant to make the most of the available sunlight - improving plant processes and enhancing yield potential. Once light interception has been maximized, a field’s response to increasing population will eventually diminish.  What population is right for your fields? As we see in the data above, there is a point above which more seeds doesn’t lead to higher yields – so planting more seeds would simply mean increased seed costs without additional yield in return. Furthermore, the seeding rate that maximizes profitability may not be the one that maximizes yield. Depending on your seed cost, a lower seeding rate that doesn’t maximize yield may actually be the most profitable, due to the savings in input costs from reduced seeding rate.  In FBN, you can see yield by seeding rate data for thousands of varieties based on tens of millions of acres of data. The planting data above is based on real-world farming data. I nformation on seed hybrids  has been aggregated across  millions of acres of data  from 2018. Maturity range includes 108-114 days in Illinois; 93-106 days in Minnesota;  83-98 days in North Dakota; and 93-105 in South Dakota.  Sources: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/seedingratethoughts.html https://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/corn/planting/optimum-plant-population-for-corn-in-minnesota/

To help farmers optimize seed selection decisions, we’re analyzing data on seed traits using anonymized data aggregated from the FBN ℠  network. One such trait is drought trait technology, commercially available as Genuity ® DroughtGard ® , developed by Monsanto ® (now part of Bayer ® ). It is the only commercially available, genetically modified trait in corn developed specifically to provide drought tolerance. 1 First, we looked at where farmers are using the DroughtGard ® trait. Where are Farmers Using DroughtGard ® ? The map below shows market share of DroughtGard ® by state in the FBN network based on data from 2014-2017. Market Share of DroughtGard ® in FBN by State (2014-2017) Where is Soil Moisture the Lowest at Silking? The map below highlights soil moisture during silking, a period when corn plants are sensitive to drought 1 , and therefore where DroughtGard ® may provide the most benefit. It is clear from these maps that soil moisture levels vary substantially from year to year, but that some regions are more prone to challenging soil moisture conditions than others. 2 To estimate when silking occurred in each county, we used a model 3 that took into account each county’s average planting date and the average relative maturity of seed grown in that region. We used this same method, but with field-specific data, to estimate when silking occurred on individual fields in the analysis below. Does DroughtGard ® Increase Yield? Next, we analyzed the yield changes observed when farmers plant the DroughtGard ® trait. Because silking is a period when we know soil moisture matters, we analyzed yield changes associated with the DroughtGard ® trait under varying levels of soil moisture at silking. Specifically, we examined all fields in the FBN dataset on which both glyphosate/corn borer traited corn and glyphosate/corn borer/DroughtGard ® traited corn were grown simultaneously, and compared the yields from each section of the field. Using the methods described above, we estimated the cumulative degree days at which silking occurred. Using field-level weather data, we estimated the soil moisture experienced by each field during silking. Last, we used a statistical model to estimate how the DroughtGard ® yield advantage changed under varying soil moisture conditions. We observed yield increases associated with the DroughtGard ® trait when soil moisture fell below 40 percent during silking. Yield Advantage of DroughtGard ® under Varying Soil Moisture Conditions During Silking How Much Does DroughtGard ® Cost? When making seed decisions for your farm, it’s important to consider not only yield, but also price, in order to select the seed and traits that will maximize your profit. Using aggregated seed pricing data contributed anonymously by FBN network members, we calculated that DroughtGard ® costs between $4-$13 more per bag, compared to glyphosate/corn borer traited corn . And, DroughtGard ® costs  around $70 more per bag than conventional corn .   Takeaway Planting corn with DroughtGard ® is associated with yield gains in locations that experience low soil moisture during silking, a period when corn plants are sensitive to drought. But, be sure to weigh any yield advantages you might expect against the additional seed cost. If you want to calculate the potential net revenue for each trait package you are considering, you can use the following formula: Net Revenue for Trait 1 = (Commodity Price x Expected Yield for Trait 1) - (Bag Price for Trait 1) x (Seeding Rate / Seeds per Bag) - (Chem and Other Production Costs for Trait 1) Net Revenue for Trait 2 = (Commodity Price x Expected Yield for Trait 2) - (Bag Price for Trait 2) x (Seeding Rate / Seeds per Bag) - (Chem and Other Production Costs for Trait 2) Commodity Price in $ per bushel Expected Yield in bushels per acre Bag Price in $ per bag Seeding Rate in thousands of seeds per acre Seeds per Bag in thousands of seeds per bag (typically 80 for corn and 140 for soybeans) Chem and Other Production Costs in $ per acre Data-contributing FBN members can access real-world yield data from millions of acres, and variety-specific pricing data based on 25,000 anonymized seed price records from the FBN network. Sources: 1  https://www.genuity.com/corn/Pages/DroughtGard-Hybrids.aspx 2  https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2017/how-much-irrigation-needed-corn-vegetative-growth-stage 3  https://www.ncbi.n.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5995377/pdf/pone.0198623.pdflm   Genuity, DroughtGard, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend and Monsanto are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Bayer, or their respective owners. LibertyLink is a registered trademark of BASF.