Archive | August 2011

South Central Nebraska Crop Update


After a hot, very humid growing season over much of July and Aug, cooler nights are finally being experience lately.  This will help greatly at finishing the corn crop with good test weights.

We are on the last days of irrigating, if no substantial rainfall occurs.  It is important to finish strong and to not allow the crop to run short of water.  Corn is mainly in the ¼ to ½ starch line stage of development.  Corn at this stage will still use 2.0 –3.5 inches of water.  If the water isn’t readily available in the soil profile, irrigation is needed.

In much of the area, post tassel fungicides were applied to the corn crop.  Results look positive at this time.  Because of past experience, a non mite flaring insecticide was applied with the fungicide to control and hold down the later developing bird cherry oat aphids.  Fields that didn’t have that application in some cases developed high levels of the aphids on the lower to middle parts of the plant.  Treatment guidelines have not been researched for these aphids, but past experience has shown that they tend to cause poorer corn stalk quality in the fall where heavily infested.  This has been a recent phenomenon in the recent 4-5 years.

Where the corn was watered correctly and fungicides were applied, pollination issues are not being reported as much.  Pretassel greensnap that occurred during a high wind event on the night of July 10 will limit production in areas of some fields on hybrids that were vulnerable.  Some seed corn fields were heavily damaged.

Soybeans look very good at this point.  Pods are full on many of the early May planted group 2.5 to 3.0 varieties.  Yellowing is occurring on the early maturing varieties.  A full profile now on silt loam soils will finish most of the earlier planted soybeans now.  Limited soybean aphid and bean leaf beetle treatments occurred on the early planted fields.  Some recent treatment has taken place on the later May to June planted fields.

As always, finishing strong is important to maintain good plant health on the corn and fill the last top pods on the soybeans.

An Open Letter to Our Interns

From CEO Mitch Counce to Servi-Tech Summer Interns:

I have enjoyed meeting and talking with our summer interns over the last two weeks. Your assistance in helping our agronomists and their producers to be more productive is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your efforts.

It’s been a summer of extremes, with drought conditions in the southern part of our territory to the flooding conditions in the north. As the world population increases, we have a daunting task of providing adequate food to people across the planet. My belief is that agriculture will remain a very strong, stable, steady and rewarding profession. Our company is growing, and other related ag industries will continue to grow as well.

Each of you were chosen to work for us because we felt you have special talents or skills. We would like for you to consider working for Servi-Tech as a career, although we realize that not all of you will.

If we aren’t your choice, we have many contacts in the ag industry, and we are very willing to assist you in finding the right job. If you have friends that may be interested in a career with Servi-Tech, please let them know about us. All of you have my business card and my phone number. Please call me (or any of us at Servi-Tech) if we can be of any assistance helping you deciding on your future career path.

Please ‘like’ the Servi-Tech Facebook page and ‘follow’ us on Twitter. These sites are updated daily with information about the company, recruiting dates, job opportunities, and great ag information!

Thank you again for helping us fulfill our purpose of making the planet more productive, and the best of luck to you as you return to school!

Dennis Avery: Lucky Accident Slashes Food Poisonings

By Dennis Avery

CHURCHVILLE, VA—A new natural food additive, discovered in a laboratory accident, is now ready to slash by half the number of hospitalizations and deaths from food-borne bacterial poisoning across the Western World.

In July, salmonella traced to ground turkey hospitalized 78 people in 26 states and was blamed for one death. Nationwide, such deadly food-borne bacteria as E. coli O157:H7, salmonella, campylobacter and listeria claim an estimated 48 million victims per year, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The bacteria attack even more viciously in countries with cruder defenses.

Now, hundreds of thousands of anguished parents, relatives and friends will not find themselves standing by hospital beds because a victim innocently ate something that should have been safe—thanks to the new food additive.

That’s today’s good news. The bad news is that the other half of our food-borne bacteria victims are still at risk. We still refuse to use safe, cheap “electronic pasteurizing” to kill the deadly bacteria on our fresh produce—such as the E. coli-infested bean sprouts that recently sickened 3900 people and killed 39 in Europe.

Food Scientist Dan O’Sullivan at the University of Minnesota found the new natural food additive because he was looking at food bacteria microscopically and knew what he had when he found it. The new food additive is a “lantibiotic,” a peptide produced naturally. It kills gram-negative bacteria—including most of the harmful ones.

The new lantibiotic can be added safely to hamburger and other ground meats, egg and dairy products, seafood, salad dressing, canned foods and many other products. It’s nontoxic, easy to digest and doesn’t induce allergies. It’s also hard for bacteria to develop resistance to it. It has been patented by the University of Minnesota and will now be licensed for industry-wide use. Watch for it.

This kind of food safety advance was supposed to come from the government’s new Food Safety Act, which is hiring lots of new food inspectors to chase food-borne bacteria after they’ve already sickened or killed their victims. That’s a fool’s game because the bacteria are so pervasive, and often appear only fleetingly in the food chain. The food inspectors will spend millions of hours without preventing much danger. In 2006, contaminated California spinach killed 3 and hospitalized 276. The source may have been found—weeks later—in a nearby cattle pasture, with a fence that had been penetrated by feral hogs. But that doesn’t tell us how to prevent future E. coli O157 outbreaks since the E. coli O157 has been found in every cattle herd ever tested for it.

Unfortunately, our “food scare industry” loves the new law, because, not being at all preventative, it leaves them free to proclaim profitable “answers” such as organic food and “nature’s own” products that are not demonstrably safer.

Electronic pasteurization has been on the shelf for decades, safety-tested, approved by medical authorities worldwide and cheap. It even makes the produce taste better and fresher because it kills the spoilage bacteria too.  The world got pasteurized milk because of a tuberculosis epidemic in the dairy cows, which were spreading it through their milk. What will it take to reassure our consumers that technology is better than thousands of hospitalized children per year?

The best news for me, besides the thousands of people who don’t become ill, is that the food scare industry will now have only half as many food-borne illnesses to crow about in the press. Unfortunately, you will still be playing a needless game of Russian roulette with your family’s health when you buy fresh fruits and vegetables—even organic ones. Good luck.

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to or visit us at

Why Social Media in Ag?

By Mark Vierthaler

This year, Servi-Tech is one of the official sponsors of Agvocacy 2.0 – an agriculture-based initiative to get those within the agricultural community involved in social media.

In recent years the trend has continued to push towards newer ways of reaching out and connecting with the people who actually make use of the fruits of our labors.

In recent months, I’ve asked growers and ranchers if they’re tired of agriculture being misrepresented in the media. It’s usually a resounding yes. That’s usually followed up with something similar to “But what are you going to do? It’s the liberal media.”

As a former member of the media, it’s not any liberal or conservative media we should be concerned about. It’s the LAZY media. When supporters of scientifically inaccurate information approach newspapers, the newspaper will usually run it. Why? Because the information has been presented to them on a silver platter.

My follow up question is usually, well what have you done to help combat that? Most shrug.

One person said it best:

“I guess I was so busy feeding the damn people that I never stopped to think if they knew where it was coming from.”

We, as an industry, as a group of 2 percent feeding the remaining 98 percent, can no longer afford to simply sit idly by and hope for someone to take care of our PR problem. That’s where social media comes in.  The majority of people involved with agriculture are aging. Social media tends to be looked at askance and with a doubtful eye. However, it’s not this generation that’s looking to cripple modern agriculture and scientific advancement.

It’s the youth, people my age and younger, who have banded together and used the unprecedented access to leaders and media to push their agenda through. Social media isn’t as much about connecting with the people who have been our long time customers, but connecting with those unfamiliar with the purpose of modern agriculture – to feed and clothe a growing world.

It’s about connecting, and sharing the true story of what’s going on out in the field. It’s about telling people the truth about your product, about transparency, and the steps that those within the company and agriculture in general are trying to take.

And age and location mean nil. Here’s a list of some power users within agriculture that have stepped outside their comfort zone and busted their butts to tell the story and share the word:

  • Becky McCray – Oklahoma business owner and speaker
  • Jeff Fowle – California Rancher and Farmer (Fourth generation rancher)
  • Zach Hunnicutt – Aurora, Nebraska farmer
  • Chris Chinn – Rural Missouri Hog Farmer (Once told me “In order for me to tweet, I have to drive to the nearest town and bum off the wireless of McDonalds or something. But, it’s worth it.”)
  • OUR OWN ORVIN BONTRAGER is a Facebook power user.  Orvin has used Facebook to help drum up support for the NIACC when he was the president, and routinely posts pictures and videos of the crop production process on his Facebook page. This is then shared on the Servi-Tech Facebook page, which reaches those both within and outside of agriculture.
  • OUR OWN FRED VOCASEK has been working closely with me over the past several weeks to boost the output of the laboratory Twitter feed. This includes updates to the Website and news articles applicable to our clients — and our own employees’ — needs.

Social media – and online interacting and marketing – is no longer a toy. If we in agriculture want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s time to embrace the new technology and begin introducing our friends, relatives, and clients to the real picture.

Now is the time to be psyched about the challenges facing agriculture and the role we can play in our determining own future!

Contact Director of Communications at