Precision farming system

Need help with precision farming? A new computer program from Helena Chemical Company allows not only production planning but financial planning as well. According to the company, a grower using its system can generate a plan for a specific field and transfer it into the system's budgeting module. After the grower enters input costs, the system can give cost per bushel, cost per field and cost per acre on that product.

Data from soil sampling are entered into the system through a modem or Internet access. The program then generates fertilizer recommendations or creates color-coded fertility maps. GPS yield monitoring data from the combine may be loaded into the system for analysis and mapping. Remote sensing images also may be used.

Contact Helena Chemical Co., 7137 Vista Dr., West Des Moines, IA 50266, 515/267-1030.

Grain contracts on the Internet

Crop farmers wanting to increase their participation in the food chain may find opportunities on a new Web site. The Internet site (www.e-markets. com) connects crop producers and other agribusiness professionals to the food industry. The site includes everything from the latest agricultural news to agribusiness and food industry stock price quotes. The site lists contracting opportunities and de-scribes price risk management tools. It also provides information on identity-preserved grain and oilseed contracts.

E-Markets just started NetMarket to provide a secure Web-based grain bid automation system that allows real-time cash and cash-basis price quotes.

DuPont chooses Pioneer over Monsanto

Rumored talks of a DuPont/Monsanto merger came to a screeching halt when Pioneer stepped forward and agreed to a deal with its partner on March 15. DuPont announced plans to purchase for $7.7 billion the remaining 80% of Pioneer that it did not own. The purchase continues DuPont's goal to build its life sciences position in the world marketplace.

Pioneer stockholders will receive $40/share, paid out with 45% cash and 55% in DuPont stock. The merger should be complete this summer. Combined, DuPont's ag businesses and Pioneer's seed business will produce an estimated $5 billion in annual sales.

A year ago, the two companies formed a separate joint venture company, Optimum Quality Grains. At that time, DuPont purchased 20% of Pioneer for $1.7 billion. "Before then, we knew we were good business partners and now we're convinced of it," reports Pioneer spokesperson Jerry Harrington.

The merger will assure DuPont, a chemical powerhouse, the dominant position in the crop-biotechnology industry. Pioneer dominates the North American market for hybrid seed corn with 42% of the business. According to Pioneer, its strength comes in the quality of its proprietary germ plasm, well-known brand franchise and distribution system. Together, the two companies should offer increased research capabilities in biotechnology, meaning that more new products will be developed faster.

Pioneer's Harrington says the merger brings together two distinctly different businesses, which should result in few overhead changes. Pioneer will be a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont, keeping the Pioneer name and remaining headquartered in Des Moines, IA. It operates with 5,000 employees worldwide.

DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, DE, operates in 70 countries with 92,000 employees.

Biotech seed marketing delayed

LibertyLink soybeans are not available to U.S. farmers for purchase this spring from AgrEvo. Although the soybeans are approved for planting and consumption in the United States, they have not been approved for import in any overseas market. Rather than risk the presence of LibertyLink soybeans in U.S. export shipments, AgrEvo decided to delay the sale of the soybeans until import clearances are received.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) lauded AgrEvo's decision. The organization has urged seed companies to obtain international clearances for importing biotechnology-derived soybean products into major export markets before releasing them in the United States. Should these soybeans enter the export market, shipments would be rejected and markets lost. ASA also is urging seed companies to implement handling and storage systems that preserve the identity of the grain to keep unapproved varieties out of the export market.