THE WINTER farm shows are great places to gather valuable bits of information that point to the future of agriculture. Here are a few of those nuggets from the National Farm Machinery Show and Commodity Classic:

  • $4/bu. corn may be as good as it gets. Richard Brock told a 500+ audience of farmers at Commodity Classic that everyone has an opportunity to lock in $4 corn for the next couple of years and should do so because prices may go south with another good year of yields.

  • Expect to see new tractor introductions next winter from most tractor manufacturers. The Interim Tier 4 engine regulations go into effect in 2011 and all new 174+ hp tractors must be equipped with engines that comply.

  • Add “sustainability” to your vocabulary because most ag companies are now talking about how their products fit into a sustainable system. For example, Syngenta has a team devoted to sustainability issues, which the company thinks will become more important in the future.

  • Lagging progress on soybean yields continues to be an issue for many seed companies. Corn yields have increased 30% in the last 10 years, but not bean yields. So companies are now trying many new ways to pump up yields. For example, at a two-hour media event on this topic, BASF announced that it will introduce several new products for soybeans.

  • Debating climate change now may be futile. “We think [climate change] is enough of a possibility that we must factor it into our business,” states J.B. Penn, chief economist, Deere & Co. If John Deere is preparing for it, maybe farmers should as well.