Artificial Intelligence – How Is It Going To Change Our Industry?

Knox County’s 1st Autonomous Tractor

Only 33 days until the 2019 Central Ohio Precision Ag Symposium – Register now!

We are in the midst of unique and exciting times, when agriculture is transforming from the “old” precision agriculture to the era of artificial intelligence.  Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that exhibits behavior that could be interpreted as human intelligence. Can we apply artificial intelligence in agriculture? Can a computer be better than man in making decisions.  Can an algorithm beat farmer’s gut instinct and experience?

In recent years, agriculture has gone through a major revolution. From being one of the most traditional sectors, it has become one of the most progressive ones.

Artificial Intelligence will be a part of may presentations at the 2019 Central Ohio Precision Ag Symposium.  This program is sponsored by The Ohio State University Extension, AgInfoTech, Advantage Ag & Equipment, Ag Leader, B&B Farm Service, Beck’s, Capstan, Centerra Co-op, Central Ohio Farmers Co-op, Channel, Clark Seeds, Climate Corp., Evolution Ag, Farm Credit Services, Farm Mobile, First Knox National Bank,  JD Equipment,  Ohio Ag Equipment, Precision Planting, Seed Consultants, Smart Ag and Soil-Max.

Click here for agenda and registration information: CentralOhioPrecisionAg19 FNL-2nc71zi



New Farm Bill


Agriculture is one of Ohio’s most important industries, contributing more than $100 billion to our economy and putting food on the table for thousands of Ohio workers and people around the world.

The new farm bill was signed by President Trump Yesterday.  The link below will take you to the Senate Ag Committee’s title by title summary.



Depreciation of Farm Assets under the 2017 Tax Law

Chris Zoller, Extension Educator

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) revised some differences between farm and non-farm assets and added other depreciation rules that will have a significant impact when calculating net farm income.

Revised Recovery Period for Farm Machinery & Equipment

Under the TCJA, new farm equipment and machinery placed in service after December 31, 2017, is classified as 5-year MACRS property. Previously, machinery and equipment was classified as 7-year MACRS property. These assets must be used in a farming business. Equipment used in contract harvesting of a crop by another tax payer is not included in the business of farming.

Used equipment is still classified as 7-year MACRS property. The Alternative Depreciation System (ADS) for all farm machinery and equipment, new and used, is 10 years. Grain bins and fences are still 7-year MACRS property with a 10-year ADS life.

Farm Equipment Purchase Example:

Bill Brown purchased a new combine on September 28, 2017. In May 2018, he purchased a new tractor and used tillage tool. In August 2018, Bill constructed a new fence and in September he constructed a new grain bin. These assets are MACRS recovery classes:

New combine (2017)      7-year

New tractor (2018)         5-year

Used tillage tool               7-year

Fence (2018)                    7-year

Grain bin (2018)             7-year

New Rules for Depreciation Methods

Assets placed in service after December 31, 2017, have depreciation rates increased to 200% Declining Balance (DB) for those farm assets in the 3, 5, 7, and 10-year MACRS recovery classes. Assets in the 15 and 20-year MACRS recovery classes are still limited to a maximum of 150% DB. Residential rental property and nonresidential real property continue to be limited to Straight Line (SL) depreciation.

Farm Equipment Depreciation Example:

Bill Brown paid $430,000 in 2017 for the new combine. He elected out of bonus depreciation and did not elect any Section 179 expense deduction. The half-year convention applies. Bill depreciates the combine over a 7-year MACRS recovery class using the 150% DB method. His depreciation is:

[($430,000/7) x 0.5 x 150%] = $46,071

What is the difference if Bill waited until 2018 to make the combine purchase?

[($430,000/5) x 200%) = $86,000

$86,000 – $46,071 = $39,929 more than if purchased in 2017

Excess Depreciation

The increase in the rate of depreciation, combined with the shorter MACRS recovery class for new farm equipment and machinery, may generate more depreciation than needed. Taxpayers may choose to use the Straight Line (SL) method of depreciation and may also elect to use the 150% method. Both elections are made on a class-by-class basis each year. To further reduce the amount of depreciation, you may elect to use the ADS, which calculates depreciation using the SL method and lengthens the recovery period.


For additional information about this topic, contact your tax advisor or visit:

Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference

Registration is now open for the 2019 Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference. It will be held on February 5, 2019 at the Oasis Conference Center in Loveland, Ohio. The deadline to register for this conference is February 1, 2019 at 12:00 Noon. No walk-ins are permitted. Registration is limited to 75 people, so register early to avoid being shut out.

This is the conference to attend for Southern Ohio specialty crop growers. Fifteen different class options on fruit and vegetable production are available at this conference. Your registration includes a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. All attendees will receive a USB memory stick with copies of every available presentation to take home, so even if you don’t attend the session, you’ll still get the information. Private pesticide and fertilizer re-certification credits will be available for categories 3, 5, core and fertilizer. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from industry experts and share information with other growers.

The Oasis Conference Center is conveniently located about 5 miles off of I-275 on the northeast corner of Cincinnati.
For more information about the schedule and to register for the conference, go to the conference website.

Registration brochure. 

Colostrum is Key

Mike Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: February 12,2013)

Colostrum is the key to raising healthy goat kids and lambs.

Ensuring goat kids and lambs get enough colostrum at birth is imperative to getting them off to a good start.

One of the most important functions of colostrum (first milk) is to provide kids and lambs with antibodies (immunoglobulins) that provide passive immunity for the first two months of life. Newborn lambs and kids, like other mammals, are born with no antibodies of their own and rely on those provided by the mother in colostrum for protection.

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Protection provided by colostrum starts during pregnancy. Does and ewes must be adequately vaccinated and receive proper nutrition in order to mount an immune response needed to manufacture antibodies for colostrum and remain healthy themselves. Minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc are vital components of immune function. Newborns are very dependent on copper acquired during the prenatal period since copper levels in milk are poor. Therefore, proper copper nutrition, especially in goats, in gestating females is critical to body stores in newborns. Pregnant animals must be on the farm for at least fourteen days to produce the correct antibodies for their specific kidding/lambing environment to pass on to their offspring.

The antibodies found in colostrum are absorbed whole by the kids and lambs through the lining of the stomach. However, the efficiency with which a newborn can absorb these antibodies declines within just one hour after birth. The ability to absorb antibodies drastically decreases after 12 hours and is essentially gone by 24 hours of age. Therefore, if a newborn doesn’t get colostrum within the first 24 hours of birth, its chances of survival are very slim.

The single most important component to successful transfer of antibodies from mother to offspring is the consumption of sufficient amounts of colostrum. Kids and lambs must consume enough colostrum to provide the immunoglobulins needed for passive immunity. A good rule of thumb would be 8% – 10% of the body weight of the kid/lamb, however it is best to feed according to appetite.

For example if the birth weight was 5 lbs., that would mean that you would need roughly 1/2 lb. of colostrum (5 lbs. x 10%). This translates into about a half of a pint (one pint roughly equals one pound). This is normally not a problem as long as animals accept their offspring and have enough colostrum and teats to feed the litter. However, occasionally you will run into the problem of an animal rejecting her kids/lambs or producing a larger litter than she is capable of nursing effectively. In these cases you will be forced to bottle or tube feed colostrum or risk losing the kids or lambs.

Planning ahead in these situations is critical. Freeze extra colostrum from several healthy older animals (colostrum quality is better in older animals than first timers) to have it on hand. It is important to thaw only the amount of colostrum needed (once thawed you cannot refreeze), thus it is best to freeze colostrum in small quantities. Do not thaw frozen colostrum in the microwave as this will have an adverse effect on the antibodies. Use a warm water bath to thaw frozen colostrum quickly.

Antibodies in colostrum provide kids and lambs with passive immunity for the first few months of their lives. Therefore, it is vitally important that newborns receive adequate amounts of colostrum as soon after birth as possible to ensure survival. The quality of the colostrum will be dependent on how the doe or ewe is managed during pregnancy, especially during the last few weeks.

Moldy Feed and Potential Effects on Cattle

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)- Originally posted in the BEEF Newsletter

Record-setting rainfall in 2018 has resulted in moldy hay and feed throughout the Commonwealth. Many questions regarding the safety of these feedstuffs and how to test them have come to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) as producers begin to feed these moldy products. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. Ingestion of moldy feed or hay can potentially cause mycotic (fungal) abortion, respiratory effects, decreased feed consumption and rate of gain, and digestive problems. Additionally, molds can have effects on humans that handle the moldy feed. A wide variety of mycotoxins, not all of which can be tested for, can be produced in moldy feeds and hay under the right conditions, and ingestion of sufficient amounts of various mycotoxins can result in a large array of clinical effects. Testing is recommended but proper sample collection is crucial as samples must be representative of the whole field, cutting or batch. Although there is no foolproof approach to avoiding health effects, a practical approach involves testing suspect feeds in the ration, avoiding moldy feed if possible, and dilute with clean feed to minimize effects.

The presence of considerable mold in hay is a fairly common occurrence but when is too much mold a problem? Several laboratories have the ability to run mold spore counts (reported in mold spore count per gram) to help quantify the extent of mold present. Recommendations from Penn State Extension ( regarding feed risks with various mold counts are presented in Table 1. Generally, moldy hay is less palatable and digestible, resulting in less intake and lower performance. More serious health effects include the potential for fungal abortions and respiratory problems. Fungal or mycotic abortions usually occur in the last trimester of gestation and are directly related to consumption of molds which enter the blood stream and infect the placenta and fetus. An allergic respiratory disease known as “hypersensitivity pneumonitis” or “bovine farmer’s lung” is caused by exposure to the dust of moldy hay and grain. The disease is characterized by groups of cattle exhibiting coughing, rapid or difficult breathing, and weight loss but there are very mild or no fevers present and no response to antibiotic therapy. Humans who handle exceptionally moldy hay may also develop a type of allergic reaction called “farmer’s lung”.

Although molds are present in the environment virtually at all times, when they grow in the correct temperature and humidity on the right substrate, they can grow and produce a “toxin” or poison. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring compounds produced by fungi growing on plants in the field or during storage periods. While drought conditions generally lead to an increased risk of aflatoxin in grains, wet conditions tend to favor the production of fumonisin. In the right environment, mycotoxins can be generated fairly rapidly in the field or in storage but suspect molds do not always produce them. Most mycotoxins can remain stable for years in feeds, and many survive ensiling and food processing. They can be concentrated in cereal by-products including distillers coproducts.

Aflatoxins can occur before harvest on starchy cereal crops (corn, cottonseed, and peanuts) or after harvest while in storage. Strains of Aspergillus flavus mainly produce aflatoxin B1, which is considered the most toxic and cancer-causing of the aflatoxins. Many governments regulate the allowable concentrations of aflatoxins in animal feeds, human foods, and fluid milk. The FDA limits the amount of aflatoxin that can be found in lactating dairy cow feed to 20 ppb, for non-lactating, breeding beef cattle is 100 ppb while feed for feedlot cattle may contain up to 300 ppb. Aflatoxin M1 is the major excretion product in urine and milk and is the one most often monitored for exposure. Aflatoxin M1 is legally limited to 0.5 ppb in milk.

The clinical signs of aflatoxicosis are somewhat vague and become more pronounced at higher dietary levels (>500 ppb) and/or prolonged periods of time exposed to the contaminated feed. All animals are susceptible to aflatoxins, but the sensitivity varies between species. Young animals and monogastrics (pigs, horses) are at higher risk for problems. Signs in cattle include:

1. Decreased performance-

  • Reduced appetite, reduced feed efficiency, reduced weight gain
  • Reduced milk production and potential for illegal milk residues in dairy

2. Signs of Liver Damage-

  • Increased hepatic (liver) enzymes and bilirubin on serum chemistries
  • Prolonged clotting times (hemorrhage/epistaxis or nose bleeds)
  • Icterus (yellowing of mucous membranes)
  • Neurologic signs including depression, lethargy, staggering, circling, recumbency (down)

3. Reduced immune competence-

  • Vaccine failure or poor antibiotic response
  • Decreased cell-mediated immunity

4. Abortion

  • May cross the placenta and cause damage to fetal tissue

5. Death

  • Extremely high levels of aflatoxin B1 (>1000 ppb) may cause sudden or acute neurologic signs such as circling, depression, staggering, recumbency and death due to severe liver and brain damage.

Veterinarians and nutritionists must consider all sources of aflatoxins in rations and evaluate commodity storage conditions on the farm. It is important to sample the final as-fed ration to determine the total level of aflatoxin the animal is consuming. Sampling is best performed when feed is moving (for example, from the grain bin to feeding) to allow multiple samples to be taken along the line. No specific treatment is available for aflatoxicosis beyond quickly removing the contaminated ration and replacing with an uncontaminated feed. Providing optimum dietary protein, vitamins, and trace elements may aid recovery, although some affected animals may not recover. Numerous products such as bentonite are marketed to sequester or bind mycotoxins and reduce absorption from an animal’s gastrointestinal tract, although in the United States these agents can only be sold as anticaking or free-flow agents. The FDA has not licensed any product for use as a mycotoxin binder in animal feeds and extra-label use of feed additives is prohibited.

Other mycotoxins of concern in cattle are those produced by the Fusarium species of mold and include deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin), zearalanone, and fumonisins. Ruminants are generally resistant to many of the negative effects of these mycotoxins because of their ability to degrade these compounds with the bacteria and protozoa found within the rumen. However, in large enough quantities, serious effects may occur. DON is restricted by the FDA to 5 ppm or less in the final ration of dairy cattle over 4 months of age, and 10 ppm in the final feed for beef cattle over 4 months of age. The primary clinical sign with DON is feed refusal but a drop in milk production, diarrhea, and immune system alterations may be noted. Zearalanone is associated with hyperestrogenism, enlarged genitalia and infertility although the effects in cattle are not fully understood. No FDA guidelines have been established for tolerable zearalenone concentrations in finished feed for ruminants. The University of Missouri at Columbia and North Dakota State University suggest limiting the level of zearalenone to <2-4 ppm in dairy cows and <5-10 ppm in beef cattle. Fumonisin B1 and B2 are mycotoxins cattle are more tolerant of than many other species. The FDA does have established tolerance levels of total fumonisin levels in finished feeds of 30 ppm for ruminants over 3 months old and fed for slaughter, 15 ppm in ruminant breeding stock including lactating dairy cows, and 5 ppm for ruminants less than 3 months of age. Feeding large quantities has resulted in decreased feed intake, decreased milk production, and some mild liver lesions. FDA regulations concerning the various mycotoxins are rather inconsistent, with some tolerances established only for grains and grain by-products but not for the final feed, and others established for the final total feed. Also, some tolerances are reported on an 88% dry matter basis, while others on a full dry matter basis.

Bear in mind when sampling feeds that human exposure to high levels of mycotoxins – aflatoxin in particular – in grains and other crops can result in serious health problems. Any potentially contaminated grains or feeds should be handled with protective gear such as gloves, dust masks, and coveralls. Once the feed is tested, producers are advised to:

  1. Keep the mycotoxin level as low as possible;
  2. Keep the mycotoxin level under the regulatory action level for the given species and stage of production as aflatoxin residues can occur in multiple animal products from animals exposed to excessive amounts. Residues are especially important in milk and organ tissues, but can also be present in meat.
  3. Remember if multiple mycotoxins are present in a feed, their adverse effects may be additive.

Figure 2: Example of laboratory result on grass hay analyzed for mold and mycotoxins. “ND” is not detected.

Proper sample collection is crucial for proper interpretation of results. Collect a number of smaller samples to form a large composite sample that is representative of the field, cutting, or batch. If different regions of the field were treated differently, then separate composite samples should be submitted for each of the different regions. At least a pound of total composite sample should be submitted. The sample represents a large amount of feed so it is critical that the sample is representative of the whole. More sample is always better than too little, so when in doubt, collect more. Fungal growth could continue during storage increasing mycotoxin levels over time so retesting may be necessary. Be sure to mark each bag legibly with forage/sample type and identification information. See more information on proper sample collection of feeds and forages.