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Network News
Welcome to
agri benchmark Cash Crop
We are very happy to announce that a some highly recognized crop production scientists from the USA and Canada decided to join the agri benchmark Cash Crop network:
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Barry Ward,
Ohio State University, USA
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Ben Brown and
Peter Zimmel
University of Missouri, USA
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Alejandro Plastina,
Iowa State University, USA
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Ken Coles,
Farming Smarter, Alberta, Canada
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Yangxuan Liu,
University of Georgia, USA
Congratulation Simon!
We warmly congratulate our colleague Simon Walther, who took over a professorship for Digital Farm Management at the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences on July 1. He is well known in the agri benchmark Cash Crop network since his PhD time (2009 - 2012) as a competent colleague who is always open for new ideas and advancements.
simon walther
After various professional positions in the agricultural sector, he brought his experience and knowledge back to the Thünen Institute and our network since 2019. We are pleased that Simon plans to continue working with agri benchmark in the future.
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September 2021
Dear Friends,
Yelto Zimmer For the second time we had to transform our annual agri benchmark Cash Crop Conference to an online event. In the course of 10 online sessions more than 140 network partners and guests presented and discussed research results and recent developments in global crop production.
In this Newsletter, you’ll find some key take-aways from this year’s conference: Why we need a new crop production system research model, why China’s hunger for corn is there to stay and how crop farms around the globe will benefit from the current spike in commodity prices.
We will continue to organize WebSessions in the second half of the year about the most recent agri benchmark topics and outcomes. We kindly invite you to participate and learn what valuable insights we generate (see details below).
Kind regards
Coordinator of agri benchmark Cash Crop Network
Farm to Fork (2) EU Study Projects Substantial Output Cut and Little Reduction of CO2
The EU Joint Research Center recently published a report on the likely implications from the so-called Farm to Fork Strategy. Key results are: Overall output from agriculture will go down by about 15%, net savings in greenhouse gas emissions will only be roughly 5%.
A more comprehensive evaluation can be found here:
»  Farm to Fork – Substantial Cuts in Output, Little GHG Savings in the EU (pdf, 188 KB)

New Crop Production Systems - Need for New Research Strategies
Most of you have heard about crop protection products that lose effectiveness or even have been banned. In addition, policy makers and NGOs are increasingly concerned about nutrient surpluses from crop production and related negative effects on the environment. And, last but not least, value chain actors are more and more interested in greenhouse gas emissions from crop production and what can be done to reduce them. Hence, there are a lot of reasons to look for new crop production systems – in particular for highly developed and intensive systems.
corn plants
During the agri benchmark WebConference, we conducted a round table discussion of experts form different stakeholder in order to find a solution how to tackle these various challenges in farming. The main outcome: The so-called living laboratories are a promising approach: they make use of site-specific knowledge and the potential from high-tech innovations. The key challenge though: Who will take the lead in establishing and financing such decentralized, integrative research projects? We’ll keep working on that in the course of the research project and beyond.
More detailed information on this debate can be found here:
»  Crop production systems at a junction – We need a new institutional research design and infrastructure (pdf, 94 KB)

Chinese Hunger for Corn is There to Stay
We all have witnessed the massive increase in global ag commodity prices since mid-2020. Market analysts point to China and its boost in hog production as the main reason for that development. We at agri benchmark partnered with the Dutch hog expert Jurgen Hijink, who has been visiting with Chinese hog producers and experts. The key outcome from his analysis: Chinese policy makers are heavily supporting the replacement of backyard production by large industrial operations. They are afraid that small holder production systems were the main boost for the spread of African Swine Fever, which had such a devastating impact on the Chinese hog production.
This structural change in Chinese hog production is the main driver for the spike in Chinese corn demand. While the previously prevailing backyard hog production only marginally uses commercial grain feed (20-30% in the ration), the rapidly growing commercial hog production needs more than twice as much corn or wheat to feed a pig. By 2025 this shift will raise the demand for grain feed by more than 40 million tons – or more than 20% of current global corn trade volume.
More information is available here:
»  Hog farming in China – Structural change and its impact on commercial feed demand (pdf, 1.144 KB)

2021 - An Exceptionally Good Year for Many Crop Producers
Considering the recent increase in global commodity prices, we expect 2021 to be a rather profitable one for many crop producers – provided yield levels achieve the three-year average. Even when considering the massive increase in fertilizer and energy prices, the agri benchmark typical farm data suggest that with normal yields, the 2021 return to land in corn production – chosen as an example here - will go up by 50% or more against the period 2018-2020.
For more details see here:
»  Data on projected return to land in corn for typical agri benchmark farms (figure, 2021 vs. 2018-2020 average)

agri benchmark: Coordination of Global Research on GHG-Mitigation at the Farm Level
The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), a collaboration of more than 60 countries and respective research institutions, is running a research network called Farm to Regional Scale Integration. As of spring 2021, Claus Deblitz (Coordinator of agri benchmark Beef and Sheep, Pig) and Yelto Zimmer are co-leading the group and started coordinating the network with the assistance of their colleague Nina Graßnick from the Thünen Coordination Unit Climate and Soil. In a first step, ongoing and completed research projects on GHG mitigation strategies are gathered and will be made available.
For more information about this network follow this link
The outcomes from the first network meeting can be revisited here.

agri benchmark WebSessions: Join Us for Global Crop Production Insights
Inspired by the fruitfull discussions and session of our WebConferene and the positive feedback we got from the participants, we decided to run WebSessions throughout the year.
Here you can have a look at the program for the remainder of 2021.
If you are interested in participating, please complete this form.

agri benchmark in the media
The press release regarding the WebConference (press release / Presseerklärung ) was taken up in may ways, e. g.:
» Chinese vraag naar maïs blijft door varkenshouderij groeien
Reinout Burgers, pluimveeweb, 1 August 2021
» Chinesische Nachfrage nach Mais wird bleiben
ökologisch erfolgreich, 2 August,2021
Purdue economists and agri benchmark partner Michael Langemeier published two articles based on agri benchmark data:
» International Benchmarks for Wheat Prodution
M.Langemeier, farmdoc daily (11):109, July 21,2021
» International Benchmarks for Corn Prodution
M.Langemeier, farmdoc daily (11):89, June 21,2021
More publications in the agri benchmark network:
»  Strong Crop Prices: Supply-Driven Spike or a New Super Cycle?
Linda Smith, agweb.com, July 1, 2021
Yelto Zimmer, Travis Jansen, in: Agroexpert, 3(152), 2021
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