News

Collated List of Articles

September 25, 2020

I post Ag Data News articles every Wednesday. Here's a convenient list of past articles based on whether they include R code, use data from our apps, or address the effects of events or policies.

The World is Full of Hoppiness

September 23, 2020

Beer is a simple beverage. It has only four ingredients: malt, water, yeast, and hops. This simplicity belies a recent dramatic change in the relative proportions of these ingredients.

An IPA from your favorite craft brewery uses up to 50 times as much hops per pint as America's leading beer, Bud Light.  As craft brewing has grown, hops have become a booming crop even as total beer consumption declines.

China's Buying US Corn Again

September 09, 2020

Earlier this summer, after a long hiatus, China started rapidly buying US corn. By the end of the 2019-20 crop year, China had imported 1.9 million metric tons of corn, which is almost 10 times as much as in the previous year and 50% more than the pre-trade-war average from 1999-2018.

Although these sound like big numbers (millions of tons!) and the trajectory is impressive, these shipments are a drop in the ocean.

 

Robots in the Food System

August 26, 2020

Today, the National Science Foundation announced that UC Davis will host a new $20 million research institute on artificial intelligence. The AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems (AIFS) is one of seven new national artificial intelligence institutes, and one of two sponsored by USDA that focus on agriculture and food.

Everyone is Good at Something

August 12, 2020

Tomato fields are good at producing tomatoes.  Tons and tons of tomatoes.

By weight, California produces more tomatoes than any other crop, and it isn't close. In 2018, the state's farmers produced 12.6 million tons of processing tomatoes, which is nine times more than almonds, and more than double the amount of grapes or hay. 

Each year, California farmers fill half a million gondolas like the ones picture above with tomatoes, piling them high enough that a few inevitably fall out on every corner taken by the truck on the way to the processor.

 

I Need Fuel

July 29, 2020

At the end of the Back to the Future movie, Doc Brown returns to 1985 from a futuristic 2015. The first thing he does is fuel up his time-traveling DeLorean with a banana skin and a beer.

Unlike the movie, 2015 did not bring trash-powered cold fusion (or flying cars). It's now 2020, and we still don't have those things. But, we do have transportation fuel made from all kinds of things, including trash and biomass.