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BY RALCO December 2017

The Ralco Difference

Winning Big

Stress & Energy


INSIDE

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Cover Story: The Highest Regard

Ralco Spotlight: Best in Show

Technical Report: Stressed Out

Putting other people’s needs first is the Ralco difference.

Ralco Show believes every kid has a chance to win.

Reducing oxidative stress increases profitability.

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Markets: Historic Rise of Vitamin Prices

News: It Has Begun

Innovation: Drones in Agriculture

Construction projects underway for trū® Shrimp.

How keeping up with technology advancements can add to the bottom line.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand.

May

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Q&A: Vitalix®

What’s Happening: Driven to Perfection

Learn how Strong Animals® technologies give supplement tubs a competitive advantage.

Dave Muenchow delivers his best every day.

Joy be your gift this Christmas and may His Peace and Hope follow you into the New Year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Ralco

www.RalcoAgriculture.com 2

© 2017 Ralco. All Rights Reserved. POSTMASTER: Please send change of address to RALCO, P.O. Box 1083, Marshall, MN 56258 MAILING LIST: To be added or removed from the mailing list call 1-800-533-5306 or email marketing@ralcoagriculture.com


BY RALCO

WE ARE RALCO THE BIOLOGY OF UNITY

BY BRIAN KNOCHENMUS, PRESIDENT/CEO OF RALCO

I often find myself considering biology as an analogy of organizational unity. Our mission to perfect technologies for a safe and abundant global food supply compels us to work diligently in the realm of science, particularity biology. Biology is often defined as the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially regarding origin, growth, structure and behavior.

have many talented folks at Ralco with differing skills and experiences, and we are all focused on perfecting technologies every day to achieve greatness in food production and supply. Our values bind us together and compel us to serve our customers in the best possible way. Everyone at Ralco is essential and part of something larger than themselves. Together, we are Ralco.

Biology is complex. Each organism consists of a complex system of properly functioning parts that make it a living unit. If any of these parts are out of sync, damaged or obstructed in some way the organism suffers. Organizations suffer from lack of unity in much the same way.

However, we are members of the food industry that faces daunting challenges in areas like supply, demand, consumer perception and regulation. As we continue to perfect our technologies, we are determined to bring greater unity to our industry as well. We believe that a strong and unified agriculture industry will effectively communicate to consumers the security and quality of our products.

During our recent sales meeting, I opened up by recognizing the many different talents, experiences and personalities we have within Ralco. During the opening session, I encouraged everyone to greet each other with a statement along the lines of, “You and I are obviously different, but I’m glad we are together.” Together. What a word! What a statement! A strong and unified group of people can accomplish so much more than an individual. The “people factor” is often the most impactful difference among organizations, and the unity within the organization is the fabric that makes it work. We

Consistent support of each other demonstrates our commitment to our solutions and the consumer. I believe that any work toward feeding people is the most noble and rewarding work on earth. Our consumers need to know how much we care! Together, we can conquer the challenges ahead. All the best,

Brian

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THE HIGHEST

REGARD PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE’S NEEDS FIRST IS THE RALCO DIFFERENCE When you ask Ralco President Brian Knochenmus why the company is still in business after 47 years, you won’t see pie charts or photos of new products. Instead, you will hear stories about people and the high regard in which he holds them. When Brian and his father Jon Knochenmus look back over the past years of business they repeatedly speak about the people that made Ralco great. They didn’t believe solely in technologies that moved Ralco forward, they believed in the people who were behind the ideas.

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“We are firm in our belief. It supports our mission, vision and values, and can be traced through conversations that have been taking place throughout Ralco’s existence. Our belief is that when we demonstrate a high regard for people, to really and truly value them, and when we have their interests in our heart and at our core, it’s amazing what they can accomplish,” Brian said. It’s because of Ralco’s belief in people first that new and innovative products and technologies have been brought to the agriculture industry when no one else believed.

PEOPLE DRIVE INNOVATION

Birthright baby pig milk replacer was a unique concept when it was first brought to Ralco more than

20 years ago. Up until Birthright, milk replacers for baby pigs meant bloated bellies and scours. However, Jon Knochenmus didn’t believe in Birthright because he saw a great product; he believed in John Vignes, the creator of Birthright. Again, almost 15 years ago Jon and Brian had the opportunity to learn about formulating swine diets on a net energy basis from Dr. Jim Hedges. They decided to hire Dr. Hedges and move forward with the unique swine nutrition he brought to the industry because they believed in Jim Hedges, not because they completely understood net energy formulation. Ralco is a third-generation family owned company and the belief in people goes back to its inception. Even the name Ralco was formed by using the first letters in the name of everyone in founder Bob Galbraith’s family:

Lou and Bob Galbraith

You have to remember that people don’t buy from companies. People buy from people. – Bob Galbraith, Founder and First President

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R

ROBERT & RANDY

the passing of its founder Bob Galbraith, but it continues to live out the words its founder spoke.

A

AND

L

LOU, LINDA, LANITA (NITER)

“You have to remember that people don’t buy from companies. People buy from people,” Bob said. “It’s because of people like you and all the others that make this company as good as it is. Ralco isn’t a good company anymore, it’s a great company, and it’s because of the people that are working here. People buy from people and the better people you get, the better it is.”

CO

COMPANY

Through the generations, believing in people and having the highest regard for them has always meant putting their interests first. Ralco continues to mourn

WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU

“Good people draw good people. This was engrained in us,” Jon Knochenmus said. “A cornerstone of the

You can do a lot of business but if you don’t do it in a way that honors the Lord by your relationship with people, it’s not worth a lot. – Randy Galbraith, Second President

Randy (Sam) and Pam Galbraith

Good people draw good people. This was engrained in us. – Jon Knochenmus, Third President 6

Niter and Jon Knochenmus


company is that we can be the smartest people, the best scientists, the most talented salespeople, but the keys that remain are people, relationships and trust. Helping other people get what they want out of life.” At every level of the company Ralco puts people, customers and consumers first. Ralco was founded on the idea that people want to eat food that is raised as naturally as possible and that has guided the decision making moving forward. Therefore, customer and consumer safety is the primary consideration before a technology makes it to the next level. Brian has stated repeatedly that when we act on our belief we demonstrate honor and the value of others.

We focus on their needs, wants and desires. We view customers and consumers as hard working, valuable and as allies. “It is so important that we keep our culture as we continue to grow, because I am of the belief that we have just started growing. We have gone from 23 employees to north of 230 and I believe that we will grow beyond 2,000. If we don’t have our cause engrained in us and in our culture, we could lose ourselves. That is why we continue to weave it into everything we do, because we don’t want to lose this culture. We will always put others first and hold them in the highest regard,” Brian said.

Brian and Mindy Knochenmus

We will always put others first and hold them in the highest regard. – Brian Knochenmus, Current President 7


RALCO SPOTLIGHT

N I T S E THE B RALCO SHOW BELIEVES EVERY KID HAS A CHANCE TO WIN When the crowd erupted, it wasn’t Ralco Show’s own Mark McClurg taking the stage with Alan Jackson, it was Carson Bridgeman, a nine-year-old boy who Mark describes as, “3-and-a-halffeet-tall and as big around as a pencil, and with a heart big as the world.” Mark had spent many years onstage as a fiddle player for one of country music’s biggest icons; however, watching Carson win the Grand Champion banner at the Rogers County Fair in Oklahoma this past fall was a moment in time that will forever live in his memory. That moment exemplified everything Ralco Show stands for—Everyone should have the chance succeed. LEFT: Ralco Show is more than just selling a product. The Ralco Show team believes that every kid matters, and distribution partners must share the value that every kid should have the opportunity to excel. Show Pig Specialist Collin Listen works with Taylor Norris and her family to help get their pigs ready for the highest level of competition.

RIGHT: All eyes were on 9-year-old Carson Bridgeman as he won the Grand Drive at his county fair in Oklahoma.

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“Carson came into my personal community when family friends made him and his sister a permanent part of their family. Carson overcame adversity early in life and his new family introduced him to showing pigs through jackpot shows. Since there is no age limit for jackpot shows, Carson began showing pigs around 5 years old. If you can drive your hog in the ring, you can compete. Our whole community has taken these kids into their hearts,” Mark said.

the folks in the bleachers began to cheer and yell. The other kids who had shown that day were cheering and jumping up and down. A lot of eyes were filled with tears of joy for this young man that we had all seen grow up in the barn. It was the first show I have ever been to where everyone was happy and excited about the judge’s choice for Grand Champion,” Mark said.

“This year was Carson’s first time competing with the big kids in the county to have a shot at making the premium sale. Try to envision a 60-pound boy driving a set of 280 lb. show pigs. At the time he had his work cut out for him, but he was determined. When he entered the ring with his cross barrow for the Grand drive he had the eye of the tiger, a state of mind we teach kids about when showing their projects.

The Ralco Show team is based on solid principles: Show kids and show pigs, in that order. A question you will hear the team ask is, “What makes one kid more important than the other?” Ralco believes the show ring should be an equalizer. It shouldn’t matter if you can run fast or slow, jump high or not, catch or throw a ball. The show ring is for those who are willing to do what it takes to get the most out of their opportunity. Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. If kids do their homework with their projects then they will be prepared for their opportunity in the show ring and that’s where success is waiting.

“After the judge talked and critiqued each breed champion, it was time for him to name the Rogers County Grand Champion Market Hog. When the judge selected Carson’s hog as the Grand Champion

EVERY KID MATTERS

MEET THE CREW In the next issue of edge, you’ll be introduced to the passionate and dedicated members of the Ralco Show team.

Taylor Norris and her family worked with the Ralco Show team, and after two years of developing their show pigs, they won the largest pig show in Texas—The San Antonio Livestock Show.

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The Ralco approach is putting kids first. “How do we not make the world a better place by investing in the young kids in agriculture?” Mark asked. When a potential business wants to partner with Ralco Show they must provide customers with the best quality products backed by the highest quality customer service for all kids and their families. The show pig industry gets personal and emotional so Ralco wants all its partners to have the same outlook and desire the Ralco Show team demonstrates. Success is based on service building relationships that stretch beyond business. Many Ralco Show partners have extensive experience in the show industry. When a member of the Ralco Show team walks into a potential partners business they are on the lookout for thank you letters and pictures hanging on the walls from their customers. This signifies the business is committed to kids in agriculture.

apart from all the rest. A relationship and a level of trust was established. Later, with the help of some Ralco Show team members, the family was able to acquire a show pig it seems many others overlooked. They entered the hog in the San Antonio Livestock Show, and Kevin’s daughter, Taylor was awarded the 2016 Grand Champion Market Barrow of the San Antonio Livestock Show, one of the most coveted awards in all of Texas. The relationship that built trust paid off for the Norris family and helped elevate the Ralco Show brand in the state of Texas. The Norris family is a great example of what Mark believes: “If you want to be the best, you have to be the one who worked harder than the rest!”

“We look for the personal side as much as anything. We are all about kids in agriculture and how important they are to the survival of our agricultural businesses. Without these kids staying involved how is our industry going to look in the next 10 to 20 years?” said Mark. “When we talk to our partners that is very important. We want to build your business and if we build yours yes, we build our business. However, we need to focus on these kids because if we don’t we run the risk of losing them as customers in the future, and then there is no business.”

WINNING BIG

The Norris family out of Honey Grove, Texas, is a great example of a family who have made the Ralco Show team’s work so rewarding. Mark met the Norris family three years ago at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, where he and other Ralco Show team members were participating in Sullivan Supply’s Stock Show U, an educational clinic for stock show youth and adults. Mark’s session covered the proper use of supplements. After the session Kevin Norris introduced himself and asked about the proper use of Purple Rain™, a supplement for maximum muscle expression at show time. The Norris family had about 48 hours to try and dial-in their eight gilts before the show. Of the eight gilts, seven made the sale and Ralco Show made a believer out of Kevin Norris.

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Over the next several months Mark and Kevin spent many hours on the phone discussing show pigs and feed programs and what set the Ralco Show feeds

The Ralco Show team is based on solid principles: Show kids and show pigs, in that order.


TECHNICAL REPORT

Kelly Peper, Ph.D. Nutritionist

STRESSED OUT

REDUCING OXIDATIVE STRESS INCREASES PROFITABILITY Oxidative stress occurs in plants and animals, and is the accumulation of excessive free radicals. Free radicals are a natural component of the immune system; however, under stressful conditions they increase rapidly and lead to a myriad of diseases and subclinical issues that inhibit growth and productivity. Oxidative stress costs the poultry, dairy, swine and beef industries millions of dollars annually. Farmers are beginning to view oxidative stress as a significant challenge and are searching for effective antioxidants that promote the health and wellbeing of their poultry and livestock. Multiple causes of oxidative stress include: • Transportation • Heat stress and cold tolerance • Inadequate ventilation • Disease pressure • Vaccinations • Mycotoxins and heavy metals in feed

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electron donation

ANTIOXIDANT

FREE RADICALS AND ANTIOXIDANTS

Free radicals are atoms that have an uneven number of electrons. They are on the hunt for an additional electron to balance the atom, and they will steal an electron wherever they can find one, including from cells that promote immune function and DNA. Free radicals occur throughout the entire body and are a significant threat to the gut, which comprises 70% of the immune system. Once free radicals are formed, a chain reaction can occur. The first free radical pulls an electron from a molecule, which destabilizes the molecule and turns it into a free radical. That molecule then takes an electron from another molecule, destabilizing it and turning it into a free radical. This domino effect can eventually disrupt and damage the whole cell. Antioxidants can keep free radicals in check by inhibiting oxidation through the reduction of free radicals, preventing damage. Antioxidants stop the free radical chain reaction by giving up an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves. Well-known antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids, glutathione, trace minerals and essential oils.

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FREE RADICAL

STRESS AND ENERGY

When animals spend energy combating stress, they have less energy for growth and production. For example, dairy cows require an enormous amount of energy to maintain health and performance during typical production stresses. A 1,400-lb. dairy cow producing 70 lbs./day of milk requires at least 25 times more energy than a person consuming a recommended 2,000-calorie diet. A large amount of energy is required because dairy cows perform several primary biological tasks simultaneously. A dairy cow has four biological priorities, when nutrients are absorbed they are converted into energy and dedicated to: • 1st Maintenance • 2nd Growth • 3rd Production • 4th Reproduction The priority for energy use dictates that the cow takes care of herself. The second use of energy is for growth, when the heifer is still growing. The third use for energy is milk production, and the fourth use for energy (if any left) is reproduction. Because energy is assigned in this order of biological priority, reproduction is the first factor to suffer on a dairy when there is an energy deficiency, and the last factor to return when that deficiency is addressed. This is consistent across species.


REGANO REDUCES OXIDATIVE STRESS

Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a method utilized to determine the antioxidant capacity of a given compound. Ralco uses the ORAC measurement to ensure that products like Regano®, a product that can be added to feed or water and is powered by Microfused® Essential Oils technology, provide poultry and livestock with the greatest protection from oxidative stress. Regano has 52 times greater antioxidant capacity than natural vitamin E, which is widely known for its antioxidant capacity. However, the ORAC value only tells part of the story. If an antioxidant such as vitamin E does not disperse fully through the body, it will not interact with enough free radicals to significantly reduce oxidative stress. The ORAC value does not tell you if the antioxidant will effectively disperse through the body to make greater contact with free radicals nor does it indicate if the antioxidant is effective across all oxygen species or if it is only effective in certain situations.

Is Oxidative Stress Stealing Your Bottom Line?

Red Wine: 5,034 Dark Chocolate: 20,823

2,520,600

Natural Vitamin E: 48,200 52 TIMES GREATER ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY THAN NATURAL VITAMIN E

TOTAL ORAC: TE/100G The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements. 1) Lamb, R., 2010 Ralco research. 2) USDA 2007 ORAC database. EXP R44

Regano is also an extremely effective antioxidant because: • O®il droplet size has been reduced for greater dispersion. • Oil droplets are protected by a proprietary emulsifier until they neutralize free radicals. • It neutralizes a broad spectrum of free radicals.

REGANO IS THE ANSWER

Regano® is powered by Microfused® Essential Oils technology, ® will always arise; however, oxidative stress Raising poultry and livestock difficult and challenges a highly a patent-pending process that ismakes Regano doesn’t need to continually be nibbling away at the bottom line. Understanding oxidative stress and effective antioxidant in three ways: 1.

taking steps to negate it can boost profitability and the overall health of animals. Stressful situations like transportation and heat can be managed with confidence. Reduces oil droplet size for greater

dispersion 2. Protects oil droplets until they neutralize free radicals 3. Helps neutralize a broad spectrum of free radicals

Before Microfusion

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MARKETS

HISTORIC RISE IN VITAMIN PRICES IT’S A SIMPLE CASE OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND. Tight supply and increased demand has caused extreme volatility in the global vitamin market which has rapidly reached historic highs. This article will explore the causes of supply restrictions, what it means for swine producers and how Ralco’s EnMax® swine nutrition program can help offset increased feed costs due to vitamin prices. Although vitamin prices have been volatile, Ralco has a secure supply of vitamins throughout this time of tight supply.

THE CAUSES

There have also been two significant fires at other manufacturing plants which have caused vitamin prices to quadruple or more overnight. One fire recently took place at a large vitamin D3 manufacturing plant in India. A second fire at a BASF plant is causing serious repercussions on the supply

VITAMIN A

VITAMIN D3

20,000

4,000

15,000

3,000

cents/lb

10,000 5,000

2,000 1,000

10.21.17

10.21.16

10.21.15

10.21.14

10.21.13

10.21.12

10.8.17

10.8.16

10.8.15

10.8.14

10.8.13

10.8.12

10.8.11

0 10.21.11

cents/lb

For many years China has made attempts to improve its environment, which has often been considered among the worst in the world. At the beginning of 2018 the country will enact a new environmental protection tax law that will have wide-ranging ramifications on all industries including the vitamin industry.

0

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In an effort to reduce environmental impact, China has recently shuttered or will soon close several vitamin manufacturing plants, plus limited production volumes from other plants. Analysts of the vitamin industry believe that because of new taxes to be enforced after January 1, the era of low priced vitamin, mineral, amino acids and many other ingredients appears to have come to an end. Taxable pollutants include air, water, coal and solid hazardous waste. The new taxes will likely elevate vitamin price levels throughout 2018 and possibly beyond, analysts say.


of vitamin A and vitamin E. For example, in June the price of a pallet of vitamin A was $20,000, it increased to $80,000 per pallet in August and jumped to $400,000 a pallet during the first part of December.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR SWINE PRODUCERS

Though the price of vitamins has been brisk, it is important to keep the increase in perspective as it would relate to your swine business.

“The sky is not falling,” said Ralco Swine Nutritionist Dr. Dennis Liptrap. “We have weathered increased diet ingredient costs before and we will do so again. It’s just typically the increased costs are not related to vitamins.” The cost increase per ton of complete feed (CET) is equivalent to $0.19/bushel of corn for grow-finish and $0.36/bushel of corn for sows, which are common fluctuations for grain.

COST INCREASE PER CET OF COMPLETE FEED Pricelist Date

8/1/17

12/1/17

Cost of VTM/CET Cost of VTM/CET

Difference

Corn/CET

$/bu Increase of Corn to Equal Premix Increase

Product #5202 GF VTM

$9.90

$14.19

$4.19

1,200 lbs.

$0.19

Product #5512 Sow VTM

$16.65

$24.41

$7.76

1,200 lbs.

$0.36

Assumptions • The chart above calculates the increase relative to a ton of complete feed (CET). • The inclusion rate for a common Ralco Grow-Finish VTM (Product #5202) is 5 lbs./CET. • The inclusion rate for a common Ralco Sow VTM (Product #5512) is 10 lbs./CET. • The amount of corn per ton will vary depending on production phase. We used 1,200 lbs./ton or 21.43 bushels of corn in these scenarios. • Corn inclusion could be higher or lower depending on other ingredients in the ration and stage of production.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Though prices are extremely volatile, and analysts say physical supply may run short, Ralco has done its best to secure a steady supply of vitamins. Ralco is confident it can steer through these unprecedented times. Additionally, Ralco’s EnMax swine nutrition utilizes technologies that liberate more energy from corn for lower cost diets which can help mitigate the additional expenses caused by vitamin costs. “This is a global event and everybody is in the same boat. We know that our EnMax program will reduce diet costs and can help lessen the blow from these high-priced vitamins,” said Vice President Swine Technical Group Dr. Jim Hedges. There are several EnMax options that can help producers reduce diet costs including Ralco’s EnMax Ultra product which is a proprietary enzyme pack that can lower diet costs and improve performance when added to an existing VTM. All of Ralco’s traditional basemixes can also easily be implemented to effectively manage cost. Expect more information from Ralco throughout this historic rise in vitamin prices. Contact your Ralco sales representative with any questions or for more information on the EnMax swine nutrition program.

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NEWS

CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS UNDERWAY FOR TRŪ® SHRIMP

Hundreds of onlookers watched as the first soil was moved to build the Balaton Bay Reef. Pictured from left to right: trū Shrimp Operations Manager Robert Gervais, ISG Principal and Managing Partner Brian Gjerde, Ralco President and trū Shrimp Chairman of the Board Brian Knochenmus, Ralco President Emeritus Jon Knochenmus, trū Shrimp President Michael Ziebell, Miron Construction Vice President Daniel Voss and Kasey Holm of Heartland Mechanical Incorporated.

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Jon Knochenmus counted, “One, two, three,” and shovels full of dirt flew in the air, and the largest construction project to date for The trū® Shrimp Company was underway. Hundreds of onlookers including dignitaries, Ralco employees and Balaton leaders watched history being made as the first earth was moved for the Balaton Bay Reef Training and Engineering Center. The primary purpose of the center, located in Balaton, MN, is to train employees for careers at larger production Harbors. The 40-foot tall structure will house a Reef of eight 150-foot long stacked Tidal Basins that create a low-stress natural current for healthy and safe shrimp. The bio-secure facility will be the only one of its kind in the world and can produce 65,000 lbs. of shrimp annually, at capacity.

Ralco owner and Chairman of the Board for the trū Shrimp Company Brian Knochenmus said Balaton Bay Reef is a monumental step forward for shrimp aquaculture. “I am truly humbled when I think of the building that we break ground on today and the work that will be done here by people who care about providing safe food. Today is a landmark day for the trū Shrimp Company on so many levels. This is a historic day for Balaton, it’s a historic day for the state of Minnesota and this is an opportunity to change the world,” Knochenmus said. “I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard during the past years to make this a reality.”


The training center is scheduled to open early summer 2018, and will serve as a final engineering check to test trū Shrimp production technology prior to full-scale implementation in a production Harbor. A Harbor will employ about 70 people and almost all of them will receive training at Balaton Bay Reef. President of the trū Shrimp Company, Michael Ziebell, said the company will continue to push the boundaries of shrimp aquaculture. “Ladies and gentlemen, nothing like Balaton Bay Reef exists anywhere in the world. We are on uncharted ground. It has been the vision of Brian and Jon and the entire Knochenmus family that has brought us to where we are today. We will continue to follow your vision. We want to make you and our investors proud of us,” Ziebell said.

trū Shrimp will break ground during the Spring of 2018 on Luverne Bay Harbor, a $50+ million shrimp production facility and Luverne Cove Hatchery, both located in Luverne, MN. The company will also renovate a vacant USDA-approved processing facility in Marshall to prepare more than 8,000,000 lbs. of shrimp estimated to be produced by a single Harbor annually. “What is happening in Minnesota has not been done anywhere in the world. We are creating an industry that will supply the world with safe, clean, and abundant shrimp. There are 1.6 billion lbs. of shrimp consumed annually in the U.S. and 80% of it is imported largely from Southeast Asia. The facilities in Marshall and Luverne will produce the most natural shrimp possible using a sustainable, antibiotic-free, and environmentally responsible approach,” Ziebell said.

The team behind The trū Shrimp Company.

Rendering of the Balaton Bay Reef Training and Engineering Center at the Ralco Technology Campus in Balaton, MN.

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INNOVATION

DRONES IN AGRICULTURE

HOW KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS CAN ADD TO THE BOTTOM LINE

There are a myriad of things that producers do during the course of a growing season to maximize yield. From nitrogen and other fertilization application prior to planting to making sure the planter and combine are in tip-top shape to effectively complete their respective duties, every step that is taken looks to add more dollars to the bottom line at the end of the season. In today’s world, that makes keeping up with the latest advances in drone technology even more important. As Agnition® strives to carry out Ralco’s mission to “...perfect technologies that enhance the vitality of plants and animals for a safe and abundant global food supply,” Research Director Evan Johnson knows that the adage of old dogs and new tricks doesn’t hold water. “We’ve made a conscious decision to keep up with the rapidly changing technology,” Johnson said. “Part of that is the increased investment in our drone and its capabilities.” As products like Generate® have been developed, Agnition has worked hard to show their performance through digging individual plants and looking at root structure. With the drone and its available tools, there is an opportunity to look at the bigger picture of full field health in detail and depth that hasn’t been available before. “We want to be able to look at the entire season from emergence and stand count through mid-season stresses all the way through to yield at the end of the year,” said Johnson. “It gives us the bigger picture. It

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is easy to be pessimistic when you look at one or two plants so we want the whole picture. We want to help farmers understand that we can impact their crops in a positive way.” Johnson also adds that these evaluations will also work to drive our product development. Ag Systems Technician/Drone Pilot Jordan Lanoue has been working with these technologies first hand and can see the potential impact of the gathered data. “We want to work to be knowledgeable about the capacities of these technologies so we can take full advantage of them,” said Lanoue. “We do this at our research farms and with our customer trials to see data from a variety of environmental conditions.” Lanoue says there are many more technologies that are currently in development and testing that look

We want to help farmers understand that we can impact their crops in a positive way.


to make the information gathered by drones in the field more and more valuable. He is already doing work with Normalized Differentiation Vegetation Index (NDVI) mapping in the Agnition test plots. This technology looks at the invisible light that is absorbed and reflected by the plants which can in turn be used to identify disease, drought and even pest stresses. Other drone capabilities continue to emerge such as ways to gather accurate elevation maps, stand count in row and even soil conditions. The ability to work with companies on the cutting edge of these technologies is an added benefit to Agnition and farmers. “We sought out companies where our feedback would be heard because our needs from a research and development perspective are going to be a bit different than that of the producer,� said Lanoue. As Agnition and other companies in agriculture work to advance these technologies in cooperation with software and product developers, Agnition Lead Agronomist Tom Chandler says that there are things every farmer can be doing in their fields to utilize the technologies currently available.

Ag Systems Technician/Drone Pilot Jordan Lanoue works with the Agnition research team to utilize the drone and its available tools to look at the bigger picture of full field health in detail and depth that hasn’t been available before.

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“With the old scouting methods, we would go out by ATV or on foot and walk paths through the field, so we were always looking at a very limited sample,” said Chandler. “With the technologies that drones can offer farmers now, we can look at the entire field and identify issues in specific areas. This allows us to determine the cause of the issues in a timely fashion and make moves to remedy the issue sooner, in turn maximizing yields.” According to Lanoue, in time saved alone, there is value in the investment to producers. “If you’re looking for photographic scouting, we can scout 160 acres in around 15 or 20 minutes. That’s something that could have taken a couple hours on foot or 4-wheeler,” said Lanoue. According to Johnson, at this time the biggest opportunities for producers is working close with the companies that use these technologies in a commercial setting.

The drone provides of bird’s eye view of harvest progress at an Agnition Research Farm.

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“Producers can really take advantage of the advice and knowledge base that companies have. A lot of what producers are doing on their own is through trial and error,” said Johnson. “They see the new technologies and know that they should be utilizing them but aren’t doing so to their full potential.” Chandler puts it this way. “If a new farmer goes out and buys a combine and drives it around the yard, it is an expensive toy, but if he asks someone who knows how to set it up to harvest corn and beans, it becomes a productive part of his operation.” He suggests talking to your local agronomist about ways they are using drones and learn from them. In the world of agriculture, which has quickly become one of ever evolving technologies, it will continue to be important for all of us to utilize the available tools to add to the bottom line.

This is an example of a Normalized Differentiation Vegetation Index map of an Agnition Research Farm, which indicates plant health throughout the entire field. This farm was flown late in the growing season. The red areas on the map indicate where the soybeans have begun to dry up and drop their leaves as they reach maturity. The green areas are locations in the field with healthy plants.


VITALIX®

Q&A

Ralco works with companies like Vitalix® to meet the needs of their customers that are in search of safe and natural technologies. Vitalix products are powered by Strong Animals® proprietary technologies to keep animals strong, efficient and healthy. Read on to learn more about Vitalix. RALCO: Tell us about Vitalix.

VITALIX: Vitalix is a family owned business founded

in 1989 by Greg Olson. Vitalix is headquartered in Alliance, Nebraska, where we manufacture livestock supplement tubs. In addition to our headquarters in Alliance, we also have manufacturing plants in Quincy, Washington; Wilton, Iowa; and Rockyford, Alberta, Canada.

RALCO: What does Vitalix manufacture and what makes your products unique?

VITALIX: At Vitalix, we manufacture feed supplements for cattle, equine, sheep and goats. Our low moisture cooked molasses tubs blend together several types of molasses and vegetable oil which is then cooked to remove all the moisture. Next, we take our dry mix— a combination of protein, vitamins, minerals and other technologies—and blend it with the molasses through a continuous flow process which produces a consistent product day in and day out. Once everything is blended together, it’s poured into a tub and hardens. It’s like making taffy candy!

RALCO: Vitalix tubs are available with Strong Animals technologies. What attracted Vitalix to formulate the tubs with Strong Animals technologies?

VITALIX: Our customers are looking for ways to

naturally promote animal health and the Strong Animals technologies are proven technologies that has provided customers with powerful natural alternatives. When the veterinary feed directive (VFD) went into effect nearly a year ago, we knew that we needed to provide our customers with natural products formulated with powerful technologies that promote immunity and the overall health of animals. We found those technologies at Strong Animals. Vitalix mineral products such as the Stress tub, Back Drop tub and mineral tub are formulated with patented Microbial Catalyst® technology. Equine DEveloper is also fortified with Actifibe® Prebiotic technology and Microfused® Essential Oils technology.

RALCO: Where can farmers and ranchers find Vitalix products?

VITALIX: Vitalix has over 20 tubs to meet the needs of

farmers and ranchers depending on the specie, season and challenge. Our products are sold through a dealer network and in farm supply stores. Just look for the blue tub!

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WHAT’S HAPPENING

Dave Muenchow has been delivering Ralco product for over 12 years and always goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

DRIVEN TO PERFECTION DAVE MUENCHOW DELIVERS HIS BEST EVERY DAY

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He could be sitting in the office drinking coffee and chatting about the weather while the forklift operator is offloading product he hauled in that morning. He could even be sitting in the cab of his semi talking on the phone or listening to the radio, killing time until his next stop. Instead, Dave Muenchow is on the loading dock walking into the trailer after the forklift removes a tote or pallet to double check lot numbers and product quality. It is extremely rare that there is ever an issue, but Dave checks and double checks anyway. The attention Dave takes when unloading product is just one example of the care Ralco takes during every step of the product manufacturing and delivery process.

Dave takes the same care and goes through the process of double checking product prior to bulk deliveries of product to producer sites as well. Typically, Ralco drivers deliver product to the same customers, and develop relationships with the producers. “The drivers feel like we are a part of the operations where we deliver bulk products. Some of the producers, if they have a question, they have our phone number and will just call us with questions,” Dave said. “We are really dedicated to what we do and we take a lot of care that everything is done right. We have a great group of drivers. If there are


any questions, they will stop and go through the paperwork, even if it means taking extra time. A lot of the drivers have driven their whole life and they know that this is a good company. Everyone knows that everything must be done right from start to finish if we are going to continue to grow and prosper. As drivers, we are the ones, besides the salesperson that interact with the customer and we always want to present ourselves well professionally.” Dave has been an employee of Ralco for 10 years and has been hauling Ralco product for 12 years. When Dave began working for Ralco there were 30 employees and the company was beginning to make major headway in the swine nutrition market. Today, more than 230 employees in multiple countries carry out Ralco’s mission of enhancing the vitality of plants and animals for a safe and abundant global food supply. Dave and other Ralco drivers understand that they play an important role in moving the mission forward daily, by consistently paying attention to detail when repetition can lead to complacency. “You can’t automate everything. You still need that visual contact. I always double check paper work and visually inspect each bin before I deliver bulk products to production sites. I know what the different products look like. When I have more than one product on the truck, I check to make sure that everything is perfect before I start off-loading. I’ve gotten into the habit of double checking the product before I leave Marshall just to make sure that everything is correct. If there ever is an issue, it’s better to deal with it in Marshall than at the farm site. That just doesn’t look very good,” Dave said.

“We deliver to the same places and we know all our customers on a first name basis,” Dave said. “Wes goes to Michigan and he knows all those people; he goes every week. Fred goes to Texas and he knows all those people. It’s the relationships that you develop over time that really makes this job fun and rewarding.” Dave grew up in Tracy, MN, and currently lives north of Lake Benton, MN, with his wife Lisa and children Maddy (16), and twins Riley and Haley (15). Dave has been driving truck since graduating high school, and said he appreciates working for Ralco. “It’s always great when you’re working for a private company because when you head out, you know where you are going and when you are going to come back. You can schedule your life and you typically have weekends open which is nice,” he said.

With the drivers and salesperson typically serving as the face of Ralco, Dave and the drivers strive to prioritize the customer experience to build lasting relationships.

Ralco has added many new customers over the years, and each has expectations the drivers strive to reach. When making a delivery to a new customer Dave will call to make them aware of Ralco’s typical protocol and ask if there are any special steps that they would like him to take on site, including disinfecting the truck and biosecurity protocols. Ralco cleans the trucks and trailers after every haul and disinfects prior to entering a farm site and after they leave. Prioritizing the customer experience is the first step in establishing a lasting relationship with customers that will last for many years.

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