CREATING A FUTURE WORTH GROWING
From the first sale of U.S. soy to China to the release of the first soybean oil-based tire, the soy checkoff has been behind the scenes, growing new opportunities and customers for the soybeans you produce. Weâ€™re looking inside the bean, beyond the bushel and around the world to keep preference for U.S. soy strong. And for U.S. soybean farmers like you, the impact is invaluable. See more ways the soy checkoff brings value to farmers at unitedsoybean.org
President Bill Shipley, Nodaway | D7 President Elect Lindsay Greiner, Keota | At Large Treasurer Stephanie Essick, Dickens | At Large
March 2018 | Vol. 30, No. 6
Secretary Tim Bardole, Rippey | At Large Executive Committee Dave Walton, Wilton | D6 Board of Directors Mark Vosika, Pocahontas | D1 Chuck White, Spencer | D1 April Hemmes, Hampton | D2 Casey Schlichting, Clear Lake | D2 Rick Juchems, Plainfield | D3 Suzanne Shirbroun, Farmersburg | D3 LaVerne Arndt, Sac City | D4 Jeff Frank, Auburn | D4 Rolland Schnell, Newton | D5 Morey Hill, Madrid | D5 Robb Ewoldt, Blue Grass | D6 Jeff Jorgenson, Sidney | D7 Randy Miller, Lacona | D8 Warren Bachman, Osceola | D8 Pat Swanson, Ottumwa | D9 Tom Adam, Harper | D9 Brent Renner, Klemme | At Large American Soybean Association Board of Directors Morey Hill, Madrid Wayne Fredericks, Osage Brian Kemp, Sibley John Heisdorffer, Keota Dean Coleman, Humboldt United Soybean Board of Directors Delbert Christensen, Audubon Larry Marek, Riverside Tom Oswald, Cleghorn April Hemmes, Hampton Staff Credits Editor | Ann Clinton Communications Director | Aaron Putze, APR Senior Creative Manager | Ashton Boles Photographer | Joe Murphy Staff Writer | Matthew Wilde Staff Writer | Allison Arp Staff Writer | Carol Brown Sales Director | David Larson
Iowa Soybean Review is published eight times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 (515) 251-8640 | iasoybeans.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Make the Most of Ag
Data Itâ€™s been said that ignorance
is bliss...but not when putting technology to use on the farm.
10 Keeping Yield
Potential Like a new car losing value
as soon as it drives off the lot, a plantâ€™s yield potential starts declining from the moment the seed is planted.
12 Farmers Sold on
Machinery Auction App
Tired of spending hours searching multiple auction websites to find specific pieces of farm equipment to buy? Kyle McMahon has an app for that.
16 Biodiesel Blossoms in
the Big Apple New York City is
supporting biodiesel when the industry and farmers need it the most.
For advertising information in the Iowa Soybean Review, please contact Larson Ent. LLC (515) 440-2810 or Dave@LarsonentLLC.com. Comments and statewide news articles should be sent to the above address. Advertising space reservations must be made by the first day of the month preceding publication. In consideration of the acceptance of the advertisement, the agency and the advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement.
On the Cover: Industry leaders gathered in New York City recently to learn about biodiesel technology in the Big Apple.
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Kirk Leeds Chief Executive Officer, Iowa Soybean Association email@example.com, Twitter@kirkleeds
New York, New York
n the song recognized around the world, and made famous by Frank Sinatra, all are encouraged to:
Start spreading the news You’re leaving today, I want to be a part of it New York, New York Soybean farmers and their soybean checkoff have been “spreading the news” about Bioheat® – a traditional heating home oil blended with biodiesel made from soybean oil and other vegetable and animal fats – for many years. In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we have included a special section on efforts to build demand for this important “new use” for soybeans. Due to concerns about the impact of traditional heating oil on air quality in New York and many other areas in the Northeast region of the U.S., Bioheat has continued to gain market share and now uses 300 million gallons of B100 biodiesel each year. For those of us who had kids that grew up watching the PBS TV series, Sesame Street, it was interesting to learn that the facility in Queens,
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New York, that houses the set for the show made the switch to Bioheat. Today, that facility uses 80,000 gallons of Bioheat annually. Why did they make the change? To improve the environment, while having little impact on their overall heating costs. So, the better question is, why not make the change? And, so they did, along with many other others in New York City. This past February, Iowa soybean farmers joined other industry partners to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the forming of the National Biodiesel Board and the successes in creating and expanding the use of biodiesel. As someone who was there when these efforts began, the blending of biodiesel with heating oil as a potential new use for soybean oil was not envisioned. But as often happens, success opens additional doors, and that has certainly been the case with biodiesel and Bioheat. This month, we also use these pages to update you about ongoing developments in technology and the potential impact on Iowa farms. If you are like me, although I appreciate and embrace emerging technology,
I'm also a bit overwhelmed by the pace of change and am challenged by the task of trying to decide what new tool is worth the cost, in both dollars and the time it might take to convert to the “new and improved.” Finally, I hope you take the time to read about the four Iowa farmers who are currently representing you as directors on the United Soybean Board (USB). The USB is the national checkoff board responsible for investing 50 percent of the dollars collected in the soybean checkoff program in Iowa and the rest of the states growing soybeans. These farmers are volunteers, appointed by the U.S, Secretary of Agriculture, who devote countless hours to make sure that the investments of these checkoff dollars have the biggest impact on soybean farmers. Biodiesel and Bioheat are two great examples of those investments. Enjoy the magazine and as always, let me know if you have thoughts or suggestions.
Iowa Farmer Wins National Conservation Legacy Award By Carol Brown
relative newcomer to his family’s farming operation was recently honored for his commitment to improving soil health and water quality. Mark Schleisman from Lake City received the National Conservation Legacy Award from the American Soybean Association (ASA) at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California. The annual convention brings together those who grow soybeans, corn, sorghum and wheat with agribusinesses. Understanding the importance of protecting natural resources, Schleisman utilizes in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices to reduce sediment and nutrients in the water leaving his fields. “It’s helping the land and environment for those who are going to be farming after us,” says Schleisman. “We want to be progressive and not only pass the land on as good as we got it, but maybe better. I think we can do that.” The Conservation Legacy Award recognizes the outstanding environmental and conservation achievements of soybean farmers. Schleisman was one of three regional winners from which the national honoree is chosen. Mark and his wife, Melissa, run M&M Farms with their son, Matthew, and son-in-law, Colby Winter. The operation includes 4,500 acres of row crops (including 2,500 acres of popcorn), hay and pasture, a 360-head cow-calf herd, 450-head feedlot and finishing about 30,000 pigs annually. “We really haven’t been farming that long,” says Schleisman. “I had a career in agriculture, not farming, until 2011.”
He worked for ConAgra in their popcorn division before coming home to farm full time. After his grandfather, father and uncles, Schleisman is now the middle generation working the family's land. “My daughter, Brandy, and son-inlaw, Colby, have kids – two boys and a girl – and someday they may be here,” Schleisman says. “The grandkids are out there now, riding along. That’s what legacy means.” Schleisman said that sustainability was a big thing at the corporate level and believes he brought that perspective back to the farm. M&M Farms plants cover crops on 2,500 acres and is part of a grazing cover crop study with the Practical Farmers of Iowa. The operation also participates in the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) tile water monitoring program. Some of the Schleisman farm is in the Elk Run watershed, which recently wrapped up a three-year water quality improvement project through Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance. Schleisman installed a bioreactor and saturated buffer nearly three years ago as part of the project. Both structures remove nitrates from drainage water before it enters the Raccoon River. “The bioreactor and buffer are on my dad and uncles’ land,” Schleisman says. “They were pretty apprehensive to begin with. They wanted to see the numbers to know if we had a problem.” ISA prepares an annual report for each farmer in the tile water monitoring program. “I showed my dad the report from the bioreactor and saturated buffer,” says Schleisman. “He was surprised the numbers were that high going in
and that good coming out.” Diane Ercse, Elk Run watershed coordinator and ISA resource management specialist, nominated Schleisman for the award. She says the Schleismans have hosted field days and Mark has spoken to other producers about how he has changed practices to improve water quality. "The work Mark and his family have done is inspirational. The diversity of conservation practices and pursuit of continuous improvement shout 'leader' to me,” says Ercse. “He has become more than a farmer concerned about his water quality. Mark is an advocate for the Elk Run and Raccoon River watersheds.” The Conservation Legacy Awards program is co-sponsored by ASA, BASF, Monsanto, Corn + Soybean Digest, the United Soybean Board/ Soybean Checkoff and Valent. Carol Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Carol Balvanz Policy Director, Iowa Soybean Association email@example.com
Technology Could Build Conservation Bridges
ver the past several years, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has worked to find “sustainable, long-term funding for Iowa’s natural resources, aligning with farmers’ priority resource concerns and at funding levels that address the scope of concerns.” That’s a direct quote from ISA’s policy document, and many ISA members will recognize it as the basis or our support for the Iowa Water and Land Legacy (IWill) Trust’s $0.0375 sales tax increase. The Trust has been in place since passage of the constitutional amendment in 2010. Legislators – once again this year – have been asked to consider putting together a tax reform package that would finally fund the trust. Occasionally, I receive phone calls from farmers asking how ISA — a farm organization — can support a sales tax increase. I also hear from farmers who are concerned that some of the divisions within the trust fund “formula” might compete with farming interests. Even though the purpose of the Trust is clear that “the money generated may only be used for voluntary practices and cannot be used for regulatory efforts,
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enforcement actions, eminent domain, condemnation or litigation,” some farmers remain skeptical. I understand their concerns. I also understand that the Trust is likely the best opportunity to meet our policy goal of sustainable, long-term funding for Iowa’s natural resources. At the recent ISA Research Conference, several presentations related to digital mapping of fields and maximizing farm productivity. With continuing low commodity prices pinching cash flows, farmers are looking to cut expenses and improve performance on every acre. This need, combined with the goals of the Trust, seem to point to a real opportunity to build bridges between farmers and conservation interests in the state. What would happen if lowperforming acres in strategic locations were eligible for environmental improvement funds that included the building of wetlands, bioreactors, drainage management structures, habitat, perennial buffers and other practices that have been proven to improve water quality? If farmers working
within watershed planning groups could utilize their precision agriculture technology to locate the areas where crop losses are frequent, those acres might be put to better use. Farmers could save on expenses and possibly earn easement dollars from the Trust for voluntary environmental contributions. Collaboration could build success. The Iowa Soybean Association has partnered with the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Trust for several years, serving on the coalition’s executive board for the past two years. It’s imperative farmers have this seat at the table when the formula for spending what could be “sustainable, long-term funding” for Iowa’s natural resources is being discussed. This could be the year that tax reform legislation allows the Trust to be funded. Back in 2010, few farmers were comfortable with precision agriculture. We’ve come a long way. Using our field data to help determine how and where to best invest the Trust’s money could add value both to our farms and to the state’s resources.
Iowans Appointed to United Soybean Board Work Groups
our farmer-leaders from across the state were recently assigned to United Soybean Board (USB) action groups in the areas of meal, oil and sustainability with a goal to help soybean farmers effectively differentiate their product and increase the value of U.S soy.
“I look forward to being involved in USB’s strategic planning which is focused on adding value to soybeans – including high oleic soybeans and soybean oil – to help boost farmers’ income and improve their bottom lines,” says Christensen. Iowa’s representatives include:
Delbert Christensen, Audubon
April Hemmes, Hampton
Larry Marek, Riverside
Tom Oswald, Cleghorn
Serving on the supply action team in the target area of soybean oil
Serving on the marketplace action team in the target area of soybean oil
Serving on the demand action team in the target area of sustainability
Serving on the supply action team in the target area of sustainability
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MAKE THE MOST OF
AG DATA By Aaron Putze, APR
t’s been said that ignorance is bliss. Unless you’re a farmer wanting to benefit from the infinite streams of data coming from your operation. “More than ever, you need to understand the technology you’re using on your farm and the data that’s coming from your equipment being used on your farm,” says Ohio State University’s (OSU) John Fulton, Ph.D. when he spoke at the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Farmer Research Conference Feb. 7 in Des Moines. “Only then can you begin to prioritize that data for action. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the potential profit that can come from better management.” Fulton, associate professor in OSU’s Department of Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering, says just
collecting data is no longer good enough. Farmers who hope to profit from the effort must prioritize the information and revise management plans accordingly. “Stand up and take ownership of data. Learn how to use it and sort through it and determine what’s being collected and what’s tangible to act on,” Fulton adds. “You have to be engaged, understand the kind of technology at use on your farm and the kind of information that’s coming from it. If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table.”
Prioritize data Sifting through volumes of data can be overwhelming. Fulton says research collected from just one corn plant can yield 18.4 gigabytes of information, 39 different file types and 2,475 files of information for analysis.
Mark Jackson plants into a rye cover crop last year. Technology like GPS guidance and Variable Rate have aided in farm operations but here also added data that needs to be managed.
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“The ability of growers to collect data today is pretty evident. There’s a lot of data and producing it is the easy part,” Fulton says. “The questions farmers must always ask is what is usable and brings value back to me? “Unfortunately, the answer is often ‘very little.’” Therefore, prioritizing data is critical if it’s to have tangible value for the producer. Fulton encourages farmers to narrow their field of vision by focusing on measurements and insights proven to have the greatest impact on profitability. They include soil sampling, base scouting, seeding rates, yield data and aerial imagery. Talking to other farmers is also a smart move, says Fulton.
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“Information shared between farmers is highly credible. Fortunately, farmers rarely hesitate to share what they know with other farmers and don’t shy away from admitting what works and what doesn’t work.” A survey by United Soybean Board found 92 percent of Midwest farmers are sharing data today, with 66 percent of respondents sharing data with two or more people. Fulton says this exchange of information is likely to increase as will consolidation of the ag data industry.
Maximize value Nathan Paul, On-Farm Network® operations manager of cropping systems, says costs for acquiring data are decreasing. The trend will continue as more companies incentivize farmers to collect and share information. Farmers can maximize the value of data, Paul says, by: • Understanding how information and data can benefit farm operations. Knowledge increases confidence. • Remembering that no two fields are the same. Therefore, there’s no onesize-fits-all solution. Ask questions about the data that’s collected and what it can do for your farm. • Inventorying historical data and identify information gaps. Is it soil test data that’s relevant or some historical imagery?
• Conducting your own on-farm research with the ISA or another provider. • Asking even more questions. What have you tried? What worked? What didn’t work? • Seeking to understand the experience of other farmers. Ask for their input and explore industry offerings. Some companies offer free trials or low-cost opportunities to use their services. • Continually assessing the return on investment of software offerings. Is it worth the expense? Always be advised of the software fees and what’s included in the price (such as hardware, software and services packages).
John Fulton, Ph.D.
“If you identify a vendor and want to buy in, be sure to understand what their long-term plans are,” Paul adds. “Keep in mind that your data is a lot like working at a bank. Once you choose one, it’s not always easy to make a change. “But once you decide to benefit from ag data and choose a vendor you trust and are comfortable with, be prepared to commit to the long haul and trust the process. Information has value so put it to work on your farm.” Aaron Putze can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Farmers' options for seed treatments have expanded to include fertilizer and micronutrients.
POTENTIAL By Allison Arp
ike a new car losing value as soon as it drives off the lot, a plant’s yield potential starts declining from the moment the seed is planted. From that point, weather, insects, disease and other factors can influence the seed’s ability to reach its full potential. Thankfully, farmers now have a variety of options to protect the seed, and their yields, at planting time. The idea of protecting a seed through a pre-plant treatment has been around since the mid-1600s when farmers used salt water and onion sap to disinfect the seedbed. In the mid-1700s, copper products along with arsenic were introduced and, in the early 1900s, mercury was also used. Like the original salt water seed treatments, disinfectant was the common purpose until the 1960s. Now, 50 years after the first fungicidal seed treatment was launched,
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the industry has grown to an expected worth of $9.82 billion by 2021. “The number of choices in seed treatments has exploded,” says Rich Stessman, operations manager for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) On-Farm Network®. “It used to be fungicides and insecticides were the standard. Now there’s several value-added products to apply, in addition to the bases, that address all kinds of issues. Even fertilizer and micronutrients are finding their way into the planter.” It stands to reason that early-planted soybeans have greater yield potential than late-planted soybeans. But the earlier the seed goes into the ground the more issues it could face. Cold, wet soil is a breeding ground for potential threats to the seed and its ability to grow.
To be the most profitable, farmers need to achieve every bushel of yield potential in their fields. That means each seed is important. During the plant’s most susceptible growth period, pests like soybean cyst nematode and seedling diseases like Phytophthora root rot and Rhizoctonia are ready to take advantage of the plant. Getting the seedling to emergence has been the focus of Keith O’Bryan’s career for more than two decades. O’Bryan is the global seed treatment technical lead for DuPont Pioneer. He shared the process that goes into developing products to help seeds thrive. “First, we try to understand the grower’s needs, the environment they’re working in and come up with a solution to their production challenges,” O’Bryan says. “We then begin the discovery phase of testing active ingredients that can control the insect
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Rich Stessman discusses improving soybean yields with David Kurth, ISA Research Program Coordinator
S E E D T R E AT M E N T S A R E M O S T
E F F E C T I V E F O R P R O B L E M S T H AT
MIGHT CROP UP WHILE THE PLANT I S L I V I N G O F F T H E S E E D. T H E Y LO S E E F F E C T I V E N E S S FA I R LY Q U I C K LY. — RICH STESSMAN
or pathogen. Those ingredients are then targeted to specific environments because that’s what the growers will need.” Next, performance of the ingredients is tested at numerous locations to see if the lab designs work in the real world. Throughout the entire process there is a system of checks and balances involving plantability, application, seed safety and many other factors that influence the end product. “As we move from concept to product we check a variety of things,” O’Bryan says. “Does it perform? Does it move through the machine well? What are the regulatory factors that must be considered? It goes back to the early stages of discovery, knowing customer needs and delivering them.” The amount of time varies when taking a product from conception to market. For a product using already
commercialized chemistries the process could be as short as three to four years. For a new chemistry compound, it could be as long as five to eight years. The products that make it through the pipeline offer farmers fungicide, insecticide, herbicide, fertilizer and nematicide treatment options, depending on their goals. Stessman, who has been certified to apply commercial seed treatments, warns farmers to evaluate their goals before making a seed treatment decision. “Seed treatments are most effective for problems that might crop up while the plant is living off the seed. They lose effectiveness fairly quickly,” Stessman says. “This is why neonicotinoids are not effective against soybean aphids. The insecticide is spent before aphids are present. Even control of early bean leaf beetle by seed treatment is not necessarily a given.”
Farmers must evaluate what they need most from a seed treatment. Protection from sudden death syndrome, soybean cyst nematode, or an overall boost for the seedling growth — the options are there, and according to O’Bryan, they’ll just keep getting better. “I think what you’re going to see is better technology. As researchers get a better understanding for what seed treatments can do they’ll become higher performing,” he says. “The active ingredients that are available, the application technology, all of this has been elevated over the last 20 years and that’s going to continue to happen to add a greater value for customers.” Some information in this article was collected from SeedWorld. Allison Arp can be contacted at email@example.com. MARCH 2018 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 11
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D L SO By Matthew Wilde
ired of spending hours searching multiple auction websites to find specific pieces of farm equipment to buy? Kyle McMahon has an app for that. Tractor Zoom, a new mobile and webbased app, provides a comprehensive listing of farm machinery auctions in one spot. It’s designed to connect auctioneers and farmers fast. The app helps producers quickly locate used tractors, combines, planters and other pieces of machinery. “We’re making it easy for farmers to find equipment and easy for auctioneers to connect with a larger audience,” says McMahon, founder and CEO. “There’s definitely a need.”
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ON MACHINERY AUCTION APP
McMahon previously bought and sold farmland for Summit Agricultural Group of Alden. He attended about 1,000 land and farm auctions as part of the job. What McMahon learned from chatting with farmers and auctioneers was eye-opening. On average, McMahon says farmers spend 50 hours researching and looking for used equipment, which includes perusing multiple auctioneer websites. Eighty percent of farmers use mobile devices to find equipment, he says. “I realized there wasn’t a good centralized online, mobile hub to find used equipment at auctions,” McMahon continues. “So, I decided to create one.”
An app is born Idea to conception took a year, working with software developers. Tractor Zoom became operational Nov. 1. App improvements continue. Here are few Tractor Zoom features: • The app home screen is a map of the Midwest with blue pins indicating upcoming auctions — most are within a 500-mile radius of Des Moines — utilizing the service. • Users can click on the blue pin. A digital sale bill appears, with pictures and details of equipment provided by the auction service. Farmers can quickly swipe though lots. Time, date and location of the auction, information
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about online bidding (if available) and more is provided. • A search bar to locate specific types of equipment. For example, a user can type in John Deere S670 combine. If one or more is available at an upcoming auction, lots will appear with corresponding data. • Filter searches are available consisting of year, auction date, distance, hours of use, horsepower, etc. Tractor Zoom is working to make searches more specific. • Farmers can “favorite” items of interest in upcoming auctions for future reference. “What I like about Tractor Zoom is it’s a simple product that everyone understands and sees a need for,” says Caitlin Zimmerman, the company's marketing manager. “The feedback so far is great.” Shawn Adam, a row crop and pig farmer from Batavia, downloaded the app. He wants to upgrade a tractor and combine. “It’s a lot easier than searching 16 auctioneer websites just to see what they have,” says Adam, an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) member. “Time is money.” The app is free to download at the Apple App Store and Google Play. Currently, it’s also free for auctioneers to use. Information can be found at www.tractorzoom.com.
Eventually, auctioneers will have to pay to use the site. Local advertising and some enhanced features are also part of future revenue plans. However, it will always be free for users to search for machinery auctions and equipment.
The mobile and
Getting the word out
web-based app allows
Tractor Zoom staff attend farm shows, which included the recent Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines, to drum up business. They also contact auctioneers. The company is based in Valley Junction in West Des Moines. Approximately 2,200 people downloaded the app as of late January, according to company officials. About 48 auctioneers in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois use the service and more than 4,500 lots have been advertised. “We’re starting to get good market penetration,” McMahon says.
users to quickly locate
ISU connection The Tractor Zoom team, including Chief Financial Officer Zac Sandvig, are Iowa State University (ISU) graduates. The company is part of the ISU Startup Factory, which helps students, faculty and staff create businesses. Participants receive formal training, resources and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors and investors. The company was awarded $25,000 proof of commercial relevance funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Kyle McMahon, founder and CEO of Tractor Zoom, showcased the mobile and web-based app at the Iowa Power Farming Show and similar events in the Midwest.
used farm machinery to be sold at auction.
Mentors asked the Tractor Zoom team to talk with 100 potential customers for feedback. They talked to 300. “We’re developing what farmers want, not what we think they want,” McMahon says. “To click and quickly find a piece of equipment on an upcoming auction is big.” Jason Hallberg, owner of Hallberg Auction in Buffalo Center, is starting to advertise farm auctions on Tractor Zoom. After a recent app tutorial from McMahon during the Minnesota Auctioneering Convention, Hallberg was hooked. His March 15 machinery consignment auction will be featured on the app. “Simplicity is a nice plus of the system,” Hallberg says. “I thought it was very user-friendly.” Auctioneers and company officials believe app use will soar as farmers, struggling with low commodity prices, search auctions for needed equipment to save money instead of buying new. Austin Maas, an ISA member from West Liberty, is in that boat. He downloaded Tractor Zoom to find a Case-IH tractor with at least 300 horsepower and tillage equipment. Maas confirms he used to spend 30-50 hours searching for high-dollar items. Not anymore. “We very seldom buy new, so the app is extremely helpful,” he says. “It’s convenient, fast and simple.” Matthew Wilde can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. MARCH 2018 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 13
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IOWA GEOGRAPHY IN ACTION By Roger Wolf and Carol Brown
armers know what management systems work on their farms. With most Iowa farmers growing the same crops, planting and harvesting at approximately the same times, and facing similar weed and disease issues, why can’t farm management plans be used from one farm to the next? The answer: soil. The Iowa landscape is a collection of landforms inherited from a geologic past more than a billion years ago. Geologists have studied and mapped the state using remnant clues of rock deposition and sediment from various periods of landscape shaping and development. There is evidence of ancient tropical sea floors, the passage and stagnation of glacial ice, the accumulation of windblown sediment and the erosive sculpting from flowing water. These events dictated the physical qualities of Iowa soils today. They determined the natural base condition, the spatial distribution and parent makeup of soil resources. Humans have come along and manipulated these natural resources for economic value,
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determining where cities are located and where certain plants and animals naturally exist.
Connecting the past with the present Today, farmers are learning how to coax the best yields from the soils in their fields. The Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Environmental Programs and Services (EPS), Analytics and On-Farm Network® teams are helping them to be more productive. The teams are showing farmers how they can improve agricultural production systems as well as improving water management by focusing on Iowa’s Roger Wolf landforms. The ISA Research teams are driven to help farmers by providing them information to assist their decision making, providing insight into their questions about productivity, agronomic efficiency, impacts on natural resources
and environmental quality. Using state-of-the-art tools, the teams collect and interpret data from remote sensing, geographical information systems, global positioning systems, as well as plant, soil and water samples. Captured data is stored within secure ISA databases for annual reporting and sharing. ISA researchers have published numerous scientific papers in peerreviewed journals based on this collected data, which contribute to advancing the scientific state of knowledge on these topics. Much of this information is readily available on the ISA website: iasoybeans.com.
Helping farmers improve through research The EPS team has dedicated projects to learn how conservation practices work on different landforms across Iowa to build stronger soils, improve water quality and advance more resilient
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cropping systems. Project topics include soil health, cover crops, nutrient management, nutrient loss, drainage water management; and edge-of-field practices such bioreactors and saturated buffers, oxbow restorations and pollinator habitat. The team has worked on thousands of farms and within watershed areas assessing natural resource conditions and evaluating practice performance. Farmers are continuously working to increase productivity and management efficiency, improving soil health and water quality and reducing negative impacts on the environment. Having information at hand that captures the variability and influences from geographic differences is of significant value. Farmers know one-size-fits-all management systems will generally fall short of acceptable performance. ISA Research teams will be working to compile findings from the past 17 years, while leveraging current programming. The team will put this information in the context of Iowa’s geographic landform regions. Roger Wolf can be contacted at email@example.com and Carol Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landform Regions of Iowa There are seven major landform regions that make up the Iowa landscape. Missouri Alluvial Plain, Mississippi Alluvial Plain: Located on Iowa’s western and eastern borders, respectively, these landforms are mainly rock, sand and sediment. These floodplains can be productive due to adequate drainage but are vulnerable to seasonal flooding. Dikes are often used to prevent flood waters from inundating crop fields. Loess Hills: Located in western Iowa, they were formed by windblown deposits of sand and silt during the last glaciation period. Soils are moderately productive for crops but are vulnerable to erosion. Northwest Iowa Plains: This landform is in the top western corner of Iowa and was influenced by glaciers 20,00030,000 years ago. Des Moines Lobe: In north central Iowa, this landform ranges from flat to irregular plains from the Wisconsinan Glaciation 12,000-14,000 years ago. These soils have the highest organic matter content compared
to other Iowa soils, but drain poorly and contain numerous potholes. Iowa’s southern-most natural lakes are in the Des Moines Lobe, including Storm Lake, Blackhawk and Swan Lake. Iowan Surface: East of the Des Moines Lobe, this area includes gently rolling hills and cropland can be very productive due to good natural drainage. Southern Iowa Drift Plain: Southern Iowa is dominated by this landform, the largest of the landform regions. It was impacted by glaciers from 300,000 years ago and shaped by the cutting away of rivers. The landform contains hills and valleys mixed with grasslands and timber. Cropland is productive depending on soil conditions. Paleozoic Plateau: This landform in northeast Iowa is also known as the Driftless Area due to limited glacial activity. Limestone outcroppings characterize the area with rock formations that are 300-550 million years old. Topsoil is generally very shallow and farmers must make extra efforts to protect the land from water erosion.
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BIODIESEL BLOSSOMS IN THE BIG APPLE By Matthew Wilde
NBB Big Apple Tour The National Biodiesel Board held its annual Big Apple Tour in mid-December. Farmers and industry officials from across the country attended the three-day event, which highlighted current and future biodiesel and Bioheat® use in New York City and how soybean checkoff initiatives and education programs helped increase biofuel use in the nation’s largest city. Representing the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) was Chief Operating Officer Karey Claghorn and Dave Walton, At-Large Board member. The following stories provide an overview of New York’s biodiesel use and support of biofuels, the trust emergency services have in biodiesel and training the next generation of heating technicians and BioHeat advocates.
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ew York City is supporting biodiesel when the industry and farmers need it the most. The nation’s largest municipal vehicle fleet and home heating oil market continues to scale up use of biodiesel and Bioheat®, respectfully. After another record soybean harvest and added demand for soybean oil is needed, producers say. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considered rolling back the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) last year, New York City lobbied against it. The EPA backed down after pressure from biofuel advocates and policymakers. It’s no wonder why farmers and Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) leaders love the city that never sleeps. “The enthusiasm and commitment to increase volumes goes beyond the political rhetoric around the biofuels industry,” says Karey Claghorn, ISA chief operating officer. “There’s
tangible evidence of the good biodiesel is doing in New York City such as improving air quality.” Soybean checkoff education programs and initiatives spurred biodiesel use in the nation’s largest city — more than 8.5 million residents — and helped farmers in the process, according to Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO. He believes New York City’s love for biodiesel will likely spread throughout the East Coast, creating more demand. That’s good news for farmers since soybean oil is the most widely used feedstock. “For biodiesel, the coasts are where the most growth is happening,” Rehagen says. “You will find a passion for biofuels exists in New York City, which is infectious. “The ultimate goal is to increase the value of soybean oil,” Rehagen continues. “Biodiesel has done a remarkably good job at that.”
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Soybean oil prices increased by 11 cents per pound, on average, from 2006-07 to 2014-15 due to biodiesel, according to a study prepared for NBB. Biodiesel increased soybean prices by nearly 63 cents per bushel, on average, and lowered soybean meal prices by $21 per ton, the study shows.
“The same goes for biodiesel use in city vehicles and airport equipment,” he continues. “As farmers, we need to continue to promote biodiesel in the city of New York to increase demand and our bottom line. It’s a tremendous return on the checkoff dollar investments.”
Today, the city requires biodiesel in all its diesel vehicles. Only the fire and police departments are exempt from the rule, but each burns it anyway. Biodiesel blends range from B5 to B20, depending on the time of year. Some departments are testing B20 in the winter.
NYC fights for RFS
As of Oct. 1, the city increased its New York City has more than New York City stood behind biodiesel Bioheat mandate from a 2-percent 30,000 vehicles in its municipal fleet, and when the EPA suggested rolling back blend to 5 percent. That will increase which includes 5,145 off-road units like the RFS. demand for B100 from 20 million backhoes, city officials say. In a letter to the agency, Mayor Bill de gallons to 50 million, according to Biodiesel is a big part of the fuel Blasio asked for a more robust biodiesel NBB. supply and use is on the rise. standard to benefit the city and farmers. The market share Fiscal year 2017 Rehagen says New York City is a for heating oil is was a record year powerful and valuable biodiesel ally. 30 percent in for biodiesel use “New York City has adopted and New York City. in the fleet at embraced it,” he says. “The ability New York City 16 million blended to reach out to constituents and Councilman Costa gallons; that’s policymakers there wasn’t possible Constantinides, equivalent to 10 years ago. We can engage a whole head of the council’s 2 million B100 New York City Councilman group of new people to move biodiesel environmental gallons. Diesel Costa Constantinides issues forward.” committee, says accounts for White adds New York City sets an requiring cleaner-burning B5 is like 60 percent of all fuel used. example for others to follow. taking 40,000 cars off the road. The “Biodiesel use in city vehicles began “The city is a great promoter of standard will increase to B20 in 2034, with a donation of B100 in 2005 to the biofuels to the rest of the cities and the equivalent of taking 175,000 parks department,” says Keith Kerman, citizens of the U.S.,” he says. “The vehicles off the streets. chief fleet officer City of New York/ experience and testimony of biofuel use Even though New York’s air quality Department of Citywide Administrative is exemplary.” has greatly improved, Constantinides Services. “We operated a fleet of garbage Matthew Wilde can be contacted says biodiesel is making it better. trucks on it and it worked beautifully. It “Those benefits are tangible. They has to be reliable and it is.” at email@example.com. are real,” he says. “My 8-year-old son has asthma. His life is better because of it. The partnership we (New York/ biodiesel industry/farmers) have is special.” NBB and the United Soybean Board utilize checkoff funds to partner with fuel retailers to educate consumers and heating industry officials about the benefits of Bioheat. One avenue is www.mybioheat.com. Chuck White, an ISA Board member from Spencer, says there’s a direct correlation to checkoff work and increased popularity of the fuel. “New Yorkers are very pleased biofuel heats their homes,” says White, past Big Apple Tour participant. “They A truck delivers Bioheat, a combination of petroleum and biodiesel for oil-burning furnaces in December, to homes and are very supportive of cleaning up the business in New York City. Photo Credit: Matthew Wilde. city’s air and like that it’s a renewable product.” MARCH 2018 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 17
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New York City firefighters and emergency personnel respond to a pipe bomb explosion in Manhattan in December. The dieselpowered vehicles burn biodiesel. Photo Credit: Karey Claghorn.
BIODIESEL ITS A MATTER OF TRUST By Matthew Wilde
ew York City fire trucks and ambulances, with sirens blaring and lights flashing, rushed to Times Square Dec. 11 after a terrorist detonated a homemade bomb. Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) leaders, farmers and biodiesel industry officials were only blocks away when the attack occurred in a passageway under 42nd Street in Manhattan that connects a subway station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. None of the group was hurt and only a handful of people, including the bombing suspect, sustained minor injuries from the explosion. New Yorkers depend on the fire department and emergency responders to save lives and property. Biodiesel powers hundreds of diesel vehicles to do it. Dave Walton, an ISA Board member from Wilton, says the prompt response and the magnitude of the emergency further proves biodiesel is a dependable product.
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“If emergency services in New York City trust it, it must be a reliable product,” Walton says. Andy Diamond, executive director of fleet operations bureau of fleet services for the New York City Fire Department, says it is. The department hosted tour goers at its vehicle maintenance facility in Long Island City. Emergency vehicles are exempt from the city’s mandate to burn biodiesel in all municipal diesel vehicles and engines to reduce air pollution and use green energy sources. But Diamond says the department wanted to do their part. In the summer of 2016,
diesel-powered police vehicles started to use B10 (10 percent biodiesel and 90 percent petroleum diesel) in the summer and B5 in the winter. The Fire Department utilizes B5 year-round, and a few ambulances are testing B20. Diamond admits he was skeptical about using biodiesel in the city’s nearly 350 fire engines and trucks and 300 ambulances due to reliability concerns. The longtime vehicle maintenance expert was worried about gelling in the winter and clogged filters. The transition to biodiesel, Diamond says, has been seamless. “There haven’t been any issues,” he says. “I would be the first to complain; I’m not shy.
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“When we started to burn ultra-low sulfur diesel, we had problems. But not with biodiesel,” he continues. “For us it’s all about keeping trucks and ambulances in service … we can’t have a failure. It’s all about keeping people safe.” The nation’s largest municipal fire department — only the Tokyo Fire Department is larger worldwide, according to the city — knows all about that. It serves more than 8 million residents within a 322-square-mile area. Whether it’s working around-theclock rescuing people from the World Trade Center or responding to the latest terrorist attack in Times Square to a fouralarm apartment fire or an ambulance call for a health problem, Diamond says every emergency is important. “We truly thank God for firefighters every day,” he adds. New York City’s 4,400 emergency medical technicians and paramedics (fire inspectors are included in that number) responded to 1.75 million calls last year, according to department data. More than 11,000 firefighters went out on about 590,000 emergency and nonemergency calls.
Big Apple, Big Biodiesel Numbers • 30,000 municipal vehicles, which include 5,145 off-road units like backhoes • 16 million blended gallons of biodiesel, or the equivalent of 2 million gallons of B100 • Biodiesel blends range from B5 to B20 • 1 billion gallons of heating oil burned a year. • B5 BioHeat mandate equals 50 million gallons of B100
Andy Diamond, left, executive director of fleet operations bureau of fleet services for the New York City Fire Department, talks about the reliability of biodiesel during the National Biodiesel Board Big Apple Tour in December. Photo Credit: Matthew Wilde.
All fire trucks, engines and ambulances — almost 1,000 pieces of equipment in all — are serviced in-house. No mechanical problems or vehicle downtime has been attributed to biodiesel, Diamond says. “For us, no news is good news,” he adds. “There’s no reason not to trust it.” Walton hopes more Iowa farmers will. Most Iowans have a positive opinion of biodiesel and 86 percent say they would use or probably use the biofuel if they had a diesel vehicle, according to research commissioned by the Iowa Biodiesel Board. However, only 16.5 percent of the 211.7 million gallons of dyed (non-taxed) diesel fuel — off-road agricultural, construction, railroad and school bus use — sold in Iowa was blended with biodiesel, according to the latest state statistics. Nearly 55 percent of taxed diesel sales statewide contained a biodiesel blend two years ago. Walton, a longtime user of biodiesel on his farm, says he’s talked to school districts, towns and farmers about the
benefits of biodiesel (helps farmers, good for the state economy, improves engine lubricity, etc.). But he often gets pushback due to a lack of trust. “Now, I can say to them if New York trusts it to protect their citizens, then it’s good enough for your tractor, bus and truck,” Walton says. “Fire department mechanics here will see more use in one piece of equipment than a farmer will see in a lifetime. We’re talking fire trucks and ambulances going on calls and idling for hours on end every day.” Since biodiesel can have a cleansing effect on engines, performance problems for new users can be greatly reduced or eliminated by changing filters more regularly, at least initially, and abiding by storage tank best maintenance practices. National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen says New York City leads by example by using biodiesel in emergency vehicles. “I’m not sure we can find a better advocate,” he adds. Matthew Wilde can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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BIOHEAT BELIEVERS: THE NEXT GENERATION By Matthew Wilde
lames flicker in an oil-burning furnace, one of many, in a classroom at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy in mid-December. With a hand-held tester, high school students determine the furnace is operating at 87 percent efficiency fueled by B50 Bioheat®, a blend of 50 percent biodiesel and 50 percent petroleum oil. It’s just one of many things students learn as they prepare to be heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians in New York City. “That’s quite nice for B50,” Paul Nazzaro, an East Coast Bioheat industry consultant, tells biofuel experts, industry officials and farmers visiting the class. Not only is the furnace operating efficiently, it’s producing less harmful greenhouse gas emissions compared to using 100 percent petroleum oil, experts noted. That’s not a surprise to students, who’ve been testing various Bioheat
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blends and learning about the renewable fuel for years — all part of their daily studies. “It’s a good fuel,” says Matthew Byam, a senior at the academy, with aspirations to be a HVAC tech. “I’ll share its benefits (with future customers).” It’s a statement that could pay dividends for biodiesel producers and farmers for years to come. The academy, a public high school geared to prepare graduates for advanced entry into competitive construction and other trade careers or post-secondary education, offers a multiyear HVAC Program. The New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA) is working with the school to educate future technicians on the benefits of using Bioheat in commercial and residential applications. Students learn life skills and a valuable trade — starting pay in the HVAC field in New York City is about
$80,000 a year, officials say — and the importance of renewable fuels, which they can pass along to future employers and customers. “The student will be great ambassadors for Bioheat,” says Rocco Lacertosa, NYOHA CEO. “They know about it, how it works and that it’s good for the environment.” That could increase demand for heating oil blended with biodiesel, advocates say. Since the Big Apple is the nation’s largest home heating oil market, the potential impact on biofuel producers and soybean farmers — soybean oil is the most widely used biodiesel feedstock — is immense. Bioheat is an integral part of New York City’s green initiatives to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. The nation’s largest city — more than 8.5 million residents, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data —
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increased its Bioheat mandate from 2 percent to 5 percent last October. That will increase demand for B100 from 20 million gallons to 50 million, according to National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Soybean checkoff-funded education and promotion initiatives contributed to increases in biodiesel use in the city, industry officials say. The Bioheat standard will increase to B20 in 2034. New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides said requiring cleaner-burning B5 is like taking 40,000 cars of the road and B20 equates to 175,000 vehicles. As more young technicians and ambassadors of Bioheat enter the workforce and interact with customers, Dave Walton says biodiesel inclusion rates in heating oil may exceed minimum requirements “I was impressed how the students were working with B25 and B50 blends,” says the Iowa Soybean
Association Board member and Wilton farmer. “The push for the future will be higher inclusion rates, which will create instant demand. “Any increase in biodiesel use likely means more demand for soybean oil, which adds value to soybeans,” he continues. “The heating oil market is huge here.” New Yorkers burn more than 1 billion gallons of heating oil annually, government statistics show. The market share for heating oil has eroded over the years to about 30 percent. Bioheat is the future of the industry, heating oil officials say, as customers demand cleaner-burning alternatives. Technicians, which are in short supply, who believe in it are essential as well. Lacertosa convinced a dealer to donate about 150 gallons of biodiesel to the school three years ago so HVAC students could become familiar and work with the product.
Bioheat: A STATE of Mind In September, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law that a B5 Bioheat blend will be mandated for much of the rest of the state beginning in 2018. Paul Nazzaro, a Bioheat industry consultant, says the potential for Bioheat is staggering on the East Coast. Currently, an estimated 200 million gallons of Bioheat are used. Eight billion gallons of heating oil is burned annually in New England and the MidAtlantic states. If every gallon was a B5 blend, that would equate to 400 million gallons of B100. “This is the epicenter of the home heating oil market,” Nazzaro said. “I’m excited about the potential.”
The heating oil association has been involved ever since. HVAC Instructor Peter Gonzalez, a licensed technician and owner of Gonzalez Heating Co., is teaching burner and furnace/boiler maintenance, combustion, fuel storage, piping and other aspects of the job. Bioheat is often part of the curriculum. About 28 students typically start the program as sophomores. Graduates have enough skills to enter the workforce as entry-level technicians. “Companies are begging for workers,” Gonzalez told the group. “The future of the industry is the biofuel you produce.” Peter Gonzalez, second from right, HVAC instructor at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy, tells participants of the NBB's Big Apple tour that students learn about the value of Bioheat as a fuel source. Photo Credit: Matthew Wilde.
Matthew Wilde can be contacted at email@example.com.
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HELPING YOU DELIVER ON DEMAND
Whether it’s improving soybean meal to outperform the competition or sharing the growing opportunity of high oleic soybeans, the soy checkoﬀ has been working behind the scenes to help farmers satisfy their customers’ needs. We’re looking inside the bean, beyond the bushel and around the world to keep preference for U.S. soy strong. And for U.S. soybean farmers like you, the impact is invaluable. See more ways the soy checkoﬀ is maximizing proﬁt opportunities for farmers at unitedsoybean.org
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The Last Word Editor’s Notes by Ann Clinton firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope Springs Eternal
nticipation is in the air. Spring is just around the corner and every farmer I’ve visited with recently is getting ready for the growing season. Talk of moisture levels, herbicide resistance, promise of big yields … it’s how farmers prepare for something that is often out of their control. Yet, hope springs eternal this time of year. I recently returned from the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California. Industry representatives said the winds of change are blowing. Experts who study farming trends and technologies reported a dramatic transformation is coming to agriculture in the next decade. Conference attendees told me, though, they aren’t too worried. Farmers are pretty good at rolling with the punches. However, the challenges are big. In a session entitled “Locking in Your Legacy — What to Expect in 2028” representatives from Syngenta outlined the following changes farmers will experience in the coming years. • Demand will continue to expand. Significantly more output will be needed on fewer acres. • Technology is the enabler. Convergence of biotechnology and
emerging technologies will offer hope for the betterment of the human condition. • Farmers will adopt advanced production and environmental practices. • Structural shifts off farms will occur. • Sociopolitical and regulatory changes will impact how we operate. In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we examine some topics connected to the advancement of technology in agriculture. From seed treatments and field data to equipment apps and new uses, it’s hard to even scratch the surface of everything that needs to be reported in more depth. Given everything I learned at Commodity Classic, there will be more to come in future issues of the magazine. We’ll get prepared together. On the topic of change, this planting season is one of evolution for my family. My father is battling cancer and has spent more time in the confines of a hospital recently than any farmer’s soul can handle. It’s not the cancer that has him down – it’s the longing in his heart to climb into the tractor and put seeds into the ground. He’ll do it; he’ll be back in the cab soon. However,
physical strain might slow him down a little bit for the first time in his life. The fatigue of chemo is a reality that will have to be dealt with. My dad didn’t choose to be a farmer; he was born to be a farmer. My mother, intelligent and beautiful, could have become anything she wanted. Yet, she chose agriculture by choosing my dad. Their life became an adventure of the unknown – marked by the seasons of sowing and reaping. I am lucky to be a farmer’s daughter. It’s pretty simple — I love agriculture because I love my dad. I do what I do because it’s the life he created for his family. It’s hard to put into words the emotions I’m feeling during this time. But I don’t really have to. My story is everyone’s story. Who among us hasn’t been impacted by cancer or tragedy? Who hasn’t mourned the changing path of life? Not because we are afraid of the future, but because we are insightful enough to cherish the life we get to live. This is our story — the story of agriculture. Change and challenges are apart of who we are and will only make us stronger in the years to come.
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Industry leaders gathered in New York City recently to learn about biodiesel technology in the Big Apple.