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THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE

modern agriculture food

sustainability

increased yields

fuel

CAN THEY COEXIST?

environment

wildlife habitat

Cleanest & Greenest POET Biorefining – Chancellor has one of the smallest carbon footprints in ethanol

Mission Greenfield POET helps to teach Africans to grow a plentiful corn crop

24 hours/day The POET Operators keep the plants running non-stop

Winter 2014


IMAGINATION YIELDS

INNOVATION + At POET, we cultivate solutions. Our spirit of innovation made us a global leader in ethanol production, and now we’re producing even more efficient biofuels, foods, feeds and natural alternatives to petrochemicals.

Opportunity is everywhere, if you know where to look. poet.com


contents FEATURES

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24 HOURS PER DAY

by BryAnn Becker Knecht As the second of the HERO series, Vital takes on a day in the life of a POET operator.

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TUG-OF-WAR

by Lori Weaver Modern agriculture, increased productivity, wildlife habitats and sustainability can coexist.

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CLEANEST & GREENEST OF THEM ALL

by Darrell Boone POET Biorefining – Chancellor, S.D. has developed one of the smallest carbon footprints in the ethanol industry.

44 Visit www.poet.com for the latest news, career opportunities and plant profiles.

MISSION GREENFIELD

by Thom Gabrukiewicz The POET Foundation helps to teach Africans the skills to grow a plentiful corn crop.

Cover and contents photos by Kurt Kruger, POET Nutrition


contents COLUMNS

04 IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin

32

06 FIRST LOOK

P / 605.965.2200 F / 605.965.2203

56 FROM THE HEARTLAND

ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS

DEPARTMENTS

08 TOP TWEETS 10 PULSE 18 PERSPECTIVE 36 DINE WITH A FIGHTER 38 PROJECT LIBERTY UPDATE 48 NASCAR® UPDATE 49 RENEW 52 ENTREPRENEURIAL ATTITUDE

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by Steve Lange

In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.

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POET, LLC 4615 North Lewis Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104

by Jeff Lautt

by Marcus Ludtke

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MAIL

THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE

Please direct all article ideas, as well as questions or comments regarding the magazine to: vital@poet.com

ADVERTISING INFORMATION POET 605.965.2200 vitaladvertising@poet.com

SUBSCRIPTIONS $4.95 per issue To subscribe, visit www.vitalbypoet.com

COPYRIGHT Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ©2014 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema info@gofunkyfresh.com


HIGHER YIELD. BETTER RETURNS. Together, we maximize the potential of biofuel. We work with our customers to develop the most advanced new technologies and solutions in the industry. As a true partner, we seek to maximize the potential of biofuel. For more information, visit www.novozymes.com.

Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries we create tomorrow’s industrial biosolutions, improving our customers’ business and the use of our planet’s resources. Read more at www.novozymes.com.

© Novozymes A/S · 2013-14677-02


IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and Founder of POET

Time

Travel It felt like time travel. I’ve seen pictures of corn fields that looked like this in the early 1900s – black and white, dusty pictures. Not something you see today. But it wasn’t time travel. It was Kenya. As our bus drove to our mission trip site, I gazed at the corn fields that passed by my window. I don’t even know if you could call them fields. Corn was planted in ditches along the side of the road – two to three rows here, a few more plants there. It was squeezed in between houses and grown sporadically in backyards with not one plant that probably even reached my shoulder. My family and I were in Tawa, Kenya with our church to help build a school for deaf kids. In our time there, I became more aware of the food situation. In conversations with the farmers we were staying with that week, they told me that most families struggle to grow enough food for their families. There was a crop failure while we were there. The farmer’s wife told me, “There will be a famine. The government will feed us or people will die.”

last 70 years, we should certainly be able to help Africa increase their yields. When we arrived back on U.S. soil, I started conversations with seed companies. Dupont Africa put us in touch with a company called Farm Input Productions (FIPS). Their mission coincides directly with my family’s foundation. Our motto follows the quote, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” FIPS also believes that it’s better to build an entrepreneurial agricultural environment than to give out free food. We have much in common with their mission. So we started teaching by way of Village-based Advisors (VBAs). We’ll help educate these advisors who will then train others in their area on agricultural best practices – from increased yields for corn, edible beans and cassava to vaccinating livestock to increase survival rates significantly. It’ll take some time to spread the education, but even just in the initial phase, this 4-year program will help bring 126,000 people out of poverty.

There will be a famine. She said it in a way that seemed so ordinary to her. With all of the U.S. advancements in agriculture, I knew there had to be something we could do to help. If we’ve been able to increase our yields six-fold in the

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I’m planning to take more trips back to the area to assess the program. And each time I go, I hope to witness a change that is truly inspiring in the lives of those less fortunate than us.


Machines That Reveal Many Opportunities

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FIRST LOOK by Jeff Lautt, CEO, POET Last November, the Associated Press did a one-sided take down of American agriculture, painting the U.S. farmer and the ethanol industry as culprits in the loss of CRP land for crop production. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that certain members of the mainstream media disregard facts to boost their headline impact. It’s important for the ethanol industry’s supporters to know the truth and remember that sustainability is one of the key advantages that biofuels bring to the table. Our business is built on a cornerstone of American agriculture, and its sustainability is what makes our fuel the long-term answer to the nation’s energy problems. We depend on the land and the farmers who manage it. Virtually all of the attacks our industry takes on the environmental front are, in fact, attacks on agriculture. I’d like to refute just a couple of the most recent allegations. Claim 1: If agriculture is profitable, farmers will disregard sustainable land management. Truth: I’m proud of the fact that ethanol helps farmers get a fair price for grain. We’re not going to apologize for that. The notion that environmental policy requires depressed land value and lower farm income is ridiculous. Claim 2: The AP alleges that profitable farming (due to ethanol) led to a loss of 5 million acres of CRP land since Obama took office. Truth: The 2008 Farm Bill cut 7 million acres worth of funding for CRP. Claim 3: Profitable farming has caused landowners to fill in wetlands to expand crop area. Truth: The acreage enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program hit a record in 2012. The rhetoric from many of these media outlets, who are far removed from farm country, doesn’t match reality. It is important to listen to what the media and environmental groups have to say, but it’s also important to check their claims. Some claims come from a poor understanding of agriculture and the reality on the ground in the Midwest. What I see in the Midwest is an agriculture industry that has consistently increased production, improved 6

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efficiency, and lowered inputs such as water and fertilizer as they go about feeding and fueling the world. Those claims pass the eye test, and USDA’s own data supports them. Environmental consciousness isn’t just in the field. POET has its eye on sustainability within our facilities as well. Our sustainability initiative, which we call “Ingreenuity,” is now entering its fourth year, and we have made significant progress in all areas since its inception: 1) We have dropped our water use from 3 gallons per gallon of ethanol to 2.6, with an ultimate goal of 2.33. 2) We have improved ethanol yield by more than 3 percent, with an ultimate goal of 10%. 3) We have lowered our greenhouse gas emissions by 3.3 percent. 4) We have produced more than 700 million pounds of bio-based products, primarily from corn oil, surpassing the goal of 500 million pounds. The progress we have made comes from a constant focus on improving our processes and placing a priority on engineering, research and product development. We don’t just pay lip service to sustainability. It shapes everything we do, both to improve the environment and to improve our competitiveness in the fuel market. We adhere to a bold mission here at POET: to take the abundance created from fertile American soil, add human ingenuity, and create energy and food solutions for the world. Along with our partners on farms across the Midwest, we are achieving that mission. Ethanol is unquestionably superior to gasoline as an environmental and sustainable energy source. We are changing the world. Take pride in that fact.


BROUGHT TO YOU BY GROWTH ENERGY. From advocating for ethanol on Capitol Hill, to validating higher ethanol blends through NASCAR®, to calling out Big Oil with a national television campaign, Growth Energy is there for the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry. We know we’re in a battle, but we’re ready for the fight.

Learn more at GrowthEnergy.org

Austin Dillon and Austin Dillon’s autograph are trademarks of Austin Dillon. All trademarks and the likeness of the No. 39 racecar are used under license from their owners. NASCARh is a registered trademark of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.


TOP TWEETS

12/6

12/5

12/5

South Dakota Corn @sdcorn

12/5

Jennifer A. Dlouhy @jendlouhyhc

Farmers continue to become

.@TerryBranstad says Iowa

better stewards of the land and

voters helped put Obama in

environment by growing more

White House. But w/ EPA’s

per acre with fewer inputs &

#RFS proposal “people today

improved soil management.

are feeling betrayed.”

Robert White @fuelinggood

12/3

Todd Calfee @todd_calfee

Ethanol opponents using

Third-quarter sales of E85 in

bicycles at RFS hearing 2 display

Iowa were the second highest

signs. Guess they can’t afford

on record, nearly doubling first

gas prices & prove need 4

quarter 2013 totals per the Iowa

options like ethanol.

RFA @iowafuel

Bob Dinneen @ethanolbob

11/22

At EPA #RFS hearing…More than

Iowa Corn @iowa_corn

Ethanol is cheaper, cleaner and

100 of the 144 speakers support

higher octane. Give consumers

#ethanol, #biodiesel & advanced

a choice. #DefendRFS

biofuels. Don’t mess w/ the RFS!

12/5

Renewable Fuels @EthanolRFA

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Growth Energy @GrowthEnergy

@ethanolbob – the EPA proposed

EPA’s new proposal rolls back

cut to the RFS is a backward step.

successful policy just because

It sends a horrible signal to the

Big Oil stands to lose profits.

investment community.

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11/14

South Dakota Corn @sdcorn

Creating jobs, reducing pollution, cutting our dependence on imported oil & saving consumers money at no cost to taxpayers. #TheRFSworks

11/7

MN Corn Growers @mncorn

Hey @WhiteHouse: The #RFS is working! There is no need to change it. #DefendRFS

11/5

POET @ethanolbyPOET

Value message resonates most with consumers. #Ethanol has been $.50-$1 cheaper than gas all year. –POET’s Jeff Broin @AgPhDMedia

10/29

POET-DSM @POETDSM

@POETDSM wins “Bio-based Deal of the Year,” title given to deal that contributes to the long-term development of bio-based industries.

Twitter is a forum for thousands of conversations taking place in 140-character comments, with participants from all over the world. People or organizations are represented by user names such as @ethanolbypoet. The topic of conversation is often highlighted with a hashtag (#). This is a sampling of what’s being said about energy and biofuels. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM

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PULSE

12/10

“It is our hope that this contribution not only alleviates some of the financial pain, but also lets the ranching community know that the entire ethanol community stands with them during this difficult time.” - Dana Siefkes-Lewis, President of the South Dakota Ethanol Producers Association (SDEPA), at an announcement of an $80,500 contribution from the SDEPA to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund.

12/5

“Iowa knows what biofuels and clean energy is already doing for our nation, and we have supported those who have recognized its promise. But we cannot stand by and support this proposed rule or anyone who seeks to finalize it.” - Gary Eischeid, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Gowrie, during his testimony at a public Environmental Protection Agency hearing in defense of renewable biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard.

11/15

“We understand the intention to not overestimate capacity, but the proposed numbers released today hurt efforts to expand this cutting-edge technology and deny Americans new alternatives to fossil fuels.” - James Moe, Chairman of the Board for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, in response to the EPA’s announcement of its proposed cellulosic ethanol volumes for 2014.

From issues relating to government policies, to infrastructure and opinion pieces, the ethanol industry has much to be reported on. Here is a representation of the past few months of news coverage. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC.

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11/15

“The predictable efforts to smear ethanol’s reputation ignore the renewable fuel’s valuable contributions to clean energy, rural development, job creation and U.S. energy independence. The latest round of misguided untruths disregards the plain truth. Ethanol is a renewable, sustainable, clean-burning fuel that helps run the nation’s transportation fleet with less pollution.” - Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a column written in response to the Associated Press’s ‘Investigative Report.’


11/15

“We are astounded by the proposal released by the Administration today. It reflects an ‘all of the above, except biofuels’ energy strategy. If implemented, would cost American drivers more than $7 billion in higher gas prices, and hand the oil companies a windfall of $10.3 billion.” - Fuels America, in a statement issued in response to the EPA’s proposal related to the amount of renewable fuel that will be blended in the nation’s fuel supply in 2014.

11/12 “This so-called ‘Investigative Report’ is nothing more than a one-sided piece with explicit misinformation used in attempt to discredit the renewable fuels industry, an industry that is reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating good paying jobs at home that cannot be outsourced, driving growth and innovation in rural America, all while improving our environment and providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump.”

11/12

- Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, in response to a recent Associated Press ‘Investigative Report’ on renewable fuel’s impact on the environment.

“Fuel is fundamental to our sport and our teams demand performance without compromise. With more than five million miles of hard competitive driving across our three national series, Sunoco’s Green E15 renewable fuel stands up to rigorous racing conditions while significantly reducing our impact on the environment.” - Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, announcing NASCAR’s use of E15 on over five million competition miles.

11/10

“It is clear that our national security and economic growth are tied to affordable, abundant energy sources. That is why calls to repeal the federal Renewable Fuel Standard are the wrong way to go. The RFS not only lowers the cost of fuel but also reduces the resources spent both protecting our trade routes and the costs to transport the fuel itself. It saves American consumers money.” - Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in an opinion piece published in Politico.

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Non-stop 24 HOURS PER

Day

Over the next several issues, Vital is giving you a chance to meet the team at POET. They are the heroes of POET and the ethanol industry. Their day job – and for some, over-night job – includes producing ethanol. But it’s more than that. It’s a passion for this American fuel and the ag communities they reside in. It’s a better future for their kids and grandkids. by BryAnn Becker Knecht In the last issue of Vital, we took you through a day in the life of the commodities team at POET. They take responsibility for the first step of the corn-ethanol process – procuring the corn. So, now that we have the corn, it falls to the operations team to keep the process moving throughout the plant. At 27 plant locations, POET converts over 500 million bushels of corn into over 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol, 9 billion pounds of distillers grains, as well as corn oil and other byproducts. Each plant is running at full speed 24 hours a day, 365 days per year with over 4,000 control points to monitor at

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any one time in the process. The biorefineries run non-stop and need operators on site 24 hours per day, every day. That means at 3:30 in the morning, the operators are working. On Christmas Eve when the majority of the world is spending time with family, the operators are working. When Mother Nature decides to dump inches upon inches of snow in the Midwest, the operators are making sure the biorefineries are running impeccably. It’s not an easy job. It takes a team of highly skilled and highly trained operators to manage this process and troubleshoot when problems

arise. A small shift in one of these control points can make or break the entire process. The operators have to understand the science and the mechanics of the entire process – their troubleshooting skills are sometimes put to the test within a matter of seconds. “Different things can affect the process – it’s changing almost every day. … It’s not a job everybody would want. There are some times it can get a little exciting, to say the least. If you’re a person that can’t handle stress, it probably wouldn’t be a good position for you,” says Dean Kretsch, Operator at POET


Biorefining – Bingham Lake, Minn. But, these team members not only handle the stress, but they seem to thrive under it. Their knowledge and dependability ensure that the ethanol and byproducts leaving each POET biorefinery are some of the best in the industry.

Keep Up An operator for about eight years, Kretsch has to be on the top of his game every day he sets foot in the biorefinery. For example, cold weather can sometimes be a factor and cause equipment to break or valves to work incorrectly, which then affects the whole process. These problems, if not caught immediately, can cause big issues in the plant. The

issues, though, are few and far between, because each operator is continuously monitoring the process and the equipment. It’s not always the weather that affects the process. And it’s rarely predictable. “On a day-to-day basis, corn variation can change the makeup of what you’re putting into the fermenter. Old corn, higher moisture, lower moisture – all of that affects the process,” Kretsch says. “When you’re going as fast as we are, the real challenge is to keep up and make sure you’re using the right recipe. If not, it creates more problems down the road.” “The thing that I like about this job is it’s dynamic. It changes. You get chances to troubleshoot things,”

says Jeremie Barclay, Operations Manager at POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Iowa. Working for a company like POET, the technology for the ethanol production process is constantly changing. Eight years later, the technology that Kretsch began his career with has improved and adapted. For example, Kretsch says they are currently in a learning process as to how the equipment works for corn oil production, a new process for the Bingham Lake plant. “There’s always something different that you need to learn,” he says.

Working as a Team And to complicate their day-today even more, each operator is not limited to one area of the plant or one piece of equipment. At POET Biorefining – Gowrie, Iowa, three operators per shift either work on slurry, dryers or distillation. The distillation operator also monitors the corn oil. They take samples of the slurry, corn and ethanol to verify that products are fit to continue the process. “You have to know all three jobs – not just slurry, not just dryers, not

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just distillation. You have to know what to do if someone isn’t in the room. Everybody works as a team,” Shelli Larson, Operator at POET Biorefining – Gowrie says. There is no typical day on the job. Today, you might find Larson taking samples from the fermenters and testing the glucose and ethanol levels. Tomorrow, you might find her weighing in and out trucks carrying wet cake feed or ethanol. “We’re all driving toward the same goal. One person’s job directly drives the next person’s. One person doing their best helps everyone else out,” Daniel McDonald, POET Biorefining – Marion, Ohio, Plant Manager says. “Technicians (another title for operator) play an integral role in the plant operations.” Since ethanol production is a continuous operation, what happens during one shift directly influences the next shift. There is no slacking off. Every point in the process needs to be exact and perfect. Even 11 hours into their shift, these operators and technicians don’t slow down. The night shift goes out with as much force as the day shift comes in. Handing over duties in the wee hours of the morning and checking out for the night, though exhausted, the team makes sure the new shift coming in isn’t caught off-guard. They discuss the smallest details of their shift – what changes were made to the process, what fixes were made, what to expect and not to expect. But as their day (or night) ends and they drive away from the towering ethanol plant, they know that they’ve made a difference. The

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work is not easy, but it is rewarding. They’re cementing a better future for the next generation. Though sometimes the big picture may not be the first thing on their minds among the steam, the pipes and the valves, it’s always there. Each and every operator is a hero in their own right – they’ll never tell you this claiming they are only doing their part. And, their part is a huge part of creating a more energy-secure future.


SARY R E V A N NI 1984 –

2014


Team members included on this list hold the positions of Operations Manager, Operations Supervisor, Lead Operator, Operator I, Operator II, Shift Supervisor, Plant Technician I, Plant Technician II, Boiler Operator, Boiler Technician. POET Biorefining – Alexandria Tarrin Bost Gregory Brigner Joshua Corwin Lyle DuBois Terry Hartman John Hasty Kerry Kemp Jeffrey Miller Joseph Petty Max Redding James Ruble Bradley Runyon Jason Sherrill Andrew Sizelove Chad Smalley Tyler Stewart Sherman Stockton Marc Tobey Michael Tormoehlen Ron Vehikite POET Biorefining – Ashton Mitchell Ackerman Craig Ammerman Michael Baker James Baskett Sean Burns Christoper Butler Darin Edwards Timothy Everhart Jody Habinck Bradley Hensch Zachary Jensen Kurtis Van Gent Todd Watkins POET Biorefining – Big Stone Scot Anderson Shane Bilben Jeffrey Buttke Christopher Dorry Ethan Hoffman Patrick Karels Russell Kilde Michael McLaughlin Brian Ninneman Jeremy Ohm Joshua Pond Derek Prasnicki Trent Rademacher Brian Redding Jay Sammon Lance Swezey

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POET Biorefining – Bingham Lake Wade Aukes Richard Doescher Michael Doescher Bradley Jorgenson Dean Kretsch Michael McLaughlin Warren Nelson James Rautenberg Brian Redding Douglas Schellberg Brady Sutherland Mark Wellner Randy Wilson POET Biorefining – Caro Andrew Emerich Thomas Frahm Charles Hauxwell Timothy Klinesmith Gregory Kuhl Philip List Jr. James McMinn Justin Morley Daniel Noyce Brian Thompson Derek Worth POET Biorefining – Chancellor James Andersen Russell Anderson Jerred Beehler Jason DeSchepper LeRoy Eilmes Thomas Hill Jesse Hively Jeremy Hult Jerry Marts Patrick Murphy Mike Niederbaumer Eric Petersen Michael Peterson Scott Reemtsma David Riphagen Joshua Tommeraus Michael Wentworth POET Biorefining – Cloverdale Scott Anderson Daniel Bennett Ronald Carson John Childress Bryan Coatney Adam Evinger David Hardwick Jason Hazlett

Jeffery McCammon Clayton Moore Brian Moore Carlos Nieves Patrick Perrine Benjamin Reese Jeremy Reitzel Curtis Richardson Brian Rogers Brian Shields Eric Sips Charles Stone Joseph Strong Seth Wade MIchael Whitaker Michael Woods POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids Jonathan Asmus Jacob Cook Jerry Dorpinghaus Austin Eischeid Jeffrey Kroeker John Merit Tommy Moore Gary Mozena Jerry Olesen Kevin Sailer Shelby Shepherd Scott Sporrer Alicia Sterns DeJay Wiedrich POET Biorefining – Corning Charles Barton Klinton Craft Samuel Fager Cory Glor Parrish Marr Gregory Myers Grant Rippe Troy Spinks Phillip Templeton Daniel Waddle Charles Watkin POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg Alison Barnes Melissa Billings Jason Christians Anthony Hasbrouck Greg Hauswirth William Hawks Jr. Matthew Haywood Aaron Hernandez Heath Hoch Jered Jacobson

Brad Kent Michael Kober Kevin Lappe Jason Levar Joseph McEwan Dan Mcollough Steven Merwald Ryan Mortenson Zach Pappas Todd Pityer Albert Poeppe Jonathan Reuter Justin Rink Jason Sanders Todd Schnieders Donald Theesfeld Vicky Vanoosbree James Wichman Andrew Williams POET Biorefining – Fostoria Todd Accornero Michael Burlile Dennis Comer Michael Druckemiller Michael Dunfee Daniel Fahler Jordan Feick George Hoffman Richard Johnson John Mareches Thomas Marks Gabriel Mendoza Brandon Norviel Michael Pace Ronny Ramsey Scotty Salyers Steven Savage Ira Turner POET Biorefining – Glenville James Campbell Michael Garcia Seth Henry Kristina Kraushaar Justin Kruger Marty Lau Bruce Penning Rodney Peterson Kevin Pitzen Gene Register David Register Trevor Studier Steve Swanson Alex Thostenson Andrew Yost


POET Biorefining – Gowrie Mitchell Anderson Kelly Burton Jason Hamburger Avery Hewitt Lance Johnson Shelli Larson Alyse McAllister Stacy Miller Adam Niemier Samuel Peterson Brandon Sandholm Grant Schreier Shay Taylor Mason Twyman POET Biorefining – Groton Scott Cooper Karissa Dean Scott Gefre Nicole Kimball Cody Lindgren Eric Lipp Jamie Morris Michael Pietz Alexander Tobin Brandon Weideman Michael Wirkus John Zarycki POET Biorefining – Hanlontown Terry Ausborn Jeremie Barclay Frederick Danger Jason Gilbert David Hinten Steven McAllister Benjamin Paulson Shaun Peterson Richard Stafford Travis Thorson POET Biorefining – Hudson Charles Banta Dorothy Dodge Matt Gaffrey Karen Green Bret Highum Matthew Jurgensen Tim Manning Colin May Orvin Molan Corey Pearson Paul Twedt Nathan Williamson Branden Zimmerman POET Biorefining – Jewell William Abell Marco Balderas Peter Boekelman Karl Curtis Jeffrey Deimerly Jay Faas Sergio Flores

William Jensen Bruce Mechaelsen Gary Pruismann Andrew Samp Kelly Stockdale Melvin Tiffany POET Biorefining – Laddonia Warren Bartison Joe Bruch, Jr. Charles Buchmeier Burtis Cover, Jr. Todd Crane Carl Dollens Wesley Embree Michael Grawe Matthew Hoepf Marvin Iburg Brian Lovelace Ricky Loyd Brent Potter Donald Street POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal Kenneth Dakken Lalita Easter Seth Henry Jeana Hernandez Chad Johnson Ronald Larsen Isaac Morin Tyler Mosser Jeffrey Mueller Mario Perales Joshua Rode Mark Sanderson Charles Schofield Shane Schofield Darcy Sieg Timothy Van Rooyen Shawn Waters Andrew Zellmann POET Biorefining – Leipsic Brian Burns Martin Diller Joshua Entsminger Chad Gratz Daniel Hardy Christopher Hedean Victor Hernandez Pierre Jacques Timothy O’Leary Brian Reynolds Brandon Reynolds Aaron Rollins Donald Roof Dakota Sudlow Robert Upham POET Biorefining – Macon Eric Basler Richard Brown Gregory Buster Jerry Collins Harold Downey

Josh Greenwood Derrick Rhoads Kenneth Richison Steven Sagaser Jeremy Shrum Douglas Simons Kent Tate Nathan Young POET Biorefining – North Manchester Kevin Barr Eugene Dixon Benjamin Enyeart Jacob Fishback Austin Johnson Stephen Lent Ryan Lester James Monce Rick Morgan Thomas Neal Charles Pace Todd Peterson William Pfeiffer Jr. Rex Sellers Todd Springer Aaron Stasiak Richard Waters Anthony Whitcomb Timothy Young POET Biorefining – Marion Robert Bernstiel Matthew Cox Todd Flohr Joshua Foit Andre Jimenez Walter LeMasters Kyle Mattix Timothy Meade Michael Mills Michael Myers Michael Nicol Thomas Ray Jr. Neil Robinson Douglas Roszman Scott Samuels Stephen Weiser Shawn West Steve Winters POET Biorefining – Mitchell Mykel Anderson Michael Davis Daryl Evert Monty Haynes Damon Klumb Duane Mathis Benjamman McIntyre Christopher Nelson Kathleen Northrup Julie Payne Rick Schauer Jeffry Shonley Andreas Unruh Dusten Zimmer

POET Biorefining – Portland Dustin Cox Joshua Fields Jack Goad Sean Hatzell Stevan Holcomb John Mikulski Jason Mote Fredrick Parker Richard Shelton Jeff Sims Johnathan Thinnes POET Research Center Tracy Akins Scott Bailey Victoria Baker Zachary Bakke Jeremy Bertrand Peggy Bertrand Karla Clark Donald Den Ouden Michael Ebel Curtis Evans Brandon Fischer Darren Gerlach Ryan Goehring Jeremy Green Allen Hauck David Heisinger Donald Hight Daniel Hill Thomas Hlavac Benjamin Holmes David Kasten Jeremy Kirton Jayme Kocourek Shannon Mulder Joseph Pajl Delaney Rowe Kyle Santos Stuart Schrag Kellen Scribner Matthew Zeeb POET Biorefinig – Preston Joshua Bakken Don Barrett Andrew Craig Joel Diersen Brandon Ericson Timothy Finley Kyle Folstad Ryan Lange Brandon Maloney Duane Meyer James Randa Brady Schmidt Mark Schmidt James Simpson Larry Tammel Steven Wingert

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PERSPECTIVE

Vital asked area farmers: What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat?

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MIKE STARKEY, BROWNSBURG, IND. What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat? On our farm, we’re predominantly no-till and cover crops, and we also practice nutrient management by only using fertilizer where we need it. Although our yields have increased, our inputs – especially fertilizer – have gone down considerably due to the nitrogen-fixing or scavenging capabilities of the cover crops. This has increased our return on investment.


HANS SCHNEKLOTH, ELDRIDGE, IOWA What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat? I think the issues of increased productivity and environmental conservation are often separated, but could be more related. Our farm has been using no-till conservation techniques for as long as I have been around. We don’t necessarily see production advantages because of this in terms of yields, but I know we yield similar to other conventional tillage operations with less fuel consumption and better soil composition. According to the Department of Natural Resources, practicing no-till crop production decreases soil loss over conventional tillage by 90 percent. Getting into a no-till rotation is not foolproof. The farm will see yield losses for a few years before they return to normal, but over time the soil profile settles out and gives a layered access to nutrients for the crops.

ROBB EWOLDT, DAVENPORT, IOWA

RAY MCCORMICK, VINCENNES, IND. What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat? I seed 100 percent of my land in cover crops using a corn head and grain platform. I refer to this not as no-till, but never-till. I’m increasing my yields, not by buying more commercial fertilizer, but by utilizing nature to produce a root zone that’s more efficient in taking up and creating more nutrients. And by improving soil biology, we’ve reduced pesticide use. Note: An avid hunter, Ray also has a side business restoring wetlands, and has restored over 10,000 acres in four states.

ROGER BETZ, EATON FALLS, MICH.

What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat?

What are you doing to increase production while protecting the environment/habitat?

Our farm operation has gone 100 percent no-till planting over the last three years to insure crop residue will be present to protect the soil from erosion. We have also changed the timing of fertilizer applications and also the placement of it. The goal is to reduce the amount used and to stop the leaching of it out of the root zone. All of the changes made are not only good for the environment, but should increase yields by increasing organic matter in the soil.

For the last three years, I’ve added 420 acres of irrigation to my farms which has produced a very nice yield response. But we are also doing some practices to take care of the soil. We do GPS fertilizer application, so we only put on the correct amount of fertilizer exactly where it’s needed, and we also use minimum tillage. That leaves a lot of corn stalks and other organic matter on top of the soil which protects it from erosion.

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TUG-OF-WAR Modern agriculture, increased productivity, wildlife habitats and sustainability can coexist.

by Lori Weaver | photo by Greg Latza

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The young boy hopped and skipped across ground farmed by his family for generations, his dog trotting along behind him. Strips of thick cornfield stubble forced him to slow enough to maneuver over the rows before he encountered another strip of smoother ground again. His father had explained the strips, but his mind wandered elsewhere to the edge of thick grass and low trees that cut through the field only a few yards away. His raucous arrival at its edge was enough to spur the sudden flapping of wings. A pheasant jetted from the tall grass, startling him for a moment before the familiar roar of a diesel engine begged his attention and beckoned him back to the farmstead. Creating idyllic scenes like this, where cropland gives way purposefully to wildlife habitat, are becoming more of the norm. In places where fences were once torn out to ensure more ground could be worked is now being turned into wildlife habitat. The use of sustainable farming practices are partnering highly productive crop production with environmental stewardship. It’s a serious balancing act that continues to play out across America’s heartland – and its success or failure will have lasting impacts for both agriculture and the environment. For decades, farmers found themselves in a tug-of-war between consumers who demanded low grocery bills, and environmentalists

and regulatory agencies demanding significant change. Now criticism of agriculture has begun to boil over, and it’s no longer just the fringe groups sounding the alarm. Demons like agricultural runoff, improper use of chemicals, poor cropping techniques that rob soil of nutrients and other environmental harms continue to haunt the agriculture industry even as many farmers turn to the use of sustainable practices. While it is typically high-input, conventional agriculture grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reasons, the bigger story unfolding in production agriculture today is the movement toward no-till and low-input farming. So, with the demand from a growing population and increased use of biofuels, is it possible for modern agriculture and increased production of corn to coexist with sustainability – without putting soil quality and habitat for wild life at risk? The simple answer – yes. Today’s farmers are finding a variety of ways for production agriculture – even on a large scale – to work in harmony with the natural environment. And what may be surprising to some: they aren’t giving up profits or yields to do so. Over the next few pages, Vital gives you a few examples of equipment companies and farmers that have embraced sustainable practices without sacrificing their bottom line.


PRECISION AGRICULTURE MEETS NO-TILL

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Field shown during fall harvest and again the following spring.


One of the ways farming is becoming more sustainable without sacrifice in productivity is with the use of low-inputs and precision agriculture techniques. Craig Hiemstra, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc., points out that environmental tillage systems are growing in popularity among farmers, a sign that more are embracing sustainable farming practices, even on largescale operations. Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc. (ETS) manufactures conservation tillage and nutrient management equipment designed to improve soil productivity and farm profitability. Since its beginnings in 2004 on a farm in southeastern Minnesota, the company has grown to reach customers in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. One example of sustainable equipment is the SoilWarrior, a flagship piece of equipment Hiemstra says acts like primary and secondary tillage implements all rolled into one. “This one machine provides all the environmental benefits of strip tillage,” he explains. “The SoilWarrior helps save soil, labor, moisture and fuel while optimizing fertilizer efficiency.” The SoilWarrior is designed to be a shallow tillage system, creating an aerated seedbed that is warm, dry and inviting for quick germination and early plant growth. Hiemstra says the SoilWarrior environmental tillage equipment also exhibits unprecedented soil management. The SoilWarrior can also be used

to band nutrients and create a fertile zone for strong early growth and sustained development. It minimizes compaction, supports conservation of soil and water resources, and saves both time and money, according to the manufacturer. He credits development of the SoilWarrior with invention of the zone tillage concept, which keeps soil where it belongs – in the field. “It does this by maintaining the root structure between each tilled zone and incorporating residue into the growing zone.” High input costs have generated more interest in SoilWarrior because of the savings it offers by combining fertilizer placement with fall or spring tillage. Farmers are finding that it saves fuel and labor, while improving yield potential and extending the planting window. In addition, SoilWarrior is appealing to farmers who have been working with local precision farming specialists and having zone tillage custom-applied for a contracted fee per acre. Of course, the new environmental tillage systems are also appealing to farmers who are good soil conservationists and desire to pass along a farm with good soil health to the next generation. Ted Frank says his family’s operation eased into the use of environmental tillage systems. He farms in partnership with his wife, Kim; son Tom; brother Ed; and sister-in-law Cindy, as well as a full-time employee. The 1,000-acre operation in Mower County, Minn., is a farrow-to-finish hog enterprise that produces about 7,000 market hogs annually.

“We rented an eight-row SoilWarrior in 2011 and again in 2012, to learn about and evaluate the system,” Frank recalls. “We purchased our own machine in the fall of 2012.” Their goals for reducing soil erosion and increasing productivity through better nutrient placement are the primary reasons they became interested in strip till. Use of the SoilWarrior has just been one step in their route to more sustainable farming practices. “Another change we have made is to allow our manure application to work with our strip till system by purchasing a vertical tillage injection bar for our manure tank, and adding a flow meter, monitor system and auto steer,” he says. “The new equipment allows us to have control over manure rates and apply manure with minimal soil disturbance.” The Frank family isn’t the only ones turning to environmental tillage systems. Benjamin Pederson farms about 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans with his father, Gary. “Nearly 10 years ago, a seed was planted in my brain that we could do things better than how we were doing them,” Pederson

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Ben Pederson in his SoilWarrior zoning his farm.

relates. “Typical for our area, we were either disk-ripping cornstalks or moldboard plowing them. It was common for us to plow the acres that were to be corn-on-corn and rip the acres that were to be soybeans the following year.” In both cases, they would run a stalk chopper over every corn acre to help with residue decomposition. Even on soybean stubble, they would perform some sort of light tillage in the fall. In the spring this was followed by one, or even two, field cultivator passes prior to planting. “Fields and road ditches were black all winter. It was in examining the soil after all that tillage that I began to search for a better way. Even though there was three inches of loose soil making a good seed bed over most of the surface, the wheel tracks were always cloddy and hard, while over the rest of the implement width, there was a hard, smear layer

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at field cultivator sweep depth,” he recalls. Then, there was the erosion. Almost every year, utilizing even more tillage, they would have to smooth out areas were water had taken the loose, unanchored soil and cut ravines and gullies on the rolling terrain. “While I knew even in my youth that this was not at all desirable, it was thought of as an unavoidable loss, because of the prevailing conventional wisdom in northern latitudes like ours, where we get fewer growing degree units per year than most in the corn belt and we have some black soil with drainage problems,” he recalls. “Most of the older generations of farmers believed the only way around these problems was tillage, exposing the black soil to the elements to warm and dry it.” As he pondered these issues, a practice called strip till came to his

attention and the idea immediately struck a chord. “Tillage right where you need it and nowhere else, and fertilizer right were you need it,” he remembers hearing. At about the same time, he joined with some local farmers roughly his age in a running dialogue on soil, discussing what was beneficial and what was detrimental. “The bottom line was this: tillage, most often, is detrimental to soil,” Pederson explains. “In 2011, after researching different machines and speaking with owners of different equipment – and building up a significant amount of courage – I made the decision to purchase a SoilWarrior.” The system offered them a way to avoid fall nitrogen fertilization, which can be subject to significant loss, and apply it precisely where corn will be grown and incorporate it into the soil. “My goals in utilizing SoilWarrior to perform strip till are simply to address all the issues I saw with our conventional way of farming,” explains Pederson. “While about 1,500 of my dad’s acres are still farmed that way, he has begun to have me strip till a great many other acres. The good part about this process is that we get to compare the differences. In 2012, two of our top three yielding corn farms were strip tilled. Soybeans yields also compared favorably, in about a dead heat.” Pederson says another advantage SoilWarrior offers is the ability to strip till corn-on-corn without plugging with residue. He also saw an advantage this past fall when the machine was able to run in non-


Black horizontal/conventional tillage versus environmental/strip tillage.

ideal, wet conditions while other farmers with shank machines could not do so. “That is a big deal in November when most likely things are not going to dry out again,” he adds. A record-wet spring in 2013 put sustainable tilling to the test as well. Many acres near Pederson did not get planted and those that did, had massive bare spots at harvest due to crop loss from all the excess water. “That spring allowed us to really test that old farmer mentality of tillage overcoming cold, wet weather. Ultimately, when we really needed to plant crops in wet conditions, we were able to plant in the strips easier than the conventional tillage,” he says. “Because we had that black, narrow strip, the sun did its work and dried off that top layer enough so the planters would work. In between

rows, the soil was structured well enough with old root mass, organic matter, and earthworm burrows that we did not sink, get stuck or spin nearly as often.” But without showing any improvement in yield – regardless of field conditions – does Pederson still see an advantage to an environmental tillage system? “Some may think that because yields have not significantly increased yet, the system has failed. That could not be further from the truth,” he explains. “Because of savings in fuel, machine wear and tear, labor, and soil, a tie is actually a win.” As soils continue to build organic matter, natural structure, and tilth, farmers are likely to see yield increase over time. With just two full seasons under their belt with strip till, Pederson and his father are just getting the ball rolling on

sustainable farming practices. One new step he’s taken is to plant a cover crop designed to increase soil health on all acres under prevented plant status. Happy with the results, he is anxious to identify ways to incorporate cover crops more regularly. “To me, sustainability begins and ends in the soil,” Pederson adds. “As long as we have fertile topsoil everywhere it should be, we can grow things to feed humanity. Without it, we simply cannot. That is where our focus is.”

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CONSERVING THE LAND FOR GENERATIONS Photos by Greg Latza

Caring for the soil was also the catalyst for Dave Gillen’s interest in sustainable farming practices, although like the others, he sees his bottom line entering the picture as well. Since 1990, he and his wife, Carol, have been farming with notill and reduced tillage on their corn, soybean and wheat operation in south-central South Dakota, about 100 miles west of Sioux Falls. The farm has been in the family since 1897. “The biggest reason we moved away from all the tillage was profitability and soil health. We have significantly increased soil organic matter through the years from the reduced tillage, which makes healthier soil and conserves moisture the crops use,” he says. The Gillens are also mindful of providing a place for wildlife, using

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marginal land for pheasant habitat. They rotate crops and use cover crops. “Our best rotation is corn, beans, corn, beans, wheat and plant a cover crop after the wheat,” explains Dave. “This five-year rotation fits our area and spreads risk across multiple crops. Having 20 percent of the farm planted to wheat disrupts plant disease cycles of the other crops, spreads out our workload, and provides nesting habitat for pheasants. Wheat also gives us a window after harvest to plant cover crops to grow in August through October.” Crop-residue cover year-round is another important component of their operation. With reduced tillage, the plant material remains on the soil surface after harvest.

This crop residue provides a place for beneficial insects to over winter, protects soil from wind and water erosion, provides the best environment for increasing beneficial earthworm populations, and keeps the soil temperature cooler for less stress on the plant root system during the heat of the summer. With eight inches of topsoil in his area, Gillen says they have none to lose. No-till and cover crops add topsoil over time. “All the while, we are growing crops for food and energy,” he says. “Profitable, sustainable agriculture creates new wealth for everyone to prosper and leaves the land in better condition so future generations can utilize it.”


Jim Purlee

LARGE-SCALE SUSTAINABILITY SUCCESS Photo courtesy of Knox College

Western Illinois grain farmer Jim Purlee agrees that sustainable farming does not have to mean reduced yields or profitability. The Galesburg-area operator runs about 9,600 acres of corn and soybeans, tracing his start in farming back to 1975, when he purchased his original 80 acres. Purlee’s nephew farms with him and he also employs four other full-time employees, with another 12 part-time employees during fall harvest. The operation includes eight semis and 1.5 million bushels of grain storage.

“Employees haul corn all winter to the Big River ethanol plant in Galva,” Purlee says. He planted his first no-till soybeans back in 1986. Two years later, the operation was 100 percent no-till for both corn and soybeans. “Our five-year corn average is 208 bushes per acre and beans are 58,” Purlee states. Even in the 2012 drought, corn averaged 204 bushels per acre with one farm at 226. While some may be hesitant to jump into sustainable farming methods, Purlee says he believes no-till has solved a lot of problems.

“We tile as needed and reseed grass waterways as needed. We don’t have the water runoff and soil erosion that you have with tillage,” he explains. “No-till is so simple and good for the soil, I really can’t understand why everyone doesn’t use it.” Worries over cost are likely unfounded, as Purlee points out there is no costly additional equipment to invest in, just the substitution of no-till equipment for a host of plows and cultivators. Not following conventional tillage practices also saves on fuel.

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Farm Bill Biologist team on the Ristau Farm - Jim Ristau, Jamison Winter, Mike Blaalid, Matt Morlock

FARMING WITH PHEASANTS FOREVER Photos courtesy of Jim Ristau

Even farmers convinced that notill and other sustainable practices can be profitable may be surprised to learn that conserving marginal land and establishing wildlife habitat does not have to be a costly investment, either. Jim Ristau is a Farm Bill biologist with Pheasants Forever. The Farm Bill biologist program began in South Dakota in 2003, with the goal of placing wildlife biologists in USDA offices to assist landowners with habitat development, maintenance and enhancement, as well as to promote wildlife-friendly

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farming practices. Ristau uses his expertise on wildlife habitats, coupled with knowledge of state and federal programs, to improve communication with landowners on increasing conservation practices. The Pheasants Forever Farm Bill biologist program has evolved into 110 positions in 18 states, and has impacted over 3.5 million acres. Ristau says Pheasants Forever believes there is room for improving conservation on every farm. “By working with landowners, often through on-site evaluation,

we are able to identify problem areas and consider viable options for dealing with marginal land,” explains Ristau. “Many times, there are cost-share programs to assist farmers. Marginal areas can also be very useful as high-quality wildlife habitat.” Ristau grew up on a farm near Aberdeen, S.D., with a passion for hunting, fishing and wildlife. “The farm originally consisted of about 2,100 acres that were farmed by my grandfather. He was concerned about conservation, after the Dust Bowl years, and planted


some of the first field windbreak shelterbelts in that area.” After passing through the hands of his father and uncle, the family farm is now being operated by Ristau’s younger brother, David, who utilizes a variety of sustainable farming practices and has utilized all no-till farming practices since 2000. He maintains about 100 acres of cover crops annually to provide additional grazing benefits and build soil fertility. Soil tests and yield data are used to make informed decisions regarding input investments. “He tries to maintain every drop of water that falls upon his land by maintaining wetlands areas and improving soil structure,” adds Jim Ristau. “David moves cattle to aftermath cropland and cover crop areas for grazing. He uses ethanol by-products to feed calves for several months post-weaning to improve gain, which also reduces feed costs. All these practices are wildlife-friendly and good for the environment. They minimize input costs, so profitability increases. Not to mention, runoff is minimized and soil health is maintained.” Conservation areas also provide nesting and brood-rearing habitat for many species of birds. In drier years, crop yields have remained comparatively stable due to increased soil structure and water holding capacity of the soils. Weeds and pests are effectively managed through proven rotations, reducing chemical and fertilizer needs. Currently, the farm has about 900 acres in a corn/bean/wheat rotation. David Ristau raises about 150 cows and calves each year, with

Archery deer taken on Ristau Farm - Jim Ristau

2013 pheasant opener on Ristau Farm - Gunner and Garret (11 year-old twins) with their father, Jim Ristau an additional 850 acres in pasture, hay and native range. About 160 acres are in the Conservation Reserve Program, with the remaining non-crop acres primarily native wetlands, wetland buffers, headquarters and shelterbelts. “Additionally, wildlife resources are created and maintained, in

concert with ag production,” Ristau says of the farm. “Annual pheasant harvest, done by family and friends, is usually around 250 wild birds.” The land is also home to a healthy deer population, providing trophy-quality bucks, and offers opportunities for a local trapper as well, further testament to the

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wildlife diversity of the farm. “Collectively, all this helps maintain a stable income, a high quality of life, and high quality outdoor experiences with family and friends,” he says. Ristau says while there may be some upfront investment with sustainable practices, there are also tradeoffs where savings can be found. “Payback is realized by maintaining diversity, which over time improves profitability and reduces risk,” Ristau says. “By taking marginal lands out of production, or using them instead as conservation areas, risk is reduced by providing a stable alternative to dealing with weather events or price swings, like we see today.” Farmers are likely to find that just taking low-yield areas out of production will reduce losses in many cases. Taking advantage of USDA’s conservation reserve program (CRP) can provide a stable income on such land. “Sustainability can mean many different things, but in my opinion, it means leaving the land in better condition than when we started,” Ristau says. “Anything less is unsustainable. If we are not building soils, we are depleting them. That is how deserts are formed. Science and technology will always tell us how to do this better, and it should be embraced, but to do this in a sustainable fashion should be every land manager’s goal.”

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Ristau predicts that long-term, it is the only way U.S. agriculture will remain the global leader for food production. “Diverse and sustainable farming and ranching will allow society to maintain strong and vibrant rural communities, economies and lifestyles,” he says. Pederson agrees. “Mostly, economics aside, the deeper I get into my study of soil conservation and health, the more dedicated I am to preserving this land that was passed to me from generations before, to countless generations after me. I think it is truly the responsible and moral choice,” he adds.


MAKE A BETTER BED

©2013 Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc.

Leading the charge in Zone Tillage™, the SoilWarrior® from Environmental Tillage Systems helps you create today’s ideal seedbed. Now you can preserve soil, conserve moisture, minimize runoff and optimize nutrient value by placing fertilizer directly in the zone where plants need it. Unlike other striptillage equipment, the SoilWarrior won’t plug or clog as it builds raised rows that help soils warm faster. Save labor, fuel, input costs and time while you create a whole new zone of opportunity for better stands and higher yields.

VISIT SOILWARRIOR.COM TO SEE WHY IT’S LEADING THE CHARGE IN ZONE TILLAGE.


CLEANEST & GREENEST OF THEM ALL

By creatively partnering with area businesses to turn waste products into energy sources, POET’s Biorefinery at Chancellor, South Dakota has developed one of the smallest carbon footprints in the ethanol industry. by Darrell Boone | photos by Greg Latza

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Conventional wisdom has it that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. If that’s true, POET Biorefining – Chancellor is arguably a pretty fortunate place. It began back in the middle of the last decade. POET’s plant at Chancellor had opened in 2003 as a 45 million gallon per year facility, but good profits and untapped potential in the heart of southeast South Dakota’s rich, rolling, dryland corn country led the plant’s board to think about doubling the capacity of the facility. But natural gas prices were sky high, and POET was looking for ways to cut fuel costs. “About 2005, they came across this idea of building a solid fuel boiler fueled by waste wood chips from locally recycled pallets,” says Dean Frederickson, POET Biorefining – Chancellor General Manager. “And the Sioux Falls Landfill was looking for a market for their landfill biogas. So all the parties penciled it out, it made a lot of economic sense, and here we are.” After a period of planning, negotiations, and construction, the plant expansion was completed in March of 2008. Soon after, the boiler for the wood chips was completed. Then in April of 2008, POET and the landfill signed an agreement to build an eleven-mile pipeline between the two entities to replace some of the plant’s natural gas usage with biogas (primarily methane) from decomposing trash in the landfill. Today the plant in Chancellor, POET’s largest, annually produces 110 million gallons of ethanol and 145,000 tons of Dakota Gold® distillers grains, produced from 35 million bushels of locally-sourced

corn. The biogas from the landfill plus 300 tons of wood chips per day – which are purchased from the landfill and a number of other area suppliers – supply half of the plant’s fuel needs.

Producing Energy from Garbage, Storm Damage, Christmas Trees As part of a company that prides itself on being a sustainable producer, POET Biorefining – Chancellor has all the features that allow other POET plants to have the smallest possible environmental footprint – its patented BPX (non-cooking) technology, Total Water Recovery, and other proprietary technologies – but it has also capitalized on the natural advantages available to it. In addition to wood chips from recycled pallets, the plant also uses waste wood from other sources, including trees downed by storm damage. From an ice storm last spring, the plant has already purchased wood chips from 40,000 tons of recycled trees. Even recycled Christmas trees help fire the plant’s boiler. All of this not only helps POET Biorefining – Chancellor run exceptionally friendly to the environment, but also is a considerable advantage to the Sioux Falls Landfill, which otherwise would be burning or discharging the gas into the atmosphere, and burying huge amounts of waste wood. “It’s been a great relationship, truly a win-win on for both sides,” says Dave McElroy, Landfill Superintendent. Frederickson says that the sustainable measures employed by the plant also contribute to its economic sustainability, from both

Dean Frederickson, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Chancellor stands in front of wood chips to be fed into the solid waste fuel boiler.

lower costs and increased demand. “Even with the lowest natural gas prices in years, we’re still coming out ahead by burning wood and landfill gas, and when the natural gas price goes back up, we’ll do even better,” he says. “And because we have a lower carbon intensity, we also get preferential treatment and a premium for our ethanol in the California market, which gives us another advantage in profitability.” Frederickson adds, however, that all the plant’s sustainability measures would go for naught without the can-do attitude of its dedicated work force. “Because of the drought in 2012, we had a terrible corn crop around here, and the only way we could originate enough corn was from 100-car unit trains,” he recalls. “The whole team pitched in, and we unloaded a total of 5 million bushels from 12 trains. Each time, all 100 cars had to be unloaded in 24 hours. We are the only plant to ever do anything like that.”

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CONSERVATIVE

ENVIRONMENTALIST Rachel Kloos Technical Manager POET Biorefining – Chancellor

POET Biorefining – Chancellor Technical Manager Rachel Kloos grew up in California, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been interested in preserving the environment. After earning degrees in environmental engineering and chemistry, she eventually found her way to Sioux Falls. “I consider myself a ‘conservative environmentalist,’” she says. “I truly believe in environmentalism, sustainability, and reduction, but I also believe it has to make good business sense. That’s why I love working here. It’s cool to be part of a truly synergistic process here in the greater Sioux Falls area. I’m proud of what we do, it’s very exciting.”

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Kloos says that making steam from wood chips presents some challenges, and gives a shout out to the workers who make that happen. “Our steam production takes place in a totally separate building, and the guys who work in there aren’t that visible, but they are so important,” she says. “They really have to know the pulse of the plant, and be able to react to changing conditions. They’re a huge part of our energy and efficiency commitments.” This busy wife and mother of two young daughters doesn’t know what the future holds for her, but hopes that POET’s a part of it.


PUTTING TRASH TO WORK Most people consider the landfill pretty much the end of the road for their trash. But by working with the POET Biorefining – Chancellor plant to find new ways to recycle the refuse, Sioux Falls Landfill Superintendent Dave McElroy has learned that real possibilities lie hidden in that waste. “Since we completed our pipeline to the plant in early 2009, we’ve been very happy with the arrangement,” says McElroy. “Selling the biogas has created a whole new revenue stream for us, and now makes up 20 percent of our revenue.” And there’s more. The landfill has added even more revenue by purchasing a grinder to process waste wood for sale to the plant as wood chips. (This grinder is also used to grind corn stover for cellulosic ethanol production at POET’s Project Liberty at Emmetsburg,

Iowa). Besides creating revenue, these enterprises add some considerable environmental benefits. “From that storm last April, we received 50,000 tons of debris,” says McElroy. “Burying all that would have taken about six months off the life of the landfill.” And McElroy says there are even more opportunities in the works. Between POET’s business and FEMA grants, the landfill plans to spend more than $3 million to build a recycling facility to capture additional opportunities from even more waste wood. “We figure that will add an additional 12 to 20 employees to our workforce,” he says.

Dave McElroy Sioux Falls Landfill Superintendent


Josh Thomson and Rashad Evans try to convince Dave Martin of Martin Advisory Group to purchase a bottle of their charitable wine.

DINE with a FIGHTER They’re on our team.

Photos by Dan Thorson Photography

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Rashad Evans, Aaron Simpson, Josh Thomson and Luke Rockhold

At first look, it may seem an unlikely partnership. After all, what do tough mixed martial arts fighters and American Ethanol have in common? Look a little closer and this team makes perfect sense. Although these fighters are tough on the outside, on the inside they are helpful, caring individuals. And they truly support ethanol in making our country more energy independent. So when the fighters heard about POET’s Mission Greenhouse, a mission to help build greenhouses and infrastructure for an all-girls school in Kenya, Africa, they wanted to help. So with the assistance of EPIC Event Production and POET, a unique fundraising event was created. Dine with a Fighter was held in Sioux Falls in November to raise money for Mission Greenhouse. Professional MMA fighters from the American Ethanol/InCapital Fight Team acted as the wait staff and served dinner to guests. Top ranked fighters Rashad Evans, Josh Thomson, Luke Rockhold and Aaron Simpson also wandered the tables selling bottles of their special labeled wines giving guests the chance to meet and mingle with these kindhearted fighters.

In addition to the funds raised at the event, Ryan Bader and Chris Weidman – unable to attend the event due to their training schedules – wanted to be involved. With videos shot between Luke Rockhold sells workouts and trainings, both fighters his charitable wine voiced their support and generously to a table at Dine donated to the cause from their personal with a Fighter. foundations. So next time you see one of these fighters in the octagon, remember they’re on our team.

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FOR THE

History Books

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As Project LIBERTY begins to take shape, commercial production of cellulosic ethanol is becoming reality. by Steve Lange | photos by Greg Latza

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The POET Design and Construction LIBERTY team. L to R: Back: Lane Sanderson, John Herron, Brandon McLellan, Cody Larsen, Doug Stevenson, James Moe, Ron Steffen, Michael Carpenter, Kelly Froelich Front: Jennifer Moore, Jason Martin

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Nearly-completed. After a decade of research, these words have big meaning to Project LIBERTY, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant slated to be up and running in mid-2014 in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The joint venture run by POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, has certainly seen its share of groundbreaking achievements and advancements in everything from biomass treatment processes to enzyme technology. When the plant officially opens later this year, the projected production numbers will be staggering for commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol. In that first year alone, the plant is expected to buy 120,000 tons of biomass (crop residue – in the form of cobs, leaves and husks). Soon after, Project LIBERTY will be ramped up to convert 270,000 tons of biomass into 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. And while those projected production numbers are impressive, Project LIBERTY has been creating a legacy of technological breakthroughs and farming firsts since its inception nearly a decade ago. “The complexity of the project is absolutely enormous, and you see that when you look at the numbers,” says James Moe, President at POET Design and Construction and Chairman of the Board for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels.

Today, some of those numbers for Project LIBERTY include:

150

tanks, roughly three times the number of tanks for a typical ethanol plant

350

on-site motors that move product around the plant

400

workers on-site during peak construction periods

500

miles of piping

2,900 40,000

tons of steel

yards of poured concrete

“Each concrete truck holds about 10 yards of concrete,” says Ron Steffen, Senior Project Manager at POET Design and Construction. “That takes 4,000 trucks for LIBERTY’s 40,000 yards of concrete. To lay it, you would have to dump one truck every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 28 days in a row.” Senior Project Manager Jason Martin has spent the last seven years as a “boots on the ground” guy for Project LIBERTY. During that time, he has literally watched

the project progress from that initial idea phase to those first real-world results from LIBERTY’s pilot plant in Scotland, S.D. to that ceremonial groundbreaking in Emmetsburg in March of 2012. “We’ve had a lot of important moments along the way,” Martin says. “Five years ago was a major milestone when we first produced cellulosic ethanol at the pilot plant. We’ve had our ups and downs, but everyone has come together to keep moving forward. Today, those

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Ron Steffen and Jason Martin

1

original ideas have become a very real refinery.” And while Project LIBERTY has been in development for nearly a decade, Moe says the most exciting phase of the project is the one taking place right now. “We’re over 60 percent constructed, so you can see a biorefinery taking shape,” says Moe, who has been involved in LIBERTY since 2007. “You can see the results of all of these teams working together. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. For decades, this has just been a possibility. Now, you know it’s a reality.” For Steffen, the team is “right in the middle of the fun part. There is always something new to see, a new challenge to overcome. Right now,” he says, “every day is like Christmas.”

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Despite the day-to-day work, Martin says he still takes the time to step back and recognize the project’s bigger picture. “Sometimes, when I’m walking around the construction site, I get a chance to soak it all in,” he says. “Project LIBERTY will be something big, something for the history books. We know it. We feel it. From right here in Iowa, we can show the world that there is a new way of producing a liquid fuel.” For Moe, the plant itself will be considered complete when they are grinding 770 tons of biomass a day and converting that into ethanol. But the end of the plant-building phase is just the beginning. “Project LIBERTY is just the start,” he says. “We’re building a platform for technology that is going to impact the world’s fuel

supply. All of these people and pieces have come together to create a foundation for launching other cellulosic ethanol applications around the world. In just a decade, we’ve gone from a possibility to a reality to a global opportunity.” It’s all of those little facts and stats – all of those bits and pieces – that add up to something as important as Project LIBERTY, Moe says. “So many people have given so much support to this project,” he says. “We knew Project LIBERTY would take everyone working together to get it done, and that’s what has happened. And, today, we can literally see the future of biofuel standing right here in Iowa.”

THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE

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MISSION

Greenfield The POET Foundation helps to teach Africans the skills to grow a plentiful corn crop. by Thom Gabrukiewicz | Photos courtesy of FIPS

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Siaya-Eunice Odhiambo of the tiny Kenyan village of Kakan couldn’t grow enough corn to feed her family, let alone any livestock. But that’s all changing. Thanks to a new partnership between the POET Foundation, Farm Input Promotions Africa LTD. (FIPS) and Kenya World Servants, sub-Saharan African farmers are learning the most effective ways to feed their families. The four-year program, energized by a grant from the POET Foundation, will train 120 selfemployed Village-based Advisors (VBAs) who will then train farmers on best practices for agriculture. These VBAs will help the farmers by selling affordable hybrid seed packets and other farming inputs and offering advice on agronomics and improving livestock.

Africa Corn The seeds of change for this project grew from a trip Jeff Broin, POET’s Founder and Executive Chairman, recently took with his family to the rural Kenyan village of Tawa. They were on a mission trip with their church to help rebuild a school for the deaf. While traveling the 80 miles to the village, Broin said he was surprised at how much of the countryside was planted to corn. “I didn’t realize that Africa is covered in corn and that it was a staple in their diets, so of course, I started asking questions,” Broin said. “And the more I asked, the more I learned about their situation.” But what really stood out to Broin was a conversation he had with a

farmer and his wife who fed Broin’s family during their stay. “There was a crop failure while we were there,” Broin said. “And I asked what would happen and this farmer’s wife said, ‘Well, there will be a famine. The government will either feed us or people will die.’ It’s so far from our world to understand that.” Broin said he started asking questions: Why are your crops in this condition? What are you planting for seed? What are you using for fertilizer? Then and there, Mission Greenfield came into focus. “I was drawn to the corn,” he said, smiling. “Certainly, we were building the school, but I spent most of my days there thinking about the corn. It just seemed like a great opportunity to help these people to increase their yields.”

Mission Greenfield Dubbed Mission Greenfield, the program began in October. In the first year, each VBA has a target of reaching 100 households with total impact of at least 2,000 family households. “You can see how it can lead to better lives,” said Fran Swain, POET Strategic Development Manager. “The potential is huge.” Kenya World Servants will serve as the grant manager, Swain said, while FIPS will help put the VBAs in place in communities all across subSaharan Africa. FIPS, Swain noted, has been integral in helping put Mission Greenfield into practice.

“Dupont Africa introduced us to FIPS,” Swain said. “They also believe that instead of giving out free food, it’s better to build an entrepreneurial agricultural environment in each and every village.” “Once the farmers are able to move from not raising enough food to feeding themselves they will be able to reinvest in better seed, fertilizer and tools. Then, they can move to having enough corn and vegetables to sell.” Odhiambo, who used to get just a bag a year of corn from her quarteracre of land – one bag equals about 3.6 bushels of corn, or 198 pounds of grain – now gets nine bags a year from the same quarter-acre. It takes, on average, six bags of grain to feed one sub-Saharan family. And the program goes beyond grain and vegetables. A chicken vaccination program to prevent Newcastle disease will be implemented that is projected to double the amount of chickens that can be sold, eaten or used to produce eggs.

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“Mission Greenfield kick starts a self-sustaining ag community,” Swain said. “I can’t think of a better philanthropic program to align with POET’s own goals and culture.”

Harambee The time is now for Kenya, and indeed, all of East Africa, said Howard Gray of Sioux Falls, a former investment banker who has spent many years as a consultant for non-governmental organizations in Africa. Since after World War II, he said, Africa has struggled with leadership and economic woes, as its former Colonial leadership peeled away quickly, leaving a void in leadership. But Gray said he sees the potential in all of Africa’s people – and is impressed in the time and energy the POET Foundation is willing to invest in Mission Greenfield. “I think this is time for Africa to shine,” said Gray, who considers the continent a second home. “In a

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word, yes, this will work, it will help all of sub-Saharan Africa to grow and prosper.” The idea, Broin said, is to first teach the farmers to feed themselves – then to begin to build a self sustaining industry where farmers can sell their excess grain, thereby gaining wealth and independence. “You can get so much out of a corn crop,” Broin said. “You can use it to feed people or livestock, sell it, and as there becomes a surplus use it to produce energy with food and feed as byproducts.” “We’re giving them the means to monetize what the soil gives them,” Swain said. “And so far, the people have shown a passion, and emotional buy-in to make it work. We know we can do it – so we decided, ‘Let’s go do it.’” That pride – that entrepreneurial spirit – will continue grow across sub-Saharan Africa, Gray said. And it will resonate for years and years to come.

“There’s a word, a Swahili word and it’s ‘Harambee!’ ” Gray said. “It’s the national motto of Kenya that means community, self-help. It’s shouted by everyone, with hands held high. It’s national pride. “‘Harambee!’ for POET to fund this, it’s a darn good idea.”


E V E RY WO R L D- C H A N G I N G E ND E AVO R S TA RT ED WIT H A J O B IN TE RV I E W. MAKE HISTORY. JOIN PROJECT LIBERTY.

PROJECT LIBERTY IS A COMMERCIAL-SCALE, CELLULOSIC ETHANOL PLANT SCHEDULED TO BEGIN OPERATIONS IN EMMETSBURG, IOWA IN EARLY 2014. OPERATIONS WILL CREATE APPROXIMATELY 45 NEW JOBS IN THE REGION.

POET IS SEEKING PIONEERS TO FILL THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS THROUGHOUT 2014: Plant Merchandiser // Operations & Maintenance Supervisor Plant Technician // Materials Supervisor // Material Handler

Advanced Biofuels

PROJECT LIBERTY IS THE FIRST PROJECT OF THE POET-DSM ADVANCED HH JOINT VENTURE.


NASCAR® UPDATE submitted by Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales and Marketing for American Ethanol

Team American Ethanol, Victorious “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” This famous quote by Phil Jackson is prominent in the NASCAR® arena and at American Ethanol’s partner Richard Childress Racing (RCR). With the legendary Dale Earnhardt and the famed black No. 3 Chevrolet, the team has become synonymous with success and championships. Team RCR has earned 13 championships, more than 200 victories, and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three national series. American Ethanol spokesperson and NASCAR Nationwide Series™ driver Austin Dillon brought home his second NASCAR championship this year at Homestead Miami Speedway in Florida. Of course, the victory on the track is outstanding, but the progress made off the track is what the team at American Ethanol is most proud of. The latest round of progress evaluation shows that the enormous fan base of NASCAR® is 50 percent more likely to use ethanolblended gasoline to fuel their car than that of a nonfan. Moving the needle in this arena is an immense victory. The activation and outreach at the track takes a big team – one that consists of corn growers, ethanol producers and advocates. Coupled with partnerships with NASCAR and RCR, this hands-on education is what has proved to be a silver bullet in 2013 by telling the real story about American Ethanol.

American Ethanol 2013 Nationwide Series Champion

American Ethanol activation at Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR® is a registered trademark of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Sprint. The NASCAR Nationwide Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. and Camping World. 48

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American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award

Recognized for his consistent excellence on restarts throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award was presented to Kyle Busch during the Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas by Jeff Broin. Growth Energy Co-chair Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis, also presented the NASCAR Nationwide Series™ Champion Austin Dillon and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ Champion Matt Crafton with the American Ethanol trophy at the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series Banquet in Homestead, Miami.

Jeff Broin awards Kyle Busch

Tom Buis awards Matt Crafton

Back in Black Rising star and American Ethanol driver, Austin Dillon, is making a big move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ in 2014. Though, even bigger news may be the number that will brandish the side of his car during the race. For the first time since the 2001 Daytona 500, the iconic number 3 Chevrolet will run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™. Made famous by seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt, the use of the number is already making headlines. American Ethanol is proud to be a part of this great team and will continue to move forward with the valuable partnership with Dillon and RCR.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™

2014 SCHEDULE Date

Track

TV

February 15

Daytona Unlimited

Fox Sports 1

February 20

Daytona Duel Races

Fox Sports 1

February 23

Daytona 500

FOX

March 2

Phoenix

FOX

March 9

Las Vegas

FOX

March 16

Bristol

FOX

March 23

Auto Club

FOX

March 30

Martinsville

FOX

April 6

Texas

FOX

April 12

Darlington

FOX

April 26

Richmond

FOX

May 4

Talladega

FOX

May 10

Kansas

FOX

May 17

All-Star Race

Fox Sports 1

May 25

Charlotte

FOX

June 1

Dover

FOX

June 8

Pocono

TNT

June 15

Michigan

TNT

June 22

Infineon

TNT

June 28

Kentucky

TNT

July 5

Daytona

TNT

July 13

New Hampshire

TNT

July 27

Indianapolis

ESPN

August 3

Pocono

ESPN

August 10

Watkins Glen

ESPN

August 17

Michigan

ESPN

August 23

Bristol

ABC

August 31

Atlanta

ESPN

September 6

Richmond

ABC

September 14

Chicagoland

ESPN

September 21

New Hampshire

ESPN

September 28

Dover

ESPN

October 5

Kansas

ESPN

October 11

Charlotte

ABC

October 19

Talladega

ESPN

October 26

Martinsville

ESPN

November 2

Texas

ESPN

November 9

Phoenix

ESPN

November 16

Homestead

ESPN

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renew Quilts, Quilts, Quilts

Dorothy Dodge’s quilts have been well known at POET Biorefining – Hudson for many years. Births, weddings, retirements and transfers were celebrated with this handcrafted gift. This winter Dorothy, Lead Operator at POET Biorefining – Hudson, S.D., took her quilt making even further. She donated 24 quilts (yes, 24 QUILTS!) to charity this past Christmas. She worked the better part of the summer to create these quilts and calls it “an act of love.” “All children, no matter what age, love their blanky,” Dorothy said. “I’ve always felt a handmade gift is a gift from the heart.” The families who received the quilts from this outstanding gesture will surely cherish them for many years to come.

In the Spirit of Giving Providing Comfort The team members at POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal, Minn. shared the holiday spirit by providing comforts of home to those who don’t have a home. They supported the local Theresa House/Welcome Inn this past Christmas season. The Theresa House provides shelter for the homeless and helps them secure economically viable long-term housing. Team members from the plant donated children’s toys and books and personal items including towels, toilet paper, tissues, tooth brushes, tooth paste, laundry soap, dish soap, body wash, hand soap, deodorant, baby wipes and diapers. Gift cards were also donated from Hy-Vee, Kwik Trip, Wal-Mart, Target and Shopko.

15 years of service After more than 15 years of dedicated service, the only General Manager POET Biorefining – Preston, Minn. has ever known will be retiring. Richard Eichstadt’s retirement on January 10, 2014 marked the end of an era for the Minnesota plant. Rich has been an integral part of the team at Preston since start-up. During his years of service, he has been instrumental in the growth of the plant and its success. The plant has seen two successful expansions – growing the biorefinery from its original 12MGPY capacity to its current capacity of 46MGPY. Richard also oversaw the implementation of POET BPX®, Voilá® corn oil, and the production of liquefied carbon dioxide. POET Biorefining – Preston has received numerous performance awards under Richard’s leadership including the Minnesota Governor’s Safety Award for superior performance in workplace safety and health. Richard has been vital in the success and growth of POET Biorefining – Preston. His commitment and dedication has provided his team with the foundation they need to continue to succeed in the future.

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Back: Denny King, Rich Horihan, Jim Simonson, Rod Nelson, Mike McCaulley, Dave Shanahan, Dale Schwade, James Moe Front: Ed Alhambra, Rich Eichstadt


Food Fight

POET Biorefineries in Glenville, Minn. and Hanlontown, Iowa gave food fight a whole new meaning. The two facilities teamed up to collect donations and food for their local food banks. Together, they were able to collect and donate more than 8.5 tons of food! Food and monetary donations were collected from team members, producers and residents of surrounding communities. The team also raised money to purchase groceries by selling lunches, having bake sales and raffles.

Local Charities Feel the Holiday Spirit Josh Karaus, Josh Kermes, Jenni Hanna and Russ Benson from POET Biorefining – Glenville and the Salvation Army team

POET Biorefining – Hanlontown team members Jim Fink, Kyle McLaughlin, Paulette Rueter and Jorgen Paulsen

Jesse Reck, Silvia Stover, Megan Blitz, Don Roof In Leipsic, Ohio, the POET team members didn’t choose just one charity to support this holiday season. They gathered together to contribute to their local food bank, the Toys for Tots campaign and supported two families in the Crime Victim Services.

Angel Tree Shines POET Biorefining – Mitchell, SD set

Rod Holecek, Scale Operator at POET Biorefining – Glenville packs his pickup with potatoes

up their Angel Tree in the lobby again this year. The team sponsored a family of 4 kids aged 12, 7, 5 and 3. They each received a shirt, pants, shoes, underwear, toys and the fixings for a Christmas meal. All items were donated by team members.

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ENTREPRENEURIAL

ATTITUDE

Jason Searl, Executive Vice President for POET Ethanol Products, left the oil industry with an unshakable confidence in ethanol. That confidence is still the same today. by Steve Lange photo by Greg Latza

In May of 2000, Jason Searl, with two young children and another on the way, was in year six of an up-andcoming career at Koch Industries, the only real job he’d ever known. At the same time, Bob Casper was hand-picking a team to help start up a small ethanol marketing operation. Casper asked Searl to be part of that team. “It was such a big risk,” Jason remembers. “Ethanol was only one percent of the market back then. I would have to leave a stable environment for the unknown.” It wasn’t all an unknown, though. “Everyone in that group knew each other,” Jason says. “We knew the potential of ethanol. For me, I believed in the product, and I made a bet on the people.” Thirteen years later, Searl’s belief in the product and his bet on those people has certainly paid off. That original six-person team (five of whom still work at

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POET today) has grown into POET Ethanol Products, an 80-person operation that does $6.5 billion in ethanol business through everything from market development to distribution to marketing to portfolio and risk management. Much of that success, according to Casper (the President of POET Ethanol Products and Chief Commercial Officer for POET), can be traced directly to Searl (the Executive Vice President of POET Ethanol Products). “We were all driven by a belief when we started this, and Jason certainly was as well,” says Casper. “That hasn’t changed. Jason is still that entrepreneur who sees opportunities everywhere he looks. He is still that guy who will do whatever job needs to be done. He’s still someone that you know is looking out for your best interests.”


Bob Casper said your desks face each other, so your eyeballs are about eight feet apart. JASON: That is how it was when we first started and it has not changed. This environment is all I’ve ever known. We’ve never had offices. We don’t have cubicles. We sit very close to the people we work most closely with, and that’s how it should be. Can you characterize your role? JASON: I have responsibility for all the commercial activity of ethanol products. That entails the commercial agreements between the end users of our product, from the major oil companies to the retailers. It entails everything that goes along with that, from the transportation to the supply side of the business. We’re unique in that we serve two customers: our plant partners and our end users/consumers. Tell me about your family. JASON: Family is what I’m most proud of. My wife Chrissy and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this summer. We have three sons, ages 16, 14, and 12, and two daughters, 11-year-old twins. You had five kids under five? That sounds like a nightmare. JASON: Let’s just say it was the apex of insanity. My wife Chrissy has always been busier than I am. She’s had to manage everything for all five kids. It’s amazing what she gets done on a weekly basis. She has really embraced the role of being a great mom. Are you by nature a big risk taker? JASON: I am not afraid of it, but I like to frame risk, understand the parameters. I think that’s why we’ve been successful with the overall trajectory of the business – we’re very measured risk takers, but not afraid of it. In order to be entrepreneurial, you are by nature a risk taker. How many of Golf Magazine’s top 100 U.S. golf courses have you golfed? JASON: It’s approaching 20. I’ve got about half of the Top Ten done. I got the number one done this summer. Where are you from? JASON: I grew up in west central Illinois, in the Corn Belt. Galesburg.

When did you know this was what you wanted to do? JASON: A lot of it happened by accident. Koch Industries is where I started and I was fortunate to work for a big dynamic company that had a lot of opportunities. I was mentored by some very good folks throughout my years there. Energy was a very exciting place to be. I don’t think the general population understands the effect and the influences of energy on the overall economy, macroeconomics, and geopolitics around the globe. It always interested me. Faith is a driving force in your life. JASON: Yes. Absolutely. I went to Marquette, which is a Catholic Jesuit school. Our motto of the Jesuits is “Contemplatives in action.” … Faith and service has been a big part of my life. We try to teach our kids that education is a big deal, but you have to do something with that, and that is service. ... I’m a board member of Catholic Charities and have served on several other boards that require you to roll up your sleeves and do work. That’s something our kids help with. I’m proud to be part of those organizations and proud that other POET members are involved in similar endeavors and work on community boards. It’s a big part of us giving back to the community. You’ve held various fundraisers at your house? JASON: My wife has a very political family. Her brother served in George W. Bush’s White House. Through that we have made connections at the state and federal level and have hosted several interesting political figures at our home. We want to support our political beliefs of free market and things that we believe in, so we’re happy to do that. You came to POET with a belief in ethanol. JASON: For those of us that started early in the business, we believed we understood ethanol’s value proposition. We’ve only grown stronger in those convictions over the years having remained so closely involved with the transaction side of the business. Have things changed a lot since you started? JASON: The core values haven’t changed at all. We’re still out there selling something we absolutely believe in.

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CONUNDRUM ACROSS 1. Small pouch 4. Based on eight 9. Popular potato 14. They’re fertilized in biology 15. New Zealand inhabitant 16. Shut out 17. First name of the outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman 18. Barcelona’s country 19. Marina sight 20. Poet’s branded distillers dried grains with solubles- a high protein animal feed 23. Baby bird squeak 25. Modern address 26. Piece in a machine 29. Inactive state 32. Hair piece 33. Remain 34. Sprinkle water 35. Collector’s suffix 33. Indian rice dish

37. Facility integrating biomass

DOWN

 conversion and equipment to produce

1. Weep

being deprived of light (of plants)

fuels, power and heat

2. 5th for one

39. Longer than centuries

40. Cab fee

3. Ornamental candlestick

40. In favor of

42. Adaptable truck, for short

4. City in Russia

41. Angry Birds is one

43. Genus of creeping grass

5. Guitar accessory

44. Positive or negative particle

46. Musical composition

6. Just right

45. Get on in years

47. Isaac Newton title

7. Musical solo

50. Entails

48. Not digital

8. Pasta in long slender flat strips

52. Become solid, of a liquid

49. Tachometer reading

9. Pastoral poem

53. Versed in

50. Andy Warhol painting

10. Useless in batteries

54. Hog fat

51. Feline lives

11. Network TV station

55. About

52. Type of ethanol made from non-grain

12. Surprise!

56. Put in it’s place

sources such as agricultural residue,

13. Uneaten morsel

57. Some hosps.

barley and potatoes

21. Clown actions

58. Make a choice

57. Brand of high quality feed grade corn

22. Silklike fabric

59. Dander

oil used in the production of bio diesel

23. Dance step

62. The Jurassic, e.g.

60. In different locations

24. Seer’s forte, for short

63. Apprehend

61. Beer dispenser

26. Sophisticated urbanite

64. Martha Stewart wear

27. Gray piece

65. Body

28. Precious stone

66. Bard’s before

30. Braggadocio’s forte

67. Proofreading marks

31. Careful review

68. Bequeath

32. Tasty disk

36. Detail

69. Informer 54

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38. Developed without chlorophyll by

FOR ANSWERS, VISIT vitalmagazineonline.com/answers


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FROM THE HEARTLAND by Marcus Ludtke

YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO I’ll never forget the day my son Griffin, first called me Dad. And I’m not necessarily talking about his first word as a baby, which indeed was “dada” according to several accredited eyewitnesses, as well as, a note in my wallet that I later had notarized affirming the aforementioned account. No, this reference to Dad was distinctly different. It came from the mouth of a 10-year-old boy just after 10:00 p.m. in the emergency room at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. on October 22nd, 2013. A boy now staring back into his father’s eyes through tear-stained cheeks seeking an explanation as to why his body was broken. A boy who just 24 hours earlier had believed with his whole heart that he too was invincible, not unlike some of his heroes on the football field or the hockey rink. A boy now being told by an unfamiliar looking man in a white coat that he had something called Type 1 juvenile diabetes. Over the next 60 seconds words such as autoimmune disease, beta cells, shots, and forever echoed through the confines of a room that no longer felt safe despite its vicinity to some of the best doctors in the upper Midwest. How did a routine trip to the clinic for a winter flu vaccine end so wrong? In an instant this boy’s innocence was taken, and there was absolutely nothing his dad could do about it except hold him, tell him he loved him, and assure him that everything would be OK even though as a father he now felt completely helpless, inadequate, and exposed. Any remaining illusions this boy still clung to regarding his dad’s superhuman ability to somehow protect him from the world out there were no longer. The red cape that so often only a son can truly see extending from their dad’s shoulders was now gone. As I revisit the wound of that night even months later often in a semi-conscious haze in the early hours of the morning when the house is entirely black and quiet, I still find myself brought to the very edge of the abyss. This void of emptiness that seeks to pull me back into a state of complete confusion, resentment, and anxiety over the newfound reality that I still can’t save my son – that I never really could. However, time and time again, I am rescued by the same small, warm hand that reaches out to me in my greatest moment of weakness

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THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE

and pulls me back into safety. It’s the hand of my son, Griffin. At approximately 3:30 a.m. on the first night in the hospital of my son’s diagnosis, the nurse came in to give Griffin his 4th shot since being admitted less than 7 hours earlier to treat what the doctors had now started referring to as his new normal. This shot hurt particularly worse than the others and sent both of us back into a tailspin of breathless emotion, mixed with tears, anger, exhaustion, and questions of why. The weight of this new normal was now undeniable, albeit entirely unwelcome. And as I slowly turned my head back into his pillow, so as to make sure my son didn’t see me crying, I felt this small, warm hand on my shoulder. Griffin looked deep into my eyes while wiping the tears from his own and said, “Dad, I’ve got this. You gotta do what you gotta do.” In that instant, a 10-year old boy with a condition, not an illness, called Type 1 juvenile diabetes healed his 35-year-old broken dad with a condition, not an illness, called acceptance. As I share this personal story I do so humbly knowing that my family’s experience with suffering, which so often lacks any reasonable measure of justification, is far from unique. In the midst of those trials, we found not a lasting sense of despair and despondency, but rather the overwhelming presence of peace, freedom, courage, and even security. How is that possible? You gotta do what you gotta do. Fear was replaced with faith, and Griffin’s dad chose to rest in the assurance that he too was still just a son with a Dad above all dads who will always be in control. The choice was simple… Live. Love. Let go. Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.


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Smart iS

HELPiNG aLtErNatiVE ENErGY BECOmE maiNStrEam. As ethanol becomes more and more important in American energy production, its next phase of evolution is essential. That’s why New Holland stands behind Project Liberty and the advancement of cellulosic ethanol. It’s the kind of SMART thinking that continues to bring ethanol into our daily lives.

PROUDLY SUPPORTING AMERICA’s ENERGY INDEPENDENCE.

newholland.com/na ©2013 CNH America LLC. New Holland is a registered trademark of CNH America LLC. NASCAR® is a registered trademark of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. NHBM10138452POET

Vital Magazine - Winter 2014  
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