BIDEN ANNOUNCES SUMMERTIME E15 Behind the scenes of POET’s fourth presidential visit vitalbypoet.com | 1
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Vital magazine is a news and media resource managed by POET, the world’s largest producer of biofuels. Since 2008, Vital has provided readers with forward-thinking content that helps to advance an industry that provides renewable energy and bio-based products from the surface of the Earth. Vital seeks to educate readers about the state of the biofuels sector today and the breakthrough stories of innovation and sustainability of tomorrow by presenting a variety of insights and perspectives.
Each issue features in-depth, quality reporting on important topics, such as the fight against the climate crisis, innovation in agriculture, local and national policy landscapes and stories of the men and women advocating to advance bioethanol and other renewable bioproducts. Vital by POET is committed to editorial excellence, along with high quality print production and distribution. In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper when printed. Additional reporting can be found online at vitalbypoet.com. 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.
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08 | Earth Day Every Day
06 | In Sight
POET Facilities Celebrate Earth Day 2022
By Jeff Broin
16 | Into the Biofuture
14 | Mechanics Corner
Imagining what 2050 could look like for POET
Automotive advice from the Under the Hood radio show
24 | To Teach a Man to Farm Farmers Support Farmers Through Grain for Change
34 | Experienced Team, Strong Culture Sets POET – Fairbank Apart
52 | Farm Fresh By Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi
58 | Out Of Left Field By Scott Johnson
A strong, experienced workforce has helped POET Bioprocessing – Fairbank transition seamlessly into the POET family.
42 | President Biden announces summertime E15 at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo Behind the scenes of POET’s fourth presidential visit
54 | Heavy-Duty Decarbonizing with Biofuels
DEPARTMENTS 12 | Get Biofuel 22 | POET PAC 40 | Policy Corner 48 | People of POET
Top: President Biden addresses crowd at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo | Bottom left: Seeds of Change supports farmers internationally | Bottom right: POET team members participate in Earth Day clean-up
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E15: America’s Fuel By Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET Conflict created by a hostile nation across the globe, coupled with our world’s crippling dependence on oil, means Americans are paying more at the pump once again. But this time, our nation is taking much-needed steps to fix this problem that I hope will lead to long-term changes in how we fuel our vehicles and view the future of energy in this country. Thanks to the April announcement by President Biden at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo, E15, the high-octane blend of 15 percent bioethanol, is available during the summer of 2022 rather than being shut down by outdated fuel regulations. Additionally, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed the 2022 Biofuel Access Bill into law, which guarantees consumer access to E15 in the state by 2026. According to the International Monetary Fund, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely continue to increase inflation and tighten our world supply of oil, and Americans are seeing those effects firsthand at our local fuel stations. National gas prices rose above five dollars per gallon, and they’re approaching eight dollars in some parts of the country. That’s not just a problem for our personal pocketbooks; it impacts the entire U.S. economy. And the summer driving season — the busiest of the year — is now upon us, which will further increases fuel demand. The solution is clear. Bioethanol is the only affordable, available, American-made liquid fuel that can lower gas prices and boost our nation’s energy independence right now. We need to use more of it by taking better advantage of E15, a lower-cost, lower-
carbon fuel option approved for use in virtually all cars and trucks on the road today. It lowers fuel prices for consumers, improves our environment, and creates new markets for our nation’s farmers. Consumers have already driven more than 30 billion miles on E15, which can currently save them up to 70 cents per gallon compared to E0 (unleaded gasoline). And the benefits have room to grow; moving the nation’s fuel standard from E10 to E15 would offset 6.2 billion gallons of gasoline, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million tons per year, and add nearly $18 billion to the U.S. GDP. But outdated regulations have held us back from utilizing this seemingly obvious solution to the ongoing fuel problem. Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) rules were designed to regulate gasoline during the hot summer months, but the rules have been improperly applied to biofuels like E15. After more than a decade of work by POET, Growth Energy, and other industry leaders, those RVP regulations were cast aside by President Trump in 2019. But that victory was short-lived, as oil companies once again showed us the stranglehold they have on our fuel supply. They sued to maintain their market share, and the courts reinstated those misguided regulations last July. But necessity breeds progress. With the national emergency waiver in place, the biofuels industry is working towards a permanent legislative fix. Meanwhile, Iowa is leading the way in showing other states what their fuel regulations should look like. I have faith that these bold policies will move our country forward simply because it is the right thing for America. Biofuels support American jobs, American farmers, and American security. The biofuels industry also supports American veterans, who represent 18 percent of the biofuels workforce. Every driver should have the freedom to choose a fuel that’s better for their wallet, their health, their environment, and their country. Bioethanol is the only liquid fuel that can check all those boxes, and it’s produced by Americans, for Americans, right here in the Heartland. Now let’s all exercise our fuel freedom and choose E15 every time we fuel up!
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Earth Day Every Day POET facilities celebrate Earth Day 2022 By Erin Smith The heart of POET’s mission is to be good stewards of the Earth. Every day, the company converts renewable resources to energy and other valuable goods and strives to do it as effectively as humanly possible. That’s why, at POET, every day is Earth Day. However, that doesn’t stop the team from going above and beyond to celebrate the official holiday when April 22 comes around. “We always strive to take our mission outside our walls, and Earth Day is a great opportunity to do that,” said Joshua Shields, POET Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications. “As a company, sustainability is part of our DNA, and we were proud to have so many POET team members across every location step up to do their part for their communities and the planet.” This year, all 33 of POET’s bioprocessing facilities and corporate offices in Sioux Falls participated in Earth Day activities. Here are a just few highlights: South Dakota POET’s corporate headquarters in Sioux Falls hosted its second annual litter clean-up around the city. Over 150 team members volunteered to participate, covering parks, parts of the city bike trail, and even the interstate interchange near the POET Office. POET – Hudson has an Earth Day tradition of visiting the local elementary school. Team members give a brief presentation about POET’s mission of sustainability and discuss why it is important to care for the Earth. They also organize a coloring contest for students with the theme of “What Does Earth Day Mean to You?” Iowa In Iowa, team members from POET – Coon Rapids and POET – Corning teamed up to pick up trash along their adopted highways. POET – Ashton also held a clean-up along a local stretch of highway and picked up branches and garbage in a community park. POET – Fairbank coordinated with their county conservation board and invited other companies to help clean up a local park and plant trees. Indiana The team at POET – Alexandria hosted a three-day event to remove trash from county roads. At POET – Portland, every team member was given a tree to take home and plant. In the spirit of the holiday, each tree was wrapped in a reusable tote bag displaying POET’s “Earth Day Every Day” logo. Earth Day was established to unite people under a common goal to restore and protect the planet, which is what the team at POET does every day. A company ever-mindful of its mission, POET not only strives to be sustainable in every step of its production processes but also encourages all team members to be responsible citizens of the planet and the communities they call home. Whether through work or volunteerism, Earth Day is every day when you’re at POET. POET team members participated in the Earth Day clean-up in Sioux Falls.
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Team members across POET's footprint gave back to their communities in the spirit of Earth Day.
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Fighting with Perspective By Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing / Growth Energy Growing up on a small farm south of Roslyn, South Dakota, instilled several distinct qualities in young Logan Storley — including an unbelievable work ethic and perspective. Combined with his grit and determination, these qualities have been integral to developing a career that gives Logan a platform on the world stage. Logan “Storm” Storley began wrestling at the age of five. Located close to the wrestling town of Webster, South Dakota, Logan became serious about the sport around the age of 10. He was the first in his family to wrestle and followed in the footsteps of another local legend: Brock Lesnar. I caught Logan for a little Q&A as he prepared for Bellator 281, a bout he went on to win on May 13 and earn the Bellator MMA Welterweight World Champion title. Question: What did you learn growing up on a farm? Answer: It did a good job of giving me a perspective on things. On the farm, you need a lot of things to go right to end up well — growing conditions, weather; there are a lot of variables that must happen in successful agriculture. That can also be said of a successful wrestling match and MMA bout. Question: After six South Dakota state wrestling championships and one national high school championship, how did you choose the University of Minnesota as your college? Answer: Well, it was between Nebraska and Minnesota. They were both powerhouses in the Big Ten. Brock [Lesnar] was someone I looked up to, and I had met some of his team before at the U of M. The chemistry was there with the coaches, teammates, the training partners, and they were a top team in the country. I wanted to get a business/marketing degree and win a team national title. Question: You were an all-American at Minnesota. How did the nickname “Storm” come into play during your college years? Answer: Honestly, I don’t even know. It was when Twitter first started. People were calling me “Storley Storm,” and the Minnesota freestyle wrestling team was the Minnesota Storm. I guess it kind of stuck. Question: What does it mean to you to represent the Get Biofuel brand? Answer: To get to represent companies that are making a difference, like POET, a South Dakotabased company that supports farmers, and me being a South Dakota kid is awesome. It means a lot. The story of the industry and Jeff Broin’s story is a great one — started from ground zero, and nobody could believe he could accomplish what he has done. That resonates a lot, and he has transformed agriculture by building an unbelievable company and industry. POET has really established the bioeconomy, and the Get Biofuel brand is carrying it forward. Storley sees himself in the agriculture world after his MMA life. He also has an interest in real estate development. Regardless of what he chooses, we know he’ll go far. We are proud to have a local farm-bred fighter on the world stage, representing what matters most to our industry. That same grit and determination that powers Logan is also what propels each of us every day in our fight to grow the future of biofuels.
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UNDER THE HOOD
Fuel Makes the World Go Round Russ Evans, Under the Hood Radio Show Host and Mechanic Let's face it — there are electric cars out there, and they seem to be very popular because they're trendy and exciting. But the majority of the world today still runs on fuel. How much fuel? Well, it’s to the tune of around 369 million gallons a day, give or take, just to supply our daily drives here in the United States. Those in the biofuel industry probably have better data than we do as a shop, but either way you look at it, that’s a huge amount of fuel! Since the dawn of the fuel era, prices move at the drop of a hat in either direction, and that direction is usually up. We mechanics, like average consumers, like our fuel affordable. For us, it’s largely because we like horsepower — and lots of it — and that takes fuel to make. And when we look out our window to find corn as far as the eye can see, we think of affordable, clean biofuel that’s produced nearby and saves us some money. And we know that biofuel creates horsepower, which is proven by its use in racing leagues like IndyCar and NASCAR. Today most Americans can pull up to a pump and find several fuel choices. In our home state of South Dakota, we usually have options like E10, E15, E20, E30, and E85 at the pump, and we mechanics have the expertise to know what to choose. But when we ask the average consumer things like, “Do you know what can go in your car’s tank? Is it a Flex-Fuel vehicle? What’s recommended?” we tend to find that most drivers don’t know all the options they could be using. The first step is to know what you’re driving. Many Flex-Fuel vehicles have a label on the fuel door or cap that specifies fuel type, but you can’t always go by that alone. There are also some vehicles with Flex-Fuel decals affixed to the door glass or on the rear of the vehicle. But if you want to really verify what fuel your vehicle can use, you can ask your mechanic, who can check your VIN or check it yourself by doing a search online. If you find you do have a Flex-Fuel vehicle, your engine is designed to use any blend from E10 to E85. For most Flex-Fuel vehicles, we’ve found that E30 provides the best blend of low cost, high octane, and good fuel mileage. And if you need further reassurance, know that E30 is what we at the shop use in our own vehicles! If you have any 2001 or newer vehicles — which is most of the cars on the road — E10 and E15 are great choices. Always use at least the minimum octane recommended for your vehicle, and you'll get better performance by doing so. If a vehicle is run with lower octane than for what it was designed, the computer takes over to lower performance and protect it from detonation. This will cut both power and fuel economy in the vehicle. If you take nothing else away from this article, take this: find out what your vehicle is capable of by finding out what blend of bioethanol it can use. The Motor Medics. Under The Hood can be found on a station near you or your favorite podcast site. 14 |
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Into the Biofuture Imagining what 2050 could look like for POET By Lynne Finnerty Picture this: the year is 2050. We live in a world of optimal sustainability. Everyone gets a personal carbon goal and considers the carbon cost of everything we use. Companies have reached most of their sustainability goals, and they are helping consumers reach their own goals as well. Nations have worked together to achieve 90 percent clean energy worldwide. Automobiles, trucks, planes, and ships can run on 100 percent percent renewable fuels, and global markets have switched out petroleum for plant-based components in most consumer products.
Advances in technology have made cars incredibly energy efficient. Still, with more people and more cars, demand for biofuels is at an alltime high. Biofuel producers are helping to keep energy affordable for consumers in this high-demand scenario by ramping up production from multiple renewable resources. In this world, there is no “throwing away,” and very little goes to waste. Raw materials have become scarcer despite leaders’ best efforts, so refuse is either remanufactured, reused, or repurposed to produce energy, clothing, construction materials, and a host of other goods. Biofuel producers are answering that call by producing more energy and biobased products from crop waste, and even food and household waste. Imagining this hypothetical future can be both bewildering and exciting. The reality is that the future will either be extremely challenging or full of opportunity, depending on our level of preparedness for what awaits us. Using our imaginations to visualize the planet in 2050 isn’t just science fiction fun; it helps us work toward a best-case scenario for our children and grandchildren.
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If we play our cards right, the future doesn’t have to be a guessing game. We have the resources available today that can help us to preserve our planet for tomorrow. That’s why in September 2021, POET launched its inaugural sustainability report. The report goes beyond bioethanol’s alreadyimpressive sustainability record. It focuses on the future — outlining goals such as achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and increased use of plant-based products, as well as advocating for public policy that advances a sustainable society. POET is committed to imagining and, more importantly, creating that sustainable future, says Neil Anderson, the company’s Vice President of Strategic Development. “In order for society to stop the trend of increasing temperatures and climate change, we need to identify technologies and materials that do not release fossil CO2 when processed,” Anderson says. “This is where POET and biofuels play such an important role. We need to increase the use of plantbased fuels and materials.” POET is well-positioned to achieve its vision for 2050 — and could get there even sooner, according to Matt Braun, Senior Vice President and General Manager of POET Bioprocessing. Braun oversees operations at all of POET’s bioprocessing plants, so he is as well-versed as anyone can be on how the company and its facilities are leading the way to a more sustainable world. And POET can serve an even greater purpose in this eco-friendly vision for the future. POET already produces several plant-based bioproducts that can replace their petroleumbased counterparts. The POET plant of 2050 might produce ingredients for the athletic gear a person wears for a morning workout, the cosmetics applied in the morning, the fuels that power their vehicle for the drive to work, the hand sanitizer and cleaning products that keep them healthy, the feed that helped
produce their turkey sandwich for lunch, and the flight they catch for a weekend getaway. It might make power and feedstocks for other types of power. It might make liquid fuels for aviation and the marine industry. As a matter of fact, the company’s vision is to fuel vehicles on land, air, and sea—cleanly, efficiently and sustainably. Can we reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change without giving up our quality of life? Vision is about seeing the future you want to create, and POET has no shortage of visionaries. So, what does that vision look like at a POET bioprocessing facility? At one plant, the team might focus on improving the sustainability of the inputs needed for bioprocessing. Braun says agricultural practices account for a significant portion of POET’s carbon intensity, so its farmer-suppliers will play an enormous role in reducing the carbon footprint of the company’s products. The POET plant of the future would incentivize even more farmers to use even more climate-smart agricultural practices, such as precision and no-till farming, to sequester more carbon in the soil. POET currently has about 40,000 farmers delivering grain to its bioprocessing plants. The company firmly believes that biofuels are a catalyst for thriving agriculture, which in turn is the key to solving many of the world’s most pressing problems, and is embracing its partnership role to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint. Farmers and their crops will continue to be critical to POET’s bioprocessing operations; however, the plant of our 2050 will, in theory, rely on more diverse inputs. It will pipe in gas from a local landfill (like POET – Chancellor already does), diverting the gas from the atmosphere and converting it into power. The plant will also utilize wood waste like downed trees from storms (again, like Chancellor), in addition to other biomass like corn stover, wheat straw, and switchgrass.
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The POET facility will benefit from advances in biotechnology. The development of more efficient enzymes and stronger microbes will enhance efficiency in converting biomass to fuel and other products. “The biologics of ingredients have a lot of promise,” says Braun. Another POET plant might have a solar farm (like the one at POET headquarters) or windmills in addition to more steam turbines to generate the electricity needed to run the plant. Being located near livestock farms, the plant might meet a significant portion of its energy needs through methane digestion. POET already reduces its energy consumption through a process called BPX, the company’s patented no-cook process used in its bioethanol production. Braun anticipates more innovations and efficiencies inside the plant to reduce energy consumption. Yet another future POET plant might put more focus on the outputs, producing a wide array of bioproducts from renewable energy and animal feed to polymers and food-grade carbon dioxide. POET believes the bioproducts industry today is where the oil industry was 150 years ago — on the cusp of becoming essential to our daily lives due to the variety of products that will contain bioethanol or be made from its production process. “The POET plant of the future will be processing starch to produce bioethanol as we do today, but we also will be processing biomass to produce more sustainable materials and sources of energy as alternatives to fossil sources,” says Anderson. “These materials and energy sources will be used to fuel vehicles, airplanes and ships, as well as produce materials for clothing, packaging, and manufacturing.” POET has 10 sites that capture CO2 and process it into renewable, food-grade CO2. Braun says the company will continue to see growth there too. It is safe to say that more POET plants will be producing renewable CO2 in 2050, reducing production from fossil-based sources and harmful extraction from belowground. If all goes to plan, the POET plant of the future will look different from today — and hopefully, the world will look a little different too. “It comes down to three big areas: biologics, overall efficiency within the operation and opportunities that would be plant-specific such as biogas or wind energy,” explains Braun. “We have a long way to go, but we’ve already come a long way.”
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David vs. Goliath By Rachael Grooms POET PAC’s mission is to support and promote candidates committed to championing biofuels and rural America. Simply put, we support those who support us. And we’re lucky to have stalwart champions on both sides of the political aisle. However, when it comes to financial resources, we have to admit that our opponents maintain a distinct advantage. At times, it can feel like David taking on Goliath. The growth of super PACs has had an enormous impact on the political influence of PACs opposed to the Renewable Fuel Standard and the growth of biofuels. From 2000-2010, contributions from oil and gas PACs to candidates averaged $32 million each election cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In the subsequent decade (2010 to 2020), the average grew to $98 million annually, a three-fold increase. Compare that to the biofuels industry. POET, Growth Energy, and RFA’s PACs combined contribute roughly $1.4 million annually. Through proactive initiatives and effective advocacy efforts, POET PAC is committed to representing its members in Washington and defending our champions across the nation. We stay in the fight with your contributions ‒ and because we know the policy battles decided over the next few years will impact biofuels and agriculture for decades to come.
POET PAC selectively invests in champions on the frontlines of our most difficult battles and can help us deliver victory. At the same time, our biggest and fiercest competitors are also investing millions in halting our advance. David was small, but he was smart. In the face of the overwhelming financial advantage of biofuel opponents, POET PAC deploys our limited dollars strategically ‒ when and where they will have the most impact. We don’t have limitless resources to protect us. We stay focused, and our plan is simple: • Keep congressional seats in the hands of pro-biofuel and pro-agriculture lawmakers • Counter the influence of anti-biofuel candidates and lawmakers • Keep our seat at the table during critical discussions that impact the future of rural America Our opponents have fought hard for decades to bolster their candidates and keep them in positions of power, and we know they’re not going to simply surrender. We need to stay ever vigilant and prepared. POET PAC is our best avenue to impact the election process and ensure we continue to have leaders in Washington who will faithfully represent our industry. There is no organization working harder on your behalf to educate our policy leaders about the critical need for Americanmade biofuels, bioprocessing, and renewable bioproducts. Help us amplify our voice in Washington. Stay informed, get involved, and help us defend biofuel workers and the American farmer. It’s more than a contribution; it’s an investment in a better future. And remember… David won. To join the POET PAC, visit www.poetpac.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Teach a Man to Farm Farmers support farmers through Grain for Change By Lura Roti It doesn’t look like much — just a long piece of twine with markers made of bottlecaps spaced out every five inches. To some, it might even look like it belongs in the trash. But, believe it or not, this unassuming contraption is a critical piece of technology being used to revolutionize global agriculture. The bottle-cap-and-twine tool is referred to as a “planting string,” and for Kenyan farmer Chamberlin Mbithi Nthiwa, this simple tool — and the education that came with it — is invaluable. It has helped to more than triple his annual corn yields on his family’s one-acre farm from 20 bushels to 74 bushels a year. Since field corn is a staple of the Kenyan diet, the increase in yield means there’s enough food for the Nthiwa family to eat and even some surplus to sell to pay their four children’s school fees. The education and tools that have changed the Nthiwa family’s lives for good are due in large part to Seeds of Change and its Grain for Change program. Seeds of Change is an international nonprofit founded by Jeff and Tammie Broin. The organization works to cultivate sustainable change, transform lives, and address poverty at the root through the power of education and the miracle of agriculture. “Seeds of Change was founded on the adage, ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ We’ve built great relationships with our partners and have learned how to best support and empower them so they can create their own paths to success." Kenyan farmer shows his tomato plants after learning new farming techniques.
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"Together we’re able to create sustainable change that will positively impact many lives for generations to come,” Jeff Broin
Seeds of Change started the Grain for Change program as a way to get American farmers involved with an agricultural initiative that is changing smallholder farmers’ lives around the world. Through Grain for Change, farmers can designate a portion of their POET grain delivery to be donated to Seeds of Change. Those dollars go directly toward agricultural programming that teaches viable farming practices in countries like Kenya and Uganda, so that farmers like Nthiwa can grow enough to feed and support their families. Each fall when Arne Svarstad, a fourthgeneration U.S. farmer, delivers corn to his local POET plant, he donates to Grain for Change. “Every penny from the bushels I donate goes toward helping educate smallholder farmers in Kenya so they can feed their families,” Svarstad explained. “It’s a cause that’s easy to get behind.” The program utilizes village-based advisors (VBAs) — local farmers who are elected by their peers — to serve as representatives for training and resources. The practices and technology are simple and affordable, but they are extremely effective in helping African farmers to increase their yields and improve their farming operations. Before Seeds of Change introduced tools like the planting string, most farmers in Kenya broadcast seeds by hand without much strategy, explained David Priest, who serves as the boots-on-the-ground leader of the program. “We also teach farmers to use a hand plow to break through the hardpan layer in the soil, which enables roots to go deeper and makes the corn more droughtresistant. Then the planting string is used to help farmers space their rows apart, and the bottlecaps space the seeds along the rows.”
The tool serves another important purpose: “Remember, on these farms, all the work is done by hand. A bottlecap is just the right measurement for the amount of fertilizer farmers should mix with soil in the hole they dig for the corn seed,” Priest said. Simple tools and changes to farming techniques make a noticeable difference. On the average Kenyan farm, which is typically about one acre in size, a family might harvest 20 bushels of corn. After working with Seeds of Change to modify their farming techniques, they can double or even triple their yield. With the help of Seeds of Change, most farmers are diversifying their operations to include other crops like arrowroot, avocados, mangos, cowpeas, and Brachiaria grass for feedstock, among others. By doing so, they are able to lower the risk of losing their entire crop in case of drought or flood conditions. Seeds of Change provides critical education regarding livestock management and grain storage techniques as well. “Education spreads organically because if one farmer sees his neighbor trying something different and succeeding, he will try it,” Priest said. To date, 1,429 VBAs have provided education to 459,812 farmers in 3,000 villages across rural Kenya impacting 2,758,872 lives. And, thanks to Grain for Change, American farmers have directly supported these efforts.
“The work we do genuinely changes lives. These farmers can now see a future for themselves and their families. They have hope.” David Priest
That’s a drastic change from what the Broin family witnessed on their inaugural trip to Kenya — which spurred the launch of Seeds of Change — ten years ago. “When we first traveled to Kenya all those years ago, it was disheartening to see the
Grain for Change supports farmer education internationally
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conditions of the farms we’d pass on our way to work each day. We went home feeling like there had to be something more we could do,” said Miranda Broin, Seeds of Change President of the Board. “It has been truly incredible to see just how many lives have been changed over the past decade — the outpouring of support we’ve seen for Seeds of Change and the progress it has created so far surpassed anything we could have expected.” And Grain for Change provides U.S. farmers with an opportunity to offer support as well. Seeds of Change donors can feel good knowing the entirety of their contribution is used to change lives. “One of the most unique aspects of Seeds of Change is that one hundred percent of donations go directly to supporting our programs,” said Macy Kaiser, Executive Director of Seeds of Change. Svarstad said although the farms in Kenya look much different than his in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the concept of farmers helping farmers is a concept with which he is familiar. “All of us as farmers have experienced a helping hand when we were starting out or during a tough time,” Svarstad said. “This globe is a very small place. I don’t think there is any difference between helping the neighbors that live on a farm a mile away or those who live 10,000 miles away.” To donate through Grain for Change, contact your local POET grain buyer. When delivering grain to a POET location, tell the scale master or merchandiser how many bushels or what percentage of the delivery you would like to donate. To learn more visit seedsofchange.org, email email@example.com or call 605-965-4984.
Ugandan farmer uses a hand plow to till her field.
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in rhythm with nature biotechnology solutions At some point, technology and nature fell out of rhythm. POET is getting us back in rhythm with nature with sophisticated and sustainable biotechnology solutions to our most immediate challenges.
world’s leader in plant-based bioproducts.
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Experienced Team, Strong Culture Sets POET – Fairbank Apart A strong, experienced workforce has helped POET Bioprocessing – Fairbank transition seamlessly into the POET family. By Darrell Boone Ask POET Bioprocessing – Fairbank General Manager Bryon Wilson what he likes best about his job at the Iowa facility, and he doesn’t have to think long. “There’s an old saying that you go to work because of the people you work with,” he says. “That’s definitely the case here. I feel I have a good relationship with the Fairbank team, which includes a lot of tenured employees. It’s kind of like having a second family.” Wilson’s worked with many of his “second family” for years. He grew up seven miles from where the plant stands and came to work there as an operator right out of high school. Over time, hard work and a knack for leadership helped him work his way up to the general manager’s chair. And while Wilson’s relationship with the facility goes back several years, the plant’s history began two owners ago. Originally constructed in 2006 as Hawkeye Renewables, the plant was purchased by Flint Hills Resources (FHR) in 2011. Then, on June 1, 2021, the Fairbank facility was one of six FHR plants acquired by POET, which recognized the excellent quality of those plants and felt they would fit nicely with POET’s existing portfolio of facilities. At an annual production rate of 125 to 130 million gallons of bioethanol, the Fairbank facility is one of the largest in the POET family and currently employs 53 people. During the ownership transition, there was no shutting down, no retrofitting, nor any work stoppage whatsoever. And while the ownership transition took place with no hitches in production, Wilson says there initially was some uncertainty among the team members about what being acquired by POET might entail. “Within a short time, the POET leadership team came onsite and did a pretty darn good job of providing us with clarity and comfort,” he says. “They told us, ‘We understand that these plants run the way they do because of the people they have, and we want to continue that mindset.’ That really felt good to hear that.” A strong and diverse culture Wilson says the blessing of having capable and tenured team members gives the plant a couple of distinct competitive advantages. “The POET culture says that we want our team members to be ‘principled entrepreneurs,’” he says. “If we have that — and I believe we do — it gives us a competitive advantage. “Also, we generally have a pretty diverse group here, people who come from all different kinds of careers,” Wilson says. “We have engineers, we have farmers and people from many other backgrounds,” he says. “Having all those different kinds of backgrounds and experiences creates a richer blend of perspectives on how to approach different problems. At the end of the day, that helps drive a better decision, which gives us another competitive advantage.” Wilson says that the quality of the plant team’s strong work ethic and focused teamwork manifests itself in tangible ways.
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For example, at a recent annual POET plant audit — which stringently grades safety, culture, environmental health, housekeeping, the appearance of equipment, cobwebs, combustible dust, and more — the plant passed with flying colors and won the prestigious POET “World Class Bio” award. Wilson also takes pride in the fact that POET has been a leader in areas like reducing carbon intensity and reducing the plant’s carbon footprint, saying that POET has been focused on these factors since day one and has always been ahead of the curve. POET Bioprocessing – Fairbank also strives to be a good neighbor, participating in county fairs and other community events. But one segment of the community especially near to POET’s heart is agriculture. “Our partners out in the field are very important to us,” Wilson says. “They help us maintain this renewable resource while we try to provide them with a competitive place to deliver their grain. We want them to be successful so we can be successful.”
Alex Neswold: Up for a challenge In his position as a Shift Supervisor, Alex Neswold enjoys a number of aspects of his job. “I enjoy the variety,” he says. “You have good days and bad, but every day is a little bit different. For me, it’s fun to try to troubleshoot the more challenging issues when something goes wrong. Or trying to optimize things to get just a little bit more out of it.” He also enjoys his fellow teammates. “This is a great team — very seasoned. We have good camaraderie, which makes it fun to come to work with people you get along with and can joke around with.” Off the job, Neswold and his wife Nicole enjoy doing activities with their two young children, Scout, 4, and Max, 3. “We enjoy camping in the summer, taking the kids swimming, and I like playing golf,” he says. “We just like being outdoors.”
Alex Neswold, Shift Supervisor | Stephan Swart, Materials Manager | Andrew Willard, Operations Manager | Bryon Wilson, General Manager | Mitch Reierson, Plant Technician III | Micheal Stimson, Maintenance Manager vitalbypoet.com | 3 7
Mitch Reierson: A team player As a young man, Mitch Reierson had a passion for farming and loved milking cows on his uncle’s farm. Then he came to work at the Fairbank facility just out of high school in 2006, during the “bioethanol boom.” He has experienced a lot and seen many changes during his time at the plant and takes a great deal of pride in his work. “I truly like working here,” he says. “I’m proud of the fact that the Fairbank plant has always had a reputation for being a strong and consistent performer, and it feels good to have been a part of that. We have a lot of team members who’ve been here for many years, and you develop relationships. I couldn’t imagine working anyplace else.” But probably the thing Reierson enjoys most about his job as a plant tech is helping new team members as they get started. “I’ve been here a long time, seen a lot of things, and get enjoyment out of being able to share my knowledge with new team members,” he says. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of teaching them and helping them learn the best way to do their jobs.” When not helping new people at work, Reierson still likes to get his “farming fix.” He and his wife, Christine, bought his grandpa’s farm seven years ago and love spending time there. “There’s timber, pasture, and we’ve made a bunch of four-wheeler trails,” he says. “I love to hunt deer there too.” Micheal Stimson: There from the start Even before there was a bioethanol plant in Fairbank, Mike Stimson was there. “When I started, they were still building the plant,” he recalls. “There weren’t even any paved roads here yet.” Starting as a maintenance tech, he worked up to his present position, Maintenance Manager. These days, when this very busy husband, father of five, and grandfather of two isn’t keeping up with his kids’ and grandkids’ lives, he oversees the reliability of the Fairbank facility with the help of several other groups. Stimson says things have come a long way in his sixteen years. “That was the start of the bioethanol business, and reliability programs were pretty lax back then, definitely more reactive,” he says. “But with the ownerships that followed, a ‘big flip’ occurred, and especially with POET, we’re doing a much better job now.” Stimson says a contractor recently asked him what he thought of POET taking over. “I said, of the three companies that have owned this facility, POET is my favorite, even after just a few months. We’ve got great leadership and strong operations teams who’ve been around for a while. There’s a real family atmosphere. I enjoy working here; it’s been a very good thing.”
BIOFUELS MUST BE PART OF THE CLIMATE SOLUTION Learn More at GrowthEnergy.org/Environment
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RVOs Explained By Matt Ward The COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical instability have led to inflation and uncertainty across the globe. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and policymakers are in need of immediate solutions. Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure year-round access to affordable, available, American-made E15. Since it was first approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more than a decade ago, the road to year-long, nationwide access to E15 has taken many twists and turns. Let’s take a closer look at the winding road to securing E15’s rightful place in America’s fuel supply.
Trump’s EPA & the courts In May 2019, biofuel supporters celebrated as the Trump Administration finalized a rule clearing the way for year-round sales of E15. The rule deemed E15 “substantially similar” to E10, which allowed the sale of E15 without a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers led the lawsuit challenging EPA’s rule. In July 2021, the three-judge panel hearing the case overturned the EPA, putting the future of year-round E15 in limbo. In September 2021, the D.C. Circuit denied a petition brought by Growth Energy and other bioethanol advocates to rehear the case. In December 2021, the Supreme Court also denied Growth Energy’s petition stating that legislative and administrative solutions are available for E15.
Congressional solutions In response to the courts’ decisions, the Consumer and Retailer Choice Act was introduced by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Companion legislation, the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act, was introduced by Representatives Angie Craig (DMN) and Adrian Smith (R-NE). Both bills aim to modify the statutory language to include 10 percent bioethanol “or more” in the RVP waiver thereby ending restrictions on summertime E15 sales. The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act was combined with a handful of bills, including infrastructure funding for higher biofuel blends, into the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act. In June 2022, that bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 221-204. “Every day, Americans are calling on their elected leaders to take decisive action to combat surging prices at the checkout line and at the pump. And today, we responded to that call by passing a major bipartisan bill to ensure the accessibility of affordable, homegrown American biofuels and to shore up the American food supply chain,” said Representative Craig. President Biden’s emergency waiver In April 2022, while visiting the POET Bioprocessing facility in Menlo, Iowa, President Biden announced that he was instructing the EPA to provide an emergency waiver allowing E15 for this year’s summer driving season. The EPA followed through on April 29 with EPA Administrator Michael Regan stating, “Putin’s war has had a profound impact on global and domestic energy markets. In consultation with Secretary Granholm, I have concluded that it is necessary to take action to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season in order to minimize and prevent disruption of summertime fuel supply to consumers.” States opt-out Also in April, a group of eight Midwestern governors, exercising their authority under the Clean Air Act and citing the need for “a permanent solution allowing the year-round sale of E15,” sent a formal request to EPA Administrator Michael Regan opting out of the RVP waiver along with analysis of the environmental benefits for doing so in each state. In June, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine sent a similar letter to EPA opting his state out. If approved by EPA, the governors’ request would result in a level playing field for E10 and E15 and allow retailers in their states to use the same gasoline blendstock for both biofuel blends all year long. Iowa leads the way This session the Iowa Legislature, led by Governor Kim Reynolds, passed the 2022 Biofuel Access Bill becoming the first state in the nation to guarantee consumer access to E15. The bill, which passed the Iowa legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, will ensure access to E15 across the state by 2026. “This is an enormous step forward in growing our nation’s use of E15, and it provides a model for other states to follow,” said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “We see a nationwide market for E15 on the horizon.” Advocacy continues POET applauds all of our policy champions for supporting the freedom to fill up with E15. Whether it is in the courts, with the Biden Administration, or alongside federal and state lawmakers, we will keep heading down the road to E15 until we finally see America’s fuel offered at every station from sea to shining sea.
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President Biden Announces Summertime E15 at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo Behind the scenes of POET’s fourth presidential visit By Matt Merritt On a Friday afternoon in April, POET’s Government Affairs and Communications team learned that “someone from the White House” might be coming to POET Bioprocessing – Menlo. Four days later, on April 12, President Joe Biden stood in the distillers grain loading area amidst bales and tractors to announce approval of one of the industry’s top initiatives for 2022: an emergency waiver to allow summer use of E15. In between those two points in time, team members across POET came together to make the event one to remember for POET, the biofuels industry, and America. Price spikes put biofuels at center stage Removing the summertime ban on E15 has been an important initiative for POET and the rest of the biofuels industry for more than 12 years. In 2019, the issue was seemingly fixed for good when President Donald Trump instructed the EPA to change the outdated Reid Vapor Pressure rules that had restricted E15 use during the summer months. However, an oil industry lawsuit overturned that order in July 2021, and E15 sales would have once again been limited from June to September. Then, in February of this year, Russia invaded Ukraine, setting off a sharp rise in oil prices that exacerbated the ongoing inflation facing Americans.
America needed relief, and biofuels were the answer. The industry had been campaigning hard to alert lawmakers to the need for E15 in this crisis. In a Senate committee hearing the week before Biden’s visit to POET – Menlo, EPA Administrator Michael Regan indicated the Administration was moving toward an E15 solution. “I do believe that E15 can provide a less expensive option based on the data we have seen as of late, and I also can say that we are evaluating what options we might have at EPA to look at utilizing E15 at a level that would be helpful to the American people and to help alleviate some of the pain that we’ve seen since Russia has launched its war against Ukraine,” Regan said to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works on April 6. The solution was clear, and President Biden chose POET Bioprocessing – Menlo — part of the plant network of the world’s largest bioethanol producer — as the stage for his announcement on April 12. POET team members in action POET was notified on the afternoon of Friday, April 8 that a representative from the White House planned to visit the facility in four days. That kicked off a flurry of activity by POET team members to prepare the site. POET Communications Specialist Shelby Christopherson spent Saturday morning discussing logistics and then left for the facility early the next day. She basically camped at the plant for the next three days and worked with the team at POET – Menlo to help coordinate behind-the-scenes needs for the event. “We had to do port-o-potties and folding chairs; we had to move stuff, get it transitioned and accommodated for what their vision team liked. We had to coordinate with our customers,” she said. “Nobody has port-opotties available on the weekends, but we got them by 9:30 Monday morning. One guy took off from his full-time job and got them delivered to us.” Rachel Connor, Grain Merchandiser at POET – Menlo, spent her Sunday lining up staging requests from the White House — things like bales, trucks, and tractors. She worked with
area farmers to get the necessary equipment and supplies. “It was a very cool moment of everybody coming together for the same thing,” Connor said.
“The teamwork that happened at the plant was just incredible to be part of, everybody pulling together like that. It truly was an incredible team effort to pull that off.” Rachel Connor
Unexpected spotlight For Connor, her effort to set the stage up turned into welcoming President Biden on stage. During her drive home Sunday night after a long day of setup, she was called back to the plant. Some of the equipment was loaned to POET from nearby customers, but it was loaned with one caveat. “My farmers that brought the equipment were pretty specific in that no one was to touch the equipment but me,” Connor said. A member of the White House staff hopped into a truck with Connor and was impressed with the image of a young Iowa woman from a fifth-generation farm handling the heavy machinery. The next thing Connor knew, she was enlisted as the representative of POET who would introduce the President of the United States. No pressure. But Connor was “incredibly flattered” to represent the plant and people who work there, POET, and the entire biofuels industry. “It was a very cool opportunity to represent all of that, which is absolutely why I said yes — not because I have any love of public speaking,” she said. “It’s kind of a once-ina-lifetime opportunity that I felt like I would very much regret letting go by.” So that Tuesday afternoon, she stood in front of the audience at POET – Menlo — and America — to lay the foundation for the exciting announcement that was to come.
Top: Representative Cindy Axne speaks at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo Bottom: POET team member Rachel Connor introduces President Biden vitalbypoet.com | 4 5
“Many of you may recall when President Biden campaigned here in Iowa he promised to support biofuels, grow green jobs, and cultivate a low-carbon economy,” she said in her speech. “Today America is battling Putin’s price hike, and Mr. President, I can tell you America’s biofuels industry stands ready to help.” Biden makes historic announcement President Biden took the stage via Connor’s eloquent introduction and laid out the issue: skyrocketing inflation driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in addition to ongoing environmental and economic needs that must be met by greater investment here at home. “This industry has a role to play in a sustainable energy future,” the president said. Biden built up to the announcement that biofuel producers and much of America had been hoping all year to hear. “I’m here today because homegrown biofuels have a role to play right now — right now — as we work to get prices under control to reduce the costs for families,” he said. “The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to issue an emergency waiver to allow E15 gasoline that uses more ethanol from homegrown crops to be sold across the United States this summer in order to increase fuel supply.” Support across the country Biden’s announcement was celebrated throughout the industry and well-received by leaders across the country. Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne gave the opening remarks for President Biden’s visit and noted the importance of biofuels to the state. “Investing in biofuels not only helps Iowa’s farmers and rural communities but also lessens our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and brings down prices for Iowa families,” she said. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who was a leading champion for the waiver, also weighed in on the important announcement: “The President’s announcement today builds on his bold actions to reduce energy prices and tackle rising consumer prices caused by Putin’s Price Hike by tapping into a strong and bright future for the biofuel industry, in cars and trucks and the rail, marine, and aviation sectors and supporting use of E15 fuel this summer,” Vilsack said in a release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A day to remember For previous POET presidential visits (George W. Bush in 2002, Barack Obama in 2010, and Donald Trump in 2015), teams had several weeks of notice to prepare to host the leader of the free world. This time, everything came together in just four days thanks to round-the-clock work from the team at POET – Menlo, POET’s Government Affairs and Communications Team, and many supportive partners from the Menlo community. Just as quickly as it arose, the event was over. But, as POET works alongside Growth Energy and political allies to find a permanent fix for year-round E15, the impact for the biofuels industry could be far-reaching. And the impact for those involved will last a lifetime. “If you would’ve told me coming into my position at POET that I’d be working with the White House and get to meet the president in a few months, I would’ve told you you’re crazy,” Christopherson said. “But here we are!”
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PEOPLE OF POET
People of POET: Megan Bierschenk Shepherds Customers, Interns (and Sheep) Shell Rock’s Grain Merchandising Manager strives to succeed By Susanne Retka Schill When recruiting interns to spend their summers working with her in the grain merchandising department at POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock, Megan Bierschenk looks for students who are a lot like she was in school. She looks for students who know what they want to do after college, who are leaders in clubs, passionate about working in the agricultural sector, and who are outspoken and professional. Majoring in ag business and agronomy at Iowa State University, Bierschenk’s junior internship was in seed sales — a job that would keep her close to the farm after graduation. But the job opportunity she thought she had lined up disappeared when the seed company changed ownership. A family friend, Nathan Underwood (now Regional Marketing Manager at POET), knew her situation and said he had an opportunity for her in grain merchandising. “I said I don’t know anything about merchandising, and he said that’s fine. You know customers; you can relate to people. I can teach you the rest.” Nine years later, she’s become the face of the facility to the farmers supplying corn and has developed a customer outreach program that has grown the percentage of farmer-direct deliveries. “When I started, we probably saw 40 percent farmer-direct deliveries, and now it’s around 80 percent,” she says.
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Customer outreach is crucial, she says, as POET – Shell Rock sits in the center of four bioethanol facilities in Iowa, each 40 miles away. “Our customers have a lot of options within driving distance. If bids are the same, we want them to come to us because of their positive experience.” They strive to get trucks turned around in 10 minutes, she says, and text customers if waits are getting longer. In the customer outreach program she’s developed, Bierschenk’s goal is to be in front of everybody at least every 90 days — no small feat when it takes around 800 farmers from four counties to supply the 120,000 bushels of corn ground daily to meet Shell Rock’s annual capacity of 140 million gallons of bioethanol. In addition to phone calls and farm visits, she organizes customer marketing meetings to discuss markets and sponsors community events and county fairs — “any touchpoint we can do to get our name out there,” she says. The interns she mentors each summer play an essential role as well, she says. “On the third or fourth day after onboarding and training, they’re on the phones talking to customers, doing farm visits, and buying corn. We get them familiar with the markets, learning our position and how we trade and buy corn each day,” she says. “We make them feel like an important part of the team because they are.” She takes pride in the retention rate for the interns that were ultimately hired as merchandisers. When she started working at Shell Rock, it was one of six facilities operated by Flint Hills Resources, and interns would often fill an opening at another plant after graduation. Now, as part of the POET family, the interns have even greater opportunities across POET’s network, with one now filling a new opening in Indiana.
cheerleading at Nashua-Plainfield High School — her hometown team — winning the state competition in 2016. When her son was born three years ago, she gave that up but still does a bit of coaching as a fitness instructor. In recent years, she’s gotten active again in 4-H. “We’ve always shown livestock as a family,” she explains. “Growing up, we showed every species — cattle, horses, sheep, pigs.” Living on a farmstead just a mile from her folks, she resurrected the sheep operation set aside when she and her siblings grew up and started showing sheep four years ago. Her flock of 30 ewes produces about 60 lambs, many of which are sold for 4-H projects. Breeding show sheep quickly evolved into becoming the 4-H sheep and goat superintendent alongside serving on the Chickasaw County youth development committee. She’s also started a lending program for local kids. “They can come out to the farm, and we’ll teach them how to train sheep and do their grooming and feeding. The kids learn on our farm and then show the sheep, which come back to the farm after the show.” She also puts on a sheep showing clinic on their farm each year for kids from all over the state to attend to sharpen their skills. While there were only two families showing sheep in the county when she started, now the sheep barn at the fair is full again. Whatever she tackles, Bierschenk says she likes to succeed. “I like coaching. I like to be busy. I’m competitive and like to be the best at everything,” she says. “It drives me in everything I do.” Like POET, Bierschenk has planted her roots in the community and is working hard every day to help those around her grow.
Mentoring goes beyond Bierschenk’s day job. Outside of work, she has coached competitive Megan Bierschenk with her family at their sheep farm
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Soil Health: A Foundation for Ag System Sustainability By Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Professor Emeritus, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University Healthy soils are critical to successful farming operations. They increase the ability of crops to withstand weather variability — including short-term extreme weather events during the growing season — as well as the capacity to store water, sustain a healthy microbial community, and maintain good nutrient cycling potential. And these benefits are most evident when growing conditions are less than ideal. Soil health is defined by the level at which it will continually sustain plants, animals, and human lives. The properties of soil influence plant water availability, off-field nutrient losses during rain events, and the availability of nutrients for fuel, food, and fiber production. Put simply, healthy soils are critical to sustaining bountiful agricultural production and supporting wildlife habitats. What affects soil health? Soil organic matter is a central property that influences its health, and it is heavily affected by management practices like tillage. This — in addition to crop rotation, crop diversity, and weather conditions — impacts the soil’s physical, biological, and chemical functions. A well-managed soil can increase the storage and supply of nutrients to plants, microbial diversity, and carbon storage. Intensive tillage and mono-cropping systems can cause soil degradation, weakening soil structure, and reduction in the microbial community that is essential for healthy crops. Soil degradation is always associated with intensive tillage, especially during the spring season. This is when soils are most vulnerable to water erosion in areas with high rainfall or wind, as there is a lack of crop residue cover to protect the soil surface. Sustaining crop production The benefits of increasing organic matter with conservation practices such as no-till (NT) can be translated into yield savings, especially in times of drought. A long-term study conducted in Iowa found that there is a 50-70 percent increase in water recharge in the soil profile with NT as compared to conventional tillage. This increase in water storage can have significant effects on yield. In the 2012 drought, corn yield reduction in some parts of the state exceeded 40 percent with conventional tillage compared to 15 percent with NT. This is due to the benefits of NT in improving the biological, chemical, and physical properties of soil, largely because of the crop residue left on the soil surface. Residue can minimize erosion and protect original soil organic matter from decomposition. To the average person, it may just look like “dirt,” but soil is essential for the farms that feed and fuel the world. Healthy crops and hearty yields start from the ground up.
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Heavy-Duty Decarbonizing with Biofuels By Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO As the Biden administration and other leaders look to build momentum for a net-zero future, it is critical that we use every tool available to us to achieve climate progress. That means adding more Earth-friendly fuels to the mix, including homegrown biofuels that not only have the power to decarbonize the transportation sector — on the ground, in the sky, and at sea – but contribute to jobs and opportunities in rural America. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack put it this way, “As we look at ways in which rural lands can be used to sequester carbon— as we embrace climate-smart agricultural practices — it opens up a whole new vista of opportunity for farmers to essentially be paid for the carbon sequestration that they are currently doing and will do in the future.” Leaders around the world are increasingly recognizing biofuels as a vital tool in the fight against climate change and in bringing agriculture into the fold. They’re a lower-cost, lower-emission fuel that is already compatible with cars on the road. In the United States, electric vehicles often take center stage, but the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that gasoline-powered or Flex-Fuel vehicles will dominate new vehicle sales through 2050. Even then, other forms of transportation — especially heavy cargo — will still rely heavily on liquid fuels for the raw, long-range power that a mobile battery can’t deliver.
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That is why, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable biofuels are poised to deliver more carbon reductions over the next 30 years than any other technology — including electric batteries. Greater use of biofuels across the board offers an immediate opportunity to move the needle and turbo-charge progress toward our low-carbon future. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan has echoed that view, noting that expanding the role of biofuels is “a critical strategy to secure a clean, zero-carbon energy future.” Simply put, if we’re serious about climate change, we have to get serious about renewable liquid fuels in emissions-heavy industries that are more difficult to decarbonize. According to the IEA, biofuels are poised to go beyond light-duty transportation to “decisively cut road freight emissions over the next decade to help keep the world on track for net-zero emissions.” For example, ClearFlame Engine Technologies is shaking up the industry and developing technology to allow diesel trucks to run purely on renewable fuels like bioethanol. They are set to begin commercial testing with Midwestern truck fleets and even partnering with John Deere to bring lower-emission diesel engines to the ag sector.
The same is true in aviation. Thanks to current technologies, farm-based feedstocks like bioethanol and corn oil are primary sources of clean, renewable energy available in large enough volumes to meet the demand for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Several airlines, such as Delta, United, and Southwest, have made sustainability pledges to utilize SAF and pursue carbon neutrality. America’s bioethanol producers are committed to making sustainable aviation possible, but production will need to ramp up quickly to meet current goals. That’s why we’re working harder than ever to remind policymakers why it’s important that SAF incentives harness the full emissionsreduction potential of U.S. biofuels. Ultimately, family farmers, biofuel producers, and other agricultural innovators who are reducing their carbon footprints and developing increasingly earth-friendly fuels are key to solving the climate crisis. Research from emissions experts, like those at the Rhodium Group, shows clearly that low-carbon biofuels are vital to achieving net zero in the U.S. by 2050. And America’s biofuel industry is ready now to deliver on that promise.
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OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Grandma By Scott Johnson, A Thinker of Thoughts (and POET Data Systems Administrator) My grandmother recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She has lived that entire century simply, humbly, and frugally within a small footprint of rural South Dakota. I spent many early childhood days with Grandma while my parents were at work. Her house was unassuming. It was clean and functional — not much for decorations, no display cabinets for fancy dishes because there were no fancy dishes to display. As a farm girl growing up with eight siblings through the Great Depression, humble living was ingrained into her way of life. That simplicity even showed up in food. Grandma would often serve me a lunch of goulash or plain hamburgers (and when I say plain hamburgers, I mean plain: no bun, no cheese, no pickles, no salt or pepper.) Grandma grew up in an era where extras (like flavor) weren’t an afforded luxury. Also, she was Norwegian, and we Norwegians aren’t known for our culinary prowess. We consider spearmint gum too spicy. I treasured those bland meals regardless, not because of the value of the actual food itself, but because they were always served with love. I felt important. As I grew older, I noticed selfless behavior was a theme with everyone else Grandma interacted with. Anyone who spends five minutes with Hilda Johnson is reminded that people are more important than things. She is known to have her adult children call her to ask if she remembers who Gertrude Hanson’s great niece’s brother’s dentist’s taxidermist is. If anyone is going to recall that person, it’s Grandma, partly because she’s sharp as a tack, but mostly because she remembers people — because people are important. When she sees my kids (her great-grandchildren), she’ll start a conversation by saying their names followed by a grin and a chuckle. She’ll then repeat their name more exuberantly, like a magic trick to make them feel as if they’re the most important person in the world. And at that moment, they are. At 100 years old, she is still a social butterfly, albeit with frail wings. She still flies everywhere her friends and family gather. A simple conversation brings a smile to her face. A deeper conversation will likely bring out the well-known Johnson laughter, loud and booming, capable of setting off car alarms. It’s an infectious laugh with a strong gravitational pull, drawing everyone else in. Anyone who has been lucky enough to share one of those laughs with her gets it. Today she lives simply in a modest apartment with few material belongings. Her most prized possessions are family pictures from previous events. She is proud to point out that all of her children and grandchildren are present in a picture from her 80th birthday and in another of her 90th (plus a few new great-grandchildren). These pictures and the memories they represent are her most treasured family heirlooms. I may not inherit a cherished family recipe or a priceless antique, but my grandma has passed on to me an essential life lesson: value people over things. Happy birthday, Grandma. 58 |
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