Book Review – Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale

Three Green Rats An Eco Tale book coverTru dat rat. Ok, so if you don’t have kids or hang out with kids, you may not have any idea what I just said. But the three green rat brothers of Tintown’s Broken Bottle Lane encourage us to walk softly and reduce, reuse and recycle in the children’s tale, “Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale“. Written by Linda Mason Hunter and illustrated by Suzanne Summersgill this rat tale is both fun and educational and the perfect book to review on Earth Day (April 22, 2014).

This wonderfully illustrated and highly clever book takes place in Tintown where the protagonist, Uppity Ethel Misrington, the richest rat in town, wants to build a big box store to sell stuff. Her itty, bitty niece Maybelline Burlingame Helena Stu discovers the green pastures and projects of the green brothers (Oliver, Wilbur and Tom, each with unique green skills) and becomes hooked on nature and green health. As a result, she starts to grow. When catastrophe strikes sickly Ethel, with the help of Maybelline and the green brothers, the day is saved and Ethel becomes a convert to living with less stuff and the city follows suit.

With the town saved, and the brothers heroes, shy brother Tom sums up the direction the town needs to take. “Look around, citizens. You are knee-deep in your own trash, held captive by technology, and so caught up in the rat race you don’t have time to think.”

“We are ruining our corner of Mother Earth, creating a place where no living being can thrive. We’ve cut down our tress, poisoned our air, and dumped sewage in our rivers and streams. Three Green Rats An Eco Tale book imageIt’s time to step back and ask ourselves, ‘Is this what we really want for our children?’ We must learn to live simply. We must walk softly upon Mother Earth and stop talking more than we need to survive.”

I luv it people! L-O-V-E it.

I highly recommend this book. Take some advice from the three green rats this Earth Day and learn to walk softly. This is a must read book for both children and adults to get you on the forward thinking path about how to reduce your impact and live more simply. In celebration of Earth Day, win an e-copy of Three Green Rats: An Eco tale. Email me your contact information with the subject line: Three Green Rats and the winner will be announced next week in the newsletter.

2014 BIVI PRRS Research Awards Announced

In conjunction with the recent Swine Health Seminar in Dallas, Texas, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) announced the winners of its Advancement in PRRS Research Awards during the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) Conference. The awards are designed to encourage ongoing discoveries in practical approaches to disease management.

boehringer-ingelheim-logo“The recent emergence of PED virus reminds us of the importance of ongoing research in helping the swine industry deal with the constant threat of disease,” said incoming AASV President Michelle Sprague, DVM, with Audubon Manning Veterinary Clinic (AMVC) in Audubon, Iowa. “Longstanding research programs like the BIVI PRRS research awards do provide the practical, effective results that veterinarians can utilize to better diagnose, prevent and control PRRS. As a swine veterinarian, I see firsthand on swine farms the benefits these research programs provide.”

BIVI awarded $75,000 to support three separate studies by independent swine disease researchers and practitioners in their investigations of novel ways to diagnose, control and eliminate PRRS. The selected PRRS studies focus on three important areas of disease research:

  • The effect of maternal PRRS immunity in pigs vaccinated with PRRS MLV vaccine and subsequently challenged with a heterologous PRRSV.  Winner: Brad Leuwerke, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota for his research on the Effect of maternal PRRS immunity on the response of pigs to vaccination with a homologous modified-live vaccine and subsequent response to heterologous PRRS virus challenge.
  • Helping veterinarians and producers differentiate new PRRS virus incursions from resident strains. Winner: Andres Perez, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota for his research on the Differentiating new PRRS virus incursions from resident virus strains.
  • Improving oral fluid diagnostics. Winner: Jeff Zimmerman, DVM, PhD, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa for his research on Cleaning up oral fluid samples for improved diagnostics.

Sprague noted, “It is through this initiative that we have discovered many management practices that can give producers practical applications to implement to not only impact their own operations but also those of their neighbors.”

BIVI says their sponsored research awards have been critical in the development of less costly, more reliable diagnostic testing and sampling processes, as well as identifying more effective biosecurity, risk assessment and vaccination strategies. All total, the company has contributed $912,500 through the PRRS research awards to fund 37 separate research projects.

Extra Benefits of Sow + Piglet PCV2 Vaccinations

Porcine Circovirus (PCV2) began to present considerable issues in the sow herds in the United States in 2005 and 2006 and the disease has been in the forefront of research for the last several years. Dr. Robert Desrosiers, professional service veterinarian, BI, Ltd, Canada, has BIVI Dr Robert Desrosiersbeen reviewing the research to determine if there is a benefit to vaccinating sows for PCV2. The results of this research was the focal point of a recent presentation he gave to hundreds of veterinarians around the world during Boehringer Ingelheim’s Swine Health Seminar.

He noted that right now the industry agrees that just vaccinating sows for PCV2ab does not work. He explained that the industry knows it needs to vaccinate the pigs, but what he wanted to determine is if there are extra benefits of vaccinating both the pigs and the sows.

More specifically he looked to the research to see if vaccinating sows would improve the reproductive performance of the sows and whether or not the vaccination of sows and pigs could have either a negative or positive impact on pig performance.

Dr. Derosiers found four side by side studies that looked at CircoFLEX and the reproductive performance of sows. Two of the studies did not see a positive impact – in other words it did not improve reproductive performance- but he noted that the reproductive performance of these two herds was already really high. The other two studies, he found, demonstrated an improvement in reproductive performance.

Dr. Derosiers concluded that there are situations where sow vaccination will improve reproductive performance. He also noted that overall, the research is in favor of sow and pig vaccination.

Learn more about the benefits of vaccinating both sows and pigs by listening to my interview with Dr. Robert Desrosiers. Research Shows Extra Benefits of Sow + Piglet PCV2 Vaccinations

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

What is the Infection Chain of PCV2?

There is a lot of ongoing research around Porcine Circovirus (PCV2), a disease that has affected swine herds for nearly 40 years. During the recent Swine Health Seminar in Dallas, Texas hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr. David Baumert, staff veterinarian, Cargill Pork discussed some of his research around the virus. In particular, he looked at the infection chain of PCV2.

BIVI Dr David Baumert Cargill PorkThere are two ways pigs can be infected by PCV2. One is by co-mingling with other pigs that are infected and the second way is by being farrowed or born from a sow that has a high level of circovirus.

“Particularly in the case where the sow infects the pig, that’s where we’re staring to think of the concept as an infection chain where its moving from animal to animal or from one area of production to another area of production as if we’re following links of a chain down a pathway,” explained Baumert.

He noted that the more we think about the concept of a chain of infection, the farther back we look to find the area where we can make the biggest improvement or have the greatest opportunity of success for disease control.

Learn more about the PCV2 infection chain including horizontal and vertical transmission by listening my interview with Dr. David Baumert. What is the Infection Chain of PCV2?

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

PCV2 Vaccination Strategies

BIVI Dr Michael MurtaughDid you know that most piglets are born with PCV2? I didn’t until I spoke with Dr. Michael Murtaugh, professor at the University of Minnesota who has been researching PCV2 over the past six years. Dr. Murtaugh gave an update on his presentation to several hundred attendees of Boehringer Ingelheim’s annual Swine Health Seminar.

He noted that piglets are vaccinated shortly after birth to provide lifelong protection against disease. He said the PCV2 vaccines are very interesting because they are very effective at preventing disease even in the presence of the virus that is still there.

I asked Dr. Murtaugh if the vaccines were effective if not given until later. He said that the vaccines are effective in preventing disease at any age as long as there is time for the vaccine to take effect, which generally is about two weeks.

Another interesting element of Dr. Murtaugh’s presentation was around co-infection. “Any time you can prevent one disease in pigs, you give the pig a better chance to fight other infections,” said Dr. Murtaugh. “So the protection you get against PCV2ab, also benefits pig health in general.”

Learn more about PCV2 vaccination strategies by listening my interview with Dr. Michael Murtaugh. PCV2 Vaccination Strategies

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

PCV2 – A Retrospective

In one way, you can consider this year the 40th anniversary of PCV (Porcine Circovirus or PCV2) said Dr. Brian Payne, FLEX technical manger for Boehringer Ingelheim during the recent Swine Health Seminar. He explained that in 1974 it was first isolated but the industry didn’t know what it meant. During the next 25 years or so, more studies were done and then Porcine Cirocvirus was split into PCV1 and PCV2 based on genetic sequencing and what they were finding in the field.

bivi-vet14-payneAs Dr. Payne explained, even PCV2 is “mutating”. He said that any virus is going to mutate, or change, over time. As a result, PCV2 has been categorized into PCV2a and PCV2b. He noted that if a producer has circavirus in his swine herd, he or she will know it but most don’t sequence the virus any further because they both affect the herd in basically the same way.

I asked Dr. Payne if PCV2a and PCV2b should be treated in the same way. He said this was a good question and when you are asking if a farm with PCV2a should be treated the same way as a farm with PCV2b, you’re really talking about prevention with a vaccine.

“All the vaccines today including CircoFLEX are PCV2a vaccines but they protect equally as well for PCV2b,” said Dr. Payne, who recommends CircoFLEX at three weeks of age. He said it’s here, and here to stay. He also noted that a guild going into a sow herd needs to be vaccinated one more time. Evidence is showing that when these two prevention strategies are combined, there is more benefit than the piglet vaccination alone.

Listen my interview with Dr. Payne here to learn more about PCV2 and effective prevention strategies. Interview with Dr. Brian Payne on PCV2

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

BIVI Launches Two PED Initiatives

In an effort to help swine veterinarians and producers find effective measures for managing porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) launched two PED-focused initiatives during their Swine Health Seminar in Dallas, Texas on February 28, 2014 which coincided with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting.

BIVI Greg ClineThe first initiative, according to Greg Cline, DVM, technical manager of swine enteric disease at BIVI, is a PED applied research commitment of up to $50,000 in research funds supporting the development of knowledge and tools targeting the practical management of PED.

“We will be focused on helping the industry to find answers to some of the most critical questions regarding PED,” noted Cline in an interview. “From our long research history with PRRS, Lawsonia intracellularis, PCV2 and other diseases, we continue our commitment to finding solutions through applicable research targeted toward the tough problems that plague the swine industry.”

The second initiative is the “PED News” service that BIVI is sponsoring in partnership with the University of Californi, Davis’ Center of Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) department. Cline said the program is similar to CADMS’ “FMD News” service where subscribers can receive news clips daily or weekly from around the world that highlights all the news and research related to PED.

“We saw a need for this type of information-sharing service to help the North American swine industry stay as current as possible with the all the PED-related information,” said Cline who noted that the disease was first identified in the U.S. in April of 2013 and to date, there is no vaccine or antibiotic available to fight the disease. He said that these two initiatives were designed to help discover, coordinate and share information related to PED that may be useful in helping vets and producers better prevent, manage and control this disease.

“Because this highly contagious disease is relatively new to the U.S. and its impact on producers can be so devastating, it’s critical that everyone work together to find effective solutions and share information,” Cline said. “These two initiatives should help us to better understand this highly contagious disease and how to more effectively manage PED.”

Click here to sign up for the PED News.

Listen my my interview with Greg Cline here: BIVI Launches Two PED Initiatives

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

BIVI Dances the Night Away with Time Machine

Attendees of the Boehringer Ingelheim (BIVI) Swine Health Seminar danced the night away at the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium last night. Treated to great food, fun games, cheerleaders, a football player and great music, the crowd “Scored with BIVI in the Big D.”

BIVI’s guests were able to take photos with former Dallas Cowboy player Chad Hennings, who happens to be a Midwestern boy from Iowa. They also had fun testing their skills on an obstacle course, as well as were able to rate their throwing ability with several beanbag and football-themed games.

In addition, the crowd had fun dancing to the stylings of Time Machine. A special call-out to Jorge and Norton whose moves are featured in this video.

Check out the BIVI guest adventures in the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

Attendees Scoring Big With BIVI in Dallas

Dr. John Waddell kicks off the BIVI Swine Health Seminar in Dallas, Texas on February 28, 2014.

Dr. John Waddell kicks off the BIVI Swine Health Seminar in Dallas, Texas on February 28, 2014. Attendees are scoring big in Dallas today during the Boehringer Ingelheim (BIVI) Swine Health Seminar in the Big D.

Attendees are Scoring Big with BIVI in the Big D today at the Boehringer Ingelheim (BIVI) Swine Health Seminar taking place in Dallas, Texas. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the moniker, the Big D is Dallas Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys football team (this will become relevant later in my post).

The theme of today’s seminar is Running the Option: A Multifaceted Approach to PCV2 (or Porcine Circovirus). The virus was first discovered (or genetically identified) in 1974, and in essence, as Dr. Brian Payne said during his kick-off presentation – this year marks the 40th anniversary of PCV. Today, the virus has mutated into PCV2 a and b.

The seminar is covering all aspects of this virus from a diverse group of experts ranging from veterinarians from BIVI and Cargill Pork, researchers and international consultants. The in-depth presentations discussed diagnostics, control, protection and efficiency measures to prevalence and immunity, infield research, sow stability and vaccination. The event concluded with a roundtable discussion. Over the next few days, AgWired will be bringing you coverage from the event.

Now back to the BIVI kick offDallas Cowboys. The group was treated to dinner and entertainment at the At&T Cowboys Stadium where people will be meeting former Dallas Cowboy football players and current Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. This readers, was a educational and fun day in Dallas.

Check out the BIVI Big D Swine Health Seminar photo album.

The Value of Data

Ag Leader Tyler AndersonWhy should we care about data I asked Tyler Anderson with Ag Leader during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show. Anderson said we should care about data. So I asked the next logical question, “How do we know if it worked?”.

“We can check to make sure the data worked by reading the information we’ve recorded out in the field in our SMS Advanced Software program,” explained Anderson. “By looking at the maps we can make sure we’re not having any mechanical problems we didn’t see out in the field, but we can also confirm we’re actually getting results from the practices we’re doing.”

This, said Anderson, is what Ag Leader calls “the value of data”. He explained that growers spend all this money on precision technologies and farm equipment but how do you know if it’s actually having an effect? Using Ag Leader’s SMS tools, a grower can start analyzing various elements of the data or even analyze data across the entire operations.

Anderson said the data is also valuable because not only can you look to see what happened during the current year, but also using it to plan for the future.

Learn more about the “value of data” in my interview with Tyler Anderson: The Value of Data

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Ag Leader’s Luke Bunkers on Water Management

Water management. An ongoing issue for growers across the country and around the world. To learn more about some of the big water management issues in agriculture, I turned to Luke Bunkers with Ag Leader who spent some time with me during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Luke Bunkers Ag LeaderToday with input costs and costs of fertilizer and seed being as high as they are when you don’t get the crop planted and a good emerged crop with a good stand to it, you don’t get the max benefits out of the crop that you can, explained Bunkers. He noted that too much water is a big proponent of this as well as not enough water and this is where water management comes in.

One of the solutions, said Bunkers, is adding tile to fields. Ag Leader has some precision ag technology, such as the Intellislop tile plow control system, that can raise the success rate of water management. Ag Leader also has software, such as the SMS Advanced Water Management module, that can help develop a tile plan and then analyze the data at any give moment or over time once the plan has been executed.

“The tile plan gives the grower an idea of what the whole system is going to look like including how many feet of tile, what the discharge of that system is going to be, how much water is that system going to be able to handle so Ag Leader encompasses all sides of water management with these two technologies,” explained Bunkers.

Bunkers stressed that every farm is different and tile systems can be put in during the fall or spring. He is going to be participating in some tile clinics during the next few weeks in North and South Dakota put on by Hefty Brothers.

Listen to my full interview with Luke Bunkers: Ag Leader's Luke Bunkers on Water Management

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Head to the Clouds with Ag Leader’s AgFiniti

The big trend in the data world these days is the “cloud”. The cloud is a way to store your data in a safe, secure place and have access to it anywhere you may be. Ag Leader recently headed to the “clouds” with their new AgFiniti precision technology and to learn more, I spoke with Kaleb Lindquist during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Ag Leader Kaleb LindquistLindquist explained that AgFiniti is a cloud-based solution, or platform, Ag Leader developed to make the growers, dealers and the agribusiness community’s life easier. “It’s designed to interconnect everybody,” said Lindquist, “whether that be the grower to the dealer, the grower to the agribusiness or vice versa.”

So seriously, what is the cloud? Lindquist explained that it is a metaphorical term for a remote server somewhere. Data is uploaded to the cloud, in other words to a remote, secure server so your data is not housed on your physical desktop. The data is safe, secure and backed up regularly (so if your hard drive in your desktop or laptop computer crashes you still have all the data you stored in AgFiniti).

Here is how it works. Using a wiresless hot spot, a grower can take a file from his or her display (both Integra and Versa) while he’s out in the field, upload it to AgFiniti and bam, it’s there. Then the grower can call his agronomist, tell him or her he’s uploaded a file and the agronomist (with the grower’s permission) can instantaneously pull down the file, review it and then give the grower some recommendations. Is there any more instantaneous way to share data other than having the agronomist with you on the farm? Nope.

I’m waxing lyrical because I’m having fun in AgFiniti’s cloud. You will too once you learn more about this precision ag technology.

Listen to my full interview with Kaleb Lindquist: Head to the Clouds with Ag Leader's AgFiniti

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Let Ag Leader’s Compass Guide You

Ag Leader Josh RasmussonAg Leader introduced the Compass display last fall during the Farm Progress Show and in the few months it’s been available, it has seen great success. To learn more about the technology, I spoke with Josh Rasmusson with Ag Leader during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

He explained that the Compass display is their new, high-definition, 7 inch touch screen with a guidance display. He also noted that you can incorporate other Ag Leader precision technologies such as OnTrac2+, GeoSteer or the assisted steering, ParaDyme for your high-end hydraulic system.

Rasmusson told me that nearly 50 percent of farms in the U.S. aren’t using any type of precision technologies but the Compass display is designed for entry-level users – an easy way to ease them into the world of precision ag.

“The Compass display would be a generic lightbar for them to use in a tillage scenario or a spring scenario if they wanted to do coverage mapping,” explained Rasmusson. “There is a built in guidance so they don’t have to use markers, and you can also incorporate the steering into the system.”

In fact, says, Rasmusson, the system is so easy to use a grower can figure it out in around an hour. If not, Ag Leader has 24/7 free technical assistance available.

Listen to my full interview with Josh Rasmusson: Let Ag Leader's Compass Guide You

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Ag Leader’s Hydraulic Down Force Improves Planting

It’s hard to forget the spring of 2013 when growers had more rain then they could handle. For some they lost crops, for others the seed was planted a bit late. But what if there was a way to improve your changes for a better harvest despite too much soil moisture. Well, there is a way to do just that: Ag Leader’s new Hydraulic Down Force System.

Brett Buehler Ag LeaderTo learn more about how this precision technology works, I spoke with Ag Leader’s Brett Buehler during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming show. As explained by Buehler one of the big issues growers face during planting is that the seed is planted at the proper depth. When the seed is not optimally planted, it can negatively impact yield. While there are technologies on the market to help address this, Buehler said that many of them have limitations that the Hydraulic Down Force System overcomes.

For many growers, last year’s crops were planted in wet conditions. (During planting the soil gets compacted and in essence turns in to cement so the roots can’t grow deep enough to access the water and nutrients they need throughout the growing season). “Last year was the perfect storm. We had a wet planting spring and it got dry during the summer. So the guys who used our Hydraulic Down Force System last year had tremendous yield,” said Buehler.

Planters still come from the factory with springs that growers have to adjust and it is hard to determine what the right adjustment is when field conditions can change in less than 50 feet. So unlike the air bag option that some companies have developed, Ag Leader went with a hydraulic actuator that in essence allows the planter to react nearly instantaneously.

“So instead of taking 30 or 40 seconds to compass the air to get the right amount of downforce,” explained Buehler, “we can react within a second with the hydraulic down force.”

The technology, says Buehler, is excellent for the grower who has varying soil types his field.

Listen to my full interview with Brett Buehler: Hydraulic Down Force Leads to Up in Production

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen

There is a cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s kitchen this morning as his dad makes his world famous french toast. Why? Because Patrick thinks his food comes from the grocery story until the cow, a menagerie of chickens and a few maple trees appear causing him to The Cow in Patrick oShanahans kitchenrethink where his food comes from. In this new children’s book, “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen,” authored by Diana Pritchard, children can begin to learn more about the animals that provide their food and the farm to fork concept.

Prichard, who lives in a rural farming community and is raising children of her own, says she is frustrated about the voices who are telling the story of American farmers. “Watching people who have little or no practical knowledge of agriculture dominate our national discourse on food and faring is extremely frustrating,” explained Prichard. “I wanted to contribute a positive and informed message for parents and kids.”

And that she did. The illustrations are quirky and fun and the ideas of where food comes from are easy to understand and presented in an engaging way. With all the concern about where our food comes from, this book is a great way to introduce children to the concept of how food is produced.

Ag Leader Proud to Sponsor Iowa Power Farming Show

Ag Leader had a great 2013 and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. I caught up with Mike Olson, Ag Leader North America Sales Manager, who gave me an overview of what 2014 will bring as well as spoke to me about their sponsorship of the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Olson said they have been an event sponsor for the past five plus years and the event in is their backyard (they are located in Ames, Iowa) so Iowa Power Farming is a good show for AgLeader Mike Olson at 2014 Iowa Power Farming Showthem to sponsor. He also noted that it’s become the third largest farm show in the country, is very well run and has been very successful.

“We’re really proud to be a part of it,” said Olson. “We have a lot of our customers who come in and share their experiences and learn about new technologies, and it just a good way to meet our customers and spend time with them.”

During the show Ag Leader held some educational seminars including one focused on “AgFiniti– Ag Leader Technology’s Cloud-Based Platform,” presented by Luke James; “Designing a Tile Drainage System Using Your Precision Ag Data,” presented by Aaron Friedlein; and “Put Your Mind at Ease and Your Seed at Proper Depth with Hydraulic Down Force,” presented by Brett Buehler.

Precision agriculture has really grown over the past few years but Olson said that an estimated 50 percent of farm operations don’t use any precision ag technology. He said because of this there are a lot of great opportunities for people to get started and the technology has gotten a lot easier to use. He said the technology is also less expensive and some of the equipment like tractors and planters are easier to interface with. “So people who aren’t in it yet shouldn’t be scared to get into it,” said Olson.

He noted that another big trend in the industry is the value of data and more operations are beginning to see the value in collecting and analyzing data. In addition, for those farmers who have been using precision technologies, Ag Leader continues to innovate and has launched some great new products including AgFiniti and Ag Leader Hydraulic Down Force.

Listen to my full interview with Mike Olson. Ag Leader Proud to Sponsor Iowa Power Farming Show

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

2014 Iowa Power Farming Show Round-up

Tom Junge 2014 Iowa Power Farming ShowThe 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show is in full swing this week in Des Moines, Iowa and according to Tom Junge, show director nearly 25,000 people are expected to attend the third largest farm show in the United States. The show expands 7 acres and features exhibitors from 29 states and 4 Canadian Provinces; represents 750 companies and more than 1,800 booths. Junge says there is an exhibitor waiting list of more than 100 companies.

Junge said the show has been growing each year for the past six plus years and people are driving from out of state to attend. “People are finding out how good the show is and how many exhibitors we have here and once they talk to their neighbors they seem to come the next year,” said Junge.

The farming show features a plethora of different agriculture products ranging from tractors to skid steers, combines to sprayers, planters to utility vehicles to grain trailers, landscape and turf equipment and outdoor power equipment. In addition, there were companies showcasing their precision ag electronics, management software and ag-related accessories.

Junge said that show also features seminars and workshops and new this year are workshops on covercrops. He said that out east they are doing a lot of this although Iowa may be lagging a bit behind the trend. Due to the interest of this topic, over the three days there will be 45 one-hour sessions on just this topic alone. In addition, AgLeader hosted some precision ag seminars and Stewart-Peterson gives the attendees updates on the commodities markets.

Special thanks to Ag Leader for sponsoring ZimmComm coverage of the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Listen to my full interview with Tom Junge who gives a great overview of the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show. 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show Round-up

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

EcoEngineer’s Jim Baker Wins John Deere FFV Mower

irfasummit-E85 John Deere riding mowerIf there was one item that was coveted above all others at the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, it was the E85, flex fuel riding lawn mower donated by John Deere. Attendees who submitted comments to the EPA in regards to their proposed 2014 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were registered to win.

As soon as the show floor opened at 8:00 am, people began jockeying for position to run up to the podium when their number was announced….and the winner is…Jim Baker with EcoEngineers. He noted that he is going to have to buy a new house with a bigger yard to get the full value out of his new toy.

Jim was so excited he was hoping to drive it home but, well, it was a tad cold out. EcoEngineers, who is based in Des Moines, is a company specializing in biofuel compliance issues such as RIN management, plant registrations and more. EcoEngineers also hosts webinars for the industry as well as workshops. It is anticipated that when the weather gets warmers Jim will ride to work on his E85 John EcoEngineers Jim Bakers ticket to FFV John Deere mowerDeere riding mower and as a gal about town, I will be sure to get a photo and tweet it out.

Want to get a peek at this bad boy? Jim is taking applications for lawn mowing jobs. I suspect there will be a lot of people lining up to mow his lawn this summer.

Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (Iowa RFA) whose association was the host of the event, said that he wanted to give special thanks to John Deere for their support of the event and the industry. John Deere has been selling agricultural equipment designed to use biodiesel for years as well as other biofuel compatible products.

Listen to my interview with Jim Baker here: EcoEngineer's Jim Baker Wins Coveted FFV Mower

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

PERC Renews Farm Incentive Program

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has renewed the funding for propane-fueled farm equipment. Farmers who purchase propane in 2014 will be eligible for up to $5,000 in purchase incentives through the 2014 Propane Farm Incentive Program. PERC works directly with original equipment manufacturers to develop and commercialize new propane-fueled farm equipment.

Propane Farm Incentive Program LogoAccording to PERC, the program saw record results in 2013, with PERC distributing more than $627,000 in purchase incentives to producers across the U.S. A total of 219 farmers purchased new propane irrigation engines, grain dryers and other qualifying equipment, and provided PERC with feedback and performance data.

“The success of the 2013 program shows that farmers are taking notice of the cost-saving benefits that American-made propane has to offer,” said Mark Leitman, director of business development and marketing at PERC. “New technologies are helping farmers cut their input costs and increase their profits, while reducing harmful impacts to the environment.”

Producers who upgrade to cost-saving and efficient propane-fueled farm equipment can receive purchase incentives of up to $5,000 on qualified propane irrigation engines, grain dryers, ag heaters, generators, and more. Producers are invited to enroll in the 2014 program, and performance data collected from program participants will be used to inform future product development.

“Propane is an extremely versatile fuel, and PERC is continually working with manufacturers to improve and build on existing technology,” Leitman said. “The feedback and performance data we receive from farmers who participate in the Propane Farm Incentive Program helps us build better technology to meet the needs of those who use it the most: farmers.”

Click here for more information about the Propane Farm Incentive Program or to see a list of eligible equipment.

Santa Delivers Anaerobic Digester for Christmas

Franklin, Vermont farmers Denna and Mike Benjamin were heading into the holidays with a big wish: natural gas to start their anaerobic digester to convert the methane fro their cows’ manure to electricity. The project was partially funded by a federal grant, and if the digester was not operating by year’s end they would lose a major portion of the money.

The challenge they were facing was not living near a natural gas pipleline and a “shot of pure gas” was needed to get the biogas generator going. So the Benjamins called NG Advantage, a company that trucks compressed natural gas (CNG) to very large industrial NGA starting farmers methane producer 2013 6customers not located on gas pipelines. The company brings several tractor-trailer loads of gas each day to their large customers, whose factories run their boilers 24/7. These isolated facilities save an estimated 20-40 percent on their fuel bills and emit 26 percent less CO2. The Benjamins hoped that NG Advantage could bring them the much-needed natural gas to get their digester operating.

Even though the Benjamins did not need a trailer full of gas, NG Advantage worked with the Benjamins’ engineer, John Forcier of Forcier Consulting Engineers PC, Christopher Herrick, the Chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team, Mike Raker of the Green Mountain Power Renewable Development Fund, Robert Achilles of the Vermont State Agency of Agriculture, and a Canadian company Bio-Methatech, to make a small delivery of gas available to the Benjamins within two days of the phone call. General Transportation of Bridge Water, MA (NG Advantage’s hauler) provide the use of their tractor at no charge to help reduce the cost.

NG Advantage’s VP of Operations and Safety, Gerry Myers, organized the holiday rescue team. He explained why the company went out of its way to help the Benjamins, “Environmental stewardship and embracing the needs of our community at large are embedded in our company’s daily operations. Helping the Benjamin family and Riverview Farm achieve success with their digester project was the right thing to do.”

Denna Benjamin described why it is important for them to build a digester at the Riverview Farm by saying, “We, as other farmers, are looking for ways to diversify our income steam so that we can keep farming. This project seemed like a way to do that and to improve the environment at the same time.”

The Benjamins built the anaerobic digester to use the manure from their cows to create electricity that they can sell back to the grid, to generate heat their farm, and to create a byproduct that provides dry bedding for the cows. By using the methane from the manure to generate electricity, they also eliminate the substantial release of greenhouse gas that would have otherwise naturally occurred. Continue reading