Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cornhusker State Convergence

So my fertilizer mission this week to me to the big agricultural state of Nebraska.  There I was met in Lincoln by local Sales Account Manager (SAM) Brad.  We drove West to the big town of Lexington which is just off of I-80 about in the middle of the state from East to West.   We met up with Senior Sales Manager Galynn, Texas SAM Reid and SE Regional Sales Manager Dave.  They flew there from Denver in Galynn's plane.  (I've never seen so much ground kissing as I did when Reid and Dave got out of the plane.)  We were all there to meet with some representatives of the agricultural division of Orthman Manufacturing, the maker of the 1tRIPr stip till machine.  This machine is probably the leader in precision agriculture and strip tillage.  Both Orthman and AgroLiquid have a common vision for crop production: prepare the best possible seed bed in terms of localized soil tilth and plant nutrition.  So we all met and shared research and background info with Orthman lead agronomist Mike, and also Randy from Sales & Marketing.  We are both promoting the same concepts, so wanted to see what could come of a shared vision for the future of agriculture.  Anyway, progress was made, so stay tuned.  But after that we got a tour of the manufacturing plant.  I was impressed and glad for the opportunity.
Now this is quite an operation.  Orthman employs over 300 people here at the plants in Lexington.  They build them from the ground up and I've never seen so much assembly and fabrication activity.  Here we see some of the nearly completed stip till row units waiting for attachment to a tool bar.  Speaking of tool bars, Orthman also makes tool bars for John Deere and other strip till equipment manufacturers.  They are very sturdy.  And heavy. 
Because of the required strength of the equipment, most super heavy welding is done by robot welders.  They used to do this the old way, but it took forever and was a hardship for the worker.  There is still plenty of human welding going on.  I'll bet Ron from the NCRS fabrication shop would have liked to see all of this.  Although I don't see us getting him a robot, just yet anyway.
Below, a completed unit is moved off the floor to the loading area by crane.  They said they have built a couple of 24 row units, including one for Northern Ohio.  It supposedly takes about 30 hp per row to pull a 1tRIPr.  So 24 rows, you do the math.  I don't know what will pull that.
They ship units all over the world as well.  South Africa is one of their hotbeds for strip till.  Good for them.  They must be doing a great job as they were recognized as Manufacturer of the Year in Nebraska last year.
After that we went out back to where they have strip till research plots on new products and ideas.  One of them is fertilizer inputs, and there will be some AgroLiquid treatments out there this year.  Below we take a look at some freshly stripped corn ground for some soybeans to be planted later.  One thing that the 1tRIPr is known for is the dual placement of liquid fertilizers at two depths.  This keeps nutrition at critical depths for maximum uptake by roots at different growth stages.  We have done something kind of similar with our home-made unit at the NCRS as well as in plots with a 1tRIPr at the Irrigation Research Foundation in Colorado.  The IRF has been mentioned in this blog in the past.  But we have these research results on the web site.  I will mention that planting in Nebraska is behind this spring due to recent rains and snow.  But nobody is complaining after the severe drought of last year.  I heard that they received more rain in the last month than they got all year in 2012.  But did I mention that Mike and some co-workers will be at selected Research Field Days this summer?  Well, they will.  And we hope to have a 1tRIPr there as well.  So this will be a great learning opportunity from the experts.
After that, we had another meeting that afternoon in nearby Kearney, which is about 40 miles back to the East.  I volunteered to ride Galynn Airlines rather than cram into the Taurus with the others and all the luggage.  (Plus we gave Brad a hard time for having boxes of every AgroLiquid brochure ever produced.  A tight fit for that and luggage, but they made it.)  We did a flyover of the Orthman plant on our way out.  That is the research area on the left, or North side.  We will be back to check.
Lookout!  We're going to hit that cloud!  But we were barely up in the air when it was time to land in Kearney.
There we met with Ramiro Trevino of AgXcel.  They are also a precision ag manufacturer of liquid fertilizer application equipment, mainly for planters.  Some of it is out of this world with what it allows you to do.  Look at their website.  But what we are working with them on is a way to apply higher rates of Liquid feritlizer on soybeans in 30 inch rows.  Due to injury potential, we don't recommend more than 3 gallons per acre of Liquid feritlizer in the seed furrow on soybeans.  So it is a challenge for soils that need more for optimum yield.  Well Ramiro has come up with a very interesting prototype that we think will work great.  And for added precision it will tie in with one of their fertilizer application controllers.  We hope to have a rough version with which to get some plots at the NCRS yet this spring.  I don't want to give his idea away, so you will have to wait to see it.  But where and when will that be???
How about the Research Field Days.  Ramiro will be at these events at the NCRS and we plan to demonstrate this to all who come.  It is really something new and will enable better fertility options (and higher yield) for many growers.  More details to come, but you had better reserve some dates to come to the NCRS.  Dates and times are on the Research tab at, where else,
Be there.