Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Tidings from AgroLiquid

So the lobby screens at HQ scroll through Christmas scenes...and this is one of them that I like.  It is of a typical Christmas scene in Michigan with snow covering the landscape.  But not this year. Michigan is on the warm side of the country and it has been anything but wintery.  In fact, on Wednesday we set a record high temp of 61 degrees.

And below is where some landscaping was done out front late in the fall.  Grass seed was planted with the intention of germination in the spring.  Well the seed must have thought it was already spring.
Here is the lobby Christmas tree.  See the flag at the top of the tree?  That was a challenge to put on. This is one of three nice big trees at the office.  How festive we are.
Some of you may be aware that we have just recently undergone a name and logo change.  Now we are AgroLiquid, and Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers has been retired.  This is on my tree at home where there is the old and the new.  I will still put up the old ornament each year.  Next to the new one.  Our website has been agroliquid from the start of the internet, so it is already in the loop.  And the new logo is certainly eye-catching.
There is lot's to do as the new name officially starts on January 1.  New letterhead, product literature, business cards, logos on trucks, trailers, railcars, other vehicles....and on our corporate office.  Off came the old and up goes the new.  Below Phil and Ron D make the new installation.  In fact, I already forgot what it used to look like.  I will compliment Ron as he made the template and got all the holes drilled to match the real thing. 
Mission accomplished!  That certainly lets everyone know who we are.
Since part of Christmas is for giving, here is a gift from Agronomic Sciences:  the 2015 Research Report.  It was just posted to the website yesterday on Christmas Eve.  It has the reports of all the experiments from the NCRS and off-site contract research and PFE plots.  I will give some extra recognition to Stephanie who had the task of converting everything to the web publishable format we see here.  Plus put in edits and rearrangements as needed, and still get it on before our (actually her) Christmas deadline.  So take a look.  It's on the Research Tab and then click Research Results, and then 2015 Report.  Glad that's done as it has dominated our time of late.
Well it seems that there is always something to be done up till the last minute.  The office was open till noon on Christmas Eve.  So those of us still there till the end want to wish all of the loyal blog readers A Very Merry Christmas!!!
It's been a very challenging year for many reasons, but rewarding as well.  We look for a strong year ahead.  The blog will probably take a short Christmas break, but it too will be back for Year 7.  Also stronger than ever.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Plenty to See in Washington and Oregon

So after the Hort Expo was over last Wednesday afternoon, Eric, JW and I packed up and hit the road in Eric's pickup.  We had a dinner meeting in Oregon and a grower meeting the next day.  So goodbye to Yakima.  It was a pretty drive, well on the outside I mean. 
Fortunately Eric likes to see stuff as much as I do.  Like the Stonehenge in lower WA on the Columbia River near the small town of Maryhill.  It is an historic area, and this was completed in 1929 as a monument to military personnel who gave their lives in World War I.  It has plaques inside with the names of soldiers from Klickitat County here who perished in the war.  It is supposedly built exactly as the real Stonehenge in England.
Here is the inside.  As you probably know, the original Stonehenge  was used by ancient astronomers to mark season changes and other events marked by the sun and moon.  Before this purpose was discovered, it was thought to be a site for sacrifices.  Oh behave.
 Here are some to the plaques of the local soldiers that didn't make it back.
Here is a view of the Columbia River from Stonehenge.  There are all sorts of orchards and things growing down there.  See that black fence?  It seems that is a Cannabis farm.  We held our breath. Don't want no second hand smoke messing up a surprise drug test back home. 
Here is a view looking the other way back up the mountain.  Orchards and wind turbines.
 We crossed over into Oregon, and drove through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.  Well I can see why it is scenic.  Here is Horsetail Falls.  It is 192 feet tall, and was really running fast due to all of the recent rain.
 Well it seems that Horsetail Falls is just a warmup for this one: Multnomah Falls.  Here is the lodge in front celebrating 100 years.
This one falls 542 feet to a pool and then another 69 feet beyond the cross bridge.  It was starting to get dark by this time, so I sprinted up the hill so that I could see the bridge.
 Glad I did.  Here is the falls from the bridge.  It was really running big and loud.  Very cool.
Here is the view looking back down.  That's JW and Eric down there in front of that rock bench. Glad they waited for me to come back down.  I had never been here before but really glad I got to see it.   
Well we were driving for a purpose.  There is a new retail partner in the town of Salem which is South of Portland.  They are Koenig Custom Application and they just came on board after attending the Research Field Days last August.  Now it's time to go to work.  We hosted 16 growers from the area for an introduction to AgroLiquid.  (I forgot my camera, so had to sketch JW here making a presentation.)  It was different for me since there was quite a variety of crops grown in the area.  Rye grass seed, filberts, bush beans, onions, blueberrie,sweet corn, onions and more that I can't remember. But we haven't met the crop yet that can't be well fertilized with AgroLiquid. 
So that was a great fertilizer mission and I look forward to returning next summer to follow up on fertilizer applications.  Plus see if there are any more cool waterfalls or other sights to see.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About Apples (and other fruity crops)

So last week I was on a fertilizer mission way out to the Pacific Northwest.  First stop was Yakima, Washington where there was the NW Hort Expo.  It was a combination of trade show and educational presentations and posters of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.  Here is the AgroLiquid booth ably manned by agronomist JW Lemons and Sales Account Manager Eric Collins. It turned out to be a good opportunity to interact with growers and other vendors alike.
The main crop of interest was apples.  There was no shortage of them on display from nurseries to processors to packagers.  These are about as red as you can get.  There were ones to eat too.  So yes I did.
Here was something that I had never seen before, but found it to be common up here.  These guys rent predatory birds to keep nuisance birds out of the orchards, vineyards or whatever else birds like to bother.  They didn't have any demonstrations, but these birds on display looked plenty vicious.
Here was something else that I had not seen at a conference: a presentation session in Spanish.  In fact, this room was just for that with a Spanish-speaking moderator.  From the crowd you can see that there are a lot there.  They covered the usual things like tree pests and stress and growing recommendations, etc.  I had never thought of this, but there are plenty of Hispanic orchard workers and managers that need education like anyone else, so good for them.  I crashed it to hear one in English, but they had a translator and many people listening with headsets.   
Well it is a fact that most of the labor in an orchard is performed by Hispanic workers, but labor supply continues to be a major concern by orchard managers and owners.  Here is a poster on research in robotic apple pickers.  There is some sort of sensor that tells where the apples are and then guides a mechanical "hand" to pick it.  It is still some time away from reality.
Well I learned a lot, as you know that I am mostly a corn and soybean person.  In fact I had to go in disguise so that the others in attendance wouldn't find that out.  But I am inspired to learn as much as I can about growing apples and can't wait to work with Jacob in our orchard at the NCRS.  Funny it seems that every time I go out to the NCRS, I never can find him to talk about this.  Probably need to be quieter on arrival.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

NY Thanksgiving Adventure

So while everyone else was rolling out of bed getting ready to cook the turkey and baste some yams, our own NCRS Hort Crop researcher, Jacob Emling, was already in place to have a first hand view of the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  He was kind enough to share the following pics for the blog. By the way, that's Jacob looking at the camera.  Hope he turned around in time to see the apple going by, that being one of his crops of interest and all.  
Here is the NYC Fireman balloon.  It's actually Harold the Fireman who first appeared in 1948.
And who doesn't recognize Thomas the Train?  
Actually I was hoping he would send a pic of the Hello Kitty balloon.  But it looks like it was a lot of fun and nice weather too.  Thanks Jacob. 
For next year, I think the Marketing department is working on AgroLiquid Man even as we speak. Only Albert won't hold still long enough to be a good model.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mrs. last!

So you learn something every day.  It seems that one of our favorite employees, Eustaquia, has become a United States citizen.  On Thursday!  I didn't know she wasn't. She has worked for AgroLiquid for years, most recently in material procurement, but all this time has been a resident and not a citizen.  Even though she has been married to a Michigander for years and has a school-age daughter.  Even though she served in the US Army years ago.  You may recall that she was featured in the blog in the past as a champion runner...the longer the better.  She is a fitness promoter, encouraging others to leave their desks at break to walk the walking path at HQ, me included.  Well perhaps all that devotion to fitness and family kept her from raising her right hand and pledging allegiance...but no more.  She and some 40 others took the oath in Grand Rapids.  So she is an All American now, and said she is looking forward to finally being able to vote.  Congratulations!

"Under the Iowa"

So I know it's been ages since my last post...but I've been busy.  Yeah, that's it...busy.  But in the interim, I received these "awesome" pictures from Sandra at the Williams, Iowa plant.  They were of the aftermath of a storm that blew through on November 11.  They were taken by Tom Green who is an engineer working there on a building addition.  I agree...they are awesome.

Not only awesome...but blogworthy!  Thanks Tom.  And Sandra for sharing.  (Although I guess if they took pictures today it would show snow.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Research Season Closes at the NCRS

So this past week the last plot at the NCRS was harvested.  And just like that the plot season was over.  But now the data summary begins.  Then the interpretation.  Then the writing of the Research Report.  And hopefully some new discoveries about new and existing products.  

So who is that taking a sample from a harvested plot of corn?  Pink coat give it away?  
Tim was busy on this day running strip till on plot ground for next year.  Always planning ahead.
Tuesday was sugarbeet harvest on Farm 7.  This is what they are after.  The leaves of the underground beets are flail-chopped off leaving the beets in the ground.
Then they are lifted out of the a lifter.  There is a scale on the lifter to determine yield.  That's Tim on the back entering the data, while taking samples and putting them in those white bags. These samples will be analyzed for %sugar and other quality measurements.  
Then they are dumped into this trailer and hauled to a pile by the road to be collected later.  We used to have the scale in the trailer, but this is better.
So here is something I am not happy about.  Canada Geese have selected one of our wheat fields on Farm 12 as a hotel and buffet.  There are hundreds of them.  There are quarry lakes in the area that they like, and this is the nearest wheat.  Well there are no research plots here, but I don't like it.  I haven't seen them on our actual research plots on other farms, so at least they aren't interfering with science.  But they are a pest.  In the summer we have deer and raccoon bothering crops, and now this.
At least they have the decency to not pull it completely out of the ground.  Wheat can withstand grazing as cows know.  But it's usually larger before they start feeding.  These geese aren't so patient.
Well as soon as one season ends, the next one is getting underway.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last Stop: Southern Illinois...

 So last Friday was the last day of our road, I mean air trip.  On the way home from Kansas we stopped to see a new Retail Partner, Southern Illinois Ag Service of Cobden, IL.  Good luck finding Cobden.  But it is North of Cape Girardeau, Missouri across the river in Illinois. It is run by Josh Lofton and his wife Christy.  As you can see from the sign, they provide pretty much all you need to grow crops here.  I had not met Josh before, but he is really service oriented putting the needs of the farmer first.  He just got started this past summer taking several tanker loads of Sure-K for foliar apps to soybeans.  But he is getting all set for 2016.  Here is Josh giving us the tour of his office and chemical storage.  That's Sales Account Manager Rick Knifley to the right of Galynn, then Josh and Craig.  Rick picked us up at the Cape Girardeau airport the night before and is hauling us around.
 Now I was most impressed with his new plot planter here.  It can plant both 30" and 15" rows, and is set up with Ag Xcel pump and flow control equipment.  We use Ag Xcel for our fertilizer application equipment at the NCRS, and it is second to none.  Josh had long planted corn and bean plots for his seed business, but liquid fertilizer is a new option.
Down the road in Jonesboro is where the Liquid fertilizer tanks will go.  They have this property set for new large tanks that will replace these.  It is right off the highway, so it will be easy for truck traffic.
 Here is where the seed and fertilizer plots will be next year.  The best farmland is bottom land down near the Mississippi River.  They use flood irrigation here and expect good yields.  There are also plans for a field day next July, so stay tuned.  And you can't have a field day without food and a place to congregate.
Well here we go.  The farmer is also the owner of the Grassy Lake hunting club.  Craig is an avid waterfowl hunter, and this made his trip.  This area of Southern Illinois is a top hunting area for ducks and maybe some geese.  He said geese aren't as prevalent down here as they were since they are staying up North as the lakes don't freeze as before.  Also the increase in no-till has allowed for more food (corn cobs on the ground) so that the geese are happy to stay up North.  Anyway, we are optimistic about our plans for the field day.
 After that we went back to Cape Girardeau for lunch prior to take off.  It is a nice old town that has kept it's charm in the downtown area.
 Here is a wall that serves as a levee to keep out Mississippi River floodwater should it be needed.  They have painted historic scenes of the area along it.  Very nice. 
 Here is the river view on the other side of the wall.  That is the bridge we crossed going to and from Illinois.
After a delicious lunch, we were ready to head back to Michigan.  Craig was especially ready having been gone seven days now.  However, his fans weren't at all ready to see him go.  Calm down and get away from the plane.  He'll be back.
After taking off, we flew over that same bridge.
 The whole trip we saw numerous combines running to get harvest completed.
 We had just crossed the border to be back in Michigan when I took this pic.  You could see the colorful leaves on the trees below.
And here is Michigan State University.  Even though the plane engine is loud, you could still hear the cheers coming up from the happy students after beating University of Michigan in the most exciting finish to a football game ever.
Well that was a good time.  What's next?