Biofuels: Future Challenges & Opportunities

You can’t pick up a newspaper or watch the news these days without seeing something about biofuels. The Midwest, with its concentration of current and proposed biofuel processing plants, has been a hub of discussion about the impact investments in biofuel processing capacity will have on agriculture in general, and on the retail dealerships’ businesses specifically. This year, growers are betting on higher prices with corn acres projected to jump dramatically, but what does that mean for retail dealers — both this season and in the future?

As part of the 12th Annual Precision Agriculture Survey sponsored by CropLife magazine and Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business, retail dealers were asked what impact they thought the additional investment in biofuel processing capacity would have in their markets — both this next year as well over the next three to five years. The following results are based on responses from the 388 dealerships who responded from the Midwestern states.

To get a better feel for what dealers expected in the short term, survey respondents were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with several statements about the impact the increase in biofuel processing capacity was having in their markets this year. Their responses are shown in Figure 9. Almost three-quarters of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that this year there would be a major impact on grower input purchase decisions in their market. Almost as many respondents (71%) were expecting fertilizer supplies to be tight this year with potentially some supply shortages. Two-thirds of the dealers (67%) agreed that, due to the increased investment in biofuel processing capacity, growers were more interested in maximizing yield this year compared to a year ago.

Finding Where Precision Fits In

Respondents were less likely to agree that there would be an increased demand for precision services this year (28% thought there would be increased demand while 44% disagreed). And respondents were evenly split on whether or not the interest in biofuels would be a short run phenomenon (three years or less), with one-quarter of the respondents agreeing it would be short-term and one-quarter disagreeing (with the remaining neither agreeing nor disagreeing). Because of the uncertainty of the long-term impact, over half of the respondents (55%) said they would not be purchasing or leasing additional application equipment this year and only 16% agreed that they would purchase or lease more equipment as a direct result of the investment in biofuels processing capacity.

To get a better understanding of what impact Midwestern dealerships expected biofuels to have on their businesses in the longer term, respondents were asked to comment in an open-ended question on what they were expecting in the next three to five years. Their comments were coded in order to get a better summary of what the group as a whole was saying and the summary is shown in Figure 10.

In addition to the direct impacts of more corn acreage, either through more continuous corn production or changes from other crops to corn production (mentioned by 37% of the respondents) and continued increased fertilizer demand (mentioned by 28% of the respondents), the range of expected effects was diverse, probably reflecting the wide range of discussions going on throughout the Midwest (Figure 2). Though some dealers were expecting a positive overall impact with increased profits for both crop input dealers and growers, there was plenty of doubt expressed about the long term benefits of the increased production of biofuels, from the effect on grain storage requirements to the impact on livestock production and the costs of producing other crops.

Some of the comments respondents made included the following:

■ It will be a positive influence more than likely. Demand for nitrogen products will be the biggest factor. Agriculture may be fun again?

■ Better markets, more profits to the farmer, more money to spend with me.

■ Growers’ net worth will increase, many will try to expand. Cash rents will go up, land values will increase, corn acres will expand, growers will spend money to try to store more fertilizer and chemicals on farm. More growers will purchase their own application equipment.

■ Where are we going to store all this corn?

■ It has the distinct possibility of chasing livestock production out of the U.S. We are staring at a huge train wreck.

■ Tight fertilizer supplies in ALL areas for ALL crops. Corn and beans are not all that we should think about. What about small grains and hay that are affected by all of the above?

As interest in biofuels continues to grow, the overall impact on specific areas of agriculture will continue to become more clear. Crop input dealers’ challenge will be how to respond to changes in customer needs while remaining flexible enough to continue to respond to an uncertain, evolving future.

 

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Monte Vista Location
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbial Seed Coating
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To Evaluate Economic Impact Of Soil Health Practices
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 2017
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Trending Articles
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Wilco
CropLife 100Valley Agronomics, Wilco-Winfield To Form New Agronomy Joint Venture
November 11, 2016
Valley Agronomics LLC, headquartered in Rupert, ID, is a joint venture between Valley Wide Cooperative and Winfield Solutions, LLC. Wilco-Winfield, Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute Issues Statement On The U.S. Elections
November 10, 2016
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn has issued the following statement on the results of the 2016 elections: “TFI Read More
Latest News
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More
AGCO Operator of the Year Tony Kornder
SprayersAGCO Names Tony Kornder Operator Of The Year
December 1, 2016
AGCO Corp. names Tony Kornder with Genesis Growing Solutions in Le Sueur, MN, the 11th annual Operator of the Year. Read More
Chris Henney OABA
ManagementOABA Industry Conference To Provide Outlook For Future …
November 29, 2016
The upcoming Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is packed with widely-respected speakers and industry professionals, sharing their expertise on a Read More
Corn
InsecticidesMajor Review Finds Neonic Poses Low Risk To Aquatic Inv…
November 28, 2016
A major new ecotoxicological review and risk assessment has been published in the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that registered crop Read More
EquipmentGSI Details New Grain Drying Efficiency System for Coop…
November 28, 2016
Grain elevators and ag co-ops are always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency to help improve profitability. For Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls …
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More