Joining The Movement

To say that ag retailers are anxiously awaiting the development of the biofuels movement is a huge understatement. Following what looks to be a down year in 2006 in overall input revenues, most CropLife® 100 retailers are positively positive about what biofuels adoption and growth will mean for their operations in 2007 and beyond.

“Ethanol expansion increasing corn acres will help us going forward,” says Scott Hier, director of agronomy for South Dakota Wheat Growers, Aberdeen, SD.

Based upon figures compiled by the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association, the nation’s 105 ethanol plants consumed more than 1.5 billion bushels of corn in 2005, approximately 15% of the total amount produced. Total production capacity of these plants is 5 billion gallons annually. If the number of new plants being built pushes this figure to near 8 million gallons in 2007 as expected, projections from USDA and independent analysts indicate that growers will

need to add 3.4 million to 4 million acres of corn to U.S. acreage totals to meet ethanol demand and still maintain the present corn utilization split (see graph on p. 26). At least one former USDA economist thinks this figure will need to be in the 9- to 10-million acre range. By the end of the decade, it is estimated that 30% of the U.S. corn harvest will be used to produce ethanol.

Getting Directly Involved

A few CropLife 100 retailers are taking a more direct approach when it comes to the push for ethanol. Several have opened their own ethanol facilities, and more are on the way. For example, CropLife 100 retailer Aurora Cooperative, Aurora, NE, has signed a letter of intent with Aventine Re­newable Energy Holdings, Inc., to build a new ethanol plant 1 mile west of the cooperative’s hometown. This agreement calls for Aurora Coop­erative to be the exclusive grain supplier for the plant and for a state-of-the-art grain handling facility to be built to fill this role.

For other CropLife 100 retailers, the expanded use of biofuels in the market is offering the opportunity to reduce their own energy and fossil fuel costs. As established in last month’s CropLife 100 story, 60% of the retailers polled in our 2006 survey indicated that higher fuel cost was the biggest challenge facing their profitability going into the 2007 growing season (see “Adding Fuel To The Fire, October 2006, CropLife). In a separate question on the survey, CropLife asked retailers if they — in light of uncertain fuel prices — were looking at biofuels as an alternative source of energy for their equipment. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, only 50% said they were considering the idea. In most cases, these biofuel early adopters tend to be the smaller- to mid-sized retailers in terms of sales (ranging from $10 million to $65 million) and not the larger retail organizations.

One CropLife 100 retailer that has actively embraced biofuels in its operation is Holyoke Cooperative Association, Holyoke, CO. According to Roger Gordon, agronomy manager for the retailer, Holyoke Cooperative started using an ethanol blend in some of its equipment earlier this year. The company also uses a 5% biodiesel blend (B5) in its pick-up trucks.

Of course, the biggest step in the biofuels direction for Holyoke Coop­era­tive, says Gordon, took place when the retailer began using a 20% biodiesel blend (B20) in its delivery trucks and off-road application equipment in the spring. “Like other retailers, we were really struggling with higher fuel prices,” he says. “After doing some heavy research looking at alternatives, we decided that B20 was the way the go with our equipment.”

At first, he adds, there was some difficulty adapting Holyoke Cooperative’s sprayers to B20 because the mix ended up plugging the existing fuel filters. However, once the company installed newer, more flexible fuel filters into its units, the sprayer fleet has run without incident. “Using B20 instead of regular diesel hasn’t really added any more acres to the per gallon operating time, but our maintenance guys have said that the B20 seems to clean out unwanted deposits in the fuel system,” says Gordon. “That’s added quite a bit of efficiency for our units. Even better, we are using a renewable, American grown product instead of sending our money overseas.”

Leave a Reply

CropLife 100 Stories
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Acquire Illinois River Energy Ethanol Plant
May 1, 2014
CHS has signed an agreement with Sinav Ltd. to acquire 100% of the company's stock, which includes Illinois River Energy, a 133-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant at Rochelle, IL. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More