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
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 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification 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
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
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
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More