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 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For Ag Retail
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
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
Trending Articles
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little 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
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
Latest News
ManagementARA 2016 Report and Crop Mix for 2017
December 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting and the projected acreage mix for Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In …
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Ryan Bartlett
Crop InputsCompass Minerals Appoints Vice President, Innovation An…
December 8, 2016
Ryan Bartlett, Ph.D., has joined Compass Minerals as vice president, innovation and product development. Dr. Bartlett will be responsible for Read More
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
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