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

Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100California Ag Retailer Steps Up To Feed Families Affected By Drought
September 16, 2016
GAR Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) in Reedley, CA, is challenging the Central Valley to help raise enough money and provide 525,000 meals Read More
Wilbur-Ellis Sedgwick Grand opening 2015
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Sedgwick Location
September 9, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
CropLife 100GROWMARK To Build New Fertilizer Facility In Ayr, Ontario
August 31, 2016
GROWMARK announced plans Wednesday to build a new state-of-the-art fertilizer facility in Ayr, Ontario. It will be managed by FS Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100CHS Completes $10 Million Renovation Of St. Paul Agronomy Fertilizer Terminal
August 29, 2016
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has completed a $10 million Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More
ManagementMerger Mania
September 16, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss this week’s mega-ag mergers of Bayer and Monsanto and Potash and Agrium. Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Ends Up Being A Bargain For Bayer
September 16, 2016
History will say Bayer got a bargain in its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, writes David Nicklaus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100California Ag Retailer Steps Up To Feed Families Affect…
September 16, 2016
GAR Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) in Reedley, CA, is challenging the Central Valley to help raise enough money and provide 525,000 meals Read More
Crop InputsBayer, Monsanto CEOs Discuss Merger
September 15, 2016
Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto CEO, discuss why they decided to merge their companies. Read More