Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm | Tags: biomass, Corn, ethanol, farm
Some of the most used arguments against ethanol are being refuted by the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. In a report released on June 21, the USDA released new numbers for the net energy gain from converting corn into ethanol. The report titled “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn Ethanol Industry” found that for every British Thermal Unit (BTU) required to make ethanol, 2.3 Btu’s of energy were produced. That is up from 1.76 Btu’s in the 2004 study. A large part of the increase was the fact that farmers are producing more corn with fewer inputs such as land and energy. The 2008 study does not take into account the newest improvements in ethanol production that will further raise the energy balance in producing ethanol.
This good news follows a report out of Perdue University in April that found that greenhouse gas emissions attributable to corn ethanol production, including indirect land use change, were 10 percent lower than they estimated last year.
As corn and sugar cane continue their dominance in production of ethanol, perhaps the most exciting news in ethanol production is in the conversion of biomass to ethanol. Plans by the POET group of ethanol producers to open their Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsberg, Iowa continue to move forward. This fall 70,000 tons of corn cobs will be gathered in preparation for the opening of the plant in 2012. The new equipment needed for the gathering of this ethanol source has produced new jobs and new opportunities for rural America. It’s good to see those jobs staying here in the heartland.
Filed under: Farm, harvest, home addition, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, summer, weather | Tags: farm, harvest, hot, Minnesota, rain, screen porch, Soybeans, weather, Weed control
Into every life a little rain must fall. That old saying could be changed into a lot of rain for some folks this past week in areas south of us. When you get 7 to 11 inches of rainfall here in the corn belt you have a problem. We’re just not ready for monsoons here in the center of the continent. Luckily we’ve missed those massive rains here, but we’ve had our share.
We have been getting some really hot, humid days to the point it is difficult to work outside. Today is forecast to be one of those. Usually this kind of humidity is followed by a storm and one is forecast for tonight. We’ll see how much rain we get.
Yesterday was a wonderful day with temps in the lower 80′s and reasonable humidity. I spent most of the day working on the screen porch, but some time was spent baling hay in the afternoon. Today I’ll spend some time in the morning on the porch then I’ll switch to jobs that have air conditioning for the hottest part of the day.
I have 70 acres of soybeans I want to cultivate before they get too big. This is part of the last field I planted and they are just right for a quick trip with the cultivator. That should discourage the last weeds just enough so they will not be a problem. When soybeans are planted in 30 inch rows they take a while to shade out the center of the row. Once they do it’s hard for weeds to get enough sun to grow.
Summer field work is drawing to a close. We’ll still be scouting fields for problems, the most common one being aphids in the soybeans. Road ditch hay is mostly cut, but we are not done, we’ve been dodging those rain events. Those with oats and wheat are watching their fields to see when they can be harvested. County fair season is upon us and school will start in less than a month. It’s time for us to get the combine (harvester) out and get it ready for fall. Still plenty to do here in the slow part of the year.
Filed under: Ag promotion, Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm, Minnesota | Tags: biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Minnesota
Ethanol industry pumps $2.5 billion into state’s economy
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s ethanol industry generated more than $2.5 billion in economic activity in 2009 and supported more than 6,800 jobs according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Ethanol production in the state increased to 862 million gallons in 2009 from 550 million gallons five years ago. The MDA report estimates the industry is on tap to increase production to 1.1 billion gallons this year with a projected economic impact of $3.1 billion and approximately 1,500 additional jobs.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson says the rebound is good news for the state’s 21 ethanol plants, half of which remain farmer-owned cooperatives.
“The ethanol industry’s downturn in 2009 was felt on farms and in our rural communities,” said Hugoson. “This year is looking much better in terms of increased production, economic impact and employment.”
In 2009, Minnesota processed 308 million bushels of corn into ethanol or about 29 percent of the state’s total corn crop. This year the industry is projected to process 400 million bushels of corn or about one-third of the state’s crop.
Minnesota Corn Growers Association President DeVonna Zeug says the ethanol industry is an important economic driver for the state.
“The ethanol industry is adding value to every bushel of corn we grow right here in our state. When we’re able to keep more of the value of what we produce – rather than give it up to another state or another country – it’s a huge advantage for Minnesota,” said Zeug.
MDA’s 2010 Minnesota Ethanol Industry Report can be viewed online at www.mda.state.mn.us/ethanol.
Filed under: family, garden, Hawaii, school, summer, travel | Tags: children, farm, garden, school, summer
We’ve been blessed with our youngest daughters presence for a few weeks this summer, but that is coming to an end. School children in Hawaii will soon report to class and the teachers need to be ready. With that in mind our baby is heading back to Honolulu.
Youngest has been spending her summer mowing lawn, picking garden produce and catching up with friends and family. Her sister and brother will arrive tonight for their last goodbyes, and a trip to see the grandparents is planned. Then it will be off to the islands until Christmas.
Both excitement and sorrow are part of living and working so far from home. She really misses her kids and is looking forward to see how much they have changed in the last months. The distance from family is a challenge. Thank God for Skype and cell phones.
Many changes come in our life and the departure of children is a bitter sweet one. We are lucky to have happy, employed children. We know we cannot keep them forever. They have flown from the nest and now are making it on their own. That’s a fact of life.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, frost, Minnesota, organic, rain, weather, weather wisdom | Tags: Corn, farm, frost, hot, Minnesota, organic, rain, weather
My dad says that corn is safe from frost 45 days after tasseling . With almost every field of corn in full tassel now we should be able to avoid frost damage to this years crop. This year has seen crop development ahead of normal. That is good for our corn fields on all counts.
My neighbors organic corn is still a ways from tasseling. I’m not really sure why, it got planted about the same time as all of the others around here. It’s either a varietal difference or a fertility problem. I’ll be watching to see how that corn does.
We’ve had an abundance of rainfall this year. That has made too much moisture a limiting factor in some places. Some of our low areas held water for a long time and there will be no crop harvested there. Conversely our high sandy ground looks really good. It is possible we could get a good crop from those areas that are prone to drying out this year.
It almost seems that we need to get a bit of adverse weather some time in the year just to push corn to do its best. Heat especially is needed. We’ve had several days now of hot humid weather and the corn is really growing. Tassels and ears seem to appear overnight.
Wet weather is really good for pollination. We’ve had some small showers and heavy dews that should help get the pollen to stick. Starting tonight we are supposed to get a few days of rainy weather. Rain now should really make for well filled ears. Then we will need about an inch of rain a week to make optimum kernel size. With wet soil, we could get by with a bit less. The fields are looking good.
It seems as if every road ditch in the area is either just mowed or soon will be. It’s road hay season. Wild grasses and legumes that grow in road ditches are harvested and stored away for feeding livestock in the winter. When the rains are good there can be quite a bit of hay there.
Most highway road ditches are cut by the farmers who farm the fields next to them. Sometimes another farmer will get permission to cut the ditch. Many township road ditches are too narrow to cut, but state and county roads have wider ditches and quite a bit of hay can be harvested from them. Sometimes two crops can be harvested if the weather is right.
July is the accepted start of road hay season. Usually field work starts to slow down, the weather turns dryer and the wild birds have hatched their broods. It is also the time that many unwanted plants start to bloom. Thistles don’t make very good feed, and their seeds blowing all over the place are not wanted in in farm fields.
Road hay is also a source of extra cash for those with the machinery. Cut hay is either baled into 30 to 45 pound bales that are easily handled by hand or to larger bales that need machinery to lift them. The hay is stored for use or sale later.
A local weekly hay auction is the place to be if you need hay for livestock or have hay for sale. Some hay is sold privately, but the auction is where prices are set for the area. Both hay and hay buyers can come from some distance if there is not an auction in their area.
Haying season is also usually the hottest time of the year. It’s a time to sweat each day as you work. This old body is not so up to all of the hard work as it used to be, but I’m still up to it.
Filed under: Biofuels, ethanol, Fishing, science | Tags: agriculture, car, cars, dead zone, ethanol, farm, pollution
Many are trying to blame ethanol and other agricultural practices for the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. They obviously have not checked up on what is happening in the gulf.
Last year the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was estimated to be about 3,000 square miles. Last year, the U.S. produced 10.8 billion gallons of ethanol. In 2001, the dead zone was 8,006 square miles, and ethanol production in the U.S. was 1.8 billion gallons. How do critics of ethanol explain how the dead zone shrunk while ethanol production increased by more than 6 times in the U.S.
If agriculture is changing the size of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, it is not a bad change. In fact I think maybe folks should be thanking agriculture for helping to clean up the gulf.
The BP oil spill is making a change on life in the Gulf of Mexico, one that will cause problems for those who live there for a very long time. Perhaps we need to look at who is really doing something to clean up the world. I look to agriculture rather than big oil.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, Farm Bureau, food, Minnesota | Tags: children, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, Minnesota
We’re done. Cottonwood Counties Breakfast on the Farm fed 245 workers and guests this morning. For our area I’d call that a success. Now we have to spend some time recording what happened and planning for the event to happen again in two years.
Here’s a few pictures of our day.
It was a good morning on the farm. The weather was not too hot. It was never too crowded. We had plenty of room to visit. Maybe next time you can join us on the farm.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, Minnesota | Tags: farm, Farm Bureau, Food, Minnesota
The time is drawing close for Cottonwood Counties Breakfast on the Farm at the Roy and Amy Minion farm. I hope everything is ready and we have enough food. If I was concerned about details before, you should see me now.
We hope to see you there starting at 8 a.m. Take County Road 2 north from Bingham Lake 9 miles. We’ll be waiting for you.
Filed under: birds, Farm, Minnesota, Wildlife | Tags: birds, farm, Minnesota, wildlife
Such a terrible name for such a little bird, the Tyrant Flycatchers. The Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus Tyrannus) came to my attention this summer with its insistence that my south facing windows were the enemy. They are daily attacking the upper part of two of my windows to the point I would think the bird would knock itself out.
This is not unusual activity for a bird known to be fearless in attacking other birds near its nest. They will attack anything they see as a threat. I will see them hovering just out of the window setting up the attack. Then they will repeatedly attack, beak first into the glass.
Since the Kingbird is an eater of flying insects, I want them around. The fact that they will also pluck a few berries from my bushes as they fly by is not a problem. They can have the berries if they will just leave the windows alone. There they go again, peck, peck, peck, they are intent on getting those windows to leave.
Oh well, some neighbors are just not satisfied until you leave.