Friday, March 9, 2012

The Ag Hot Five No. 1


CNH Global N.V. has produced a prototype tractor which runs on natural gas. This "Steyr Profi 4135 Natural Power" has a Fiat turbocharged compressed natural gas engine which is 3.0 litre, four-cylinder, and 100kW/136 hp rated. The gas storage is divided into nine tanks totalling 300 liters. This tractor is to be on the market in 2015, and is especially encouraged for farms having their own biogas systems.


Just recently completed, this was the first export grain terminal to be built in the U.S. in more than 25 years. Located on the Columbia River, it is serviced by both the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads, plus barges and trucks. It has the capacity to unload rail cars at the rate of 3,000 MT/hour. Having a storage capacity of 4.7 million bushels in 36 concrete silos, it handles corn, soybeans, wheat, soybean meal, and DDGs. Export destinations are Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam in Asia; Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, Peru, and Colombia in Latin America. In addition to the $200 million project, a $32 million South Dakota project near Kimball, capable of storing 3.2 million bushels of grain for export by rail to West Coast ports will be completed later this year.


Photo credit: Colorado State
Pigweed, which can get 2-4 feet tall

It didn't last long, did it? Ever since Roundup, or glyphosate, was approved for general use in 1994, weeds have been evolving to resist it. There are now more than 20 types of Roundup resistant weeds, in 24 states, which have developed over the past 15 years. Even though seed companies are working on the next generation of herbicide tolerant crops, experts believe that this development may put us on the downward slope of industrial Ag efficiency. Increased expense, labor, herbicides, and a return to old methods required to manage escapee weeds could mean a gradual reversal of the ever larger fields and equipment being used to produce today's monoculture crops. Perhaps the grain farming efficiency of scale pinnacle point has now passed.


I recently discovered this canned natural food Indian Cuisine product line, Jyoti, produced out of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, at my favorite local organic grocery store. It was started in 1979 by Jyoti Gupta who is a registered dietitian, as a mail order operation. I'm a huge saag fan, and this Delhi Saag is superb. I've had it plain, and I've tried it with lamb added to it. This is quality "convenience" food at a reasonable price. The Jyoti Indian Cuisine company is growing and its website urges consumers to request the product at their favorite grocery store if not found there. Try it, request it, or order it online!


We headed for the Denver Zoo midweek and I took this photo of a Przewalski horse. This is the only surviving wild horse subspecies, and it roamed the border between China and Mongolia. It was discovered in the late 19th century by a Russian explorer named Przewalski. Currently, there are about 1,500 of these horses left, and most are in zoos. The FAO began reintroducing them into their native Mongolian habitat in the 1980's. Its coloring is like that of a Siamese cat.

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  1. Kay,

    The picture of the glyphosate resistant Amaranth (pigweed) speaks volumes about modern agriculture. The Amaranths are very nutritious, rich in calcium, as tender as spinach and much better tasting. We harvest them from our cornfield and sell them at market. Some of the best restaurants in Portland serve these "weeds." In fact, they make a great addition to a summer saag. We need more fine vegetables such as amaranth in our diets.

    It is ironic that many pharmacies now sell herbicides just down the aisle from the vitamin supplements. People buy their costly omega 3 supplements and then pick up the weed killer to get rid of purslane, which is a free source of omega 3 fatty acids. They will buy calcium supplements of marginal value and kill off their tasty amaranths.

    My 2¢ for a lost cause. I am very glad you are still keeping the site alive.

    Anthony Boutard
    Ayers Creek Farm

  2. Anthony,
    Great perspective that you have and a good reminder that weeds aren't really weeds and the bees and butterflies sure don't think so, do they? Yes, so many ironies in our modern lives. Thanks for reminding me of purslane, too. Forgot to plant it last year and want to make sure it gets into the garden this year.