Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back on the Farm

I went on the NAMA Ag Tour on Tuesday to visit west central Missouri and visit some agricultural operations. We first visited a hog farm that has been in existence since 1830, yes 1830! Holy cow (I mean, pig!) that's a long time to still be making a living for several generations, especially in pork production. They were super nice producers who really did take the time to share how they really care about their animals and want the best for them. They were a farrow to finish operation so they had their gestation barn, farrowing barn, nursery and finishing floor. Definitely different than some operations I had been to in that they still did things with minimal technology other than in their farrowing barn. They still fed by hand, ground their own feed and used boars instead of entirely artificial insemination. Here are a few pics of the cuties...

We then traveled to the Pence Airport where we saw first hand how agricultural aerial application works. It was pretty sweet! I don't know if a lot of growers around home use aerial application but they said about 60-80,000 acres in that area are usually covered with aerial application. These pilots have to go through some extensive training in order to be a certified pilot plus know their stuff when it comes to drift, what herbicide, insecticide and fungicide is which and where it can be used and when it can't be used. They also have to be cognizant of fields, obstacles, wildlife habitat and waterways. Not only all that, BUT these planes are not cheap to have or maintain. One of the Air Tractors costs roughly $1 million to get, and they only make a dozen a year in the entire United States. Pretty intense stuff, but I really thought it was cool to see it first-hand. Here are a few photos from that excursion...
We then went to our last stop, the Ray-Carroll Coop. This isn't just your run-of-the-mill county coop, these guys are HUGE! They do everything from seed selection to agronomic needs for your field to taking the grain you harvested and paying you for it (and they also have an ethanol plant right next door!)

In light of the recent Russell, Kan., grain elevator collapse this elevator is state of the art to ensure things like that don't happen. They make sure their grain is dried in a 4,000 bushel grain dryer before it even enters the elevator. They also have a 1,000,000 (1 million) bushel capacity ground bin, so their total capacity is around 4 million bushels, which is a LOT!

Just look at the size of this ground bin...

We then toured the ethanol plant, which is really  sweet smelling! :) A lot of people don't like the smell of fermentation, but it just reminds me of back home in Atchison.

They make fuel-grade ethanol and the by-product of that, DDGs, which are used for many livestock feeds. Here is our guide showing the two.
I have to say it was a long day, yet, I get so pumped to learn something new while in the field! It really, really makes you appreciate where you grew up and where your food, clothes and fuel come from. Go Ag!

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