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Slideshow: Group from Kazakhstan travels across the heart of ag country to learn more about commercial farming.

Willie Vogt

August 23, 2017

15 Slides

The business of agriculture in the United States is of interest around the world. Countries that do business here, and those trying to build their own agricultural systems, want to know how things work in this country. That was the focus of a recent tour undertaken by the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association, traveling across the Midwest. And stops along this tour would have been a dream for many farmers, too.

Highlights of the three-day whirlwind tour included stops at John Deere Harvester Works in Moline, Ill.; a visit to Kinze, Williamsburg, Iowa to look at technology; a stop at DuPont Pioneer, Johnston, Iowa, to learn about seed technology; a stop in Hope, Minn., to see a high-tech grain handling facility; and a visit to the Syngenta Seedcare Institute near Stanton, Minn. Consider it a high-tech data dump about a range of technologies U.S. farmers use to achieve the yields that help feed the world.

Along for the trip was Kazakhstan Ambassador to the United States Erzhan Kazykhanov and the executive secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Yermek Kosherbayev. Farm Progress caught up with the group at the Crystal Valley Co-op facility in Hope, Minn. It's a high-tech grain facility with 1.1 million bushels of storage and facilities to handle 110-car-unit trains.

Sarah Frese, executive director, U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association, noted that "land in Kazakhstan is similar to this part of the Midwest, and they're looking for ways to improve their system."

Grain facility questions

One of the first questions Roger Price, GSI North America sales and service director, had to answer was simple — How many tons is 1.1 million bushels? "I have to do the math on that," he smiled, pulling out his smartphone calculator to answer the question.

Around the world, grain output is measured in metric tons, and 1.1 million bushels equates to about 30,000 metric tons.

During the delegation's visit, two loads of grain came in — which was well-timed to demonstrate the facility. Farmers who deliver to the cooperative had cards in their trucks that provide radio identification of their farms to start the delivery process. Once a sample is taken and tested, the grain can move into storage.

The visitors  saw it all, including a trip underground to see how grain moves from unloading into the appropriate bin. The entire facility is computer-monitored and -controlled, as Ryan Bauer explained to visitors.

For example, in the shed next to the unloading area, an employee can see all of the facility. That same screen and control is available to other parts of the facility, Bauer explained. Bauer is a project manager with CEEC Inc., the contractor that built the cooperative facility.

In their short visit, the delegation got the opportunity to better understand how a large commercial grain facility is set up.

One member pointed to the flexing walls of the tower dryer, asking if something was wrong. Scott McKernan, GSI global director of business development, explained that the screen walls flex when the dryer is not in use, since they're not structural and must allow for airflow.

From capacities to understanding facility design, the delegation asked a range of questions at the cooperative to get a better understanding of how grain flows into the facility.

Team that knowledge from the Crystal Valley Cooperative facility with what they learned at the other companies along the way, and the Kazakh group will have plenty to ponder as they look at ways to continue upgrading their country's agricultural system.

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Willie Vogt has been covering agricultural technology for more than 40 years, with most of that time as editorial director for Farm Progress. He is passionate about helping farmers better understand how technology can help them succeed, when appropriately applied.

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