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Articles from 1999 In October

Keep it straight

For safety during terrace farming or construction work, the newslope-degree indicator from R & B shows on-the-go tilt from side to sideand front to back on a single dial.

Backlit for night vision, the dial shows readings of 0 to 35 degree. Price: $60plus shipping. Contact R & B Inc., Dept. FIN, 4948 N.W. High Dr.,Riverside, MO 64151, 816/587-9814.

New from Farmfest and Dakota fest

Despite low commodity prices, farmers turned out to brave August heat andview the latest new products at two upper Midwest shows.

Portable crane

Tired of using a tractor loader for a crane? Try the new E-Z Lift 2000crane that mounts on a truck bumper. The crane will fit on the bumper of a3/4- or 1-ton pickup and, when not in use, fold up on the back. It also canbe mounted on a trailer.

Operated by a 25-ft., remote-controlled pendant, the crane will extend from6 to 10 ft. hydraulically and manually from 10 to 17 ft. It is availablewith a 1,000-lb., remote-controlled hoist, a collapsible basket and apallet fork. Price: $8,995. Contact Highline Mfg. Inc., Box 307, Vonda,Saskatchewan, Canada S0K 4N0, 800/665-2010.

Versatile farming system

A new transport system, designed for use on Caterpillar's VFS70 trackedundercarriage, will help you reduce field trips when hauling grain orspraying fields.

The heart of the system, from Icon Manufacturing, is the Quickattach Frame(Q-Frame). It bolts directly to the VFS70 and features a straight drawbarhitch for the Rowcrop Challenger or a welded clevis hitch for the 65 orlarger Challengers. The Q-Frame accepts Icon's 800- or 1,000-bu.-capacityGrain Transports or its 3,200-gal. sprayer tank. (The company is working ona fertilizer spreader and has plans to build a liquid manure applicator.) Ahydraulic-powered mount/dismount system on the Q-Frame makes removal orattachment a one-person,10-min. job, according to the company. You canstore the Grain Transport on its retractable steel legs, leaving the VFS70available for other jobs. List price for the Grain Transport and Q-Frame:$62,500, 800 bu.; $64,800, 1,000 bu. Contact Caterpillar Inc., Dept. FIN,100 N.E. Adams St., Peoria, IL 61629.

Medium-duty tillage

A new series of tillage equipment ideal for handling fall soybean ground orspring seedbeds is available from Wil-Rich. The Excel series features moredepth from front to back, up to 12 ft., with 35 in. between ranks. Thecultivator is designed with a deep 5-bar mainframe and a 5-bar wing frame,allowing high residue clearance. A variety of Wil-Rich shanks is availablefor seedbed preparation and chemical incorporation.

The cultivator also includes hydraulic castering gauge wheels in sizes 9.5Land 11L in 13-in. tires. A new 4-bar channel harrow may be attached to thecultivator and flipped up if not needed. The 27-ft. cultivator and harrowshown sell for about $18,000. Contact Wil-Rich, Dept. FIN, Box 1030,Wahpeton, ND 58074, 701/642-2621,

Universal bin sweep

Claimed to fit any diameter, center-delivery bin floor, the new In-BinSuper Sweep from Wheatheart can be moved from bin to bin, making it bothversatile and cost efficient.

The sweep kit contains 2_1/2-ft. sections that snap together, 16 ft. ofhydraulic hose, a 4_1/2-cu.-in. hydraulic motor and an automatic shutoffcontrol. Each section has11_1/2-in. flighting and, for transport, weighsonly 25 lbs. Price for a 24-ft.-dia. bin: $1,075. Contact Norwood Sales,Dept. FIN, 102 Sunflower Ave., Cooperstown, ND 58425, 800/466-0316.

Easy-viewing grain cart

Harvest should be easier with the new 8750 Grain Shuttle from Sunflower.With a 750-bu. capacity, the new grain cart features a rear-folding cornerauger that can be viewed from the tractor seat, allowing the operator tosee if the auger is locked in position. Because the auger is completelymounted outside the grain hopper, all service is performed from outside thegrain tank, meeting OSHA regulations for safety.

Sunflower also introduces its new 4411 Disc Ripper to work in wet fieldsand heavy residue. The model features a compound angled disc that handlesobstacles in the field while allowing good cleanout through the implement.The ripper is available in either solid front disc gangs for non-rockyconditions or individual C-flex mounted blades for rocky fields. Aself-leveling hitch allows the disc to remain level in or out of the field.Retail price: about $28,000. Contact Sun-flower Mfg. Co. Inc., Dept. FIN,Box 566, Beloit, KS 67420, 800/748-8481,

Front-fold sprayer

Custom Ag Products (C.A.P.) showed off a prototype of its new Redball model655 front-fold sprayer - a unit that offers a transport width of 13 ft. 10in. and a transport height of 11 ft. for traveling ease.

The 60- or 90-ft., hydraulic front-fold boom weighs about 3,400 lbs. andworks with your existing saddle tanks. Price: $15,000 to $18,000. ContactC.A.P. Inc., Dept. FIN, 140 30th Ave. S.E., Benson, MN 56215, toll-free877/332-2551.

Grain trailer with hopper sensibility

Jet Company featured its new, steel or aluminum, rounded-hopper trailerthat is designed to keep grain flowing evenly and efficiently whiledumping.

The company removed any 90 degree corners inside the box and added continuous,35 degree rounded slopes - that resemble a grain chute - to provide fast, evenflow and better cleanout. To make pulling easier, trailer ends are slopedaerodynamically. Two suspension types are offered: a three-leaf spring oran air ride. Trailers are painted with a color- or clear-coat Teflonfinish. They are available in 22- to 42-ft. lengths that hold 630 to 1,227bu. of corn, respectively. Ground clearance is 21 in. Price range: $22,500to $25,500, depending on suspension. Contact Jet Co., Dept. FIN, 1303 N.13th St., Humboldt, IA 50548, 800/332-3117.

Chisel through rocks

A new 4-row chisel plow is now available from Morris to handle tough fieldconditions. Called the Magnum III, the new plow features excellent depthcontrol, trash clearance and easy transport, according to the manufacturer.O verall depth is 81/4 ft., with 32 in. between rows and 36-in. shankspacing. It comes in widths from 25 to 50 ft.

The plow's hydraulic system maintains consistent depth control whileisolating the implement's hydraulics from the tractor. Morris's tripfeature allows each shank to individually trip over a rock and go back intothe ground without disrupting the plow. The 50-ft. chisel sells for$35,000. Contact Morris Mfg., Dept. FIN, 4400 Burdick Expwy. E., Minot, ND58701, 701/852-4174.

Split-axle weighing

A small-platform Weigh-Tronix scale from Central City Scale lets you weighlarge trucks. The scale accumulates weight data from each axle as a truckis weighed and then totals the weight. The 915 model also includes aprinter that prints out weight and time of day. The scale is ideal forfarms needing an uncertified weight on livestock and grain. The portableplatform complete with scale and printer sells for $4,295. Contact CentralCity Scale Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 197, Central City, NE 68826, 308/946-3591.

Hay reconditioner

For farmers without a mower conditioner, the Canadian company Ag ShieldManufacturing offers a hay reconditioner to provide the best-quality hay,regardless of the weather.

The ReCon 200 features aggressive, 7-ft. steel rollers (the company has aprototype with 9-ft. rollers) with four adjustable settings. It travels upto 16 mph, depending on crop conditions, while it inverts and fluffswindrows to allow for better airflow and drydown. Swaths can be set left orright on dry ground or can be fluffed and set back in the same spot. Price:$8,825. Contact Ag Shield Mfg., Dept. FIN, 14201 111 St. S.E., Sawyer, ND58781, 800/853-7630.

Ultrawide spraying

The new Ultimate Supersprayer from Summers Manufacturing will cover anycrop from 60 to 90 ft. in one pass. The sprayer's self-leveling boom isexpandable in 3-ft. 4-in. increments and includes a windscreen option. Itsheight can be adjusted from 1_1/2 to 5_1/2 ft. All boom functions arehandled from one hydraulic remote. The sprayer retails for $23,500, whichincludes many standard Summers features, including a 1,000-gal. tank andadjustable wheel spacing of 6 ft. 8 in. to 11 ft. for standard tires.Contact Summers Mfg. Co. Inc., Dept. FIN, Maddock, ND 58348, 701/438-2855.

Hog Jeopardy

Answer: $460 million.

Question: What is the price of the country's second largest hog operation?

Smithfield Foods recently offered $460 million for the purchase of MurphyFamily Farms of Rose Hill, NC. The offer includes 10 million shares ofSmithfield Foods common stock and the assumption of $170 million term debtand other liabilities. Murphy Family Farms markets production from about325,000 sows located throughout the U.S.

A large pork packer, Smithfield Foods is the largest U.S. producer of hogswith about 350,000 sows owned by its two subsidiaries, Carroll's Foods andBrown's of Carolina. Smithfield reports that it intends to keep MurphyFamily Farms as a separate unit like Carroll's and Brown's.

Announcement of the pending purchase created waves, however. With Murphyhogs under its wing, Smithfield will account for about 10 percent of the country's hog production. The American Farm Bureau Federation has called for aninvestigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that antitrustlaws are not being broken.

In addition, the Iowa Attorney General's office is checking into a possibleviolation of a state law prohibiting packers from owning livestock in thestate.

Bulk delivery

Touting the same features as other top-of-the-line bulk containers on themarket, the Plus Box bulk seed corn delivery system from NC+ is availablefor next year's planting season.

The boxes, which will hold 2,500 lbs. (50 traditional bags) of seed corn,have a built-in pallet for easy maneuvering with a forklift. A center-flowgravity design lets you empty seed quickly, and a side-mounted sliding doorlets you adjust grain flow safely. The reusable cartons stack four highwhen full or nest flat when empty. Supplies are limited. Contact NC+Hybrids, Dept. FIN, 3820 N. 56th St., Lincoln, NE 68504, 402/467-2517.

Optimum cutting

Knife sections that have been heat treated and hardened throughout areavailable from S.I. Distri-buting. Unlike other knife sections that havebeen treated only on the cutting edge, these sections have been totallyhardened to eliminate bending, accord-ing to the company.

The sections are available in regular (12 serrations/in. or coarse (7serrations/in.) for John Deere, New Holland, Case IH and AGCO combines.

Contact S.I. Distri-buting, 03221 Barber-Werner Rd., St. Marys, OH 45885,800/368-7773.

Swingin' auger

Fill bins up to 48 ft. in diameter or as high as nine rings with Feterl'snew 10- x 86-in. Swing Drive Auger.

The swing hopper on the unit has an internal drive system that places therotating drive shaft inside the grain chamber. Gearboxes are mountedexternally away from grain flow for ventilation and serviceability. Just10_1/2 in. off the ground, the company's Ground Hugger Hopper lays flat tothe ground at any elevation, is available with a 60-in. hopper opening andcomes standard with the unit. Contact Feterl Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 398,Salem, SD 57058, 800/367-8660,

Buying in a new market

The products you buy and sell are changing. Here's how to keep up.

Purdue agricultural economist and futurist Dr. Mike Boehlje stands in agray flannel suit before more than 100 of the nation's best farmers at thisyear's Top Crop Farmers' Workshop in Lafayette, IN.

"Every once in a while, I like to raise questions to raise the hair on theback of your neck," Boehlje says. "Let me do it right now.

"Many Midwestern farmers have not had to make a lot of strategic choices asto what product they are going to produce," he says. Because of pastgovernment programs or normal crop rotation, most Midwest corn and soybeangrowers have been able to project for five years the crops they will grow,the number of acres they will plant and where they will plant them.

"Wheat farmers are even less strategic than Midwestern farmers - (theychoose) wheat or not wheat," Boehlje adds.

That's changing.

When products differentiate. Boehlje says agriculture is moving from acommodity industry to a differentiated product industry. And farmers willbe forced to make more strategic choices to compete.

One choice will be what type of product to sell. Boehlje sees three futuretypes: 1) commodities such as No. 2 yellow corn; 2) enhanced componentcommodities, such as high-oil corn, which starts out as a differentiatedproduct but eventually gets reduced to a commodity; and 3) specificattribute raw materials - for example, those products that are going to beused by the pharmaceutical and medical professions.

The first type will remain a relatively open market. The second will startout as a relatively closed market, such as contract production, and overtime may become more open with multiple opportunities to contract.

The third type will be a closed system, because what is needed is somethingso specific that the end user needs to have much more control over theprocess.

"The only way to get into it is to be a preferred qualified supplier. Not aproducer. Not a qualified supplier. But a preferred qualified supplier,"Boehlje says.

So how do you get there?

Build your soft assets. "What got you to where you are today, I wouldargue, is that you were a very good plant manager," Boehlje says. In otherwords, you managed such factors as cost, productivity, efficiency andoperations.

In the future, as we move into a differentiated product market, farmerswill still need those same plant manager skills. But they also will need tothink like a CEO and manage such things as people, money, relationships andstrategy. Boehlje calls those areas the"soft assets."

"It's the stuff that doesn't show up on your balance sheet," he says. "It'show smart you are, how adaptive you are, how responsive you are, how youhandle difficult situations, your knowledge, your information, therelationships you have, your ideas."

You also will have to be a first-mover to get on top of the newdifferentiated products faster than anybody else. That will requirealigning yourself with those suppliers that can provide access toinnovation.

"You don't want to get tied with someone who can only offer high-oil corn,because the premiums are going to disappear eventually," Boehlje says. "Andif they don't have another product following up for you to jump on, you arewith the wrong partner."

Bypass product decay. As a final warning, Boehlje says that value in adifferentiated product decays over time. "What does that mean? That meansthat if you are going to get into this kind of agriculture, you're going tohave to think about two treadmills."

The first is the technology treadmill, in which farmers must adapt to newtechnology, either early on or shortly after, to survive. Boehlje claimsthat the technology will change as fast as every three years as new ideascome along. "So you are in this constant process of having to ask yourself,What's the new thing, when should I put on a GPS, shouldn't we be into thevarying types of genetic manipulators and modified organism production,shouldn't we be . . .?"

The second treadmill is the differentiated product treadmill. Growers mustconstantly evaluate new products coming to market and choose the best onesto grow, or face substantial losses.

New Web sites

Breeders' World: complete online livestock breeders' directory

AlliedSignal: focus on sulfur fertilization, research library

BASF: animal nutrition, technical support, product developments

Nutrient knowledge

Researchers are finding naturally occuring elements that may reap benefitsin crops.

Scientists and researchers at two USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS)are examining elements of nature that may soon help you increase yields -without having to pay a price.

Gluing carbon. In our July/August 1999 issue, page 42, we told you aboutcarbon, the hidden "crop." Now researchers at the ARS in Beltsville, MD,are learning how to increase the levels of this soil- and plant-buildingcommodity.

Soil scientist Sara F. Wright discovered a protein molecule named glomalinthat is produced by fungi that grows on most plant roots. The fungi feed oncarbon taken in by plant roots. The more the fungi eat, the more glomalinthey produce.

Glomalin acts like glue to improve soil stability by "gluing" soil intoclumps. Good soil clumping allows air and water to pass through the soilmore easily, boosts carbon levels and recycles nutrients to the plants.

Wright explains that, to obtain the most beneficial recycling of carbon andother naturally occurring nutrients, farmers should keep the ground coveredwith crops during the growing season for as long as possible and use atillage practice that offers minimal ground disturbance.

Moving right along. Plant physiologist, Daniel R. Bush, at the ARS inUrbana, IL, understands what nutrients plants need for growth. Now he'strying to figure out exactly how it allocates these nutrients to differenttissues of the plant.

"During photosynthesis, the main product the plant makes is sucrose," Bushsays. "Photosynthesis transforms light energy into a biochemical form thatis used to transform atmospheric CO2 into sucrose."

It's how the plant regulates where it allocates sucrose between competingtissue that intrigues Bush. "We have recently discovered a regulatorysystem that seems to control the sucrose transport protein and, ultimately,sugar availability," he explains.

The sucrose produced in photosynthesis comprises 90 percent of what is eventuallydistributed to the seed; 10 percent is amino acids used for proteins. "If we canlearn how the plant regulates the allocation of sucrose and amino acids, wecan learn how to manipulate the process," Bush says. "For instance we couldredirect the sugar to put more carbon into harvested tissue to increaseyields, or manipulate the amino acid content to add nutritional value tothe crop."