The future of growth in the agricultural sector will continue to grow in the future, according to various speakers taking part in Tuesday's Ag Education Day at the Wild Rose Casino and Resort. Sponsored by Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporations and numerous corporate partners, a large crowd of area farmers, businessmen and agriculture students turned out to listen and learn from eight speakers during the day.
The day opened with an upbeat assessment of what trends will drive agriculture in the future, presented by David Beurle, founder and director of Future iQ Partners. Beurle is no stranger to the area ,as he appeared in Emmetsburg as part of the community's STORM?effort a few years earlier.
Beurle pointed out that through the current expansion of oil extraction from shale and through fracking processes, the United States has the opportunity to become a major exporter of oil-based products in a very short time.
"By the end of this decade, this country could be totally energy independent,"?Beurle stated. "No country in the world has the ability to translate opportunity into success and ability like the United States. You'd have to be a brave man to bet against the United States."
Beurle noted that for agriculture, changing trends are tied to many factors, such as climate change, population growth and technology. "As farmers and producers for the world, the key will be to be more adaptable and ready to change."
Mark Morrissey, President and CEO of United Services Foundation, noted that the changing dynamics of fertilizer had an obvious effect on agriculture, but factors such as population growth, energy, social-political concerns, economics technology and innovation and other wildcards, or unpredictable factors, also figure into agriculture's future.
While there are ongoing concerns over the use of nitrogen based fertilizers and the environment, Morrissey pointed out that farmers apply their nitrogen products four weeks out of every 52 - two weeks in the Spring and two weeks in the Fall.
"That is highly effective use of the product,"?Morrissey said, "and it represents a 95 percent increase in efficiency of nitrogen use. That's significant because 40 percent of the world's food production is dependant on fertilizer."
During the afternoon session, Dr. John Lawrence, Associate Dean and Director of Agriculture and Resources Extension from Iowa State University and Emily Heaton, Assistant Professor of Agronomy from Iowa State University, echoed the messages of the morning session, highlighting the need for Iowa's farmers to farm smarter and more efficiently.
Beth Conley, Manager of Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC, talked about the added value that wind energy would bring to the agricultural sector, and how Clean Line's Rock Island Clean Line Transmission Line Project will play a role in helping the country reduce its dependance on foreign oil.
Daron Wilson, General Manager of POET Biorefining of Emmetsburg, noted that Emmetsburg's facility was the first in the POET system to be designed with BPX technology, a method developed to eliminate the cooking process from the fermentation portion of the ethanol process. Wilson also noted that POET/DSM's Project Liberty Cellulosic Ethanol project is under construction and progressing.
Also speaking during the program was Bruce Trautman, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.