Fluence Forum- Minnesota's Ag Economy goes beyond just the food on your table

The innovation and other ag-related products produced on MN farms

Blois Olson
August 07, 2020 - 12:57 pm

WCCO is celebrating "Ag is Everywhere Week" and talking to farmers and those involved in the Ag business across Minnesota.  Last Sunday, WCCO's Blois Olson presented part one of our Fluence Forums with a roudtable discussion on Ag in the state sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers.

RELATED: Fluence Forum on Ag Part One.

This Sunday, in part two, they covered several topics including fuels and other ag-related products.   

Segment one was a conversation with U of M College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Dean Brian Buhr.  CFANS is instrumental in innovation in agriculture, things we're growing, researching and developing, that make agriculture more sustainable. 

Buhr tells Blois, "We have heavy investment in technology.  I think that might surprise some people, that we're not just working on crops and food, per se."

Segment two focused on fuels and bio-diesel  production.  WCCO spoke to Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean’s senior director of product and commercialization, Randall Doyle of Al-Corn, and Jon Hunter of the American Lung Association of Minnesota.

Youngerberg talked about how far bio-diesel has come, and the work that is done to make sure it's available. "Innovation is continuing in the industry.  A lot has transpired since it began.  Total production in the U.S. was around 250,000 gallons in 2005 and we've continuted to grow.  As others have looked to reduce dependence on petroleum, improve air quality and those kinds of things, we're somewhere approaching 2.8 billion gallons in the market."

Segment three looked at what other products are being generated on the farm.  Our guests gave us a deep perspective into the science of farming.  Dana Allen-Tully who is a family-based dairy farmer in Olmstead County,  Marc Hillmyer, a chemist at the U of M and director of the Center for Sustainable Polymers, and Don Weiss of the University of Minnesota joined Blois on the round table. 

Dairy Farmer Allen-Tully talked about the research they're actually doing on a working farm. "I think it's fascinating, the amount of innovation that farmers can come up with," said Allen-Tully.  As we rally around an area where we maybe didn't know as much yesterday as we want to know tomorrow.  One of the things that really appeals to me is being able to do on-farm research.  The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is putting money into innovation grants, that farmers have developed projects that they feel will benefit others outside of their farms.  We've put over $700,000 into that program, with 37 original projects.  It's looking at all of things that we can have, cleaner groundwater, better soil health, better fertility, and make our impact into a more sustainable rural environment."

You can listen to the entire forum at the top of the page, and click here to see our other Fluence Forums.  


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