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Fluid Journal : Late Spring 2012
13 The Fluid Journal Late Spring 2012 get as many as 400 people to attend. They always asked farmers to fill out a small questionnaire telling, among other things, how many acres of corn they farmed. Most of them indicated about 100 acres. But by the late 1980s, the average acres grew rapidly. Most farmers had 500 to 1,000 acres. The reason? Farming equipment improved so that the farmer could cultivate more acres with less labor. The result was that meetings began to get smaller but total farmed acres represented at the meetings increased. Today, 16 farmers can produce five times more grain on the same acres as those 400 attending meetings in the early ‘60s. Transitioning As we entered the 1990s, consolidation and restructuring affected many organizations. The NFSA was morphing into what is now the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). The Fluid Fertilizer Foundation (FFF) had functioned as a part of the NFSA since 1982 but was spun out as a separate not-for-profit research granting institution. My dad became active in its restructuring and ensuring the research and educational focus promoted best practices in using fluid fertilizers. From the FFF’s research findings flows information such as rates per acre, placement, formation, timing, and other beneficial practices that can improve crop yields. The list is long and important to farmers who want to raise profitable crops. In 1992, my dad also made a trip to visit Ned van Buren who had retired in 1986 as editor of the NFSA’s publication SOLUTIONS magazine and moved to North Carolina. He told Ned he had a new publication in mind he wanted to call the Fluid Journal and asked if he would return partially out of retirement to edit it. Dad explained he wanted the magazine to be in full color, with a circulation to all fertilizer dealers and manufacturers in the United States. The objective was to publish research results sponsored by the FFF of the best scientists in the country. Ned agreed, the idea was accepted by the FFF and we were off and running. Today, the Fluid Journal is on the worldwide web and in 2011 recorded more than 80,000 page views by agricultural dealers, manufacturers, farmers, and researchers in over 72 countries. It is regarded as one of the most highly respected sources of agricultural research available today. In its own way, the magazine has replaced the farmer meetings my dad held as a way of improving agricultural techniques. Salutes And kudos also need to go to our allies in the miracle: fluid fertilizer manufacturers, chemical companies, and equipment manufacturers who have been a part of the great American agricultural revolution. Fertilizer mfg. After we had proved that our reactions could produce ammonium phosphate, we soon discovered that our costs were too high if we were to compete with other dry fertilizers. A dry fertilizer having an analysis of 16 percent N and 48 percent P (16-48-0) sold for the same price as our 8-24-0. Our liquid grade was just half the analysis at the same price! The free enterprise system reared its ugly head. “How do we compete?,” we asked ourselves. We did overcome the problem and our businesses prospered and here’s how: • We developed a process that would use less expensive phosphoric acid instead of the expensive food grade phosphoric acid. Figure 1. The miracle impact fluids have played in five decades of corn yield increase.
Early Spring 2012