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David Versus Goliath

Touch the Soil News #570 For most of agricultural history, the growth of large industrial farms was paralleled by the growth in tractor size – both of which had larger and larger price tags. Large tractors today can carry price tags of $300,000 plus. In stark contrast to equipment trends of ever higher technology and price, a new Alabama start-up called CleBer, LLC was formed to go the reverse. Founders Horace Clemens and Saul Berenthal, neither of which have manufacturing experience, have engineered the Oggun tractor. A tractor that could (due to cost and access issues) revolutionize the food chain. A food chain that is increasingly conscious about local, sustainable…

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Mainstream Farming Facing Chronic Crises

Touch the Soil News #168 Recently (8/27/2015), Bloomberg Business writer, Alan Bjerga, did a story on FarmLink, which has a subsidiary called “MachineryLink.” The idea is that many farmers plant and harvest at different times – creating an opportunity to share equipment. MachineryLink is in the business of facilitating farmers sharing equipment – helping offset low income levels. While the idea has merit, it will fall short in addressing the recent announcement by the USDA that 2015 net farm income will be over 50 percent less than in 2013. Large pieces of equipment, like combines, are often used only 20 to 30 days a year. New combines can range in…

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When it Comes to Food – The Three Big Ominous Shadows Humanity Faces (Part 1 of 3)

Touch the Soil News # 161 An old wisdom says big future events cast big shadows in the present. This is not trying to predict the future, but simply looking at the shadows showing up on the paths humanity has elected to travel upon. If we don’t like the shadows, humanity can choose a different path if it so chooses. One of the difficulties that arise when detecting big shadows is what to do about them. Since our readership is made up of folks with diverse backgrounds, experience and knowledge, we’ll just leave answering that question to our readers. As we present the three dilemmas, we could not assess which…

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Agricultural Technology – The Dollars Are In Philosophical Alignment

Blog 79-1

The topic of agricultural technology is almost guaranteed to be prefaced with the statement that it is all about feeding the burgeoning population. In the world today, however, it is easy to confuse the primary goal of making money with practices that are best for people and the planet. One thing we do know is that a tsunami of capital is looking to capitalize on a world of growing food insecurity.  Agricultural technology is one of those venues which have attracted the attention of big dollars. Recently, Western Growers Association (WGA) and SVG Partners (a venture capital firm) announced a plan to identify and speed up agricultural technology. WGA members…

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