The great thing about being out and about at farm events is the stuff you hear.
At the Pioneer Hi-Bred International ribbon cutting for its corn and soybean research center expansion in Volga, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that his trip to China was an eye-opener.
On a 400-mile drive through China’s major agricultural province he and his group only saw four tractors. Everything else was being done by hand.
And corn that looked as if had been spilled asphalt by a passing truck was actually a farmer drying his corn by hand. In China, some small farmers spread their crop on the asphalt, let the sun dry it, and then sweep it back up.
Based on what he saw, Gov. Daugaard says he expects China will be buying soybeans from the U.S. – and particularly from South Dakota – well into the future.
After all the formal talks were over, some important field work went on in the back of the room. Larry Osborne – who used be with South Dakota State University and is now a Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist – checked corn plants brought in from the Aberdeen area for Gosses’ Wilt. The assay test positive. Osborne said he was surprised to see it so early in the season. You might want to check your fields.
After the ceremony was over, I also talked to Paul Casper, president of the South Dakota Soybean Association, and one of the farmers who in the 1990s came up with the idea of starting a soybean processing plant in South Dakota. The farmer-owned plant, called South Dakota Soybean Processors, has been running about 15 years now. It's located across the road from the Pioneer research facility. Casper, from Lake Preston, is no longer on the SDSBP board of directors, but he’s still an idea man. He now working on making jet fuel from pond algae -- a project he started in his shop.