MU's AgEd department shines Nationally

It’s gratifying to have someone give favorable notice to your efforts; doubly so when the plaudits come from your peers, people in the same line of work.

MU’s Agricultural Education Department was recently named a distinguished program in a nationwide survey conducted under the auspices of the American Association for Agricultural Education Research. Out of 82 colleges and universities with similar programs, MU ranked fourth, coming in behind the University of Florida, Texas A&M and Ohio State, respectively. In the study, MU received 35 top 10 votes; eight of the survey respondents ranked Mizzou as the No. 1 program in the nation.

“We’re proud of our high ranking,” said Dr. Rob Terry, professor and chairman of Ag Ed. “Our faculty made the top 15 in the study, and we were the only school with three faculty members listed on top.”

Faculty were cited as a distinguishing feature of each Ag Ed program surveyed. Other characteristics considered in the MU's Ag Ed department ranked high in a surveystudy included research, graduate programs, range and scope of programs, communications and teacher education.

“But a big share of the credit goes to our students,” Terry continued. “We have some fantastic Ag Ed students; many of them come from outstanding high school agriculture classes.”

The praise goes both ways. “I’m glad I chose Mizzou Ag Ed,” said Kelin Kruse, now a senior majoring in Ag Ed, with a teaching emphasis. Kruse grew up on a farm near Fairview, Mo., where the family raises broilers, beef cattle and row crops, graduating from East Newton High School in 2006. “The Ag Ed faculty provides us [students] with a good foundation to promote and educate others about agriculture, both in and out of the classroom.

“I plan to teach high school agriculture and serve as FFA advisor somewhere in Missouri,” Kruse continued. “My goal is to eventually teach in southwest Missouri close to where I grew up.”

While a big part of the task of the Ag Ed faculty is to prepare agricultural educators, they also focus on enhancing communication and leadership skills for future professionals in other ag-related careers.

“We offer a teaching option and a leadership option as areas of interest for Ag Ed students,” said Rob Terry. “Two dozen of our students are student-teaching this spring. In addition, we have several students who are pursuing careers other than teaching. We try to serve the needs of all students by planning and conducting educational experiences that promote learning, whatever profession the student plans to enter after graduation.”

And, some students are considering both.

“After college, I plan to pursue a career teaching secondary agriculture in a Missouri high school,” said Megan Dohrman, currently an Ag Ed junior. “And I’m considering a career in the ag industry at some point, but I would like to teach for a good portion of time before that.”

Dohrman grew up on a diversified crop and livestock family farm near Sweet Springs, Mo., and attended Sweet Springs High School. Like many other Ag Ed students, she came to Mizzou with strong leadership credentials on her resume.

“In elementary school, I was active in the Pettis County 4-H,” she said. “While in FFA in high school, I was treasurer, vice president and president of our chapter. I was FFA Area VI vice president and in 2007-2008 I was state FFA vice president from Area VI.”

Katie King, who was raised on the family’s cattle and row crop farm in northeast Missouri and is now an Ag Ed senior, started in 4-H at the tender age of 8. As a freshman at Adair County R-I high school at Novinger, Mo., she helped charter the FFA chapter there and went on to serve as reporter, vice president and president.

Rob Terry commended the Ag Ed student body for its help in building the high-ranking program.

“All Ag Ed faculty are first and foremost teachers,” he said. “But each of us takes part in student organizations and we all serve as academic advisors for both undergraduates and graduate students.

“Another distinguishing characteristic of our program is the amount of outreach and service we do,” he went on. “We spend a lot of time working with high school agriculture teachers and their students across Missouri. We also serve as liaison for FFA and for state agriculture teacher meetings. And we are well supported, both here on the campus and across the state.”

Terry added that the Missouri Ag Ed Department is going to have to learn to do more with less in these tough economic times.

“But the school is building on its success and reaching out in innovative ways,” he concluded. “The role of teachers and leaders as advocates for our food, fiber and natural resource systems has never been more important. Through practice and research, we are exploring innovative ways to get the positive message about American agriculture out to all people.”

Robert Torres earns Kemper Fellowship

Missouri’s Robert M. Torres received the 2009 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Torres, Ph.D professor and director of graduate studies in the Agricultural Education Department of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), is the third of 3 Ag Ed professors to earn the award: Rob Terry, Ag Ed Department chairman, received the fellowship in 2008, and Bryan Garton, Ph.D professor and CAFNR associate dean in 2004.

Torres came to MU in 2002 and has been dubbed a “teachers’ teacher” by many of his colleagues. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University, and his doctorate from Ohio State.

The Kemper Fellowships were established in 1991 by a $500,000 gift from the late William T. Kemper. The trust fund is managed by Commerce Bank, and includes a $10,000 award.

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History in a cornfield Steamboat Arabia

Stewart Morris farms along the Missouri River near Levasey, Mo., just east of Kansas City. When David Hawley contacted him in the 1980s about a steamboat called Mars lying under his cornfield, “I thought it was a bunch of bull,” Morris says. He figured Hawley was searching for oil.

But Stewart’s respect grew in 1987 when David discovered the steamboat Arabia under another farmer’s cornfield nearby. Since 1856, when the Arabia launched from St. Louis, the Missouri River had shifted, eventually burying the 171-foot side paddle wheeler a half-mile from the river’s current course and 45 feet beneath the earth.  

It took the Hawley crew more than a year and a million dollars to excavate the Arabia, but she eventually yielded over 200 tons of cargo. You can see more than 100,000 of those treasures, including hatpins, silk and perfume, and Indian trade guns and beads, in the Arabia Steamboat Museum near the river in Kansas City, Mo.

“I take all of my out of town guests to the museum, and they’re flabbergasted,” Stewart said. “It’s just unbelievable that all that stuff was underground.” The venue attracts about 100,000 visitors a year.

Read more: History in a cornfield Steamboat Arabia

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It’s not your grandpa’s diesel engine

Manufacturers gear up for EPA’s Tier 4 emission rules

Late in 1972, Bob George (then a University of Missouri ag engineer) bought two brand-new 1973 model Plymouth sedans. George put one vehicle up on blocks and drove the wheels off the other one. Then, he took the first car out of mothballs and drove it several thousand miles.

George wasn’t collecting Plymouth automobiles. But, beginning with 1974 models, all U.S. car makers were mandated to add of emission-control technology, and he wanted a stockpile of cars without this gadgetry.
In the next two or three years, several farmers may be borrowing pages from Bob George’s book. Before 2015, all non-road diesel engines (including those in farm and construction equipment) are subject to rigid emission-control standards—the so-called Tier 4 standards ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency—and some producers likely will be trading up to new machines before these standards take effect.

“Many farm equipment buyers probably will be purchasing machines ahead of the Tier 4 emission-control standards,”
said Darrin Drollinger, of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “Over-the-road diesel buyers did that a year or two before the requirement for emission reductions in highway equipment took effect.”

“I look for 2011 to be a big sales year for new machinery, as farmers buy ahead of Deere’s planned start with Tier 4 engines in 2012,” agreed Ron Andresen, sales manager for Sydenstricker Implement Company, a John Deere dealership at Palmyra, Mo. “By contrast, 2012 may be a bust where new equipment is concerned, but we could see a boom in late-model, low-hours used equipment.”

To start closer to the beginning, in the 1990s EPA outlined a “four-tier” program to gradually reduce exhaust emissions from non-road diesel engines. Tier 1 standards for new non-road diesels were to be phased in from 1996 to 2000. In 1998, EPA signed the final rule, introducing Tier 1 emission standards for diesel equipment under 50 hp. and increasingly more stringent Tier 2 and Tier 3 standards for all non-road equipment, with phase-in scheduled from 2000 to 2008.

Tier 1 through Tier 3 standards are met by advanced engine design, with few or no exhaust gas after-treatment devices (i.e., oxidation catalysts). In May, 2004, EPA issued the final rule introducing Tier 4 standards, which are to be phased in between now and 2015. Tier 4 standards require that emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxide and nitrous dioxide (NOx) be further reduced by about 90 percent. Such emission reductions can only be achieved with the use of control technologies—including exhaust gas after-treatments similar to those required by the 2007-2010 standards for over-the-road diesel engines.

Incidentally, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that EPA must regulate greenhouse gases (even without Congressional action) under the federal Clean Air Act, if the agency finds that these regulations are necessary to environmental and human health. EPA estimated that by 2010, NOx emissions would be reduced by a million tons per year (the equivalent of taking 35 million passenger cars off the road), and that by 2030, some 12,000 premature deaths would be prevented annually.

At this point, the EPA rules only apply to new equipment. Existing diesel-powered machinery is “grandfathered” in, with no requirement to retrofit emission-control technology onto older machines.

“However, it’s still unclear whether retrofit will be required in some areas, such as California,” said AEM’s Drollinger.
And, the jury is still out on how much, if any, fuel efficiency and power output may be affected by the EPA-mandated emission-control technology.

“When you add components to existing technology, there are always some changes,” continued Drollinger. “But engine manufacturers are working to make sure there isn’t a fuel efficiency or power penalty with these emission-control changes.”

“Tractor engine manufacturers have been able to learn a lot from the experience of over-the-road engine makers,” added Andresen.

Whether fuel efficiency and power output take a hit with the ordered modifications, there’s no doubt that machines that meet Tier 4 standards will cost more.

“Depending on the type of machine and its use, these standards will add to the cost of building engines,” said Drollinger.

At the time rules were published, EPA estimated a 1 to 3 per¬cent boost in the purchase price of typical new non-road diesel equipment. But as Drollinger said, much of the increase in cost will depend on the type of machine. For example, a 175-hp bulldozer that now costs about $230,000 might cost an additional $6,500 to add the emission-control equipment and to re-design the bulldozer to accommodate it.

And, there are other consequences that EPA might not have fully anticipated. It’s a bit like the doctor who prescribes a pill to counter the effects of the last pill he prescribed. For example, at the Tier 1 through 3 stages, sulfur content in non-road diesel fuel was not regulated. However, the 3,000 parts-per-million of sulfur in an average gallon of No. 2 diesel fuel plays havoc with Tier 4 emission-control features, such as catalytic converters and NOx absorbers. So, as part of the Tier 4 mandate, EPA ordered that sulfur content be reduced to 15 ppm for non-road fuel, effective next June.

Producing ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel adds 7 to 8 cents to a gallon of No. 2 diesel. But there’s another shoe to drop. The sulfur content in average fuel acts as a lubricant for an engine’s upper cylinders. By itself, ultra-low sulfur fuel does not provide the lubricity an engine requires.

As MFA Oil director of product development and lubricant sales Don North explained it, “The steps refineries take to comply with EPA emission requirements increase the cost of production, thereby raising the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. The retail price on low sulfur diesel and ultra low sulfur diesel has been the same, although most market areas have not offered low sulfur off-road diesel since 2006.

“When ultra low sulfur diesel fuel was first introduced, its lubricity was questioned. To address the issue, the federal government mandated that all ultra low sulfur diesel fuel be injected with an additive at the terminal, ensuring it has the same lubricity value as low sulfur diesel. ASTM specifications were also revised to include a maximum High Frequency Reciprocating Rig score of 520. The HFRR test measures the lubricity property of a fuel, which is vitally important to fuel injection systems. The higher the score, the more severe a fuel is on the system.”
Some engine manufacturers have recommended an even lower HFRR number of 460 or less, meaning additional lubricity additives are necessary.

According to Leon Schumacher, University of Missouri agricultural engineer, commercial lubricants are available on the market and most fuel distributors will add them at the request of the fuel buyer. Biodiesel provides the necessary lubricity, too; No. 2 diesel blended with just 2 percent biodiesel provides ample lubrication.
So, whether you hold onto the equipment you now own, trade up to a later-model rig, or opt to buy a new one with all the emission-control bells and whistles, at some point, you will be driving a Tier 4 machine. No equipment lasts forever and EPA’s rules appear to be here to stay.

Even Bob George’s second Plymouth finally bit the dust.

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In defense of chewers of cud

Make mine medium-rare

The car in front of us at the coffee shop drive-through window had a bumper sticker that said “Meat is not green.” Well, thank goodness. I’m no cook, but I’m sure the main cook at our house balks at serving green meat. Now, I’m not totally blind to the metaphorical play of the bumper sticker set: From worries about cholesterol to energy use to global warming, the cow is on the front lines in the battle about what we should eat. Yet, beef is a main ingredient to my definition of the good life, and it’s time to speak up for cud-chewers.

A 2006 Food and Agriculture Organization report said that cows cause more greenhouse warming than cars. Methane, when it comes to global warming, is 23 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. Cows emit methane when they ruminate. Which means almost all my textbooks in high school history were wrong. They seemed to think that it was generally a bad thing that Buffalo Bill Cody and his buddies shot millions of buffaloes for the hides, wasting the meat and driving buffalo close to extinction. Come to find out, Buffalo Bill was last century’s Al Gore, and probably the only reason the climate has lasted as long as it has.

Who knew that brown cow was such an environmental villain? We once had a steer bloat in our feedlot. The vet stuck a scalpel in the calf’s side causing an odoriferous eruption of what I now know were dangerous greenhouse gases. And, somewhere on a low-lying Polynesian island, a French tourist was swept away by the sudden sea rise caused by our veterinarian’s scalpel. Not to worry, I’ve got a solution. Like essayist Matt Labash, I eat as much beef as I can, thereby stemming global warming at the source.

There is an environmental solution. Just feed cows nothing but grass, and the problem goes away. At least that’s what dozens of “foodie” Web sites say. According to a study done by Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, and work done by Nathan Pelletier of Dallhousie University in Canada, cows fattened on corn actually emit less methane than do their more environmentally correct bovine brethren. Feedlot-finished cattle are easier on the climate because they reach slaughter weight more quickly, the higher feed value of corn decreases the emission of methane, and less land is used in the production of each pound of beef.

Replacing the meat in my diet with the next best source of protein, beans, doesn’t solve the problem. I mean, methane is methane is methane. I will then be causing more environmental damage than a Hummer. Not to mention the marital problems sure to follow. We are doomed, simply doomed.

How exactly do we know how much methane a cow produces? A quick Internet search answered that question. There it was, a picture of a confused looking Holstein with about a hundred-pound L.P. bottle on her back and an apparatus to capture afflatus installed—the answer to my marital problems and heating bill. Just recapture the methane, and recycle it in my furnace.

The recent release of the Climate Research Unit’s emails has added a certain spice to this whole debate about our addiction to SUVs and sirloins. It seems that science is not always a non-political search for truth and some of our leading experts on this most important subject are humorless twits. Separate stories revealed that much of the basis for historical reconstruction of temperatures depends on tree rings from only 12 trees in Siberia. The authors of the emails claim they are mistreated, misunderstood, plagued by the misinformed, and taken out of context. “Hide the decline” hardly seems to need much context, however.

If you are 30, there has been no global warming in your adult life. More importantly, at least in the short term, even the most alarmist global warming models show little benefit from the Cap and Trade Bill in front of Congress, or by extension, the rules that the EPA is ready to write limiting our use of carbon. We’re going to raise the price of almost everything for no benefit that those God-like computer models can find.

The goal of the kind of people recently partying down in Copenhagen is to reduce the emission of carbon by 80 percent by the year 2050. That would demand a carbon use roughly the same as our grandparents used in 1910. One thing is certain: people in China, India, and Westboro, Mo., are not going to accept a future that cold and that dark. Not to mention a future without prime rib.

Much of the world is unsuitable for the raising of grains, vegetables or arugula. Without the cow, we wouldn’t have T-bone steaks, John Wayne or rodeos. She placidly uses what we cannot, turning vast stretches of the world into valuable protein and energy. From the savannas of Africa to the plains of Australia to the American West, from the hills of Virginia to the hollows of Southern Missouri, the cow takes indigestible cellulose and turns it into what’s for dinner. The cow is the perfect example of sustainability, providing nutrition and enjoyment from those most renewable of resources, grass and corn. Not only that, but beef is a necessity, not unlike medical care or clothing. You can celebrate your anniversary with a nice pasta, your birthday with vegetarian lasagna, your graduation with tofu on a stick, but for me special occasions have always demanded a steak, and always will.

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