Ag Education Day brings 'latest' to area
By Dave Smith
Agriculture and economic development are nearly synonymous terms in northern Iowa, their fortunes intertwined. To foster success on both fronts, being educated on the latest technology and trends is crucial.
Ag Education Day, organized by the Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation, brings together farmers, financial professionals, Ag business leaders, Coop and elevator personnel and others who are interested in biofuels and renewable energy for a day of sharing with industry leaders, innovators and even state agricultural officials.
This year's event will be 9 a.m-3 p.m., March 10 in Emmetsburg at the Wild Rose Casino. This will be the fourth Ag Education Day held by the Corporation. The first event was held in 2007 and now draws about 100 attendees who participate in sessions covering a variety of topics.
“Part of our mission is to educate,” said Maureen Elbert, Executive Director of Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corp. “Ag Education Day is a great opportunity for the Ag industry to learn some of the latest technologies in pyrolysis and biochar processes, investments in renewable energies and strategies to stimulate economic growth. We have a wide array of speakers that are very knowledgeable in the bio fuels and emerging energy technology industry. Other speakers will discuss topics such as agricultural drainage and water quality and pork exports.”
The agenda features a wide array of speakers including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey speaking about agriculture and biofuels in today's economy; David Beurle, managing director of Innovative Leadership Australia Pty Ltd., addressing the world oil peak; Prof. David A. Laird, University of Iowa Agronomy Dept. and the Environmental Sciences program speaking on biochar as a soil amendment; Dean Lemke, Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on water drainage and soil conservation; Dennis Banasiak, Ph.D., president of Avello Bioenergy speaking on Avello Bioenergy Prolysis: Concept, Process and Products; Jim Sturdevant, director of POET's Project Liberty detailing the project; and Mark Kingland, co-owner of Energy Solutions-OTB talking about new and emerging energy technologies.
“Agriculture plays a key role in economic development efforts in Iowa. I'm excited to be able to visit with participants about the importance of agriculture to our state's economy and also take questions and get their feedback on things we can do at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to support their efforts to grow our state's economy,” Northey said.
This will be the third Ag Day for Sturdevant. He spoke during a session in the second event and has been back ever since.
“It's just a wonderful opportunity to speak directly with community leaders, farmers and business people from the area who have, area and continue to be so integral in our project,” he said. “We have great partnerships in the area and look to strengthen them as we get closer to construction.”
Project LIBERTY is POET's first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant. The facility is slated to begin
operations in Emmetsburg in early 2012 and will produce 25 million gallons of ethanol per year from corncobs, leaves and husks.
Beurle believes the future of rural communities is firmly in the hands of the people who live in them. He started Innovative Leadership Australia to bring people who choose to make these areas their homes the tools and skills they need. And he is not a stranger to the rural life: he was raised on a farm and has worked in and with rural communities his entire life.
Buerle's experience is broad ranging from working with farmers and Aboriginal communities to developing international trade relations between Australian farmers and markets in Egypt, China, India and Europe.
He provides leadership training for thousands and works with numerous communities throughout North America and Australia helping them reinvent and revitalize themselves.
Kingland co-founded Energy Solutions-OTB in 2010 with Doug Litwiller. OTB stands for “outside the box,” which describes the energy-related consulting services the company provides to its customers. Some of the services Kingland's company provides include energy audits, feasibility studies for energy efficiency improvements and alternative (renewable) energy projects, energy sales tax exemption studies and project management. They also put together customized energy education and management programs.
Kingland is another presenter who is coming back for another Ag Day, having previously addressed a session as a project manager for Alliant Energy.
Banasiak's organization produces renewable feedstocks for energy, soil, material and chemical applications. He will talk about Avello's bioenergy pyrolysis, a process involving high heat and pressure, such as is found in biofuel creation, and the products the firm makes from the process.
Biochar, a product created by pyrolysis, is the topic Laird will present. More specifically he will talk about the use of the charcoal-like substance as an improvement to soil similar to how it has been a benefit to farmers in the Amazon rainforests for centuries.
Lemke is another return speaker who lend his expertise as a member of the Iowa Department or Agriculture and Land Stewardship to the subject of drainage and soil conservation.
Registration for Ag Education Day includes all sessions and lunch. Registration is $20 per person until Feb. 28 and $25 after that date. Student registration is $15.
All registrations should be sent along with payment to:
Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation
106 South Dodge Street Suite 210, Algona, Iowa 50511.
For more information contact:
Maureen Elbert, Executive Director
Kossuth/Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation
106 S. Dodge St., Suite 210
Algona, Iowa 50511
Ph: (515) 295-7979 Fax: (515) 295-8873
www.kossuth-edc.com / www.paloaltoiowa.com