Agriculture Industry News
Over the years we have seen a continued rise in the average farm size in North America, yet in many parts of the developing world there are still many small farmers trying to eke out a living on quite minimal acreage. Recently we had the opportunity to visit a coffee cooperative in Guatemala to observe how they are handling the challenges of global markets in the face of small individual land holdings.
The La Voz Cooperative is located in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. All together 150 families are part of this small 33 year old cooperative that produces organic coffee for export. On average each family has only 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of land from which to make a living. They farm Arabica coffee organically at an altitude of over 5,000 feet with 60 per cent shade using trees like banana and avocado to provide the shade cover. They also harvest the bananas for personal use and try to sell the avocados outside the area to earn some additional cash.
In a good year the cooperative, which maintains a basic processing facility, is able to process and sell 5 container loads of export quality coffee beans. They have just 3 customers, one in California, one in Alaska and one in Japan that buy 95% of the coffee they produce. The remaining 5% is kept to be sold locally, especially to visitors to the cooperative. The cooperative is an interesting example of how small growers with minimal land holdings in a developing economy are able to access an export market for their specialty crop.
Of course there is no doubt that the quality of the coffee also helps. Coffee grown at over 5,000 feet is referred to as “very high altitude” coffee and it is known that as altitude increases the coffee’s flavour profile becomes more pronounced and distinctive. Add in the impact from the region’s volcanic soil and we can attest that the La Voz coffee definitely delivers a lovely coffee drinking experience.
When we say Dryer Master is the “premiere online moisture measurement and moisture control technology,” we mean it. From the beginning, we at Dryer Master have steadily improved and enhanced our technology to keep it on the leading edge. We’re proud to say we’ve now been serving customers for three decades—that’s right, this year, we’re turning the big 3-0.
We’re not shy about our age—in fact, we’re more than happy to talk about where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown since 1983. We began by controlling moisture in the drying process for corn, a notoriously difficult process to control. By helping our customers dry more product closer to target, we were able to help them experience real savings in dollars and quality. With this success, we expanded the application of our moisture measurement and control technology to other processes including manufactured food and feeds. This proved to be an important step for our business, and our capabilities—and it paid off.
As our focus has grown over the years we have continued with a tradition of innovation. And as we have learned more about the drying process, and as technology has evolved, our systems have evolved as well. We now have control and monitoring systems that can be integrated into dryer control panels or plant-wide systems or accessed via the web.
We’re currently working on the next generation of Dryer Masters, and you can be assured that we will be building in all of the latest technology to provide the kind of access and quality of control that have made Dryer Master the trusted name in drying control for 30 years. It’s safe to say we have an incredible future ahead of us, and we thank you, our customers, for making our 30th birthday a memorable and exciting one.
At Dryer Master, our products function to monitor grain in the agricultural industry. Most of the time, we see the crops after they’ve been harvested and are in drying containers, but we still are aware of the entire process it takes to get a grain from ground to dinner table. Regardless of whether a farmer is growing corn or coffee beans, each plant starts as a seed that needs to be nourished.
Farmers are aware of a delicate chemical balance needed in the soil to ensure the health of crops. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are essential to plant health, and since they’re free-flowing in the air, there’s no need to worry. However, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are equally as important, but they usually need to be added to existing soil through fertilizer.
Without the balance, a plant does not get its essential amino acids, nutrients, and energy. Each mineral has an important role in crop growth:
- Nitrogen aides in processing carbohydrates, which builds new tissue, and also spurs protein creation.
- Phosphorus assists in producing oxygen and sugar.
- Potassium helps with moisture absorption and food metabolizing.
This supply of concentrated chemicals provides plants with the necessities to quickly grow, which is essential for the agricultural industry, but all fertilizers aren’t created equally.
A quick check of the label typically shows three numbers on a package (such as 20-17-10) to display the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mineral balance. The amount of these nutrients needed varies between crops, and it’s up to the farmer to test the pH balance and figure out what the plant needs. Too much fertilizer can be a bad thing—especially with Nitrogen. If there’s too much, the plant will be heavy and have difficulty growing upright, but if there’s too little, the plant will grow weak and be unable to fully absorb water.
Most manmade fertilizers comes as pellets, powders, or liquids, and as long as the soil is enriched and healthy, the end result will be up to par. At Dryer Master, we think it’s important to know every aspect of the industry, and if you want to learn more about us and our products, head over to our website.