Agtech is Useless if We Cannot Engage Farmers

Agtech is useless if we cannot engage farmers. That seems pretty obvious – a product without a customer is of little value, and including customer input into the design and development process is best practice in every industry. But the question of how farmers and the agtech community of entrepreneurs, investors, and accelerators can work together to build great products is much harder to answer.

Why is farmer engagement hard?

We’re all busy, but farmers have it especially tough. On top of relentless workloads, farmers are constantly managing uncertainty. From weather to disease to trade policy, they are subject to variables outside their control. So how can we expect them to also spend time helping eager (but often naive) entrepreneurs and innovators?

At the same time, agtech entrepreneurs are often up against the rural-urban divide. Though an entrepreneur might want to get input from a farmer or set up a trial to get feedback and refine the solution, she might not be able to. Especially for agtech entrepreneurs- most of whom are still on the coasts of the US and in cities around the world- who didn’t grow up on farms and lack networks into the ag communities, even calling a farmer for a 30 minute chat can be a challenge.

Is agtech making it worse?

Improving the engagement model between agtech and agriculture is a critical challenge that, if solved, will benefit both communities. The folks on the agtech side of the equation have been trying, and will continue to try, to solve the problem because it is critical to their businesses. It doesn’t take very long for an agtech company to realize that they need to engage with experts and users in the agriculture industry. Whether for feedback, expertise, trials, or as customers, involving farmers is a must.


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Looking Forward to IPSA in Palm Springs!

We’re headed West! The annual IPSA Conference will be held on January 7 & 8 and we’d love to see you there!

Indian Wells is right outside of Palm Springs, CA and is going to be a fantastic place to be in January to celebrate 30 years of seed sorting, spiral separators and sunshine.



Our president, Steve DeJong, will be at booth #34 for this event. We’ll be showcasing some new AgTech and tools that will change your bottom line for 2019. Swing by, say hi, and set your year up for a great ROI.

ASA Policy Priorities for 2019

Topping the list for 2019 is pushing the Administration to resolve its tariff war with China, including rescinding its Section 301 duties if China agrees to lift its 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans.  When and if this happens, the process of rebuilding the U.S. market in China could take years. So, ASA is also pressing to open Free Trade Agreement negotiations with other countries that have potential to import more soy and livestock products. In addition to the European Union, Great Britain and Japan, prospects include Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Another initiative to increase U.S. competitiveness is to double funding for the FMD and MAP export promotion programs.  Funding projects that upgrade the inland waterway system infrastructure is also high on ASA’s list. Finally, ASA remains focused on extending the biodiesel tax credit, both retroactively for 2018 and forward to 2023.  Each of these priorities would help restore U.S. competitiveness and farmer profitability in 2019 and future years.

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US Farmers Store Record Soybean Crop



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — American farmers still working to get out their remaining soybeans after a weather-plagued harvest season are struggling to figure out what to do with a record crop now their traditionally dominant export market is largely closed.

Usually by this point in the year, 100-car trains filled with North Dakota soybeans would be moving to ports on the West Coast destined for China. But this year is different, after China all but stopped buying U.S. soybeans in response to President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs . Fearful of economic failure, farmers are frantically trying to determine how to store a potentially 1 billion-bushel surplus until it can be sold at a decent price.

Farmers have been mostly patient with Trump and his plans to realign trade deals to improve U.S. interests, but the loss of markets is hitting their bank accounts hard.

“As I’ve heard many people say, you can’t pay the bills with patriotism,” said Grant Kimberley, an Iowa farmer and the market development director for the Iowa Soybean Association. “You’ve got to have money and right now we as an industry are a little short on that because we’ve had a major hit in our number one market and it’s been reflected in a major drop in prices.”

North Dakota farmers who sell at the current cash price of around $7.20 a bushel do so at a loss given that the cost of production is about $8.50.

Trump has created a one-time $12 billion program to compensate for the loss in trade, and soybean farmers are to get the largest share of the money. But even with payments from that fund , which amount to about 82 cents a bushel this year, they still fall short of breaking even. Another 82 cents may be approved next year if a trade agreement isn’t reached, the USDA has said.

Farmers have been struggling for five years as the cost of land, fertilizer, chemicals and seed have remained high, but net income has fallen. Some who rent their land or have accumulated high debt could be forced out of farming by the crisis.

“Individually, we’ve got some problems out there,” said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University. “This squeeze will be enough to put a few farmers out of business.”

Farmers produced a record U.S. harvest of 4.6 billion bushels this year, but the USDA reports exports to China are down 94 percent from a year ago since Chinese companies were ordered to stop buying American soybeans and find other suppliers.

U.S. soybean farm organizations have cultivated other markets, including Egypt, Argentina and Iran, and boosted sales to the European Union and Mexico. But that doesn’t make up for the gap left by the loss of the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, more beans are going into storage than usual, and this could have an impact on the price of the 2019 crop.

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UV Sterilizers – What You Need to Know

Equipment Feature: UV Sterilizer

Is the UV Sterilizer the right product for your sorting process?

The UV Sterilizer treats the exterior of the seed with UV Light that eradicates the DNA of cells that cause bacteria, viruses and organism growth. This treatment rids the exterior of the seed of bacterial pathogens that maybe harmful for consumption such as salmonella, e-coli and listeria. The great thing about a UV Sterilizer is that it can maintain the integrity and viability of the original seed while removing these potentially harmful and unwanted items.

What does UV Sterilizer do best?

A UV Sterilizer can help clean and sterilize a variety of seeds and spices. Hemp and Peppercorn are two unique products that benefit from this simple and safe process.

18. UV Sterilizer – Hemp from Steve DeJong on Vimeo.

How does a UV Sterilizer work?

Your seed or spice expels from the hopper and is carried down a tray. The oscillating of the tray allows the seed to rotate and move, so the UV light can sterilize every side. As it does, it passes under under the UV lights for approximately 8 to 10 seconds.

The adjustability during processing from the flow of the hopper to the height of the UV lights is simple and allows for flexibility in your processing Once passed under the UV lights the purification process is complete and the seed is ready for any additional testing that maybe needed. If you want even more detail – check out this UV Sterilizer FAQ we published.

A UV Sterilizer typically works best when its used in combination with other sorting and cleaning equipment. A Rotary Separator is often used to sort, clean and remove debris from a commodity before the UV process. This allows the UV Sterilizer to take less load and only sterilize a higher quality cut.


We are looking forward to another great CSS 2018 hosted by ASTA.

ASTA’s CSS 2018 & Seed Expo is America’s largest seed industry conference. This year- we’re headed to Chi-town from December 3 – 6. We have a VERY exciting update, product features, and innovations in the seed industry to share with all of you!  If you’re coming to the expo, let us know. We’d love to meet you. Just send us a message on our contact page.

Meanwhile – check out the promo video.


Proving the Rotary

Our Rotary Separators performance has been proven over and over again. Our clients have great results with their soybean separation and they are seeing higher yields and less clean-out. This means more profit!

One of the issues we hear about with soybeans is the number of splits getting mixed in with the good seed. When adding in the soybeans to the Rotary, the round seed roll off the flight while the broken and deformed seed fall to the discharge chute. Problem solved! This is a gentle process which  protects the soybean seed from being damaged in processing.

Profile’s rotary technology allows you to reduce clean-out by 5%-20% as well, increasing operational efficiency and flexibility.

In-process adjustments to fine tune your sorting is a snap and what would have taken more than an hour of downtime and operator effort with other separators can now be done in just thirty seconds. Time & money; the Rotary Separator will save you both! How much? You can use our online calculator to find out!


Our Rotary Separator provides the most flexibility and fine-tuning in seed separation allowing you to adjust the variable separation speed to your specific seed properties. Seed treaters, conditioners and seed cleaning facilities can now manage all separation demands. The rotary provides process repeatability and uniformity for precise seed classification that exceeds industry requirements.

Our Rotary Separator’s come in a 1 core, 2 cores or 4 cores enclosed units. The capacity could be easily figured and also easy to add capacity later if needed.


The Advantages of the Oscillating Shape Sorter

Recently. we were given the opportunity to find the best way to sort tantalum. Tantalum is a chemical element that is rare, hard, blue-gray, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion-resistant. This material has many applications from the Medical industry to the electronics industry. A precise spherical separation is imperative for this metal due to its  high price tag and the specific applications of its use.

Profiles obtained a sample of the tantalum and our engineers went to work. We tested this material with a number of products and found the Oscillating Shape Sorter returned the best results. It sorted the material through linear oscillating vibrations. This technological advancement allowed a variety of fine particles to be separated and classified starting at just 45 Microns.

The adjustable table on the shape sorter also allowed for flexibility is separation and quality simply by adjusting the table higher on one end so the spherical particles roll down to the lower end and the non-spherical ride up the table.

The Oscillating Shape Sorter works well with a variety of fine materials.

Once the fine product is placed in the “hopper”, it dispenses gently down the tray to the oscillating table. The spheres will separate out to one of 8 boxes. At this point the product that is spherical will go to box #1, spherical with abnormalities box #2, Spherical with deeper blemishes box 3, and so on. The higher up the table the particle rides the lower the quality of the spherical particle.

This machines sorts and classifies a variety of material with ease.


When is the best time to upgrade to rotary separators?

What difference can the rotary make?

One question we get a lot from our clients is, “What is the benefit for me if I upgrade?” The real answer is -it depends. Every business and seed sorting process is unique. Some companies prefer to hang on to solutions and technology they know and trust, others like to incorporate the latest innovations to get any advantage they can.

If you find yourself having this discussion amongst your peers or typing this question into your favorite search engine…, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The turnover of your seed treatment operators
  2. The experience level of your seed treatment operators
  3. The age of your current equipment
  4. The cost of down time
  5. The current quantity of seed treated
  6. Your company’s image and customer perception.

Now, you might be wondering why the perception of your company to your customers figures into this calculation at all. The simple answer is this.  Upgrading your equipment is not just going to give you better results, it instantly associates your company with terms like innovation, trend setting, and shows you are investing into current and modern solutions. If this is something you’d like your customers to think about you…then upgrading may be an answer.

Some of the other items on the list above require a bit more calculation. For instance, the quality of and experience of your staff play a major role in determining the results of your seed. If you’re finding that retaining quality seedsman is a struggle, an upgraded system can contribute to a better result and provide a more consistent product.

The Rotary v. the Static

Our Rotary separator has been proven to reduce labor costs and create a better product. With it in place, cleaning and separating seeds becomes more sustainable, measurable and profitable.

The results are even greater when the Rotary is used to replace older technologies and equipment. Obviously, as equipment ages its quality can diminish, and the chances of problems or down time can arise. It has been estimated that a stop in production during peak season could cost as much as $7,500 an hour. That’s not cheap. Our rotary separators can bear the brunt of the seed cleaning system by prolonging the life of the equipment down the line.  That’s one upgrade that can protect your bottom line and save you a headache.



The last consideration is the sheer volume of the seed you are cleaning. If you simply need to clean more seed in less time, there are only a few options available. Upgrading your equipment is going to make the biggest difference here.  But using a rotary separator in your system, the volume of seed being processed instantly increases when compared to manual systems. Simple adjustments and calibration can take hours and waste seed in a manual system. With a rotary separator in place, adjustments take minutes and quality of the separation is instantly improved.

With systems constantly evolving and technology playing a major role in how we progress, it’s a good rule of thumb to evaluate your system every 3—5 years. Ask yourself if your current system is meeting your needs and if there were any areas that could be improved. Making investments to keep your system relevant is much better than waiting until the entire system is rebuilt.

This is one of the best benefits of the rotary. It can work in almost any system and provide a measurable improvement. If you’re wondering what that improvement might be, check out Profiles calculator for some real numbers.