I had an opportunity to visit with a group of Wisconsin farmers recently at a farmer meeting in Rozellville. I am a career ag journalist, having spent most of my career writing about farm topics in the Southeast.
I came to Wisconsin to learn what I could learn about alfalfa and about a new concept of growing crops using the science of thermodynamics.
While I learned a lot about alfalfa and a lot about how to store and move energy around in various plants grown in agriculture (thermodynamics), I learned more about the tenacity and forward-thinking approach of Wisconsin farmers.
Most of the farmers in the Rozellville meeting endured one of the worst growing seasons ever in 2013, some facing both flooding and drought in the same growing season. And, they went through one of the toughest winters on record, many losing some, if not all, of their alfalfa crop to the harsh weather.
Despite these hardships, these growers listened to a two-hour presentation by Leo Brostowitz and Steve Kloos. The topic was using thermogenic regulators (products) to build crop productivity. The new line of products is now on the market from Plant Power Products Inc., or P-cube, as it is more commonly called.
Brostowitz is a Polish Pied Piper of sorts, who is working with Wisconsin farmers to help them understand how storage and movement of energy in their crops can make them money and add sustainability to their farming operations.
Kloos is a Pioneer seed dealer who has adopted some of Brostowitz's principles in his own farming operation and has introduced the concept to many of his seed customers.
Understanding how treating seed with a combination of naturally occurring hormones and micronutrients at the precise time can set the stage for big yield increases in corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa is difficult at best.
Understanding how adding hormones and micronutrients at various growth stages of a plant to help the plant reach its genetic potential is even more difficult.
Yet, these farmers gave up valuable time on a rare 70 degree early April day to learn how to improve their farming operations.
These farmers asked insightful questions and seemed to grasp the possibilities of using this new approach to growing crops. At the end of the day, each indicated they would try some of these new products in an effort to determine how they may fit in their respective farming operations.
There is a growing interest in this new line of products and new way of thinking about growing crops. It is ironic to me that one of the leading states in adopting this technology is not in the Bread Basket of America or the lush grain producing areas of the Amazon River Basin, rather in the heart of America's Milk and Cheese Basket —Wisconsin.
How well the use of thermodynamics proves to bolster Wisconsin crop production remains to be seen, though the initial results have been nothing short of spectacular. What doesn't remain to be seen is the open-minded approach Wisconsin farmers are taking toward looking at this new way of growing crops.
The stakes are high. Without some significant change in the way we grow crops globally, farmers won't be able to feed the future world in which nine billion people will live and in which more people will live inside a relatively small circle from northern China to southern India than live outside that circle.
To Brostowitz and Kloos and their band of innovators, good luck — the farm world will be watching and a fair share of the focus will be on Wisconsin, USA.