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American Roots: Abe Lincoln & Agriculture

On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the United States Department of Agriculture.  The former president valued agriculture as “the largest interest of the nation” and, thanks to his vision, he was able to lay the foundations that govern agricultural policies today.

An Agricultural Background

The 16th President and one of America’s Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln is known for many milestones during his presidency. However, one crucial aspect of his life, which shaped his visions for the America of the time, was how agriculture and rurality played such an important role in his life.

Lincoln’s background was on the Western frontier.  He lived with his family on acres of land used for pioneer exploitation, in comparison to settled cultivation.  Lincoln was born in a log hut in Central Kentucky, but it was no woodsy fairytale.  As a child, he grew up on a 30-acre farm where only half could be cultivated due to the natural landscape and geography characterized by hills.

Upon realizing that this lifestyle was not sustainable, Lincoln’s father moved the family to 160 acres of marshland in southern Indiana, where he later developed acres of corn, wheat, and oats.  A young man himself, Lincoln was hired to work the farm and other tasks until he was ready to set out on his own.  There is no doubt that this quality of life shaped the man into who he became as President of the United States.  As he moved forward on his journey, Lincoln continued to shape frontiers and became a country lawyer.  Given his experience and background, he became a figure that represented farmers and small-town democracy.

As his career furthered, Lincoln never strayed too far from his roots. He would attend state fairs and endorse them as places for bringing the community together, furthering discussions of how to improve agriculture throughout the country.  Gifted with an innovative mind, Lincoln learned from his years of observing the field and would offer his wisdom on how to steer agricultural technology.  One example is how Lincoln commented on the potential efficiency of using steam plows in contrast to horse-drawn machines.

The Early Stages of the USDA

Once he became President, and two and a half years after he signed on the creation of the USDA into law, Lincoln referred to the newly created Department as “The People’s Department”. This significant statement echoes the great value that American citizens put into farming and agriculture, and how working the land is the basis of economic and social development for communities all over the country.  This moment in our political history allowed for great strides in agricultural development and significance, touching the lives of the citizens and improving their quality of life even today.

In his speech, Lincoln’s stated: “The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely The People’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress.” He later appointed agriculturalist Isaac Newton as Commissioner of Agriculture.  Newton had been a model farmer who worked as chief of agriculture in the Patent Office, who shared the same values and a close friendship with the President.

Committed to education and his values that farmers’ interests were the interests of the country, Lincoln pioneered for agricultural reform and different structures of labor management and landowning.  To quote, he said: “…no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture.”  Staying true to his beliefs, Lincoln continued to advocate as a nominee of the Republican Party in 1860 and would work towards many proposals’ fruition.  Alongside the creation of the federal Department of Agriculture, other motions included the demand for homestead measures, federal aid in the construction of the railroad to the Pacific Ocean and grants to fund federal land as spaces for higher education in engineering and agriculture.  Lincoln was, in all senses, a pioneer of his times.

Moving Forward

In 1862, about half of Americans were either living or working on farms. Today, that statistic has drastically dropped to 2%, mostly due to the massive move into city and the new technologies, industries, and increased access to education that defined the later part of the XX century.  Despite this shift, the USDA has continued its role of improving agriculture, food, science, natural resource conservation and economic development, maintaining Lincoln’s legacy and hopes for the future.  In 2012, the Department celebrated its 150th and continues to move forward into the challenges and significant advances that have revolutionized agriculture in the XXI century.

Honest Abe was known for his humility and for valuing the hard work of the laboring class. As a company, here at VISCOSITY, we share those same values, following the vision of always working in fluid motion to provide the solutions that our customers need. Visit our About Us section to learn more about our company and get all the premium products we have designed especially for your heavy-duty equipment.

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National Gardening Month

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The Seed Once Sown: National Gardening Month
As the warm weather makes its way north, there is more sunlight in the sky, and green leaves begin to sprout across the land. With springtime now upon us, what better way to celebrate it than through gardening?
With the birds chirping in the morning, bees buzzing in the afternoon, and flower buds blossoming all over, now is the time to break out of the winter blues and get outside. As Gertrude Jekyll, a famous horticulturist and garden designer once said, “the love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on the 22nd, but what many people do not know is that April is also National Gardening Month. This period grants us an excellent opportunity to celebrate what we love: the fresh air and outdoors, sinking our hands into the soil, the sights and smells of springtime that surround us in a garden full of fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs.
How did it begin?
For centuries worldwide, after enduring long and harsh winters, traditions to welcome spring have been observed to celebrate rebirth, renewal, and growth. The Spring Equinox is marked on March 20th, as the sun crosses the celestial equator moving north and bringing with it warmth, abundance, and longer days.
The origins of National Gardening Month in the US can be traced back to President Ronald Reagan when in 1986, he declared the first National Gardening Week. Later on, the National Garden Bureau non-profit continued to sponsor the project, pushing to “educate, inspire and motivate people to increase the use of plants in homes, gardens, and workplaces.” In 2002, this week-long observation was extended to the entire month, highlighting the importance of gardening in our lives. All across the country, there are gardening-related events, educational activities, local plant sales and swaps, horticulture seminars, and more for all who wish to get their hands dirty and enjoy a sunny day out.
Why is gardening so important?

With the difficulties brought along with the pandemic, a decline in national and global health was seen across the board. National Gardening Month is the perfect excuse to remind us that we can each play a role in taking care of ourselves and our surroundings.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, there are over 2 million farms in the US, and about 96% are family-owned. Farms are a crucial aspect of American culture, but what about smaller projects? Here at Viscosity, we understand that small actions make a genuine difference. Whether it’s large-scale agriculture on farms, the neighborhood community plot, or small potted plants on the balcony, gardening offers plenty of benefits to individuals, as well as the collective community and the environment.

A healthy pastime
Gardening has innumerable benefits, whether you look into the science or spirituality behind it.
Farmers understand better than anyone that we are all part of the same team to nurture growth and contribute to our planet’s biodiversity and health. Gardens create homes for insects and animals of all kinds, aiding in maintaining natural lifecycles and environmental balance.
Aside from the many nature-related benefits, gardening gives our bodies exercise, promoting heart health, and lowering blood pressure. It also allows us the opportunity to absorb vitamin D, which many are lacking after months of winter, plus weeks of quarantine. Surprisingly, gardening has also been shown to delay the onset of dementia as it activates focus and concentration, kickstarting brain function.
People tend to be calmer and happier when spending time outside surrounded by nature. It has even been studied that digging in dirt relieves stress and improves mood. It could be due to microscopic non-pathogenic bacteria with high serotonin levels (commonly known as the happy hormone) that are abundant in soil. This means that with less anxiety and stress, gardening adds years to your life.
Furthermore, after having experienced more isolation and food insecurity due to COVID-19, it’s vital to mention the power gardens have to bring people together. There was a boom in community gardens throughout the pandemic, allowing access to fresh produce to those who might not have it, especially in urban environments. This also gives people a sense of agency over their food sources. Community gardens serve not only to grow foods but also to cultivate social support and emotional well-being.
And let’s not forget that growing a garden can also be a relief on your wallet. With the rising costs of fresh produce, investing in gardening tools and supplies sooner than later can be a great way to cut costs at the supermarket, all while maintaining well-rounded health.
Whether it’s a shared space to tend plants and soil or just sharing seeds and cuttings with neighbors and friends, gardening has been a staple part of our survival as a community, as well as a healthy way to reconnect with our world and our roots.
Spring forward!
Now it’s time to celebrate! For small growers out there, you might consider a decorative, ornamental garden or something practical and easy, like growing herbs for your kitchen. Even growing just one cherry tomato plant or sprout of oregano can be the satisfying hobby you never knew you needed.
Gardens can be multipurpose, where you grow and prepare your own farm-to-table recipes, or where you create a relaxing place to meditate or enjoy a picnic; they can even become new habitats for pollinators and seasonal birds, adding harmony in an environment that is constantly changing.

In some places around the country, the climate might not yet permit everyone to get out right away, but with the changing weather promising good growing seasons to come, it is time to begin preparing the ground. A good study will allow you to pick a project that fits into your schedule and your land. Once you have decided what kind of gardening projects you wish to embark upon this year, gather your materials and spring forward with your friends and family. Remember to be patient and celebrate the sometimes slow growing process.

Working the ways of the land is done year-round, each season offering a new task or project out in the field, and here at VISCOSITY, we have everything you need so you can do it all with the best protection at all seasons. Whether you work big or go for something smaller, there is no time like the present to get started – enjoy National Garden Month!

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ATVs and UTVs in Agriculture

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ATVs and UTVs in Agriculture
Agriculture is not only about the seeders, the tractors, and the power tools working in the field. Sometimes, it’s all about practicality and ease of access, and for that, farmers have ATVs and UTVs to help them. Off-road vehicles are a great way to carry loads, travel across rugged terrain, and even perform fieldwork with a lighter vehicle in a concentrated area.
ATV vs. UTV

ATV is the acronym for all-terrain vehicle, a four-wheeler that can usually accommodate a single driver in a straddled seating position. ATVs are steered using handlebars, like a regular bike, with a thumb throttle to control acceleration and a brake handle or foot pedal to brake. They are designed to be maneuvered easily over challenging terrain and can sometimes be fitted with ROPS for protection against accidents. ATVs are often used for recreational activities as well.

UTV, on the other hand, refers to utility-terrain vehicles, much better fitted for fieldwork. With a broader and sturdier structure, UTVs are a great way of carrying equipment and loads while accommodating a side passenger. Unlike ATVs, UTVs are maneuvered using a steering wheel and, like cars, the acceleration and brakes are controlled by using pedals. Although they can be fast, they are not as agile or light as an ATV.
Which is the best for my field?
The most straightforward answer to this question is another question: what do you need the vehicle for? Truth is, both can fulfill similar tasks, but as the strength and maneuverability of both vehicles differ, the principle matter is to establish is what the vehicle will be used for and how to use their characteristics in the most advantageous way possible.
If you need to go about the field, monitor and inspect crops, livestock, and other overall processes, the best choice would be an ATV. They can move fast, maneuver quickly, and perform versatile tasks that do not have a heavy impact on the vehicle’s strength or mobility, such as spraying and mowing. They can even take on some cargo, although the ATV will resent the extra weight with a lack of power. They can also become mobility aids for farmers that have difficulty reaching tough areas of their land. They are smaller in size, and easier to store in a barn or garage, at a lower cost. So, if it comes to saving space and money, an ATV would be the better choice.
On the other hand, UTVs are used for more heavy-duty tasks, given their hauling power and cargo space. They also allow for more people on board, which means the driver and their passenger can ride comfortably in the same vehicle. They allow farmers to carry heavy loads with ease such as supplies and materials, while also performing farm tasks that will benefit from the stability and power these vehicles have compared to ATVs.
Safety is another great consideration; UTVs are usually considered safer than ATVs, as they can be fitted with more security implements that protect drivers from overturns.
Staying Safe
When it comes to these all terrain and utility terrain vehicles, some safety measures are quite simple, like strapping in with a fastened seatbelt. In fact, most accidents related to ATVs and UTVs occur when the driver or passenger is not wearing a safety belt.
However, it’s always best to have the right equipment nearby, even for the most experienced of riders. This, among other considerations, primarily means wearing a helmet. Helmets that are approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation) are highly recommended for maximum protection against head injury. Protective gear such as eye goggles, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long-sleeved shirts and pants are also recommended. When possible, it is best to be covered from head to toe.
Once riding, the next important action is to be observant and aware of the surroundings to have good visibility and keep an eye on the terrain before there are any mishaps. This includes monitoring for any uneven or steep territory, as well as anything that could get in the way of the vehicle and cause an accident.
It’s also important to mention that these are very powerful vehicles and monitoring speed is key. Many accidents are rollover crashes from exceeding speed limits. As mentioned, ATVs are often for individual use and more than one person should not operate this vehicle. Not only can it be a distraction, but it can also influence the vehicle’s center of gravity, making a rollover more likely.
To best prepare, drivers can always register for safety courses to operate such vehicles. It is also recommended to check local laws and regulations regarding the driving of ATVs and UTVs to avoid any dangerous activity.
Maintenance
ATVs and UTVs are versatile vehicles with a lot of power, so taking care of them is highly important to get the most out of your machine.
Before every ride, operators should always check the oil, as having the right levels will determine how much strain can be put on the vehicle. A common mistake is to neglect the routine oil check, which will cause a vehicle to lock up from lack of lubrication. Likewise, it is very important to check the radiator cap and coolant often to maintain a proper amount. Additionally, using a good quality high-octane fuel it is key to have the vehicle operating at peak performance.
Other important aspects to keep an eye on are the physical mechanics of your machine. Damaged cables or wiring can cause serious harm to your vehicle. The tires are an equally vital aspect, as these vehicles are heavy-duty equipment that go through all sorts of terrain. To avoid damage to the machine and to further protect passengers, reviewing the tires, along with the cables, is a crucial task to optimize its usage.
VISCOSITY Oil Company has all the products you need to keep your ATVs and UTVs working in peak condition. Our extensive line of coolants, greases, and lubricants has been designed to protect equipment from heavy stress at all seasons and you can browse them all in our product section. Do you want to take the VISCOSITY Oil route? Find us on  Amazon and eBay for a quick purchase, or visit our partners at Power Oil Center and Messicks Farm Equipment for more! You can also request your local dealer for the solution that you need, or contact us directly to find more about our expert portfolio, formulated for ALL!

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Broadband Agriculture

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Broadband in Agriculture
From checking your social media and watching your favorite cat videos, to looking for that particular recipe and finding an address on a map, there are millions of things that can be done through the internet. This innovation was born amid the Information Age and was initially conceived—and still primarily used—for sharing data and information in the 1960s. Over time and thanks to the new advances in technology, it grew steadily in complexity and functionality, introducing emailing capabilities and the revolutionary World Wide Web, which made accessing information easier and faster.
Today, the internet is a hub of various resources that allow us to stay connected to the entire world, and it’s used in multiple forms on most—if not all—aspects of our everyday life.
What is Broadband?
Although the internet cannot be seen or touched, it relies on physical devices for reception and transmission. The most traditional form of connection used to be, and still in some parts is, dial-up, which requires a modem and a telephone network, allowing the user to dial into the net through a specific set of numbers given by the internet provider. However, dial-up depends entirely on the availability of the phone line, and they tend to be slower and not cost-effective overall.
These issues are tackled by a much faster and efficient option known as broadband. Broadband is described as a high-speed and high-capacity transmission that is available at all times, removing the need for an active telephone connection, although fixed broadband can still use telephone lines to achieve its end goal. However, unlike dial-up, both the internet and the telephone connection run parallel through the same channel, so the landline service is not interrupted every time you connect to the internet.

For all its benefits around commerce, communication, and information availability, broadband is the preferred option for most current internet users. Its reach extends from households and restaurants to health centers and even government through means such as fiber optic, Wi-Fi, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), and satellite. It is now deemed a vital tool for everyday operations in all imaginable contexts, where users can access critical information and connect to different resources faster than ever before.

The Agricultural Context
In their Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report from August 2021, the USDA noted that 82% of American farms have internet access, with only 50% of respondents declaring they are currently using broadband service. Compared to the results obtained during 2019, the number of farmers taking advantage of the internet for agriculture-related activities, such as purchasing and marketing, has slightly increased. Usage is expected to continue rising.
Although improving each year, these numbers still show that broadband services are not yet widely implemented in rural areas, making access to information and farm management harder for producers. With the advent of new technologies around Precision Agriculture and Communication Technology, having a high-speed connection is no longer a luxury. It is fundamental to keep individuals aligned with sale and purchase sites, news outlets, health and safety facilities, among other external services, while also having complete control over field monitoring, equipment location, business management, crop state, and other internal operations.
The Government and other institutions are now implementing funding initiatives and new programs to accelerate broadband adoption. The Federal Communications Commission launched the Connect America Fund (CAF), intending to expand affordable offerings in telecommunications and broadband services that can reach rural communities and other high-cost areas. Broadband access will directly and positively impact production, costs, and market opportunities through information management and access to relevant tools to increase specialization, competitiveness, and economic presence and participation.
Connecting your Farm
Using a mobile device to gain connection to a broadband network is known as mobile broadband, and it’s an efficient way for farmers to stay on the move while maintaining a close eye on their operations. According to the USDA report, 77% of respondents use their smartphone as their primary connection device; having the right tools and apps installed only highlights the importance of a high-speed, optimal connection that can take on the flow of information needed to conduct all operations efficiently.
The reach of broadband in agriculture is still a work in progress, and its degree of advancement continues to grow each year. The 2022 Census on Agriculture will shed a clearer light on the current scope; still, efforts will continue to keep everyone, especially those in distant and rural communities, connected to the world and enjoying the benefits technology and information can provide to us all.

VISCOSITY Gets Smart

VISCOSITY Oil has also made smart innovations and has some interesting tools specifically designed to monitor your equipment effectively. Our Everlub™ Solutions can provide the information you need to keep working in fluid motion and you can learn more about them by sending us your query in our contact section. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay informed about all the products and innovations VISCOSITY Oil has for you.

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Information & Communication Technology in Agriculture

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Information & Communication Technology in Agriculture.

In previous entries, we have discussed the concept of Precision Agriculture and how technology is being integrated more and more organically into agricultural operations. Devices today allow farmers to deal with most, if not all, aspects of the farming process, and the intricacy of the new instrumentation provides accurate readings with minimal margins of error. However, no matter how advanced the tool may be, it would be useless if the information is not easily accessible, comprehensive, and, above all, available for everyone.

What is Information and Communication Technology?
Information and Communication Technology, commonly referred to as ICT, is a broader term to describe all sources of telecommunication that are available for people to exchange, access, and transmit information digitally in various forms. Additionally, it refers to technology convergence through common transmission lines, all with the aim of facilitating communication. Some examples of ICT are the internet, software, apps, cellphones, and operating systems designed to receive digital input and manipulate data to enable the required service.
Using ICT has made the world the “global village” it is today, where people can access data through basic communication systems and instantly connect with someone on the other side of the globe. This new sharing reality has blurred geographical barriers and opened new avenues of knowledge and innovation. This has become part of the fabric of our current society, and quite a fundamental part during the pandemic. The agricultural industry has benefited from this information too, and farmers today can access a wide range of data as soon as they need it.
The Internet of Things
The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is deeply intertwined with ICT. While ICT refers to the how, IoT is related to the what. IoT is the means and tools to collect, store, distribute, and share data. Devices such as GPS, sensors— like VISCOSITY Oil’s Everlub FLUID-I*—, weather stations, and various actuators can provide a wide range of information. This data can directly impact how farmers can manage efficiency, costs, and internal processes by relying on metrics and readings that can aid in decision-making to reduce waste and loss of resources. Having a complete IoT ecosystem results in an organized network that enhances connectivity and knowledge. Adding a farmer’s personal experience and insights gained through years of work in the field further improves the chances of optimization and utilization.
The Puzzle Pieces of Information
Communication technology is made of the many pieces of information that an IoT can gather. The impact of this “bigger picture” has been so normalized in our everyday life that we don’t really acknowledge the complexity of the process itself, nor the feat of intelligence and design that allowed us to incorporate it into our routines. Using smart agriculture, we can get a full spectrum of data, all just from readings taken from our own fields and geographical areas.
Local and internal readings, however, are not always enough. Sometimes, a broader spectrum of information is required, usually from external sources. Some of these data are restricted and regulated, and access involves payment, subscription, or program usage to get the full range of what is available in the hub. Information of this nature usually comes from reputable and verified sources specifically dedicated to collecting the greatest and most specific readings, usually through complex high-tech IoT devices, satellite imagery, and national-level forecasting of various trends.
Open data is also available to collect new insights. The concept of open data stems from the idea that information should be freely available for everyone to use, distribute, and reuse without copyright or patent restrictions. Organizations and governments have open data initiatives that are legally and technically available for users to access, primarily through the internet. The USDA, for instance, holds an extensive catalog of datasets that are accessible by all who wish to review them, especially around reports, research papers, budgetary releases, and other topics of interest. 
All this flow of material is collected and used by farmers to monitor all the conditions that may impact their daily, monthly, and yearly operations, including estimates and predictions that can aid in future budgeting and operational decisions. As a result, farmers today can maximize revenue and reduce expenditures by allocating resources in accordance with soil composition parameters, plant health, heat and humidity, among others. They can also keep track of weather patterns, pest control, irrigation schedules, and even locate equipment on the field and keep track of payrolls and suppliers. It makes for a controlled process, in which the farmer can stay on top of every detail, big or small, to handle operations better. A system of this nature also aids in the fight against climate change by optimizing the use of resources, saving water, regulating pesticides usage, limiting the required amount of energy consumption, and reducing mechanical and human efforts.  
Information is power. And this power in the capable, dedicated hands of the hundreds of farmers in our country will ensure our land continues growing and providing the resources we all need. With optimization, connection, and a focus on sustainability, Information and Communication Technology, in conjunction with the Internet of Things, have become the tools of tomorrow for making the changes we need today.  
If you want to learn about our digital solutions and Everlub FLUID-I* sensor, send your query to our contact us section. Check our other blog entries for more interesting topics and continue working in fluid motion with all the quality products VISCOSITY Oil has for you!   

*Everlub FLUID-I is powered by Contelligent.   

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Powering Agricultural Operations: A road to Renewable Energy

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Powering Agricultural Operations: A road to Renewable Energy.
Technological advances have evolved hand in hand with the means to power them. Early innovations around agriculture relied mainly on human and animal traction; later improvements made way for steam and gasoline-powered equipment, replacing animals with more modern and efficient machines that allowed farmers to increase yield and productivity.
Electricity and Generators
Electricity slowly entered the market as experiments and ideas flourished in the late 19th to early 20th century. Electrical distribution was eventually established in cities and urban settings; however, rural areas were not considered during this initial expansion. Electrical Cooperatives at the time were purchasing energy in bulk and distributing it through their lines and began pushing for a complete transmission system that could reach farms, ranches, and other isolated sectors of the country. Finally, in 1936, the Rural Electrification Act was passed under President Roosevelt’s government, which granted loans to expand power lines, initially used for lighting and smaller fixtures. The Rural Electrification Administration was established to monitor these initiatives, and, by 1953, over 90% of farms in the US had electricity. Since then, electric generation remains the most significant source of energy for farmers. It powers conditioning and storage systems, machinery and equipment, refrigeration, ventilation, milking, and technological devices such as computers, sensors, automated irrigators, and electric vehicles.
Energy interruption can result in serious consequences, including loss of product and equipment malfunction. Backup generators serve as a secondary source of energy, ensuring operations can move forward even during outages, and can be powered by natural gas, diesel, or propane. Some are portable, for ease of transportation to any part of the farm where they are needed and can cover for a lack of power lines reaching the respective area. Others are standby, which are more expensive, but have greater capacity and can be turned on automatically upon an outage. Sizes and generation power vary depending on the needs of the farm, so it’s vital that a conscious and effective assessment is made before purchasing.
Despite technological advances, natural energy generation such as wind and water, has always been present in the industry, and its usage is making a return in a modern innovative setting.
The New Energy  

Biomass and Biogas

Farms are in a privileged position to incorporate energies like biogas and biomass into their operations. Biomass is produced by burning solid crops and organic waste, transforming them into a source of heat, steam, electricity, and fuels such as biofuel and biodiesel, depending on the base material. On the other hand, biogas is produced through anaerobic digestion, a process in which the same organic waste that makes up biomass can be fermented in an oxygen-free digestor to release carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are later processed to create energy, becoming a renewable alternative to natural gas and coal. The leftover solid material can be used as a soil enhancer.

There’s some debate around bioenergy being considered “green”, as the chemicals released during biomass and biogas processes are harmful. An uncontrolled or inappropriate operation can release toxic gases into the atmosphere, defeating the purpose of environmental protection. Other concerns revolve around the overproduction of waste in favor of bioenergy production. However, it remains a cost-effective and renewable way to reuse and recycle byproducts in a controlled, favorable manner, pushing rural economy, innovation, and incentives to improve and refine processes to reduce emissions.

✓ Wind Energy

The agricultural industry has been using wind as an energy source through windmills for centuries to pump water and process grain. The modern wind power energy industry continues to grow steadily, and wind turbines are an option for farmers that want to modernize their operations with a clean, sustainable alternative. Investment options are open to establish wind farms alongside regular crops, or to lease part of fields to wind developers. Even though wind energy is a great alternative, it is still capital-demanding and heavily relies on geographical location to produce the expected results. 

✓ Solar and Agrivoltaics

  Solar panels are becoming increasingly accessible, and demand is rising for its usage in domestic and industrial settings. Farms are no different, and solar installation is now finding a niche not only for powering a farmer’s land but also for investing, leasing, and establishing associations that can provide bigger revenue inflows. The co-location of solar farms in agricultural areas, known as agrivoltaics, is a way to combine space requirements from solar companies with farmers’ need of diversifying revenue streams. Although agrivoltaics is still a work in progress that has many challenges and requires further studies and adaptation, it is an open opportunity to create new jobs and innovations while providing a secondary source of income.    

Photovoltaics at smaller scale is a solution for energy availability in remote areas, allowing farmers to power their equipment and devices. It is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and provide clean and sustainable energy that is easy to install and does not depend on power lines 

Solar also has governmental support. The United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) from the Department of Energy are now focusing on providing guidance, information, and support to adopt solar photovoltaics, aiming to increase investment and projects that can account for energy demand and fossil fuel emissions. Solutions of this nature are pushed firmly to reach neutrality goals and to help farmers and rural communities improve their livelihoods, production, and market opportunities.  

Making the shift to renewable energy is not always easy, and it usually requires significant investmentHowever, the policies and innovations of today are expected to become the new normal of tomorrow. Early adoption, development, and learning will allow everyone across the value chain to grow steadily into a more sustainable energy production that benefits all sectors. VISCOSITY Oil will continue supporting these efforts and providing a service that will go hand in hand with your operations, regardless of how and when you make this transition, keeping work in fluid motion with you with the best protection always! 

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Climate and Weather Forecasting in Agriculture

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Climate and Weather Forecasting in Agriculture

While the concepts of climate and weather are related, they are not synonymous. They both refer
to atmospheric variables around temperature, wind, precipitation, and other factors; however, they cover
different periods of time. Climate observes of weather variations at specific locations over a long time,
usually about 30 years on average. On the other hand, weather deals with variations within a short-term
period, and observation is more frequent, as variations can occur even on a minute-to-minute basis.

In simple words, climate will determine the need to purchase an umbrella ahead of the winter
season, and weather will let you know if you need to take it when you go out on a given day.

Why are climate and weather forecasting so important for farmers?

Understanding climate conditions in our region can influence from the clothes we use to the best
place to install wind turbines. This knowledge, coupled with everyday forecasting, allows us to have
control over our lives and make decisions based on what to expect and how to prepare ourselves to deal
with these possibilities.

The same happens in agriculture. Hundreds of farmers across the country rely on climate
predictability to make decisions around their crops and have a general idea of the path they will be
following ahead of the changing seasons, depending on their location. Most importantly, they can
determine what, when, and where to plant, ensuring revenue streams and production estimations based
on their region’s general conditions.

Forecasting allows farmers to plan and have control over their work by providing short-term
information that can predict the overall state of the area and have clarity over important operational
aspects such as plant growth, humidity and irrigation, average temperature, and pesticide spraying
periods. Having this information can aid in decision-making to maintain a cost-effective operation,
allocating resources and efforts to small seasonal and daily actions, and staying ahead of potential
disturbances that may negatively affect production.

One very clear example is setting irrigation schedules. Suppose the weather forecast informs
there will be rain during the week. In that case, the farmer can rely on this information to readjust their
planning and take advantage of the natural water instead of running their irrigators, saving money and
maintaining crop integrity.

The impact of climate change

Agriculture is particularly vulnerable to changes; a delicate balance is needed to yield good crops
that even slight alterations can destroy. This new reality makes it harder to predict and decide the best
course of action to take during an unexpected event, exposing crops to abnormal climatic events for which
they are neither accustomed nor resistant. The proliferation of pests, production decline, water scarcity,
destructive wildfires, alteration of temperature and precipitation patterns, and other such consequences
become a risk, not only for crop owners’ livelihood but to us all, as these occurrences directly impact food
supply and availability.

The severity of these phenomena has forced the industry to look for ways to become more
sustainable and to find tools and resources that can provide accurate and faster readings to help farmers
plan better.

Climate-Smart Agriculture

In the US, the agricultural industry accounts for about 9-10% of greenhouse emissions, primarily
methane and nitrous oxide, with anthropogenic impact usually related to soil degradation, deforestation,
and loss of biodiversity. This contribution can be reduced by following regenerative and sustainable
practices that ensure production with less impact to the environment.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is now emerging as a viable alternative to tackle these changes.
Its three main pillars are Productivity, to ensure income and development for farmers; Adaptability, to
help farmers deal with current challenges and develop agricultural resilience; and Mitigation, to reduce
the impact of industry-related greenhouse emissions, erosion, and deforestation. These pillars help
manage solutions and processes at different levels within the industry, adapting policies and resources
depending on the country and the particular situation within the region while considering its ecosystem
and natural resources. Government and institutional participation, technology implementation, along
with the appropriate policies and investment efforts, can make a significant difference in the lives of
hundreds of farmers and protect our resources efficiently without disrupting economic and industrial
growth, food availability, and, most importantly, our planet.

Precision Agriculture tools, such as on-site weather stations, can provide accurate and complete
area readings directly to the farmer, allowing them to decide on aspects such as nutrient and fertilizer
spraying, irrigation, plague control, soil quality, among others. Digital tools such as apps and integrated
software can provide information directly from sources like the National Weather Service, sending alerts
and reporting on specific meteorological conditions and anomalies with reliable and updated data that
can be customized for the user depending on their location. Costs vary depending on complexity, but
there are some free and cheaper options, especially for apps, that ensure fast access to information.
Having these tools can help producers plan their strategies better, reducing the risk of loss and damage.

The way to the future

In our country, the USDA has recently announced a set of comprehensive agricultural
investments, along with the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership. Through this initiative,
they expect to encourage, support, and finance climate-smart pilot projects that create new revenue
streams and market opportunities.

As the climate impacts the entirety of the value chain, companies are now taking the new reality
into account to shape their policies and develop more sustainable economies and markets. Many,
including VISCOSITY Oil, have committed to follow strict Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE)
guidelines to ensure compliance with new industry standards, to reduce emissions, and align with national
and international efforts to move forward with decarbonization and environmental protection. This
collective effort will be crucial to maintain productivity, growth, and development for all involved,
ensuring food availability and resources for a cleaner, and greener, future.

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Power Take-Off: Keeping Operations Moving Means Keeping Everyone Safe

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Power Take-Off: Keeping Operations Moving Means Keeping Everyone Safe

Adding implements to agricultural machinery is an affordable way of utilizing existing assets
rather than purchasing a new one for a single purpose. Tractors are fitted with various tools, such as
loaders, blades, balers, and box rakers, among the many choices available. However, some add-ins do not
have an engine to function. So, how can they be powered?

Power take-offs, also known as PTOs, are necessary to transfer mechanical power from the engine
to the implement. PTO shafts can be directly connected to the transmission and require releasing the
tractor clutch to begin functioning. They can also work using a two stage-clutch, by pressing halfway to
disengage the transmission and fully to disengage both the transmission and the PTO, or independently
through a separate clutch. Its main components are usually an internal and external yoke, a universal
joint, a safety chain, and a safety shield. Measurements vary, so purchasing the right one for your
equipment is crucial to optimal performance and proper attachment.

Speed and dimensions are standard for PTOs based on ISO regulations. PTOs rotate per the
tractor’s engine speed, moving between 540 and 1000 rpm; some newer models move at an even higher
rate, in tune with the equipment’s horsepower. This increased rotation speed can ensure proper
functioning, but it can also become a dangerous hazard risk for the user.

The Dangers of Entanglement

PTOs are an effective tool that allows the equipment to perform multiple functions with minimal
intervention. However, they can also become a dangerous safety hazard if not handled properly, causing
severe injuries, amputations, and fatalities. Improper, ineffective, or absent shielding or protection
around the PTO significantly increases the risk of entanglement, exposing users to a piece of equipment
that can be engaged and rotating at a dangerously high speed.

Most hazard cases are attributed to hair, clothing, and limbs being caught by the spinning
mechanism. As a result, one of the main safety precautions any farmer or operator must take is to avoid
loose hair or clothing when working around equipment with a PTO attached, even when the tractor has
been turned off. The speed at which the PTO rotates leaves almost no reaction time, so making sure the
mechanism has been fully disengaged is vital to avoid accidents.

Accidents can also occur when shafts become disconnected from the tractor while the PTO is
engaged and rotating. This situation can occur when the shaft has not been securely hitched, or some
parts become uncoupled or break. The result is a piece of heavy metal being swung and breaking apart
from the connecting base, ejected at high velocity. The loose part can either impact the equipment
operator directly or anyone in the vicinity.

The importance of PTO maintenance

PTOs are often overlooked during maintenance and are usually considered after internal and
engine components. This is a grave mistake, one that, as we have noted before, can cause irreparable
damage to the equipment and to operators. Thus, following the manufacturer’s recommendations is
essential to establish a correct PTO maintenance schedule according to horsepower, usage, and model
dimensions

A regular visual check can make a difference, especially when the PTO has just been fitted. The
device must be securely installed and adequately bolted, with the correct backlash between transmission
and PTO. Making sure there are no leaks or signs of wear, alongside a physical revision after certain usage
hours, can significantly impact risk prevention and performance assessment based on power
requirements.

Premature bearing wear is one of the leading causes for short functionality periods for PTOs,
generally associated with improper lubrication and excessive belt tension. Therefore, operators and
workers must know and work around the most appropriate tension depending on the equipment model
and conduct regular greasing, considering its daily strain and use to adjust if necessary. Additionally, a
more thorough, long-term maintenance plan is crucial to ensure its performance and safety. Maintenance
intervals for PTOs can be determined following the respective OEM recommendations and conducted
along with regular engine and transmission schedules for a more comprehensive and complete
assessment.

Aside from the proper maintenance, quality products can positively impact vehicle performance,
allowing you to work safely, with strong and reliable solutions formulated to protect your equipment. Our
Tutela® line of greases has been specially designed to withstand high temperatures and provide thermal
stability, protecting the PTOs against friction, overheating, and wear. These features will help increase
performance and, most importantly, reduce the risk of downtime and accidents due to material
exhaustion, ensuring production stream and a safe working environment for everyone involved.

You can learn more about Tutela ® Greases and our extensive line of specialized solutions by
visiting your products section, or you can ask your local dealer for our portfolio. Contact us and keep
moving forward with the expert formulations we have designed for you! Work safe and get the best
protection with VISCOSITY Oil.

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Spindles: a cotton-picking essential

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Spindles: a cotton-picking essential

The cotton-picking industry is one of the most important economic activities in the
US today, with the country being the third-largest exporter of cotton after India and China.
It is a tricky crop to harvest; production heavily relies on climate, water, and pest control,
with a maturity period of around 160 days on average, depending on location.

Nowadays, there are two basic options for harvesting equipment: cotton pickers
and cotton strippers. Both are designed to fulfill the same function, but the operation
method and picking results differ. Cotton strippers are primarily used in areas where
repetitive picking is nearly impossible, allowing only a single harvest, primarily due to
weather conditions. The stripper pulls the entire boll out or cuts it close to the ground,
taking the cotton, the stalk, and any debris, even if it’s still closed and not ready for
harvest. Later, a different machine will separate the cotton from the other materials.

Pickers are the most common, allowing for multiple harvests as the bolls begin to
mature. The equipment will enable farmers to harvest only the opened bolls through
moisturized prongs or barbed spindles rotating at high speed; later, the cotton is removed
by a counter-rotating doffer and then blown into a basket that collects it for baling. This
method is softer and less invasive, picking up between 95% and 98% of the total field
production.

The Picker Spindle Road

The cotton industry had its initial expansion in early 1800, becoming the most
prominent export. This growth happened partially due to slave labor, which has
unfortunately become synonymous with the activity even to this day.

Due to the American Civil War, significant technological advances for cotton
equipment arrived late. With the help of his brother Mack, John Rust is credited with
developing the first models of a mechanized cotton picker in the early 1930s. Even though
Rust machines did fulfill their purpose, they were expensive and deficient. Adding to the
already tough market, industry developments were delayed due to World War II, which
shuffled manufacturing processes towards war efforts.

After the War ended, companies began to center their attention on the fields again,
developing better, mechanized picking systems often based on the Rust’s models.
Improvements aimed to pick the fibers better and reduce clogging, although the number
of cotton rows to pick often amounted to one at the time. As positive as this development
may sound, the mechanization of agricultural operations is often cited as one of the
causes of the Second Great Migration, which forced hundreds of workers to move to
urban areas to seek employment and better conditions.

After the 1950s and into the 1980s, the commercialization of mechanized pickers
started to gain greater traction, with models that incorporated better shapes and more
functional tools, adding steel frames and more efficient row systems. Later improvements
and better technology have turned the equipment into the practical piece of machinery
that is today

Keeping the Spindle Rolling

As the cleanest and most efficient method, picker spindles are essential pieces of
equipment that must be kept in optimal condition to perform well. They are complex and
require training and skill to be properly operated and maintained. Spindles are prone to
wear and rust, and they can lose sharpness with use, impacting other parts of the system.
They must be sharp, clean, and correctly assembled for optimal operations and to reduce
the risk of damage. It is crucial to inspect the equipment thoroughly, verifying the row unit
tilt, and adjust if necessary. Doffers and moistening systems must be adjusted and
checked for wear and debris, and plant lifters should be operating at the right level for
guidance. Follow the manufacturer’s manual and professional expert advice to perform
preventative maintenance and repairs to the equipment.

VISCOSITY Oil has been developing optimal formulations for over 125 years,
adapting to the industry as mechanical and technological advances keep changing the
agricultural industry dynamic. We have designed a specialized product to help cotton-picking operations, adding protection, and keeping parts clean for optimal performance.
TUTELA® Spindle Cleaner keeps your picker safe against wear, debris, residues, and
contaminants that may hinder its functionality, reducing wrapping, and staining. Avoid
rust, corrosion and keep your equipment clean for the best operation during the cotton
harvest season. Browse our line of products and continue working in fluid motion with
VISCOSITY Oil, formulated for ALL.

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Hydraulics: The Science that Keeps Equipment in Motion

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Hydraulics: The Science that Keeps Equipment in Motion

Innovation and technology are often thought of as modern ideas associated with
concepts such as robotics, genetics, and information technology, to name a few.
However, innovative ideas and advancements have been occurring since the beginning
of human civilization. We have assimilated the great inventions of old into our daily lives
and routines without even noticing, and this is also the case with hydraulics.

Derived from the Greek hydraulikos (water organ), hydraulics has played a
significant role in the technological advances that have allowed us to do more with much
less effort. Irrigation, aqueducts, and turbines were all built following the principles of fluid
mechanics. In practice, hydraulic motion aligns with Pascal’s Law, which states that when
applying pressure to an incompressible fluid within a confined space, said pressure would
distribute evenly in all directions. In mechanical equipment, this pressure can be applied
by a piston exerting compression over oil contained within a cylinder; this force will
multiply and affect a receiving object, like a secondary piston, even if it is heavier or larger
in size.

How does hydraulics work?

Equipment in the days of the Industrial Revolution was mostly powered by steam,
which had its highest peak around the construction and operation of the railroad. Hybrid
solutions began to emerge soon after, integrating cable hydraulics to steam engines to
enhance efficiency. Innovators such as William Armstrong with the hydraulic accumulator
and Harry Franklin Vickers with the first hydraulic steering system, pushed the advances
that shaped the industry, allowing operators to perform more precise and heavy
workloads with minimal effort in lesser timeframes.

The mathematical equation to explain the force resulting from a hydraulic process
follows the aforementioned Pascal’s Law, in which force equals pressure PSI (pounds
per square inch) times the area. Using this formula, advancements in electronics and
horsepower management have increased the level of precision for heavy equipment.
However, the primary operating mechanism follows a relatively standard chain of motions,
allowing the equipment to receive constant power flow and, as a result, perform the
functional end for which it was built.

The main components of any hydraulic system are the reservoir, where the fluid is
contained; pumps (piston, gear, or vane pumps), electric motor, actuators (such as
hydraulic cylinders or motors), filters, valves, and hoses. An electric motor powers a small
master pump during the process, which pushes a minimal amount of fluid within a
reservoir and compresses it. This applied pressure moves the liquid through a control
valve with sufficient speed to affect a secondary larger pump within an actuator. This
allows for a resulting amplified force capable of moving, lifting, and carrying heavier loads.

One very easy way of exemplifying how hydraulics work is to take two syringes,
one of which is filled with water, connected by the end through a small hose. When
pushing the plunger of the one containing liquid, water will flow at a high speed through
the hose into the second empty syringe, filling it with enough force to push its plunger out.
Once this second syringe has been filled with water, pushing the plunger again will
pressure water back into the first syringe with the same effect.

Why is it essential for the Construction and Agricultural Industries?

Today hydraulics continue to power heavy-duty equipment in increasingly
sophisticated ways, from a simple break mechanism to powerlifting, and play a
fundamental role in many industrial processes at varying degrees of complexity and
strength. Their impact on agriculture and construction has been significant in reducing
manual power requirements, injuries, costs, and downtime, increasing effectiveness for
better results. Hydraulic equipment is reliable and can be controlled by an operator
through a joystick for ease of use. As such, excavator, trenchers, dozers, cranes, loaders,
tractors, sprayers, irrigation systems, balers, and many others still operate under these
mechanisms, which require proper maintenance to ensure their integrity and avoid
malfunctions that could impact production and safety. We have mentioned before about
the importance of maintenance for agriculture operations, and the same applies to
construction equipment that is exposed to extreme working conditions. Hydraulic systems
must be clean, unobstructed, and properly maintained so the work requirements are
fulfilled.

Our TUTELA® Hydraulic Fluids are some of the many solutions VISCOSITY Oil has to
offer. Tutela provides the necessary protection against temperature, varnish, wear, and
sludge, allowing the pieces of the hydraulic system to operate at optimal conditions.
The TUTELA® PREMIUM 46HVXtra Duty and the ISO 3246 & 68 formulations have been
designed to enhance durability and prevent corrosion and cavitation, with industry-level
sheer stability. Learn more about our Tutela Hydraulic Fluids and all our solutions in our
product page and continue working in fluid motion with VISCOSITY Oil, experts in heavy-duty
equipment protection for over 125 years. 

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