Lubricants: The Key to an Efficient Maintenance Budget

Lubricants: The Key to an Efficient Maintenance Budget
The changes brought by the COVID pandemic have strained the production and development of
many companies throughout the country, causing an increase in various expenses in the farming industry.
The focus of such expenses should be optimizing processes that can positively impact farming operations,
including maintenance.
Different heavy-duty machinery is required depending on the fieldwork, and farming equipment is a significant investment. For example, a new tractor can range between $300,000 and $750,000, but farmers must also consider annual repairs and additional operating costs, and of course, unforeseen circumstances that can skew anyone’s budget and plans.
Ownership costs such as insurance, taxes, and housing can result in a considerably steep bill for a single piece of machinery with an economic life of about 15 to 20 years. Seeders, irrigation systems, plows, among other equipment and tools, must also be considered in that budget, including any new IoT and smart technology being implemented to make operations more efficient.
“Lubricants have a significant role to play.”
There are many requirements that lubricants must fulfill to ensure equipment works properly, regardless of external conditions and pressure. Adequately lubricated equipment is vital to reduce energy consumption and to improve engine performance. Additionally, protecting mechanical elements against wear and corrosion, keeping mechanisms clean, and maintaining temperature by evacuating the heat generated in the engine becomes crucial to ensure equipment longevity. Thankfully, VISCOSITY specializes in fluids and hydraulics to keep you working in fluid motion.
Finding the suitable lubricant for heavy-duty vehicles is not always that simple, and it requires following the manufacturer’s specifications and the trusted assistance of an expert dealer, who can advise on the best option according to the make, model, and issues to be covered. Not all fluids are suitable for every engine’s needs, especially when it comes to agricultural equipment, which requires a higher level of protection due to the daily operating pressure it goes through. Oil manufacturers must work to develop quality products that meet the standards of each OEM. They must also ensure the API and SAE classifications are meeting the specifications they have been designed to cover for the equipment model with no troublesome side effects, specifically considering the horsepower they require to operate correctly and the extreme conditions they can be under daily.
Even though the goal is always to save as much as we can in operations and maintenance costs, a cheap alternative is not always the best solution. Aside from requiring constant changes to account for the poor performance these lower-cost products show, the chemicals in their formulas might be diluted or mixed with recycled or virgin-based oils to reduce manufacturing expenses. These mixtures can be highly contaminating and can result in overheating, oxidation, and sludge buildup, among other issues. These conditions will, in turn, further damage the equipment and can even mean creating a new and more severe problem that hadn’t previously been accounted for.
Quality over price will help you in the long run.
As mentioned, there are many options in the market. It is always good to browse and review what will be best for the needs of a particular piece of equipment, always following the manufacturer’s recommendations and making sure the quality of the products is up for the task. VISCOSITY Oil company a wide range of premium oils and lubricants specially designed and formulated for agricultural equipment. Their products are tested off-road, which means they can measure their capabilities more accurately to account for the horsepower a heavy-duty vehicle requires to function. VISCOSITY Oil’s star product is our ULTRACTION transmission hydraulic fluid. It is zinc-free and can withstand extreme temperatures. It comes in two varieties, full synthetic and semi-synthetic, which are ideal for multi-purpose transmission agricultural and construction equipment.
Choosing the right product and keeping a proper maintenance schedule will help avoid damages due to wear and tear, work-related accidents, and other extra expenses that may not be accounted for in the annual operational budget. It will also ensure less depreciation of machinery resale value, so it is a win-win for both the owner and their future buyers. Get in touch with the experts at VISCOSITY to see which product is right for you and where you can find our products.
All that being said, oils and lubricants are not miracle workers. An underlying technical problem will not be fixed solely by using better-quality products, but it will make a difference in future investments. At VISCOSITY, our commitment is to your equipment! We are constantly moving fast, fluid, and forward to provide our community with the know-how on how to achieve the greatest results.

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365 Days of Farming

365 Days of Farming
“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.” – B. C. Forbes
A classic image comes to mind when we think about farms across the United States. Acres of golden pastures stretching under a warm sun and blue skies, cattle roaming freely, a wooden barn and a tall silo. While this picturesque idea of the summertime countryside is emblematic of our nation, a farm is a farm all year round, not just on sunny days.
“I’ve learned that seasons go very fast, so you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities.”
Marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours, each season serves as a different stage in the lifecycle of agriculture. Spring, summer, winter, and fall all have specific significance in the farmer’s almanac.
For centuries, farmers have used the moon’s phases and the sun’s cycles to guide them in their agricultural routines and practices.
The Autumnal Equinox marks the official transition from summer to fall in the northern hemisphere. The equinox occurs when the sun’s center crosses through the celestial equator, illuminating both hemispheres equally. Starting then, the days become shorter, with late sunrises and early sunsets.
“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
Autumn is known for the color-changing foliage that falls from the trees and rustles in the wind. Also called Fall, this season is most often associated with harvests; the full moon that occurs closest to this date is also known as the Harvest Moon. This moon rises around sunset for several nights in a row and allows for just enough extra light for farmers to finish their harvest before the cold temperatures and frosts arrive.
Most harvests start in mid-September and require farmers to work diligently to reap the benefits of the seeds sown earlier in the year. Corn and beans will have reached their highest point of growth and will need to be combined for feed and stored or be sold.
Once harvested, fields can then be tilled to prepare for the following year’s crops. In this tillage process, organic matter is left as natural compost.
Fall is the culmination of a long year’s hard work. It requires farmers to take inventory and safe-keeping for the farm’s next lifecycle to prosper.
“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.”
When winter rolls around to farms, it is a season of recovery and preparation.
Over winter, agronomers will assess yield maps and management practices to best decide on how they should proceed the next year. This is also when tree pruning is most often done. Some farms and homesteads use greenhouses which prove to be most important over winter.
At VISCOSITY, we recommend that farmers take advantage of the slow season to review their gear, ensuring they are not running low on any essential fluids or premium lubricants for their equipment to continue working in fluid motion.

Winter temperatures can be rough and cold spells can pose an environmental threat to livestock. Farmers will also need to ensure that their water source does not become frozen over the winter. 

“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”
Marked by the vernal equinox, spring days are longer, and we come out of hibernation. Spring signifies the first budding signs of life on the farm. It brings newborn animals, the first sprouts, and work starts to get busier.
After-winter maintenance is needed on the grounds. For farms with livestock, it is important to check the fences’ quality.
Most crops, including corn, soybeans and sugarbeets, are planted at the start of this season, while the first greens are picked. Some farmers will use pre-emergence herbicides to prevent weeds from sprouting and pesticides to keep away any pesky plagues.
As the famous rhyme says, March winds and April showers will make way for May’s flowers. However, due to climate change, it is important to remember that there can be latent frosts in spring which can severely affect crops and damage fields. Farmers must take preventative measures for unpredictable forecasts.
“‘Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.”
Next, summer arrives and proves to be a favorite time of year on the farm. Though gifted with the longest days and the most fruit on the trees, this season requires a lot of work for farmers, and for many, it can be a make-or-break environment.
Rain is also a critical factor in these months. Too much or too little can have a detrimental effect on farms, so special attention to irrigation is a must to make sure crops do not suffer from drought.
From monitoring crop control to fertilizing fields, summer tasks farmers with maintaining the maximum conditions under extreme heat. Finding this balance can be a challenge and it is important to take personal care to achieve best performance.
Livestock needs extra care this season. They require enough access to water and shade to not overheat. This is the time of year for fairs and livestock competitions, too. Summer also asks that farmers cut, chop, and bale hay.
Although farm life might not seem like the most fast-paced lifestyle, farmers keep busy all year round. VISCOSITY Oil knows that timing is everything on a farm and aims to support the community with their proper planning and seasonal preparation necessary. The hours fly by when working the land, but there is always reward to be had.
Let us know which is your favorite season spent on the farm and check out our products to find the perfect fit for you to keep working fast, fluid, and forward, 365 days a year!

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International Dog Day: a Spotlight on Farm Dogs

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International Dog Day: a Spotlight on Farm Dogs

“Every dog has its day!”

Known for their unconditional love and loyalty, dogs are famously called man’s best friend, but these canine companions are more than meets the eye.

Aside from being the perfect pets and playmates, dogs are adaptable to many environments and have often played different service roles in society.  Dogs serve on the police force, can aid in tracking and rescue; others act as assistance animals, working alongside therapists and doctors to support people with visual impairment, anxiety, diabetes, and more. Although their talents are plenty, dogs have most commonly accompanied humans in the labors of the land.  In fact, dogs have been an integral part of agriculture work for centuries.

“Work like a dog!”
We’ve all heard this saying before when we’re putting in extra and giving it our all. This also applies to real ranch dogs and the roles they fulfill. To honor International Dog Day, consider these points and benefits before getting a dog to be your next hardworking teammate.

Safekeeping

First things first: dogs are among the most loyal animals we know and will always put their keeper’s safety before their own. This makes them excellent protectors.  Gifted with keen hearing and night vision, they are naturally intuitive with sharp instincts that are always alert to their surroundings. This means that a guard dog is always the first responder for any potential dangers that might arise on or near a farm. Whether fire or flood, a farm dog will keep the family in the know so they can continue working safely.

Other than environmental dangers, there are added risks in the agricultural world when it comes to prey and predators. If a farm has livestock, trained protection dogs called Livestock Guardian Dogs are recommended, as some breeds have natural instincts to keep sheep, goats, and cattle safe. These dogs can even keep away bears—or at least put themselves between the farmer and the threat to buy time. When it comes to poultry supervision, it is best recommended to keep birds inside a fenced area with patrol dogs on the outside perimeter to shoo away any sly foxes or cunning coyotes from coming after chickens, turkeys, or ducks.

Guard dogs will also chase away deer from fruit trees and will let the farmers know when any visitor, welcome or not, arrives.

Herding

Dogs are also very skilled herders on the homestead.  With dedicated training and attention, herding dogs are essential on farms where there are a lot of open pastures or great distances to cover. Herding dogs need a lot of mental and physical exercise, so keeping them busy and channeling their energy into fieldwork is important. They are among the most intelligent breeds and can perceive the most subtle of whistle commands and hand signals to move a flock or seek out stray animals.

Cattle dogs tend to become quite attached to their shepherds rather than the herd itself,  which creates a professional environment and makes it easier for dogs to get their job done. That said, it has been proven that both hard work and dogs give a sense of purpose to humans, so having a dog in this role is a perfect combination to boost the farm’s morale. Be cautious, though; it has been reported that some herding dogs develop their instinct so well that they playfully herd the children of the farm!

Vermin Control

Any agronomer knows that not all problems present themselves on the surface, and it’s good to have a dog who doesn’t mind getting dirty to control vermin. Like rats and other rodents, vermin pose significant challenges for the farm as they can carry disease and contaminate feeds that will later affect the livestock. Many dogs, mostly terriers, have been trained over decades to be talented ‘ratters’ due to their small size, agile movements, and ability to burrow. If vermin become a problem in the garden, a well-trained terrier can solve the problem quickly.

Environmental Impact

Almost all farmers, homesteaders, and agriculturalists care about the environment and its wellbeing.  Believe it or not, dogs can make a positive impact.

The industrial dog food market contributes significantly to the carbon footprint. However, many ranch dogs tend to eat raw meat or a blend of leftover human food like eggs and dairy products that don’t go directly to the pigs. This alone can help cut the environmental impact and waste and reduce the footprint of the meat industry.

Even their poop can be composted as manure in the gardens and fields if done properly.

“Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none are wrong.”

Lots of folks think that a dog is a dog, but which mutt is right for your farm? We know that when it comes to working dogs, each canine has unique qualities.  When deciding on a dog, researching characteristics and behavioral traits is often required, as it is not always as obvious as it seems. For example, just because ‘shepherd’ is part of their name, German Shepherds are much better guard dogs, while many smaller breeds, like Pembroke Welsh corgis, are surprisingly talented herders.

One of the most versatile dogs is the Airedale terrier. The Airedale terrier is a good example of a dog that does well in almost all fields. As terriers, they are excellent at sniffing out rats, but they are also natural-born protectors and can be trained to drive livestock.

Among the top-rated dog breeds for farm life are Australian cattle dogs, Border Collies, Dachshunds, Dutchies, Great Pyrenees, and Jack Russell terriers. This is not to say that other dog breeds shouldn’t be on farms, but they should either be supervised companions or work as support staff. A working dog should be chosen as best suited to the farm’s characteristics.

“Dogs’ lives are too short, and that is their only fault.”

With so many good reasons to invite a dog to the ranch, there are some factors to acknowledge before having a furry friend join the crew.

Dogs will inevitably dig holes. They will bark and scratch and chew and wag! They might hoard bones and other treasures and do all sorts of doggone things that dogs do. However, all these habits can be avoided with proper training and care.

Although most often benevolent, dogs are natural predators to smaller animals, especially poultry, and this should be considered when deciding which one to get.  Regardless, there are many D.I.Y. solutions to ensure that dogs do not get wound up on the wrong side of the fence with their snouts dirty.

Having a dog on the farm means investing adequate time in consistent training practices and learning. Depending on the breed, some canines will pick up tasks quicker than others, but no matter the dog or the job at hand, owners should prepare to spend quality time with the paw patrol to show them the lay of the land.

Loyalty in All Seasons 

Summer comes to a close, and, like those loyal companions working alongside you,  we will continue helping you with the best solutions all year round. Keep working in fluid motion, and get your hardworking, four-legged friend a nice bone to celebrate their special day! Happy International Dog Day from the VISCOSITY Oil Family!

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Corn in the US

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Brief History of Corn in the US

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine –Anne Bronte.

As autumn draws near, the agricultural industry prepares to harvest one of the most important crops of the year: corn. With over 15.1 billion bushels produced during 2021 in the US alone, corn averages 95% of the total feed grain production in the country. This large production volume also makes the US the primary exporter of corn worldwide, with a record-breaking $18.7 billion obtained from 2.4 billion bushels exported in 2021.

Origins of Corn

The most widely accepted theory of the origins of corn—also known as maze—goes back about 9,000 years ago in what is today the Balsas River Valley in south-central México. Similar to many other fruits and vegetables that we are accustomed to seeing at our markets, corn is a product of selective breeding. Early farmers looked to optimize yield and valuable product derived from teosinte, a grass belonging to the Zea genus, considered the mother of corn as we know it today. This artificial intervention of choosing the most optimal kernels to plant led to the domestication and mass cultivation of maze throughout the Americas, becoming an important food source for its inhabitants.

Corn was first brought from Mexico into the southwestern United States around 4,000 years ago, likely from being passed along between local inhabitants to hunter-gatherers living further north. A second corn variant, with larger cobs and kernels, arrived from the Pacific Coast about 2,000 years later. From then on, it was expanded through the region by Native Americans, especially in Iowa, where production concentrated due to its ideal geographical and climatic characteristics. To this day, Iowa remains the nation’s largest producer.

“Knee-high by the 4th of July.”

Back in the day, the adage “knee-high by the 4th of July” was a saying that had a positive connotation; it meant that, were the corn as high as the farmer’s knee come Independence Day, the yield of that year would be high. However, this traditional “measuring” is no longer the norm. With the many genetic changes and artificial interventions made to corn over the centuries, that saying, although it remains popular, no longer reflects the reality of corn growth today. As a result, it has been replaced by the more accurate description “as high as an elephant’s eye,” taken from the song Oh, What a Beautiful Morning from 1943’s musical “Oklahoma!” to reflect just how tall corn can grow in today’s world.

Corn breeding has made it more resistant to unfavorable conditions, and early planting Has allowed for more growth time. Today, corn can be found in over 90 million acres of land, mainly concentrated in what is known as the “corn belt.” The belt refers to a stretch of rich, fertile soils of about 1,500 long, throughout the Midwest, in many states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, and Missouri.

Kernels that keep on giving

The US produces six types of corn with various food, seed, and industrial uses: dent, flint, sweet, flour, popcorn, and pod corn. Of these variations, dent is mainly used for stock feed and, most importantly, for ethanol production as biofuel. Although ethanol could be considered a clean source of energy, recent studies by the National Academy of Sciences showed that it is likely 24% more carbon-intensive than gasoline. However, the FDA considered this a relatively green production and noted a 39% lower carbon intensity than gasoline in a study released in 2019.

Aside from being an integral part of the American food supply chain, corn in its refined form has a myriad of usages, from soap, ink, and shoe polish to makeup, medicines, and nanotech. As a result, corn is a powerful driver of local and national economy, strengthening the value of rural communities, developing and growing jobs, and maintaining its impact on diverse industries, which accounted for an output of $47.501 billion in 2020, according to a study conducted by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA).

Working the Land
Corn remains an integral part of the American economy and is the livelihood for millions of farmers, big and small, across our country. Maintaining the crops and working them using the right tools, therefore, is key to a successful harvest and a continuous supply. You can check more on how to optimize your crop health and growth by visiting our entries on Precision Agriculture in our blog section. Visit our products section to learn more about the premium solutions we have to keep your equipment ready and moving at all stages of the corn season! Keep it high like an elephant’s eye and continue working in fluid motion with the protection VISCOSITY Oil has for you!

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Abe Lincoln

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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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