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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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Blog-Aug_24

What determines your purchase?

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VISCOSITY aims not only to provide the best solutions in lubricants and oils but also the best
customer service. For us, it is important that both our dealers and end consumers have access to every
tool and piece of information available so that they can make a purchase that will impact their equipment
positively, choosing quality products that are compatible with all their needs.

With that in mind, we conducted a brief local study to determine which aspects our clients deem
fundamental when buying lubricants and oils. Our findings revealed interesting insights that we would
like to share with you. Which ones do you consider the most important?

Price

First and foremost, our end consumers look at the price tag since, as we mentioned in a previous
entry, a cost-effective operation is fundamental to maintaining steady revenue and making the most out
of all the resources available. A little over 50% of our respondents consider price as the most important
piece of information that should be available when purchasing, 38% noted that they compare prices online
before going directly to the website to make their purchase, and 32% go to the store to buy again after
the first purchase. In general, online shopping is the most popular way of acquiring products, with nearly
71% of consumers preferring this option, especially when it includes benefits such as free delivery and
special discounts.

Product Benefits

The second most important aspect for our end consumers is the benefits the product provides,
with around 45% of respondents agreeing that it’s a vital point. Considering the previous view on value,
consumers must have a competitive and convenient price versus quality ratio to decide on what they’d
prefer. The information on the benefits doesn’t only come from the manufacturer’s descriptions, but
mostly from opinions and reviews in social media, with 38% of respondents confirming that they
sometimes take blog entries, forums, or social media posts as influencing aspects, while 24% of
respondents agree that it is likely they´ll take this external information into account before deciding on a
product. These numbers also reflect the means through which most consumers have the initial contact
for the merchandise they seek since social media is the number one source of advertisement for both
manufacturers and dealers alike, followed by online ads.

Specifications

Last but not least, product specifications are the third most vital piece of information that our end
consumers consider when purchasing. With around 40% of respondents confirming technical information
is critical before finally adding the product to a cart, aspects such as data and proof of performance
become fundamental to allow consumers to make an informed and effective purchase. Technical aspects
for the products offered are better appreciated when this information is available directly on the official
website for either the manufacturer or the dealer, making it easier and far more trustworthy for the
consumer to access. Audiovisual material concerning usage and demos, and content aimed at providing
information and best practices are a significant way to expand and improve customer knowledge and
communication between manufacturers and end consumers, while providing useful tips that better
impact business for the person or entity who purchases the product.

Striving towards continuous success

Progress and innovation are not limited to the formulations and research, but all aspects of our
company. Since 1892 we have developed quality solutions and OEM premium products in our labs,
rigorously tested to account for all the needs of the agricultural and construction industry to keep your
equipment working in fluid motion. That legacy has positioned us as a reliable and trustworthy supplier,
and we will continue working to provide the best service to all those who choose the VISCOSITY route.
Our digital presence, although recent, is no exception; we will keep on developing a closer relationship
with our customers so that the partnerships we have built through the years, and all the new ones that
come, continue to move forward with the VISCOSITY seal of excellence.

Browse our website and learn more about the state-of-the-art technology behind our products
and solutions for your heavy-duty equipment. Ask your local dealer for our portfolio and join our newsletter
and our Facebook and Instagram communities; we invite you to comment and share your thoughts and
ideas with us!

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Blog-Aug_05

A technical question: Common tractor problems

Blog-Aug_05---Internal

Tractors have been a staple of America’s fields ever since motorized vehicles first made their
entrance into the agricultural sphere, with model variations and advances dating back from the early XIX
century. Whether you work with a vintage model or you are operating a more modern version, tractors
are and continue to be the most critical tool for any farmer. Avoiding technical malfunctions becomes
fundamental to ensure a longer useful life and more efficient daily operations.

There are three possible culprits for every breakage: the manufacturer, the user, and time. From
manufacturers, failure can occur due to faulty design, missing or damaged parts, and even from poorly
written instruction manuals. Users, on the other hand, are mostly associated with operational and care
mistakes caused by wrong maneuvers, over-exertion of the machine, and poor maintenance. Finally,
regardless of manufacturing period or technological advances, tractors suffer what most machines do:
time and use eventually affecting their functionality. Even after a long and productive period, models can
become obsolete, and parts are no longer available to replace faulty ones. Moreover, upkeep materials
have adapted to times and changed formulations, so they may no longer be compatible with your
equipment.

Knowing your tractor will eventually fail is something that could discourage you, but there is a
positive and important aspect that must not be overlooked: the average useful life for a tractor can go
between 10 to 20 years if tended properly and you can always choose to sell it before and renew it with
a better, more current model.

So, what failures can you expect? Here are a few common issues your tractor can have.

Fuel and Engine

The heart of the machine, the fuel system can present issues that derive from either lack or
improper maintenance. If you notice your machine is emitting an odor, loses power, or releases smoke,
chances are there is a problem building up under the hood. Sometimes it can only take a little bit of extra
care, cleaning parts and changing the oil; other times, it requires a closer, more thorough inspection by a
professional who can identify leaks, fuel pressure problems, clogged filters and can also change and
replace parts that are beyond saving. Using the proper fuel, oils and lubricants can help you avoid many
headaches in this particular case; most fuel system-based malfunctions occur due to poor quality fluids
and/or using ones that are not appropriate for your machine. Fuel that has been mixed or diluted with
alcohol, ether, or some foreign agent can and will kill your engine; the same thing happens with fluids that
have been altered or that don’t cover the needs your vehicle has for its proper daily operation. One small
detail can result in a domino effect that will cascade and create even worse conditions.

Electrical equipment

Having trouble starting? Headlights dying? You may be having a problem with your electrical
system. Wiring is a common reason why your equipment won’t start, or your console is not lighting up as
it should; maybe some animal is chewing on your cables, or perhaps there is a problem with your
grounding wires. Battery failure, dead cells, open fuse-links, alternator, and low voltage can also impact
its overall functionality. You can try and troubleshoot by checking the wiring and battery power, but if
there is no solution in sight, even with your user manual at hand, it’s best if you have a trusted professional
eye inspecting the mechanism. Unless you know exactly the issue—and have the ability to manage it on
your own—it’s best if you take your equipment for an assessment before getting your hands dirty.

Implements

Not all problems are internal. Sometimes the vehicle itself works perfectly, but the external
components and main craft tools are the ones presenting issues. This is common especially for blades; a
dull blade will obviously not yield the same results as a sharp one and it can cause damage to the crop
and your production. Bent blades represent the same issue, even risking accumulating material and
causing clogs; having the wrong model installed will also negatively impact both your machine and your
field. Make sure that not only you are choosing the right piece of equipment according to your needs, but
also, if the piece is detachable or purchased as an extra add-in to your regular tractor, make sure to get it
properly installed and secured before start using it. Any additional tech—both hardware and software—
will also need your attention, so take note of any unusual glitches and malfunctions and report them to
your manufacturer to get assistance before you lose vital information.

No safety measure is too much. Tractors are your best tools, but they also pose risks for you as a
driver and user. Here at VISCOSITY, we got your back with what we know best, but the rest is up to you!
Find some alternatives on what we can offer in our Products section and contact us to learn more about
our solutions to keep working safely and in fluid motion.

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Small Farm, Smart Solutions

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Small-scale “Working smart doesn’t always have to be about the gadgets”

Working smart doesn’t always have to be about the gadgets; sometimes it is about making the most of what you have and what is available out there. Agrotech comes in a wide range of prices to account for all budgets but cutting some corners here and there can help your business yield better, investing in essentials and prioritizing in accordance with your needs.  

Know your tools

Getting a good-quality drone can really help improve your operations. You can find affordable options out there, but even the best drone is of no value if the information it provides goes nowhere. If you don’t want to buy some expensive enterprise-level software, apps could be a great alternative.  

There are many different tools and apps in the market, with different specifications, functions, and conditions. Some are all-in-one, aiming to concentrate all required actions into a single hub; others serve more specific purposes, dealing directly with production, or monitoring your financials. Do you need to assess the nutrients on your plants, or identify the weeds growing around your crop? Maybe you want to keep track of fluid levels using a sensorlike our new FLUID-I*, or perhaps you need some assistance choosing the best oil for your engine? There are tools and apps that can help with that and more; all you need to do is find the one that fits your needs and download it in your tablet or mobile device, and you are all set for your daily operations.

Rent-a-tool

Why buy if you can rent? If you are on a budget and used equipment is not up your alley, renting can be a cheaper, more efficient way of working your field. For starters, it is faster; instead of going through all the process needed to purchase from maybe a loan request to the actual delivery of the equipment to your farm—, you could save some valuable time and just pick what suits you best with a dealer near you. You can acquire the machinery you need according to your harvest schedule and seasonal requirements, saving you the effort and resources needed to maintain equipment on-site, while also having the chance to check if the machinery you rented is actually what you require without the risk of losing your investment for good if that were not the case.   

Training and Community

Creating a network of contacts can be beneficial for your farm, not only when it comes to potential clients, but other businesses as well. Understanding and supporting other trades— whether they be established or recent start-ups— creates a community environment that aims to develop in a competitive, yet fair, way. Having the opportunity to interact with other producerssuppliers, and dealers helps to better focus your goals and builds mutually beneficial alliances that can impact your farm. Participating in public activities, such as farmer’s markets, fairs, talks and other gatherings— both on-site and remotely— will enable you to have a better understanding of the field and keep in touch with new opportunities and resources you might find useful.  

On that note, training and learning is always a great way to keep up with new technology and fresh options. VISCOSITY Everlub Academy can be a good option for dealers to rust out and learn more about the market in short comprehensive modules. Ask our team for more information to sign up! 

Go online

Forced due to the pandemic, or just as a way of expanding business, during the past year many small and medium enterprises have had to rely on ecommerce to maintain their operations afloat. It was a risk, but one that yielded results; according to a research by Colorado State University, during 2020, online grocery shopping had an increase of 10%, a whooping jump from the annual 2 to 3% percent increase recorded the previous year.

Having an online presence becomes fundamental, not only as a response to the crisis, but as a way of keeping up with modern times. The consumer’s shift is expected to be rather permanent; people, who were usually reluctant to buy fresh produce online, are now open and even accepting of the possibility.

Maybe you prefer something more direct and easier to handle, like a simple social media account; or you can choose to invest in software and platforms and get help from specialized sites that focus on creating the best mean of contact between you and your clients. There are also online sales platforms, in which, for a monthly fee, you can sell and advertise your products— even surplus!— without the need of concerning yourself with website maintenance; either way, putting yourself out there will allow you to reach potential customers, create a new web of connections, and, most important, expand your business beyond geographical limitations.

Innovation is key to success and here at VISCOSITY we have first-hand experience. Not only we are still growing and developing better, more efficient lubricant and oils solutions, but also resources and tools that can impact your operations no matter the size of your business. Ask your dealer or contact our team to learn more about our new smart choices, training programs and diagnostics platforms and keep working in fluid motion with us. 

*FLUID-I Powered by Contelligent 

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The Future of Farming

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Precision Farming: “smart equipment for a smart production”

The agricultural industry is rising to the challenges brought forward by change and population demand. In a previous article, we discussed data gathering and IT tools that can aid in precision farming, but no software or program can run correctly if the information is not accurate. Proper equipment can make a difference between an inexact operation and a precise one.
Drones

Agricultural drones are tested for durability, flight capability and performance, and have become versatile tools capable of accurately charting and monitoring farmland with precision and speed. Rotary, fixed-winged, and hybrid drones come in different sizes, battery duration, and usability alternatives, from small and simple, to enterprise-oriented premium level. Customizable and equipped with a variety of IoT, drones can be used to scan, map, and lift 3D impressions of the land, allowing the user to evaluate the soil with high-quality, multi-spectral aerial views.

Fitted with specific equipment to perform certain tasks or designed especially for the purpose of spraying fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticides over the crop, these aircraft can easily fly over the field and release the required chemicals as per the directions of the controller, scanning for areas deemed problematic or prone to fungus and weed growth.

These operations can be conducted remotely, and, with the correct data input, they can even become automated, programming the drone to perform certain tasks depending on the needs of the field.

Sensors and thermal cameras

Although most of this equipment can be found already built into a drone, there are some alternatives for in-field operations. Sensors can be used in a variety of ways, from measuring temperature and pH, to nitrogen and moisture in the soil, and even to check fluid levels in your containers. They can be placed on site among the crop and monitored remotely through a software or drone that has been programed for this purpose. For example you can install a sensor inside your truck’s oil tank, providing a reading that will link to a specialized program, as is the case with VISCOSITY Oil’s UBI Sensor, which connects to a hub dashboard that shows you real-time oil levels. The gear can be highly sensitive, allowing you to get accurate measurements and making it easier to concentrate efforts and resources in accordance with the readings.

Thermal cameras are also valuable tools. They can be used as security devices — for perimetral and indoor surveillance — and also to monitor aspects like irrigation, thereby detecting underlying soil issues such as leaks or dry spots, even when those effects are not yet apparent on the plants. Thermal cameras can have more direct applications in checking plant health, creating imagery of the plant’s temperature and maturity, and detecting infections and bruising.

In some farms, thermal cameras can also be used to check temperature rates in containment bins, greenhouses, and other critical facilities.

Smart Trucks

In a world full of smart devices, it was only a matter of time before heavy agricultural machinery also got an upgrade. Nowadays, companies that specialize in farming machinery offer alternatives that not only include smart gadgets—such as GPS and sensors— but also push for automated and electricity-powered vehicles.

New farming trucks display information on screen to help guide and inform its user of any required data, from the basic harvesting route and land conditions, all the way to fuel level and machinery temperature and condition, making it easier to project oil changes and repairs. In response to labor shortages in the agricultural sector, new options of AI-driven trucks, where the human driver is optional, are out in the market, usually accompanied by a battery-powered system that generates less pollution and waste.

There is only forward with the applications and implications that this new technology brings to the table and it is up to us, much like a plant, to adapt and thrive among the new conditions and challenges posed to the agricultural industry. 

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Precision Farming

Precision Farming
Precision Farming: “information tools for the future”

Precision farming is a concept that has been gaining more relevance and popularity in recent years. In times when concerns such as soil erosion, water supply, and population demand weigh heavily on the farming industry, the combination of technology with low-cost satellites, drones, and mobile devices as well as new software, apps, and IoT can be used to define Decision Support Systems, becoming a part of the solution for many of these areas of concern. This results in a more sustainable, smart-based production that can help your business to not only be more competitive, but also to increase your growth potential and production revenue. Here are two must-have IoTs to improve your farming operations.

GPS

With the data feed coming from a low-cost satellite or drone directly into your computer or mobile device, GPS can allow you to easily navigate the layout of your field and help you make impactful decisions based on location, distribution, and conditions. GPS can accurately show soil variability and properties, layering down aspects such as unsuitable soil, presence of water and moisture, and weed dispersal. The collected data can be used to determine farming areas, the type of crop that will thrive the best on certain zones of the farmland, and plantation ratio and distribution.

Positioning technology can also aid in everyday processes. Once you have established your crop, GPS can keep track and optimize field conditions. Mapping the farm area can help calculate the levels of pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer needed per square meter, while also keeping track of irrigation conditions. Another great advantage is machinery location and direction, which not only allows you to pinpoint a certain piece of equipment in the field— whether this be manned or not— but also allows you to plan the best route for it to navigate thus optimizing daily operations.

Recording the information provided by the GPS can help future processes. Understanding farmland conditions in connection with data can help producers to project harvesting periods and yield estimations, determining quantity and expected returns. 

Software and Apps

Precision farming aims to create the best Decision Support System for agricultural operations. Establishing protocols based on gathered data is key to maintaining and regulating procedures, and so, having an accurate software to collect and analyze the information in a single, multi-purpose hub is imperative.

Agricultural software offers complete platforms to improve farm management by keeping track of operations, ranging from seeding and cultivation, to maintenance and final harvest. Whether directly on your computer or as an app for tablets and smartphones, management software can also provide tools and resources to help with out-of-field operations, such as inventory and labor costs. They can contain a specific CRM to keep track of your client base, while also keeping information on suppliers, sales and external purchases, all aimed at improving budget administration and accounting, making it easier for you to maintain an orderly record to assess your returns on investment.

Information technology covers another area of production: your machinery. Here at VISCOSITY Oil, we have developed an interesting platform to add to your list of favorites. This platform aims to keep you informed on the state of your agricultural equipment.Based on the Contelligent platform, the VISCOSITY Everlub FLUID-I app can help you check your oil levels through accurate readings, captured by specialized sensors that connect to your smartphone providing accurate real-time, clear information. This tool will help you save valuable time, allowing you to verify oil levels remotely and program your changes, keeping your machinery running to keep your work in fluid motion.

Go smart and check all the different alternatives the market provides to develop a more sustainable, precise, and modern farm that can become a reliable source of revenue while meeting standards of quality and environmental protection.

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