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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Pushing Innovation Forward

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Pushing Innovation Forward: VISCOSITY Oil Laboratory
“We accept the challenges to make a contribution to our success.”
Our minds bring about change. It is the first and most important tool to open pathways for innovative breakthroughs and progress. Some could be simple improvements like how to make something that already exists better, more effective, updated, and in tune with the times; others can shape how we move forward into tomorrow and transform from the simplest of habits to the most complex technological systems. Having the environment to make these changes and the suitable space for growth and development will eventually make the difference between an idea and an action, between a dream and a reality. As writer Stephen Johnson noted, “If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.” At the Lab, the minds of those looking to create the solutions for the future converge to develop a space where the best ideas are turned into premium quality products available under the VISCOSITY Oil brand.
“What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Over the past few years, VISCOSITY Oil has faced several changes. A shift in its organization led the company to focus more on direct sales and serve OEMs at a smaller scale, a challenge that all members of the VISCOSITY Oil Family faced with the professionalism and expertise that has built the brand into what it is today. The Lab was no exception, and our brilliant chemists and engineers had to change not only the way they worked, but also a mindset that had been in place for years. There was no longer an OEM dictating the needed products; now, it all came directly from the customer’s voice and the ingenuity of those working and perfecting the catalog of available products. Although this transition was difficult at times, the company had a strong product line that was able to carry over to continue offering the quality and premium results that have always been a staple of the VISCOSITY name.

Just as the relationship with customers altered, so did the ones with the toll blenders who serviced the production, turning into a closer and more direct bond that has also allowed VISCOSITY to certify some of their products.

A Day in the Life

Working at the Lab is not routine, especially after the extensive renovation it went through in 2017. The Lab Team members – who have formed a strong bond based on mutual trust— are skilled in various areas and the very definition of “jacks-of-all-trades.” Their multidisciplinary background and willingness to assist in different tasks have turned them into valuable participants in multiple stages of the development process to solidify the effectiveness and performance of all the VISCOSITY products.

For some, a day in the lab can be creating and testing the formulas that will become the base of new products or improving existing blends to align with today’s market requirements. They can connect with other global team members or help field reps with burning questions, either their own or the dealers’, who are a vital part of the distribution process. For others, a week in the lab means testing the toll blender’s mix— a 48-hour marathon that ends with a complete analysis of the product quality—or perhaps aiding in R&D and taking care of malfunctioning equipment. This dynamic, although hectic, is something that the team finds rewarding, and the attitude is always one of collaboration, support, and, overall, enjoying the workday and maintaining a fun, safe environment.

So, how is a VISCOSITY Oil product created? It could take between a week to 2-3 months to tweak an existing formulation and a few months to develop a new product from scratch. For the latter, the time spent will depend on the type of product they need, the testing, how much background research is required, the kind of formula that will be created, and even details such as getting the right additive chemistry. The current supply chain issues affecting the market across several industries have also pushed development schedules back, forcing the team to plan for various contingencies.

Formulations are tested within basic parameters, such as viscosity and cool temperature performance, to later be subjected to more stringent and complex tests that will prove their effectiveness: shear testing, performance, corrosion and oxidation prevention, and lubricity characteristics. Being that VISCOSITY is the Global Center of Excellence for Off-Road Lubricant development, most testing is done either in-house, or by VISCOSITY’s global partners in the Brazilian and Italian laboratories, sometimes aided by other accredited outside labs if needed.

Then comes the off-road testing, the final litmus test before putting the product out on the shelves. When field trials for off-road testing need to be performed, they must take into consideration seasonal operation and how many products are involved to establish a timeline. Summer is often the most optimal testing period; once results are out, customers will be ready to receive fully vetted, safe, and high-quality products that will keep them working in fluid motion under all conditions.

Results that Speak for Themselves

VISCOSITY Oil products are formulated to withstand all environments and temperatures, especially those under the 4S Technology ribbon. A couple of products are specifically geared and developed to work flawlessly under extremely cold temperatures. However, out of all the fantastic products in VISCOSITY’s catalog, the Hydraulic Fluid line is the one that team is particularly proud of, from which ULTRACTION ™  is considered the “crown jewel.” If the market was a sandbox, few could play in the same space as ULTRACTION ™. This product has surpassed industry standards of quality and water resistance to provide the ultimate protection to the users’ equipment and continues to provide reliability and assurance to all those who use it.

So, are you a part of the VISCOSITY Oil Family? If not, what are you waiting for! Learn more about us in our profile section and get ready to move forward with the best protection and all the solutions that have been carefully developed and formulated for you! Visit our E-commerce sites from our partners at Amazon, eBay, Messick’s and Power Oil Center, or check our products section to learn more about the many high-quality and premium products VISCOSITY Oil has to keep your equipment running with optimal performance under ALL stresses!

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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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Rollover Protective Structures

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Rollover Protective Structures
Riding a tractor is an activity that is deeply engrained in a farmer’s everyday life. Movements become mechanical, and muscle memory allows the equipment operator to handle the motions with ease. Safety precautions paired with experience in front of the wheel reduce operational risks and errors to a minimum. However, accidents can happen even to the most seasoned drivers. Having a piece of equipment functioning correctly, well maintained, and properly fitted with all security implements required by regulators is crucial to reducing the risk of severe injuries and fatalities.

One of the most prevalent accidents occurring within farms is rollovers. And to keep drivers safe, two vital pieces are a must have in every tractor: seatbelts and Rollover Protective Structures.

What is it?

Rollover Protective Structures, also known as ROPS, are generally described as steel structures that shield operators from injury. It works as a roll cage system, framing the driver seat area and creating a protective zone for the operator when the equipment experiences a rollover accident. When using a seatbelt, ROPS have a 99% effectiveness in preventing severe injuries or fatalities. 

ROPS are available as:

  • Two-post ROPS: the most common type, two-post ROPS are mounted on the back axle of the equipment. They can be fitted vertically or slightly tilted. Some foldable alternatives are available to work on certain types of low-clearance zones, such as orchards and vineyards. 
  • Four-post ROPS: aside from having frames mounted on the back of the tractor, there are also frames mounted in the front. Some models have posts mounted at the top of flat-top rear fenders, which have been specially reinforced to this end. 
  • Enclosed cabs: the cab structure shields the operator completely, acting as a ROPS. The design is usually installed by the manufacturer directly. 
Equipment can also be fitted with Falling Object Protective Structures (FOPS), made of fiberglass or steel, that can be attached to two-post or four-post ROPS. FOPS act as a canopy or roof and keep the operator safe from falling objects or debris while also shielding them from weather and sun.
Homemade ROPS are strongly discouraged, as they do not fulfill standard regulations for protection and can result in an even more serious situation. If your equipment does not have ROPS, retrofit kits are available to be installed by professionals. These kits generally include a seatbelt for extra safety. If your vehicle does have ROPS, modifications to the structure, such as welding or cutting, are not recommended, as they may damage its integrity and effectiveness. ROPS are certified by regulatory entities such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), among others, who oversee and test security, resistance, performance, materials, and other product characteristics.
Risks of a rollover
Even though ROPS prevalence is increasing in the US, rollovers accidents remain the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries within the agricultural sector. Estimates show that around 96 people die every year due to side and rear overturns, noting that 80% of these accidents happen to experienced farmers. Some of the most common injuries sustained during a rollover situation are various degrees of brain injuries due to impact, spinal and crushing injuries associated with vehicles falling on top of operators, electrocutions, burns, cuts, lacerations, bruising and broken bones.
Handling a tractor is not the same as maneuvering a regular vehicle. Its base of stability and center of gravity differ from a passenger car, depending on model, weight, and dimensions. They include features that have been specifically designed to prevent rollovers but driving defensively and responsibly, following load limitations and balancing requirements, can save time, money, pain, and, above all, human lives.
What is being done today?
As mentioned before, ROPS are becoming more common for agricultural machinery. However, as old models continue to be present on the fields, the risk of a rollover accident with fatal consequences remains an issue, adding to the high number of associated annual deaths. With this in mind, organizations such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are pushing initiatives such as CROPS (Cost-effective Rollover Protective Structures). CROPS aims to increase the use and availability of ROPS systems, especially for older equipment for which ROPS models are unavailable, allowing farmers to equip their tractors with built-on ROPS and seat belts at a lower cost.
Other retrofitting incentives, educational programs, and social marketing initiatives organized by groups and institutions are shedding light on the dangers of overturning accidents and helping farmers access and install ROPS into their equipment through rebates for purchasing, shipping, and installing ROPS kits.
VISCOSITY’s part

Security and protection are vital in all workplaces, and the agricultural industry is no exception. At VISCOSITY Oil, we care for our employees and collaborators by adhering to our HSE policies and internal safety practices. For our products, we have worked tirelessly for 130 years to provide solutions that keep equipment on the move with excellent protection by formulating products that exceed industry standards and fulfill heavy-duty requirements for optimal performance. These are VISCOSITY’s contributions to keeping vehicle operators and equipment safe, but the rest is up to you! Follow your manufacturer’s advice on when and how to tend to your equipment both inside and out, and make sure you adhere to industry recommendations so you can keep working safely in fluid motion.

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David Journeault

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David Journeault

We build the business proposition value with our brand.

I grew up in Quebec, the French part of Canada, and I’ve been living and working here almost all my life. I’ve been a Territory Manager for VISCOSITY for six years; during the first two years, I was the only TM for Canada, but then around 2019, I began mainly covering the eastern part, particularly Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

I found the company online when searching for a job position in the summer of 2016. I had previously worked in other lubricant and oil companies, so I knew the business. VISCOSITY made me an offer after a face-to-face interview at Montreal in October that year with the company’s CEO and my fellow TM Matt Pflieger—now covering Western Canada—and I gladly accepted.

At the beginning of my career here at VISCOSITY, my responsibilities were different; we provided product information and industry training to our OEM clients, building strategies to grow their business. Now my role is more direct. Besides providing our clients the same informative support and helping with their business strategy, I focus on specific accounts—whether existing or new ones I take the initiative to contact myself—, to look further into their oil requirements and provide recommendations for their particular equipment models. The bond with our partners is different, but I’ve maintained excellent relationships with dealers and still have great reception from them. They are not limited with our solutions: we can provide products that go with many different types of machinery, so that’s the kind of meeting I’m having with them now and will continue having in the future. After all, we build the business proposition value with our brand. Implementing the current structure and the new way of doing things takes time, but our value product package now covers more ground.
Traveling has been part of my life for about 21 years and has become my daily routine. I move around on my own, driving primarily in Quebec and flying to Ontario. COVID made it very challenging; every province is different, so I had to adjust and adapt my schedule depending on the particular policies. Travel restrictions had also kept me from traveling to the US for face-to-face meetings. Regardless of the situation, we have weekly meetings with the team, and I’m always able to reach out to other TMs on the phone if I need some information or discuss something with them.
I have a small family. I have a younger sister, and I’m very close with my parents, so I keep in contact with them every day. I have two sons, ages 12 and 14, who are fascinated by technology and construction. One is more into animals, though, and is looking forward to becoming a veterinarian; my second son leans more into construction.
When it comes to hobbies, I’ve done a little bit of construction; I work on some small projects every once in a while. I’m very keen on mechanics, and I worked as a diesel mechanic when I was younger. When I started at VISCOSITY, I participated in some combined clinics in Saskatchewan, Alberta, because I wanted to understand how a combine works, its performance, and its issues. I’m now focusing on electric cars and understanding more about the technology and the type of lubricants they’ll be needing to function correctly, especially around cooling devices for batteries, gear oil for the transmission, and grease for generators and bearings. I’m also passionate about motorcycles; I used to own some motocross, and I also own a Harley Davidson. I’m rebuilding old bikes from the ’70s, so I put them apart and then put them back together, repaint them, and deal with the engine and the transmission. Learning about how they work and reading up on them is very interesting to me. I always want to learn more when it comes to mechanics.

David Journeault has been part of the VISCOSITY Oil Family as a Territory Manager for Canada for six years. As a French speaker, David fulfills the role of mediator and translator when the rest of the team visits Canada. His knowledge and language skills are a tremendous help to get information to dealers that fit their language and needs, providing excellent service to all his clients.

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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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