Archive for the ‘Fun in the Field’ Category

What’s on our Thanksgiving Table

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Here at AgriEnergy Resources, we strongly believe a delicious, bountiful Thanksgiving feast begins far before it reaches the dining room table. It begins when the farmer chooses what seed to plant.

It begins when that seed is planted into biologically alive soil. It begins when the farmer is dedicated to producing the most bountiful crop yet.

And it’s those innovative minds and hands that make it happen. So from our table to yours, we’ve gathered our top seven side dishes for this holiday season.

1) Stuffing. This classic stuffing recipe makes approximately 15 servings and takes 50 minutes to cook.
Classic Stuffing
Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
– 1 cup chopped celery
– 3/4 cup salted butter
– 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
– 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
– 8 cups stale fresh unseasoned breadcrumbs/bread cubes
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon pepper
– 1 teaspoon sage
– 1/2 teaspoon thyme
– 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1/2 cup or more as needed chicken broth
– 1 large egg, beaten.

Directions:
Sauté onion and celery in butter over medium heat until tender. Remove from heat and set aside. Then cook sausage and mushrooms until the sausage is no longer pink. Drain the fat. Add the onion and celery and stir together. Then combine breadcrumbs and seasoning with sausage/vegetable mixture. Moisten with wine and broth. Add egg and mix well. If the stuffing seems too dry, mix in more broth. It should be pretty moist or it will dry out in the oven. This stuffing can either be used to stuff the turkey or baked in a covered casserole dish at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes and then an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

2) No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie. This recipe is my personal favorite as it tastes like a rich peanut butter cup, but is totally healthy. It’s perfect for those of you on a paleo or gluten-free diet.

Ingredients:
For the Crust
-1 1/2 cups almond meal
– 1/4 cup cocoa powder
– 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
– 3 tablespoons coconut oil
– A pinch of salt
For the filling
– 1 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
– 3/4 cup water
– 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
– 1/2 cup maple syrup
– 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the chocolate topping
– 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
– 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup at room temperature
– 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Directions:
Line an 8-inch springform pan or pie dish with parchment paper and set aside. (Note: This pan size is smaller than a traditional 9-inch pie plate. If you use a traditional pie dish, the resulting pie will be thinner than what you see in the photo.) To prepare the crust, combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to create a uniform dough. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the lined pan and set aside. To prepare the filling, combine the four ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth and silky. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times to get the batter very smooth and evenly mixed. (Alternatively, you could probably use a hand mixer to combine these ingredients, as long as they get whipped together very well. Mixing by hand doesn’t work as well.) Pour the filling over the top of the crust, and use a spatula to smooth the top. Place the pie in the freezer to set until firm, about 4-6 hours. Once the pie is firm, prepare the chocolate topping. Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder in small bowl and whisk well to combine, creating a smooth chocolate sauce. (If your ingredients are cold, this mixture will clump, but it will become smooth again when gently warmed.) Use the parchment paper to easily remove the pie from the pan, then drizzle the chocolate over the top. When the chocolate touches the cold pie, it should solidify pretty quickly — like a “magic shell” topping you’d use on ice cream. Allow the pie to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, to make it easier to slice and serve. Store any remaining pie in the refrigerator for up to one week. (If you freeze the pie, it will be too firm to serve right away.)

3) Pumpkin Pie. This recipe is also one you can eat seconds and not feel guilty about as it calls for all clean ingredients.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
For the Crust
– 2 cups all blanched almond flour
– 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
– 2 tablespoons coconut oil
– 1 egg
For the Filling
– 1 (15 ounce) canned pumpkin puree (or 1 1/2 cup homemade pumpkin puree)
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 cup coconut milk
– 1/2 cup honey
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/8 teaspoon celtic sea salt

Directions:
For the crust, place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly. Add coconut oil and egg and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Press dough into 9-inch pie dish. For the filling, combine pumpkin puree and eggs in a food processor. Pulse in coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. Allow to cool then refrigerate for 2 hours to set up.

4) Cowboy Beans. What’s a Thanksgiving feast without cowboy beans?
Cowboy Beans
Ingredients:
– 1 pound hamburger
– 1 onion
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup ketchup
– 1 large can (or 2 regular size) pork and beans (not drained)
– 1 can northern beans (drained)
– 1 can kidney beans (drained)
– A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
In a skillet brown hamburger and onion (drain off grease). Then add brown sugar and ketchup. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large pot and add beans. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can either microwave for about 18 minutes or bake them in the oven for about an hour. Be sure to cover lightly with saran wrap or something, otherwise you will have beans all over your microwave!!

5) Sweet Potato Casserole. This recipe serves approximately 10 people and takes 10 minutes to prep. Plus, it saves room in the oven as it can be baked in the crockpot. Can you say yum?
Sweet Potato Casserole
Ingredients:
For the Potatoes
– 5-10 sweet potatoes, depending on size
– 1/4 cup butter (softened)
– 2 tablespoons white sugar
– A pinch of salt
– 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon orange juice
– 2 large eggs
– 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup milk.
For the Topping
– 3/4 cup pecans
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup white flour
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup butter

Directions:
Line your crockpot with a disposable liner or spray generously with nonstick spray. Peel, bake, and mash the sweet potatoes. Add butter, white sugar, pinch of salt, brown sugar, and orange juice in crockpot. Then lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Pour in the lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and milk into the crockpot. Beat until completely smooth. Smooth the mixture with a spatula. For the topping, stir together all of the topping ingredients in a different bowl. Spread mixture evenly on top of the sweet potatoes. Cover the crockpot and cook on high for 2.5 to 4 hours depending on how hot your crockpot cooks.

6) Scalloped Oysters. For all you sea-loving eaters, this recipe takes 10 minutes to prep.
Scalloped Oyster
Ingredients:
– 1 quart shucked oysters in their liquor
– 2 cups coarsely crushed saltine crackers
– 1 cup dry bread crumbs
– 3/4 cup melted butter
– 1 cup cream
– A pinch of nutmeg
– A pinch of salt/pepper
– A pinch of celery salt (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pick oysters free of any shells. In a deep buttered casserole, mix together crackers, bread crumbs, and melted butter. Place a thin layer of crumb mixture in the bottom of the casserole. Cover it with half of the oysters. Season cream with nutmeg, salt, pepper and celery salt (if using). Pour half of this mixture over the oysters. On the next layer, use the oysters, 3/4 of the remaining crumb mixture and cover that with seasoned cream. Top with the remaining crumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

7) Green Bean Casserole. This recipe seemed to be an absolute favorite here in the office as 3 folks recommended it.
Green Bean Casserole
Ingredients:
– 1/3 stick butter
– 1/2 cup diced onions
– 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
– 2 cups sliced green beans
– 3 cups chicken broth
– 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
– 1 (2.8 ounce) can French-fried onion rings
– Pinch House Seasoning (recipe below)
– 1 cup grated Cheddar
Pinch House Seasoning
– 1 cup salt
– 1/4 cup garlic powder

Directions:
Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in a large skillet and sauté onions/mushrooms. Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes and drain. Add the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, and House Seasoning, to taste, to the onion mixture. Stir well. Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the Cheddar and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and cheese is melted.

All these recipes have been AER staff approved for your enjoyment and we hope you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re all about those roots. No bugs.

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

If you’re anything like me you sang that in your head to the tune of the overnight sensation of “All About that Bass.” And now you’re awkwardly chuckling to yourself, only to be brought back to reality by those weird looks you are now receiving.

Or, you are now scratching your head because you have never even heard of “All About that Bass.”

But seriously, we are all about those roots. Check out the root system on these grasses that left a few of our Kentucky customers astonished.

Myco Seed Treat Roots

They used our Myco Seed Treat (MST), which is a dry microbial package that is used as a planter box application to coat seed. It surrounds the seed with high concentrations of diverse beneficial bacteria and fungi, including Mycorrhizal fungi, thus promoting rapid microbial growth and a desirable seed zone.

These microbes work throughout the growing season to help manage the uptake of nutrients that are needed by the plant, while colonizing the emerging root system. They help support vigorous and uniform seed emergence and seedling growth due to the presence of biological carbon and its ability to absorb and hold moisture around the seed.

Perhaps it’s the diversity of microbes in MST that sets it apart from other seed inoculents?

Until next time, happy trails!

Potatoes the size of grapefruit?

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Yep, you read that right. Homegrown potatoes the size of grapefruits.

Just the other day, we got word from one of our customers in Illinois that they just harvested the best potato crop they’ve ever had. They’ve been gardening for years and this is the first year their potatoes were the size of grapefruits.

So, how’d they do it? What’s the magic potion? Well, they changed one thing.

They used SP-1.

SP-1 is a diverse blend of beneficial bacteria, fungi, algae, enzymes, carbon substrates, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support growth of soil microbial life, which in turn converts soil nutrients into forms which plants can take up. Not only does it give small-scale producers the competitive edge in crop production, but large-scale producers as well.

SP-1

In this particular case, our customer used it in the garden, which in turn enhanced soil microbial diversity, cycled stored nutrients to the plant, converted free gaseous nitrogen from the air and soil into a form the plant could utilize, and amplified the effectiveness of fertility blends prescribed through soil analysis.

In fact when we were testing in our own lab, the treated seed pushed the lid clear off our petri dish just four days after “planting’ as compared to the untreated seeds that were just beginning to grow their initial roots.

At planting time, SP-1 can be applied in-furrow or 2X2 along with fertilizers. There are also several options of application during the growing season including broadcast, side-dress, foliar, drip-line, and fertigation.

So, perhaps, the secret to growing the biggest crop to date is no secret at all. Perhaps, it’s just tweaking current management tactics to include that of SP-1.

Until next time, happy trails!

A note on election day

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

As I was driving to the polls this morning I was taken right back to the halls of Bureau Valley High School. Right back to my senior government class. Right back to class debates. Right back to the famous ‘I Voted’ poster (which I hear is still collecting those extra credit voter stickers).

Election Day 2014

What I thought was going to be the most boring subject ever ended up to be the best part of my day. I don’t know how he did it, but our teacher had a way of exciting every single one of us. He took what could’ve been the driest subject and made it real. He made us feel like our voices could actually be heard.

He registered us to vote. And my voice has been heard at every single election since.

So today, as America is at a crossroads once again, let your voice be heard. Because it DOES matter.

Until next time, happy trails!

Pumpkins around the world

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 2 Comments

Since many of our customers here in the U.S. have been known to break state records in giant pumpkins AND rank in the top 10 largest pumpkins in the WORLD, I only think it’s fitting to explore pumpkins around the globe.

Seriously, check out this beaut.

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1,865 pounds of pure pumpkin grown by John Harnica. He set a new Michigan state record and ranks as the 9th biggest pumpkin in the world using Residuce, Myco Seed Treat (MST), SP-1, Starter Blend, Pillar, and K Sulfate.

Wonder if he contributed to the 97.8 million pounds of pumpkin Michigan produced in 2013? According to the USDA, Michigan ranks among the top 6 pumpkin producing states in the country along with Illinois with 547.6 million pounds, California with 194.7 million pounds, Ohio with 100.4 pounds, New York with 96.0 million pounds, and Pennsylvania with 94.2 million pounds. These states account for about 70 percent of total U.S. pumpkin production.

Most of those pumpkins were processed into pie fillings and whatnot, while some were used for decoration purposes. The demand also seems to be high for specialty pumpkins such as various colors (white, blue, striped), shapes (oblong, upright), skin (deep, veins, warts), and sizes, in addition to the typical jack-o-lanterns.

But not all countries grow pumpkins for the same reasons we do.

In Belgium, few people grow giant pumpkins. Rather most pumpkins are used for decoration purposes, inspired by celebrations in Irish Pubs.

In Australia, pumpkins are typically used for the main meal instead of dessert. An Australian favorite is Roast Pumpkin. When roasting a piece of lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, etc. they place a piece of skinned pumpkin in the meat juices with the potatoes, carrots, etc.

In China, pumpkins are made into soups and a pumpkin flour. It’s mostly used as a vegetable, but is also used in medicine as a pain reliever.

In England, pumpkins are used much in the same way we use pumpkins here. They just don’t get near as big as Harnica’s 1,865 pounder.

In Germany, pumpkins have been consumed as a soup, but gained popularity in years of war when food was scarce.

In New Zealand, pumpkins are used as a main course meal, rather than decorative since Halloween isn’t a huge thing. Pumpkins are also boiled, made into pie, as a soup, or roasted.

In Poland, pumpkins are used mainly for desserts and snacks. They typically aren’t used as decorative since they have a big holiday on November 1, All Saint’s Day also known as the Day of the Dead.

In Switzerland, pumpkins are used much in the same way as they are in the U.S. with the addition of gnocchi, which is a small ball of pumpkin and flour cooked in boiled water. The oil for salad is also made out of pumpkin seed.

It’s also believed that pumpkins were once recommended as a cure for freckles and snake bites.

Source: pumpkinnook.com

Until next time, happy trails!

Harvest update

Posted on: October 28th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

The fields are still buzzing with activity…

Want to achieve even higher yields next year? The next season starts now with Residuce. The rapid breakdown of this year’s crop residue through live microbes can reduce your 2015 fertilizer costs. And don’t forget Myco Seed Treat (MST) if you’re planting a cover crop.

Until next time, happy trails!

What is biological farming?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 1 Comment

The science of managing soil, air, water, and residue with biology.

Since we’ve discussed our early beginnings and years of experience, I thought it was time to address what it is a biological farmer actually does. When it comes down to it, all farmers (biological, organic, conventional) are all working to achieve one goal. The goal of feeding the ever growing population and while practices may vary from farmer to farmer, the bottom line is still the same. Produce more with fewer inputs.

Corn grown biologically.

Corn grown biologically.

So how does a biological farmer go about managing soil, air, water, and residue with biology? By realizing everything works together.

They manage air by maintaining adequate pore space using proper calcium amendments and mechanically with iron and diesel. They manage water by draining excess water and building a water holding capacity into the topsoil with carbon (organic matter). They manage residue by choosing the tillage method that supports the greatest number of microbes per acre based on several criteria based on erosion, soil type, and climate. It is biology that drives tilth, nutrient efficiency, and proper residue decomposition for carbon and nitrogen sequestration.

Biological farming is not a single magic-bullet product or a single one-size-fits-all practice. It is a year-round effort to manage your soil’s biological profile so the microbes work for you. It’s about building organic matter, which in turn sequesters nutrients to be deposited in your “soil bank”.

We’ve noticed that if the above concepts are well implemented, nutrient efficiency can be greatly improved. Successful biological farmers are able to significantly reduce their rates of added nitrogen and phosphate.

Even more than a scientific art, biological farming is about profit, efficiency, and stewardship.

Until next time, happy trails!

30+ years of experience…

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

What does that get you? Low cost, high yield farming.

And some pretty outstanding products.

How many of you believe the only way to handle residue is to bury it? The deeper the better?

That’s what we thought too 30 some years ago, but over time we began to notice the long-term ramifications of that practice such as soil erosion that was taking place, even on the deep, dark prairie soils with 2% and 3% slope.

Using Residuce to recycle your 2014 crop residues can reduce your 2015 fertilizer costs with live microbes that break down crop residues. The proof is in the picture -- Residuce used on right.

Using Residuce to recycle your 2014 crop residues can reduce your 2015 fertilizer costs with live microbes that break down crop residues. The proof is in the picture — Residuce used on right.

We found that no-till worked well on the lighter soils and in more rolling situations, but not so much on the poorly drained, dark soils. When residue was buried deep into the soil and had been turned into an anaerobic zone, it appeared to undergo a pickling process instead of a decomposition process that produces nutrients for the next year’s crop. We now attempt to keep that crop residue in the aerobic zone.

Dave Larson used to say if the aerobic zone is deep in a given soil, deep tillage is acceptable. If it is only 2-3 inches, however, you need to work the residue into only the top 2-3 inches.

Think about it. Where does a fence post rot off? It always seems to be where the air and soil are mixed — the aerobic zone. Therefore that must be the point where the greatest amount of rot or decomposition takes place. We feel that an ideal system of residue management is one that incorporate the trash shallow in that aerobic zone and incorporates Residuce.

We have experimented with several tillage tools including disc chisels and heavy discs. They all work well. Crop residue is broken up and incorporated relatively shallow where maximum aerobic decomposition can take place. In a transition period, a stalk shredder can work well by creating smaller pieces with a lot of surface area for microbes to work on.

How about you? Have you had success using Residuce? How about specific tillage practices?

Until next time, happy trails!

Something to crow about

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Ever year, the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a Scarecrow Festival featuring scarecrows designed and constructed by local businesses. For the next week, Princeton’s main street will be filled with them. From a bride to a hungry man to a bank robber, these crows are sure to give you a scare.

And then there’s ours. The only one with official corn rows 😉

Scarecrow Contest

As you can tell, it has been quite an eventful week here in the office! Anyway, each scarecrow is judged with some free advertising being up for grabs. If you have a spare minute, we’d really appreciate if you could hop over and like the chamber’s Facebook page and then of course like and comment on our scarecrow for your vote to count.

Until next time, happy voting!