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Cutting costs comes in variety of changes, Increasing organic production, cutting back on fuel a few ways farmers save
by Jill Aho October 6, 2008, Herald and News

Dan Chin, owner of Wong Potatoes, says business is great for most businesses in agriculture. With the dollar decreasing in value, his company is exporting more than usual.

   Dan Chin of Wong Potatoes said while things are much the same as last year, he planted fewer acres, but increased the number of organic acres. Onethird of his potato acres were organic this year. 

   “We don’t have the (chemical) expenses that you would on a conventional crop. If you turn that flip side around, organic production is usually less yield per acre,” he said. “You have to get more for your product to make up for the less yield you’ll get.” 

   Chin also planted more specialty potatoes, growing 24 different varieties. One of the largest increases has been in the Klamath pearl variety. Jason Flowers, of Flowers Farms, experimented with growing canola in 2006, but decided not to replant it. 

   “I think it’d probably grow pretty decent,” he said, “but with grain prices the way they are, it’s pretty hard to compete.” 

   Fuel costs 

   At Bigfoot Farms, Roger Taylor has been watching his fuel costs very closely. 

   “It used to be whenever we needed a part, we ran and got it,” he said. But this year Taylor has been trying to consolidate trips to town and has even begun riding his bicycle if his destination is within half a mile. 

   “The exercise wasn’t going to kill me and I didn’t save that much time by driving a gas-powered vehicle,” he said. “It’s kind of a sad day when a farmer’s excited that he got a new bike for Christmas.” 

   Taylor also is taking a close look at the land he farms tp consider eliminating the more labor intensive fields because they are unprofitable. He has focused the last few years on pooling resources with his neighbors by sharing equipment. 

   “One person can’t do it all and own it all,” he said. “We used to be very independent. It’s becoming more prevalent that we’re realizing there is so much money at stake, we need to develop more cooperation.” 

   New technology 

   Several small farmers are interested in using satellite technology to take the guesswork out of planting and spreading fertilizer, as well as its applications in other areas of farm work. 

   Basin Fertilizer is an Auto-Farm dealer said owner Chris Moudry. 

   “It’s amazing technology. It’ll be used more and more as the amount of people in agriculture are reducing every year,” he said. 

   The technology triangulates using military satellites and is repeatable, meaning a farmer can return with a different piece of equipment and go back over the f ield with the same precision. 

   While the system is expensive to purchase, costing between $5,000 and $7,000 to buy into the power system and up to $30,000 per tractor, Moudry said the price is coming down every year. 

   Flowers said he would like to use it on his fertilizer buggie. 

   “Hopefully, it would pay for itself,” he said.
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