Manual Tools on the Farm

Keep them Handy: Manual Tools on the Farm
Farming has experienced numerous changes since the days of plowing fields with oxen and planting seeds by hand. Although the days of getting your hands dirty are far from gone, it’s no surprise that many of the manual tools that shaped the farming industry have been replaced with more advanced alternatives. This is especially true for large-scale operations. Today, farmers have access to a wide range of machinery and technology that makes their work simpler, faster, and more precise, introducing a sense of efficiency and modernity to the industry. However, even with all the great advances of today, manual tools still hold a significant place in everyday activities.
Cost-efficient and simple, manual tools can help farmers in a variety of tasks during planting, cultivating, and harvesting seasons. Unlike mechanized equipment, which relies on an electric or fuel power source, manual tools only need the user’s strength to function and can be lighter and easier to transport by hand. They can be great allies in working on limited or small spaces and can help support small-scale farming operations that do not require complex, heavy machinery, helping users save their budget.
Despite their benefits, their proper use relies on the human factor in ways mechanized tools don’t. For manual tools, functionality depends on the strength and stamina of the user, as well as their knowledge of the land and how to best apply the tool for the desired results. As such, using them can be a physically exhausting and time-consuming endeavor. However, having manual tools at hand, even when relying on mechanical equipment, remains a great alternative that can aid in operations even when you run out of gas!
Adapting to Change
Manual tools have been used throughout history for various tasks, including farming, construction, and crafting, playing a vital role in shaping the world we live in today. From the earliest days of human civilization, manual tools have been used to clear land, build shelters, and create objects that are essential to our survival.
Many valuable and critical manual tools are needed in a farmer’s kit. Depending on your operations, you may have just the basics or ample storage of different sizes and functions, and you may rely on them depending on your requirements. Some of these tools have very interesting backgrounds; for example, hoes are considered one of the oldest farming tools, and hoe farming is recorded as one of the oldest forms of agriculture. On the other hand, shovels date back to the Neolithic age, and in their earliest form, they were made from animal shoulder blade bones intended to remove soil and dirt. Plows were invented in ancient Mesopotamia and were later adapted by cultures such as the ancient Egyptians—who are credited with the invention of the scythe — Greeks, and Romans.
Most interestingly, wheelbarrows had no initial connection to agriculture. Although some evidence suggests earlier versions of this tool, the first historical records of wheelbarrows date back to third-century China, where they were used to cart supplies into battlefields and transport wounded soldiers out of the conflict. Some historians have also suggested that a version of the wheelbarrow existed in Ancient Greece, likely to load construction materials.
As these tools have evolved and adjusted, it’s easy to understand why today’s usage differs from what they were initially designed for or even made with. However, it is essential to remember that although simpler, manual tools still require care and maintenance to perform at their best. Despite mechanical tools taking most of a farmer’s attention, periodically inspecting the toolbox will help keep everything sharp and ready to use. A thorough cleaning and proper storage can significantly reduce the likelihood of rust and wear caused by humidity and debris. This, coupled with regularly greasing — paying close attention to hinges, joints, and other moving parts —, and sharpening, will ensure a longer useful life with better results.
And the Wheels Keep Turning!
Manual tools have been a crucial part of farming for centuries, allowing farmers to cultivate and harvest their crops effectively. From the simple hand plow of ancient times to the advanced tractors and combines of today, manual tools have played a vital role in the development of modern agriculture.
As the world continues to evolve and bring more and more technological advances to make our lives easier and operations more efficient, keeping your equipment protected will remain a vital part of the agricultural process. At VISCOSITY Oil Company, we know that no effort is too much when it comes to the upkeep of your tools, so we will continue moving forward with you to bring the ultimate protection for your equipment for all seasons! Learn more about our solutions in our product section and keep working in fluid motion with the best protection formulated for ALL.

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Innovation: Important Tools Driving the Agriculture of Tomorrow

Innovation: Important Tools Driving the Agriculture of Tomorrow

Over the last several years, more businesses and industries have been focusing on developing more sustainable production and distribution models. The USDA released the Agriculture Innovation Strategy following the outline provided in their Agriculture Innovation Agenda, to push for better solutions and more efficient agricultural production across the value chain. The initiatives focus on research and development, implementing better production strategies, and aligning the private and public sectors to make these solutions applicable and available. These areas aim to improve production and market with solutions such as Genome Design, Automation and Digitalization, Prescriptive Intervention, and System-Based Farm Management.
Precision Farming and Regenerative Agriculture are two concepts that have been driving the development of today’s agritech. Monitoring tools are becoming more accessible and easier to implement, while also providing results with less environmental impact and better yield. This evolving market directly affects the economy, not only for farmers themselves but for the entire production chain, including the introduction of new job positions and skills required to continue improving and developing these solutions.
Most new tools revolve around automation, IoT, and decision-making, providing accurate measurements and inputs later fed to complex databases. Using this information, farmers can optimize their processes based on specific parameters, all localized to their land, equipment, and crop varieties. This specificity allows for more efficient process management as well as a more cost-effective, sustainable production.
Irrigation management
The agricultural industry accounts for about 80% of consumptive water usage in the US; therefore, optimizing irrigation methodologies and tools become critical to ensure everyone has access to water.
Whether it is a drip, sprinkler, gravity, micro water-delivery method, improving the water ratio can avoid crop loss. Precision Farming methods based on accurate soil readings and data hubs are pushing investment to fund new equipment ranging from electric and propane-based pumps, smart sprinklers, and monitoring apps to remote metering and ground sensors. Innovative technology can provide real-time information about the moisture levels present on a determined plantation radius and inform the user of imbalances or leaks that requires attention. This establishes more effective irrigation schedules and water distribution.
Nutrient Distribution
Fertilizers are a vital part of agricultural production, containing, among several nutrients, three main components: phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen. Either naturally sourced or artificially designed, fertilizers provide the basics to keep soil nutrition balanced.
Establishing the proper fertilizer schedule can be a delicate task. Excess nutrients can significantly alter the soil composition, damaging and hindering the adequate growth cycle by reducing root system development and killing beneficial microorganisms. Some of this excess can also drain into bodies of water, polluting and altering ecosystems of reservoirs, rivers, and lakes. Fortunately, new innovations are tackling these issues, with a regenerative approach to agriculture and soil preservation, mixed with improved management tools.
Aerial views provided by drones and satellite multispectral imagery allow farmers to get accurate soil descriptions depending on geographical location. Interconnected software and decision-making IoTs offer general information and suggestions to optimize not only the application of fertilizer, but also estimate costs, labor, and other expenses to generate efficient plans and containment strategies. Hardware such as pH and chlorophyll meters, soil testing kits, sensors, and GPS-based grid sampling allow farmers to conduct a more thorough analysis of their crop sites before, during, and after harvest season. Drones can be mounted with specific sensors to maintain a clear vision of plant and terrain state; additionally, some have been specifically designed or fitted to spray fertilizer in a localized and precise manner, five times faster than traditional methods.
Tank Monitoring
Motored equipment requires just as much care and attention as the field. Diesel-based vehicles are significant players in the agricultural industry, taking part in the entire production process, including distribution.
The quality of the products used, from the diesel itself to the lubricants and oils necessary for its maintenance, also plays a significant role in reducing emissions and increasing efficiency, power, and lifespan of the equipment. Premium quality products designed by VISCOSITY Oil have better overall performance and offer the required protection needed by vehicles that demand higher horsepower and stricter maintenance schedules.
Formulations aside, hardware solutions are consistently becoming common practice for many farmers across the country. Although automation and robotics are evolving the market, some simple add-ins can make a difference in daily equipment operations. GPS, data transferring systems, and dynamic interfaces that can be visualized remotely for direct feedback, control, and assessment are some of the innovative gadgets found in new tractors’ designs. Additionally, unique complements such as tank monitoring sensors are now available to improve fluid usage and performance.
The industry continues to move forward and evolve, with more complex and detailed solutions— and stricter policies to improve efficiency and production quality. The future of agriculture will continue to become smarter as technology adapts and changes to accommodate the new demands in quality and sustainability the ever-growing population requires today. VISCOSITY Oil has the trusted technology and know-how to provide our community with the proper resources to keep work in fluid motion.

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Lubricants: The Key to an Efficient Maintenance Budget

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

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365 Days of Farming

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

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

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

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International Dog Day: a Spotlight on Farm Dogs

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International Dog Day: a Spotlight on Farm Dogs

“Every dog has its day!”

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

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

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

Safekeeping

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

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

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

Herding

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

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

Vermin Control

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

Environmental Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loyalty in All Seasons 

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

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Corn in the US

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Brief History of Corn in the US

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

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

Origins of Corn

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

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

“Knee-high by the 4th of July.”

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

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

Kernels that keep on giving

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

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

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

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Abe Lincoln

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American Roots: Abe Lincoln & Agriculture

On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the United States Department of Agriculture.  The former president valued agriculture as “the largest interest of the nation” and, thanks to his vision, he was able to lay the foundations that govern agricultural policies today.

An Agricultural Background

The 16th President and one of America’s Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln is known for many milestones during his presidency. However, one crucial aspect of his life, which shaped his visions for the America of the time, was how agriculture and rurality played such an important role in his life.

Lincoln’s background was on the Western frontier.  He lived with his family on acres of land used for pioneer exploitation, in comparison to settled cultivation.  Lincoln was born in a log hut in Central Kentucky, but it was no woodsy fairytale.  As a child, he grew up on a 30-acre farm where only half could be cultivated due to the natural landscape and geography characterized by hills.

Upon realizing that this lifestyle was not sustainable, Lincoln’s father moved the family to 160 acres of marshland in southern Indiana, where he later developed acres of corn, wheat, and oats.  A young man himself, Lincoln was hired to work the farm and other tasks until he was ready to set out on his own.  There is no doubt that this quality of life shaped the man into who he became as President of the United States.  As he moved forward on his journey, Lincoln continued to shape frontiers and became a country lawyer.  Given his experience and background, he became a figure that represented farmers and small-town democracy.

As his career furthered, Lincoln never strayed too far from his roots. He would attend state fairs and endorse them as places for bringing the community together, furthering discussions of how to improve agriculture throughout the country.  Gifted with an innovative mind, Lincoln learned from his years of observing the field and would offer his wisdom on how to steer agricultural technology.  One example is how Lincoln commented on the potential efficiency of using steam plows in contrast to horse-drawn machines.

The Early Stages of the USDA

Once he became President, and two and a half years after he signed on the creation of the USDA into law, Lincoln referred to the newly created Department as “The People’s Department”. This significant statement echoes the great value that American citizens put into farming and agriculture, and how working the land is the basis of economic and social development for communities all over the country.  This moment in our political history allowed for great strides in agricultural development and significance, touching the lives of the citizens and improving their quality of life even today.

In his speech, Lincoln’s stated: “The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely The People’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress.” He later appointed agriculturalist Isaac Newton as Commissioner of Agriculture.  Newton had been a model farmer who worked as chief of agriculture in the Patent Office, who shared the same values and a close friendship with the President.

Committed to education and his values that farmers’ interests were the interests of the country, Lincoln pioneered for agricultural reform and different structures of labor management and landowning.  To quote, he said: “…no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture.”  Staying true to his beliefs, Lincoln continued to advocate as a nominee of the Republican Party in 1860 and would work towards many proposals’ fruition.  Alongside the creation of the federal Department of Agriculture, other motions included the demand for homestead measures, federal aid in the construction of the railroad to the Pacific Ocean and grants to fund federal land as spaces for higher education in engineering and agriculture.  Lincoln was, in all senses, a pioneer of his times.

Moving Forward

In 1862, about half of Americans were either living or working on farms. Today, that statistic has drastically dropped to 2%, mostly due to the massive move into city and the new technologies, industries, and increased access to education that defined the later part of the XX century.  Despite this shift, the USDA has continued its role of improving agriculture, food, science, natural resource conservation and economic development, maintaining Lincoln’s legacy and hopes for the future.  In 2012, the Department celebrated its 150th and continues to move forward into the challenges and significant advances that have revolutionized agriculture in the XXI century.

Honest Abe was known for his humility and for valuing the hard work of the laboring class. As a company, here at VISCOSITY, we share those same values, following the vision of always working in fluid motion to provide the solutions that our customers need. Visit our About Us section to learn more about our company and get all the premium products we have designed especially for your heavy-duty equipment.

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National Gardening Month

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The Seed Once Sown: National Gardening Month
As the warm weather makes its way north, there is more sunlight in the sky, and green leaves begin to sprout across the land. With springtime now upon us, what better way to celebrate it than through gardening?
With the birds chirping in the morning, bees buzzing in the afternoon, and flower buds blossoming all over, now is the time to break out of the winter blues and get outside. As Gertrude Jekyll, a famous horticulturist and garden designer once said, “the love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on the 22nd, but what many people do not know is that April is also National Gardening Month. This period grants us an excellent opportunity to celebrate what we love: the fresh air and outdoors, sinking our hands into the soil, the sights and smells of springtime that surround us in a garden full of fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs.
How did it begin?
For centuries worldwide, after enduring long and harsh winters, traditions to welcome spring have been observed to celebrate rebirth, renewal, and growth. The Spring Equinox is marked on March 20th, as the sun crosses the celestial equator moving north and bringing with it warmth, abundance, and longer days.
The origins of National Gardening Month in the US can be traced back to President Ronald Reagan when in 1986, he declared the first National Gardening Week. Later on, the National Garden Bureau non-profit continued to sponsor the project, pushing to “educate, inspire and motivate people to increase the use of plants in homes, gardens, and workplaces.” In 2002, this week-long observation was extended to the entire month, highlighting the importance of gardening in our lives. All across the country, there are gardening-related events, educational activities, local plant sales and swaps, horticulture seminars, and more for all who wish to get their hands dirty and enjoy a sunny day out.
Why is gardening so important?

With the difficulties brought along with the pandemic, a decline in national and global health was seen across the board. National Gardening Month is the perfect excuse to remind us that we can each play a role in taking care of ourselves and our surroundings.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, there are over 2 million farms in the US, and about 96% are family-owned. Farms are a crucial aspect of American culture, but what about smaller projects? Here at Viscosity, we understand that small actions make a genuine difference. Whether it’s large-scale agriculture on farms, the neighborhood community plot, or small potted plants on the balcony, gardening offers plenty of benefits to individuals, as well as the collective community and the environment.

A healthy pastime
Gardening has innumerable benefits, whether you look into the science or spirituality behind it.
Farmers understand better than anyone that we are all part of the same team to nurture growth and contribute to our planet’s biodiversity and health. Gardens create homes for insects and animals of all kinds, aiding in maintaining natural lifecycles and environmental balance.
Aside from the many nature-related benefits, gardening gives our bodies exercise, promoting heart health, and lowering blood pressure. It also allows us the opportunity to absorb vitamin D, which many are lacking after months of winter, plus weeks of quarantine. Surprisingly, gardening has also been shown to delay the onset of dementia as it activates focus and concentration, kickstarting brain function.
People tend to be calmer and happier when spending time outside surrounded by nature. It has even been studied that digging in dirt relieves stress and improves mood. It could be due to microscopic non-pathogenic bacteria with high serotonin levels (commonly known as the happy hormone) that are abundant in soil. This means that with less anxiety and stress, gardening adds years to your life.
Furthermore, after having experienced more isolation and food insecurity due to COVID-19, it’s vital to mention the power gardens have to bring people together. There was a boom in community gardens throughout the pandemic, allowing access to fresh produce to those who might not have it, especially in urban environments. This also gives people a sense of agency over their food sources. Community gardens serve not only to grow foods but also to cultivate social support and emotional well-being.
And let’s not forget that growing a garden can also be a relief on your wallet. With the rising costs of fresh produce, investing in gardening tools and supplies sooner than later can be a great way to cut costs at the supermarket, all while maintaining well-rounded health.
Whether it’s a shared space to tend plants and soil or just sharing seeds and cuttings with neighbors and friends, gardening has been a staple part of our survival as a community, as well as a healthy way to reconnect with our world and our roots.
Spring forward!
Now it’s time to celebrate! For small growers out there, you might consider a decorative, ornamental garden or something practical and easy, like growing herbs for your kitchen. Even growing just one cherry tomato plant or sprout of oregano can be the satisfying hobby you never knew you needed.
Gardens can be multipurpose, where you grow and prepare your own farm-to-table recipes, or where you create a relaxing place to meditate or enjoy a picnic; they can even become new habitats for pollinators and seasonal birds, adding harmony in an environment that is constantly changing.

In some places around the country, the climate might not yet permit everyone to get out right away, but with the changing weather promising good growing seasons to come, it is time to begin preparing the ground. A good study will allow you to pick a project that fits into your schedule and your land. Once you have decided what kind of gardening projects you wish to embark upon this year, gather your materials and spring forward with your friends and family. Remember to be patient and celebrate the sometimes slow growing process.

Working the ways of the land is done year-round, each season offering a new task or project out in the field, and here at VISCOSITY, we have everything you need so you can do it all with the best protection at all seasons. Whether you work big or go for something smaller, there is no time like the present to get started – enjoy National Garden Month!

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ATVs and UTVs in Agriculture

AtvsUtvs
ATVs and UTVs in Agriculture
Agriculture is not only about the seeders, the tractors, and the power tools working in the field. Sometimes, it’s all about practicality and ease of access, and for that, farmers have ATVs and UTVs to help them. Off-road vehicles are a great way to carry loads, travel across rugged terrain, and even perform fieldwork with a lighter vehicle in a concentrated area.
ATV vs. UTV

ATV is the acronym for all-terrain vehicle, a four-wheeler that can usually accommodate a single driver in a straddled seating position. ATVs are steered using handlebars, like a regular bike, with a thumb throttle to control acceleration and a brake handle or foot pedal to brake. They are designed to be maneuvered easily over challenging terrain and can sometimes be fitted with ROPS for protection against accidents. ATVs are often used for recreational activities as well.

UTV, on the other hand, refers to utility-terrain vehicles, much better fitted for fieldwork. With a broader and sturdier structure, UTVs are a great way of carrying equipment and loads while accommodating a side passenger. Unlike ATVs, UTVs are maneuvered using a steering wheel and, like cars, the acceleration and brakes are controlled by using pedals. Although they can be fast, they are not as agile or light as an ATV.
Which is the best for my field?
The most straightforward answer to this question is another question: what do you need the vehicle for? Truth is, both can fulfill similar tasks, but as the strength and maneuverability of both vehicles differ, the principle matter is to establish is what the vehicle will be used for and how to use their characteristics in the most advantageous way possible.
If you need to go about the field, monitor and inspect crops, livestock, and other overall processes, the best choice would be an ATV. They can move fast, maneuver quickly, and perform versatile tasks that do not have a heavy impact on the vehicle’s strength or mobility, such as spraying and mowing. They can even take on some cargo, although the ATV will resent the extra weight with a lack of power. They can also become mobility aids for farmers that have difficulty reaching tough areas of their land. They are smaller in size, and easier to store in a barn or garage, at a lower cost. So, if it comes to saving space and money, an ATV would be the better choice.
On the other hand, UTVs are used for more heavy-duty tasks, given their hauling power and cargo space. They also allow for more people on board, which means the driver and their passenger can ride comfortably in the same vehicle. They allow farmers to carry heavy loads with ease such as supplies and materials, while also performing farm tasks that will benefit from the stability and power these vehicles have compared to ATVs.
Safety is another great consideration; UTVs are usually considered safer than ATVs, as they can be fitted with more security implements that protect drivers from overturns.
Staying Safe
When it comes to these all terrain and utility terrain vehicles, some safety measures are quite simple, like strapping in with a fastened seatbelt. In fact, most accidents related to ATVs and UTVs occur when the driver or passenger is not wearing a safety belt.
However, it’s always best to have the right equipment nearby, even for the most experienced of riders. This, among other considerations, primarily means wearing a helmet. Helmets that are approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation) are highly recommended for maximum protection against head injury. Protective gear such as eye goggles, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long-sleeved shirts and pants are also recommended. When possible, it is best to be covered from head to toe.
Once riding, the next important action is to be observant and aware of the surroundings to have good visibility and keep an eye on the terrain before there are any mishaps. This includes monitoring for any uneven or steep territory, as well as anything that could get in the way of the vehicle and cause an accident.
It’s also important to mention that these are very powerful vehicles and monitoring speed is key. Many accidents are rollover crashes from exceeding speed limits. As mentioned, ATVs are often for individual use and more than one person should not operate this vehicle. Not only can it be a distraction, but it can also influence the vehicle’s center of gravity, making a rollover more likely.
To best prepare, drivers can always register for safety courses to operate such vehicles. It is also recommended to check local laws and regulations regarding the driving of ATVs and UTVs to avoid any dangerous activity.
Maintenance
ATVs and UTVs are versatile vehicles with a lot of power, so taking care of them is highly important to get the most out of your machine.
Before every ride, operators should always check the oil, as having the right levels will determine how much strain can be put on the vehicle. A common mistake is to neglect the routine oil check, which will cause a vehicle to lock up from lack of lubrication. Likewise, it is very important to check the radiator cap and coolant often to maintain a proper amount. Additionally, using a good quality high-octane fuel it is key to have the vehicle operating at peak performance.
Other important aspects to keep an eye on are the physical mechanics of your machine. Damaged cables or wiring can cause serious harm to your vehicle. The tires are an equally vital aspect, as these vehicles are heavy-duty equipment that go through all sorts of terrain. To avoid damage to the machine and to further protect passengers, reviewing the tires, along with the cables, is a crucial task to optimize its usage.
VISCOSITY Oil Company has all the products you need to keep your ATVs and UTVs working in peak condition. Our extensive line of coolants, greases, and lubricants has been designed to protect equipment from heavy stress at all seasons and you can browse them all in our product section. Do you want to take the VISCOSITY Oil route? Find us on  Amazon and eBay for a quick purchase, or visit our partners at Power Oil Center and Messicks Farm Equipment for more! You can also request your local dealer for the solution that you need, or contact us directly to find more about our expert portfolio, formulated for ALL!

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Broadband Agriculture

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Broadband in Agriculture
From checking your social media and watching your favorite cat videos, to looking for that particular recipe and finding an address on a map, there are millions of things that can be done through the internet. This innovation was born amid the Information Age and was initially conceived—and still primarily used—for sharing data and information in the 1960s. Over time and thanks to the new advances in technology, it grew steadily in complexity and functionality, introducing emailing capabilities and the revolutionary World Wide Web, which made accessing information easier and faster.
Today, the internet is a hub of various resources that allow us to stay connected to the entire world, and it’s used in multiple forms on most—if not all—aspects of our everyday life.
What is Broadband?
Although the internet cannot be seen or touched, it relies on physical devices for reception and transmission. The most traditional form of connection used to be, and still in some parts is, dial-up, which requires a modem and a telephone network, allowing the user to dial into the net through a specific set of numbers given by the internet provider. However, dial-up depends entirely on the availability of the phone line, and they tend to be slower and not cost-effective overall.
These issues are tackled by a much faster and efficient option known as broadband. Broadband is described as a high-speed and high-capacity transmission that is available at all times, removing the need for an active telephone connection, although fixed broadband can still use telephone lines to achieve its end goal. However, unlike dial-up, both the internet and the telephone connection run parallel through the same channel, so the landline service is not interrupted every time you connect to the internet.

For all its benefits around commerce, communication, and information availability, broadband is the preferred option for most current internet users. Its reach extends from households and restaurants to health centers and even government through means such as fiber optic, Wi-Fi, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), and satellite. It is now deemed a vital tool for everyday operations in all imaginable contexts, where users can access critical information and connect to different resources faster than ever before.

The Agricultural Context
In their Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report from August 2021, the USDA noted that 82% of American farms have internet access, with only 50% of respondents declaring they are currently using broadband service. Compared to the results obtained during 2019, the number of farmers taking advantage of the internet for agriculture-related activities, such as purchasing and marketing, has slightly increased. Usage is expected to continue rising.
Although improving each year, these numbers still show that broadband services are not yet widely implemented in rural areas, making access to information and farm management harder for producers. With the advent of new technologies around Precision Agriculture and Communication Technology, having a high-speed connection is no longer a luxury. It is fundamental to keep individuals aligned with sale and purchase sites, news outlets, health and safety facilities, among other external services, while also having complete control over field monitoring, equipment location, business management, crop state, and other internal operations.
The Government and other institutions are now implementing funding initiatives and new programs to accelerate broadband adoption. The Federal Communications Commission launched the Connect America Fund (CAF), intending to expand affordable offerings in telecommunications and broadband services that can reach rural communities and other high-cost areas. Broadband access will directly and positively impact production, costs, and market opportunities through information management and access to relevant tools to increase specialization, competitiveness, and economic presence and participation.
Connecting your Farm
Using a mobile device to gain connection to a broadband network is known as mobile broadband, and it’s an efficient way for farmers to stay on the move while maintaining a close eye on their operations. According to the USDA report, 77% of respondents use their smartphone as their primary connection device; having the right tools and apps installed only highlights the importance of a high-speed, optimal connection that can take on the flow of information needed to conduct all operations efficiently.
The reach of broadband in agriculture is still a work in progress, and its degree of advancement continues to grow each year. The 2022 Census on Agriculture will shed a clearer light on the current scope; still, efforts will continue to keep everyone, especially those in distant and rural communities, connected to the world and enjoying the benefits technology and information can provide to us all.

VISCOSITY Gets Smart

VISCOSITY Oil has also made smart innovations and has some interesting tools specifically designed to monitor your equipment effectively. Our Everlub™ Solutions can provide the information you need to keep working in fluid motion and you can learn more about them by sending us your query in our contact section. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay informed about all the products and innovations VISCOSITY Oil has for you.

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