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ATVs and UTVs in Agriculture

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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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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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Information & Communication Technology in Agriculture

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Information & Communication Technology in Agriculture.

In previous entries, we have discussed the concept of Precision Agriculture and how technology is being integrated more and more organically into agricultural operations. Devices today allow farmers to deal with most, if not all, aspects of the farming process, and the intricacy of the new instrumentation provides accurate readings with minimal margins of error. However, no matter how advanced the tool may be, it would be useless if the information is not easily accessible, comprehensive, and, above all, available for everyone.

What is Information and Communication Technology?
Information and Communication Technology, commonly referred to as ICT, is a broader term to describe all sources of telecommunication that are available for people to exchange, access, and transmit information digitally in various forms. Additionally, it refers to technology convergence through common transmission lines, all with the aim of facilitating communication. Some examples of ICT are the internet, software, apps, cellphones, and operating systems designed to receive digital input and manipulate data to enable the required service.
Using ICT has made the world the “global village” it is today, where people can access data through basic communication systems and instantly connect with someone on the other side of the globe. This new sharing reality has blurred geographical barriers and opened new avenues of knowledge and innovation. This has become part of the fabric of our current society, and quite a fundamental part during the pandemic. The agricultural industry has benefited from this information too, and farmers today can access a wide range of data as soon as they need it.
The Internet of Things
The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is deeply intertwined with ICT. While ICT refers to the how, IoT is related to the what. IoT is the means and tools to collect, store, distribute, and share data. Devices such as GPS, sensors— like VISCOSITY Oil’s Everlub FLUID-I*—, weather stations, and various actuators can provide a wide range of information. This data can directly impact how farmers can manage efficiency, costs, and internal processes by relying on metrics and readings that can aid in decision-making to reduce waste and loss of resources. Having a complete IoT ecosystem results in an organized network that enhances connectivity and knowledge. Adding a farmer’s personal experience and insights gained through years of work in the field further improves the chances of optimization and utilization.
The Puzzle Pieces of Information
Communication technology is made of the many pieces of information that an IoT can gather. The impact of this “bigger picture” has been so normalized in our everyday life that we don’t really acknowledge the complexity of the process itself, nor the feat of intelligence and design that allowed us to incorporate it into our routines. Using smart agriculture, we can get a full spectrum of data, all just from readings taken from our own fields and geographical areas.
Local and internal readings, however, are not always enough. Sometimes, a broader spectrum of information is required, usually from external sources. Some of these data are restricted and regulated, and access involves payment, subscription, or program usage to get the full range of what is available in the hub. Information of this nature usually comes from reputable and verified sources specifically dedicated to collecting the greatest and most specific readings, usually through complex high-tech IoT devices, satellite imagery, and national-level forecasting of various trends.
Open data is also available to collect new insights. The concept of open data stems from the idea that information should be freely available for everyone to use, distribute, and reuse without copyright or patent restrictions. Organizations and governments have open data initiatives that are legally and technically available for users to access, primarily through the internet. The USDA, for instance, holds an extensive catalog of datasets that are accessible by all who wish to review them, especially around reports, research papers, budgetary releases, and other topics of interest. 
All this flow of material is collected and used by farmers to monitor all the conditions that may impact their daily, monthly, and yearly operations, including estimates and predictions that can aid in future budgeting and operational decisions. As a result, farmers today can maximize revenue and reduce expenditures by allocating resources in accordance with soil composition parameters, plant health, heat and humidity, among others. They can also keep track of weather patterns, pest control, irrigation schedules, and even locate equipment on the field and keep track of payrolls and suppliers. It makes for a controlled process, in which the farmer can stay on top of every detail, big or small, to handle operations better. A system of this nature also aids in the fight against climate change by optimizing the use of resources, saving water, regulating pesticides usage, limiting the required amount of energy consumption, and reducing mechanical and human efforts.  
Information is power. And this power in the capable, dedicated hands of the hundreds of farmers in our country will ensure our land continues growing and providing the resources we all need. With optimization, connection, and a focus on sustainability, Information and Communication Technology, in conjunction with the Internet of Things, have become the tools of tomorrow for making the changes we need today.  
If you want to learn about our digital solutions and Everlub FLUID-I* sensor, send your query to our contact us section. Check our other blog entries for more interesting topics and continue working in fluid motion with all the quality products VISCOSITY Oil has for you!   

*Everlub FLUID-I is powered by Contelligent.   

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Powering Agricultural Operations: A road to Renewable Energy

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Powering Agricultural Operations: A road to Renewable Energy.
Technological advances have evolved hand in hand with the means to power them. Early innovations around agriculture relied mainly on human and animal traction; later improvements made way for steam and gasoline-powered equipment, replacing animals with more modern and efficient machines that allowed farmers to increase yield and productivity.
Electricity and Generators
Electricity slowly entered the market as experiments and ideas flourished in the late 19th to early 20th century. Electrical distribution was eventually established in cities and urban settings; however, rural areas were not considered during this initial expansion. Electrical Cooperatives at the time were purchasing energy in bulk and distributing it through their lines and began pushing for a complete transmission system that could reach farms, ranches, and other isolated sectors of the country. Finally, in 1936, the Rural Electrification Act was passed under President Roosevelt’s government, which granted loans to expand power lines, initially used for lighting and smaller fixtures. The Rural Electrification Administration was established to monitor these initiatives, and, by 1953, over 90% of farms in the US had electricity. Since then, electric generation remains the most significant source of energy for farmers. It powers conditioning and storage systems, machinery and equipment, refrigeration, ventilation, milking, and technological devices such as computers, sensors, automated irrigators, and electric vehicles.
Energy interruption can result in serious consequences, including loss of product and equipment malfunction. Backup generators serve as a secondary source of energy, ensuring operations can move forward even during outages, and can be powered by natural gas, diesel, or propane. Some are portable, for ease of transportation to any part of the farm where they are needed and can cover for a lack of power lines reaching the respective area. Others are standby, which are more expensive, but have greater capacity and can be turned on automatically upon an outage. Sizes and generation power vary depending on the needs of the farm, so it’s vital that a conscious and effective assessment is made before purchasing.
Despite technological advances, natural energy generation such as wind and water, has always been present in the industry, and its usage is making a return in a modern innovative setting.
The New Energy  

Biomass and Biogas

Farms are in a privileged position to incorporate energies like biogas and biomass into their operations. Biomass is produced by burning solid crops and organic waste, transforming them into a source of heat, steam, electricity, and fuels such as biofuel and biodiesel, depending on the base material. On the other hand, biogas is produced through anaerobic digestion, a process in which the same organic waste that makes up biomass can be fermented in an oxygen-free digestor to release carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are later processed to create energy, becoming a renewable alternative to natural gas and coal. The leftover solid material can be used as a soil enhancer.

There’s some debate around bioenergy being considered “green”, as the chemicals released during biomass and biogas processes are harmful. An uncontrolled or inappropriate operation can release toxic gases into the atmosphere, defeating the purpose of environmental protection. Other concerns revolve around the overproduction of waste in favor of bioenergy production. However, it remains a cost-effective and renewable way to reuse and recycle byproducts in a controlled, favorable manner, pushing rural economy, innovation, and incentives to improve and refine processes to reduce emissions.

✓ Wind Energy

The agricultural industry has been using wind as an energy source through windmills for centuries to pump water and process grain. The modern wind power energy industry continues to grow steadily, and wind turbines are an option for farmers that want to modernize their operations with a clean, sustainable alternative. Investment options are open to establish wind farms alongside regular crops, or to lease part of fields to wind developers. Even though wind energy is a great alternative, it is still capital-demanding and heavily relies on geographical location to produce the expected results. 

✓ Solar and Agrivoltaics

  Solar panels are becoming increasingly accessible, and demand is rising for its usage in domestic and industrial settings. Farms are no different, and solar installation is now finding a niche not only for powering a farmer’s land but also for investing, leasing, and establishing associations that can provide bigger revenue inflows. The co-location of solar farms in agricultural areas, known as agrivoltaics, is a way to combine space requirements from solar companies with farmers’ need of diversifying revenue streams. Although agrivoltaics is still a work in progress that has many challenges and requires further studies and adaptation, it is an open opportunity to create new jobs and innovations while providing a secondary source of income.    

Photovoltaics at smaller scale is a solution for energy availability in remote areas, allowing farmers to power their equipment and devices. It is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and provide clean and sustainable energy that is easy to install and does not depend on power lines 

Solar also has governmental support. The United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) from the Department of Energy are now focusing on providing guidance, information, and support to adopt solar photovoltaics, aiming to increase investment and projects that can account for energy demand and fossil fuel emissions. Solutions of this nature are pushed firmly to reach neutrality goals and to help farmers and rural communities improve their livelihoods, production, and market opportunities.  

Making the shift to renewable energy is not always easy, and it usually requires significant investmentHowever, the policies and innovations of today are expected to become the new normal of tomorrow. Early adoption, development, and learning will allow everyone across the value chain to grow steadily into a more sustainable energy production that benefits all sectors. VISCOSITY Oil will continue supporting these efforts and providing a service that will go hand in hand with your operations, regardless of how and when you make this transition, keeping work in fluid motion with you with the best protection always! 

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Climate and Weather Forecasting in Agriculture

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Climate and Weather Forecasting in Agriculture

While the concepts of climate and weather are related, they are not synonymous. They both refer
to atmospheric variables around temperature, wind, precipitation, and other factors; however, they cover
different periods of time. Climate observes of weather variations at specific locations over a long time,
usually about 30 years on average. On the other hand, weather deals with variations within a short-term
period, and observation is more frequent, as variations can occur even on a minute-to-minute basis.

In simple words, climate will determine the need to purchase an umbrella ahead of the winter
season, and weather will let you know if you need to take it when you go out on a given day.

Why are climate and weather forecasting so important for farmers?

Understanding climate conditions in our region can influence from the clothes we use to the best
place to install wind turbines. This knowledge, coupled with everyday forecasting, allows us to have
control over our lives and make decisions based on what to expect and how to prepare ourselves to deal
with these possibilities.

The same happens in agriculture. Hundreds of farmers across the country rely on climate
predictability to make decisions around their crops and have a general idea of the path they will be
following ahead of the changing seasons, depending on their location. Most importantly, they can
determine what, when, and where to plant, ensuring revenue streams and production estimations based
on their region’s general conditions.

Forecasting allows farmers to plan and have control over their work by providing short-term
information that can predict the overall state of the area and have clarity over important operational
aspects such as plant growth, humidity and irrigation, average temperature, and pesticide spraying
periods. Having this information can aid in decision-making to maintain a cost-effective operation,
allocating resources and efforts to small seasonal and daily actions, and staying ahead of potential
disturbances that may negatively affect production.

One very clear example is setting irrigation schedules. Suppose the weather forecast informs
there will be rain during the week. In that case, the farmer can rely on this information to readjust their
planning and take advantage of the natural water instead of running their irrigators, saving money and
maintaining crop integrity.

The impact of climate change

Agriculture is particularly vulnerable to changes; a delicate balance is needed to yield good crops
that even slight alterations can destroy. This new reality makes it harder to predict and decide the best
course of action to take during an unexpected event, exposing crops to abnormal climatic events for which
they are neither accustomed nor resistant. The proliferation of pests, production decline, water scarcity,
destructive wildfires, alteration of temperature and precipitation patterns, and other such consequences
become a risk, not only for crop owners’ livelihood but to us all, as these occurrences directly impact food
supply and availability.

The severity of these phenomena has forced the industry to look for ways to become more
sustainable and to find tools and resources that can provide accurate and faster readings to help farmers
plan better.

Climate-Smart Agriculture

In the US, the agricultural industry accounts for about 9-10% of greenhouse emissions, primarily
methane and nitrous oxide, with anthropogenic impact usually related to soil degradation, deforestation,
and loss of biodiversity. This contribution can be reduced by following regenerative and sustainable
practices that ensure production with less impact to the environment.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is now emerging as a viable alternative to tackle these changes.
Its three main pillars are Productivity, to ensure income and development for farmers; Adaptability, to
help farmers deal with current challenges and develop agricultural resilience; and Mitigation, to reduce
the impact of industry-related greenhouse emissions, erosion, and deforestation. These pillars help
manage solutions and processes at different levels within the industry, adapting policies and resources
depending on the country and the particular situation within the region while considering its ecosystem
and natural resources. Government and institutional participation, technology implementation, along
with the appropriate policies and investment efforts, can make a significant difference in the lives of
hundreds of farmers and protect our resources efficiently without disrupting economic and industrial
growth, food availability, and, most importantly, our planet.

Precision Agriculture tools, such as on-site weather stations, can provide accurate and complete
area readings directly to the farmer, allowing them to decide on aspects such as nutrient and fertilizer
spraying, irrigation, plague control, soil quality, among others. Digital tools such as apps and integrated
software can provide information directly from sources like the National Weather Service, sending alerts
and reporting on specific meteorological conditions and anomalies with reliable and updated data that
can be customized for the user depending on their location. Costs vary depending on complexity, but
there are some free and cheaper options, especially for apps, that ensure fast access to information.
Having these tools can help producers plan their strategies better, reducing the risk of loss and damage.

The way to the future

In our country, the USDA has recently announced a set of comprehensive agricultural
investments, along with the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership. Through this initiative,
they expect to encourage, support, and finance climate-smart pilot projects that create new revenue
streams and market opportunities.

As the climate impacts the entirety of the value chain, companies are now taking the new reality
into account to shape their policies and develop more sustainable economies and markets. Many,
including VISCOSITY Oil, have committed to follow strict Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE)
guidelines to ensure compliance with new industry standards, to reduce emissions, and align with national
and international efforts to move forward with decarbonization and environmental protection. This
collective effort will be crucial to maintain productivity, growth, and development for all involved,
ensuring food availability and resources for a cleaner, and greener, future.

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What determines your purchase?

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

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

Price

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

Product Benefits

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

Specifications

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

Striving towards continuous success

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

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

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Blog-Aug_05

A technical question: Common tractor problems

Blog-Aug_05---Internal

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

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

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

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

Fuel and Engine

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

Electrical equipment

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

Implements

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

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

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Small farm, Smart Solutions Banner

Small Farm, Smart Solutions

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

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

Know your tools

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

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

Rent-a-tool

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

Training and Community

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

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

Go online

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

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

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

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

*FLUID-I Powered by Contelligent 

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The Future of Farming

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Precision Farming: “smart equipment for a smart production”

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

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

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

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

Sensors and thermal cameras

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

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

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

Smart Trucks

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

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

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

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