Futuristic Design Johannesburg


jay keasling: we are in a race.the race is against time. we have to buildcities, we need them. but we have to makethem in a different way. dan kammen: we need awave of innovation, not only for our way of life,but also for the planet. the consequences wouldbe enormous if we lose this battle. thomas goetz: i'm thomas goetz,executive editor at wired magazine. at wired, we look

at the innovators andinnovations that are changing our world. in the next hour, we'll see three storiesfrom acclaimed filmmakers about the future of energy. we'll explore cutting edgeinnovations in how we drive, how we live, and, in our first story,how we fuel our cars. they're all ideasthat promise to shape the path tothe world of 2050.

[♪...] the world has right now,close to a billion cars, and we might double the number of cars onthe planet by 2050. so if we double the number of vehicles, we really increase theamount of fuel they consume, and that's going to have a big, bigfootprint in terms of our demand for resources to move allthose vehicles around. kay keasling: we're pullingup carbon that's been stored

underground andburning it in our automobiles and putting allthat carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. if we don't reduce that, wecould have changes in the climate that we couldnever recover from. there's a number of forecastsfor what type of transportation economy we could move into. one vision is that we would usemore and more liquid fuels, another one is we'll usemore and more electricity.

right now, more of the industrial activity isfocused around liquid biofuels. the thing about a fuel is, itsreally unparalleled on a weight basis how much energyis in a gallon of fuel. and even if batteriesdevelop as some of the advocates hope they develop,we're not going to see batteries running large trucksand we're certainly not going to see anelectrified air flight. we're going to needtransportation fuels for

those that will directlyreplace the petroleum based fuels that we're using today. this has kicked off peoplelooking at a whole range of other alternatives topetroleum in your tank. isaias macedo: commercialproduction of ethanol as fuel started in brazilin 1975. when we started the ethanol program,nobody talked about reducing emissions. this wasnot an issue at that time. first, and most important,we didn't have money

to buy oil anymore afterthe first oil short. we were importers of oil. and today, more than 50%of all cars use ethanol instead of gasoline. brazil made a very consciouschoice to try to find a way to reduce their fossilfuel dependence. and they didn't have to lookvery far because brazil's climate is idealfor growing sugar cane. carlos dinucci: when youhave sugar cane plantation,

you have only twothings to make: sugar and ethanol. my family has been in thesugarcane business since 1955 and about thirtyyears ago, i thought "there's an opportunityto make more ethanol." now, we're producing 120,000cubic meters of ethanol. brazil today has veryclose to 400 sugar mills. the overall salesis 30 billion us dollars. and this number is increasing.

if you look at how they makeethanol and how efficient the process is, it'sreally a model for all of us. they grind the plant up,extract the sugar from the cane, the sugar goes into theselarge fermentation tanks which combine sugars together withyeast that naturally produces ethanol. they use the rest of the plant to generate heatto distill the ethanol and turn it into fuel. they also use that heat togenerate electricity renewably,

not putting excess carbondioxide into the atmosphere. brazil has gotten to a pointtoday where they're using about 40% less petroleum than theywould be otherwise, but brazil cannot supply the whole worldwith ethanol because they would have to cut verystrongly into food production and into criticalnatural areas like the amazon to make that happen. this really boils down to thefact that there's only so much arable land, and growing fuelfor our gas tanks is yet another

demand on that landscape. we cannot kid ourselves intothinking that we've found a general solution forthe world problem. i think we have to face theworld in this way today. we have no oil in verylarge quantities anymore. we have no coal transforming ina clean way, in the meantime we have to do the best wecan, and the best at the moment is thatwe can do biofuels. sugarcane to ethanol is anincredibly efficient process.

you get out aboutseven times the energy you put into growing the sugar cane.in the us when we produce ethanol from corn, for everyunit of input of energy we get about the same amountof energy out. so we're reallynot gaining anything. we need a better process. we don't have to take whatnature's given us, we can actually engineer plants andyeast to be more efficient. and that's the basis

for a lot of the workthat we're doing now. what we need to look at though,is which of the pathways to come out of this are notonly good financially, but those that are alsogood for sustainability. and this equation isreally wide open right now. we are in a raceto develop fuels. the race isn't withother countries, the race is against time. cristiano borges: to meet theimmediate and future demands, we

made the energy solutionspring from the ground. luis scoffone: brazil is themost efficient ethanol producing country in the world. sugarcane alcohol from brazil can reducethe total carbon footprint by up to 70%, compared with gasoline. the biggest challenge for fuelproviders, and car manufacturers is to reduce co2 emissionsover the next twenty years. demand for mobilitywill continue to grow. we believe thatbiofuels are very

important because theyhelp in an immediate way. all forms of fuel are goingto be needed; hydrocarbons, natural gas, biofuels,all of them are going to be part of the energy needs forthe future of transportation. brazil has been very successfulat taking a resource they had and finding the processto make that into ethanol and people callthose first generation biofuels. we have lotsof lab work around the world thatare looking at the

second generation and that'sgenerally turning cellulosic material from for exampleweeds, into biofuels. and the united statesis very much at the forefront of the innovationpart of the equation. for centuries we've been usingyeast to consume glucose and produce wine and beer. we're trying to do somethingvery similar, only we're engineering the yeastto consume that glucose and turn it into a fuelor drug or chemical.

we call this synthetic biologyand when i started in this area, many of my colleaguessaid "oh jay, this is great work, but where'sthe application, what are you going to do withthese tools?" who cares? malaria is an enormous problem. in any one year,a million or so people die of the disease and most of themare children under the age of 5. so we thought this was a greatopportunity to engineer yeast to produce an antimalarialdrug called artemisinin.

this drug is derivedfrom plants right now, but its too expensive forpeople in the developing world. so my laboratory engineeredyeast to produce small quantities of artemisinin, nowthat process is being scaled up and we'll have this drugon the market shortly, but at a substantiallyreduced cost. it turns out that thatanti-malarial drug is a hydrocarbon and it'svery similar in many ways to diesel fuel.

we thought, gosh we canturn our attention now to fuels. we can make a few changesin that microbe to turn it into a fuel-producing microbe. if we imagine that glucose isgoing to be our new petroleum, we need a sourcefor that glucose. so the crops that we'relooking at are crops like switchgrass. this is a native grass, it growswithout a lot of water and on marginal lands. we couldturn it into energy farms.

the challenge though, isthat unlike sugar cane, it's very difficult to get thesugar out of that biomass. so we use what we call apre-treatment process to extract the glucose from the plant,and then we feed that glucose to a yeastthat we've engineered to produce hydrocarbons. and that yeast takes in thesugar, and it changes its composition and gives usthis high-energy molecule. they float to the top,you skim them off,

you put them in your tank. but it takes a lot of work toget from that small test tube all the way up into the million-gallon tank,so we have to give it time. but i think that some of thediscoveries that are happening might be applied bythe end of the decade. in terms of a sustainableequation for the planet, the role of biofuelsis quite tricky. there are a variety of cropsthat do not compete directly

with food, and findingways to utilize those types of crops first,that's very attractive. so solving the science ispart of the story, but then evaluating all of the newfuels in terms of the land-use impacts that they couldhave, that is an even harder story thandoing the good science. imagine that you could have oneprocess that could take in sunlight and carbon dioxideand turn it into fuel. and imagine if thatdidn't involve growing

anything at all. nate lewis: the syntheticbiologists are trying to take plants and make them do thingsthat they wouldn't normally do. on the other hand,materials chemists, like myself, want to do artificialphotosynthesis to improve on the process that nature doesin real photosynthesis. we should follow the blue printof plants converting sunlight into fuel, but take the approachthat it could be much simpler. all we really needis a light absorber

that absorbs sunlight. we also need a catalystlike iron or nickel. so when you see the hydrogencoming off of the photo-active material, that's anexample of a semi-conductor breaking the chemicalbonds of water to make hydrogen and oxygen. ultimately, our pieces aregoing to be contained in something that is easy toroll out like bubble wrap, where in would comesunlight and water.

you would vent the oxygento the air, but the bottom would wick out your liquid orgaseous fuel, that then you could collect and use for ourcars and planes and storage. our goal is within two years,to have the first artificial photosynthesis solarfuelsgenerator that we can hold in our hands. and then, getto scale beyond that time. we're certainly not good atpredicting the future, but to me, electric vehicles looklike a sustainable option. we've heard proposalsabout things as

far-fetched as nuclear powerplanes, and even some proposals to move freight around withlighter-than-air vehicles. and so if thefuture in 2050 does include a fair amount of oil,what it means would be that we haven't deployedas many of these clean technologies as we alreadyknow are possible. if you think about how long it'staken for us to build up the petroleum industry, we can'thope to reverse that overnight. it's a huge change inour infrastructure.

yes, we should have beenworking on it 30 years ago. we didn't. we're trying to make up forthat, and that means basic research needs to be done nowand by as many people as possible. we have a long way to go, but i'm confidentthat we'll get there. in the future, 3d maps are goingto help people get places more efficiently. as we just saw, the race toproduce cleaner energy is

charging ahead. in the meantime, demand forcars continues to climb. by 2050, it's predicted there will be two billioncars on the planet, and fuel consumptionwill have tripled. to keep pace, we'llhave to radically change the way we drive. here's our next story,'driven by design.' asaaf biderman: theautomobile came around,

in many ways it was the future. we thought of it as one of themore positive changes that had happened to society.suddenly, our ability to get a job changed, we canlive farther away with bigger plots of land, withbetter quality of living. it all looked quite good. but there are limitationsto swearing by the car. if it gets congested,your quality of life drops immediately.

you have to spendso long in the car. it's a very inefficientuse of fuel consumption. things stop makingsense all of a sudden. it doesn't bring you closerto where you want to get, it actually, sometimesbrings you farther. narrator: the average americanspends nearly 300 hours a year in their car. 38 of them stuck in traffic. annually, congestionconsumes over $1 billion in

gasoline in theunited states alone. the inefficiencycaused by traffic, both financial andpersonal, is enormous. dirk sheehan andcarmen white's story is not that unusual today. carmen white: dirk works an hourand a half away in warrenville, illinois. generally he wouldn't leave work until 6 or 6:30 and iwould say usual time for him to get home is around 8.

you all done? thanks, buddy. dirk sheehan: usually when iwake up i'm the only one up. sometimes the kids wakeup with my routine. more often than not, i don'tsee them in the morning. i think about my commutewhen i wake up. i check the traffic report tosee if there's any delays. the worst casescenario, it takes me two hours to get to work.

we are already so limited in theamount of time he can spend with the kids, and ourexpenses are crazy high. we're spending $400a month on gas. it takes away from our foodbudget, and we never paid for gas like that before. ever. if there's technology that wouldallow me to spend less time in the car, spend lessmoney on gas, and spend more time at home,i'd be all for that. mike finn: the cost of trafficis people's time, it's fuel

wasted, it's an emotionaltoll, it's a frustration. utilizing the roadsmore intelligently is a much more efficient approach tothe inability to have supply keep upwith traffic demand. john leonard: if you took asatellite picture of the highway, you can see that there's actuallya lot of open space. if we had the technology forcars to drive more closely, but safely, then you couldincrease the utilization of the

road network. what this means is that to bemore efficient, to use less fuel, we need to seethe road differently. we need cars that cannavigate through the urban landscape in aradically different way. cliff fox: maps in the futureare going to be able to help people get places either moresafely or more efficiently. today, just helps you getfrom point a to point b. but, what if i want to getsomeplace and use the least

amount of fuel possible? or, if i've got a hybridvehicle, and i want to make sure i've got plenty ofcharge to not only get there but to get back home? so, informationthat is gonna help people achieve the more efficientor the safer route is more detailed information aboutthe road than a lot of people realize is possibleto collect today. here in chicago, nokia'slocation & commerce unit is

developing the nextgeneration of mapping. lidar, sonar, 360-degree video, all are components of what nokiacalls - digital mapping. we use 64 lasers that rotate andthey collect data in a 3d way about the world. it creates what we call apoint cloud of information. that point cloudallows us to measure distances then between the pointsthat we collect. that system combined with thecameras, with higher precision

location detectionthrough inertial measurement units, that whole datasystem allows us to collect 1.3 millionpoints of data per second. probably within 2-3 years, you're gonna see 3d maps thatare gonna integrate the traffic information into yourrouting, to help you understand. if i've got 5different routes to take, which one is the most efficienttoday, given the way the stoplights are running, giventhe way traffic is running.

all of those factors are gonna be taken into consideration tomake sure i've got the best route. but better mapping that canintegrate topography, infrastructure, and density isonly part of the answer. another key to improvingtransport efficiency is building carsthat drive themselves. autonomous vehicle technologyhas a tremendous potential to improve efficiency ofour road infrastructure.

by removing humans from theequation, we eliminate all the things we do wrong behind thewheel - speeding, changing lanes too often, merging haphazardly; and by marryingthem with sophisticated 3d maps, we can make driving saferand more energy efficient. that next generationvehicle is being built right now by swedishtrucking company, scania. tony sandberg: the solution, aswe see it, is that the vehicles can utilize intelligent maps.

3d maps withtraffic information. the vehicles willbe intelligent and communicate with each other. they will talk to eachother, they will talk to the infrastructure. and we will seeautonomously-driven vehicles. the goal was to have multiplerobots and see if they could go 60 miles fully autonomously. helen taylor:my name's helen taylor.

my husband john and i,we're very passionate about fuel economy. john taylor: yea it's great tobreak world records, but that's not the be all and end all now. it's more importantto educate people. together we're showingdrivers around the world simple techniques to improvetheir fuel efficiency. we run these education programs,get people on the road with us, and we finally tweaktheir driving techniques.

things like justchecking your tire pressures before youeven get into your car. for every one psi your tires are under inflated, you're wasting3% of your fuel efficiency. and the difference between 65 and 75 milesper hour is a saving of 23%. when you talk to the generalpublic, they're very surprised that an energy company,like shell, is trying to educate people onhow to save money,

how to reduce co2 emissions. and here we have shell sendingus around the world to do that. you always hope when you're onthis planet that you can make a real differencein people's lives. when you get emailsfrom people saying "i've saved this amount of money thisyear, now i can put food on the table", then you know you arereally making a difference. by displaying traffic densityin the urban infrastructure in a revolutionary way,

3d digital maps will help createa more fuel-efficient future. but these technologies arelimited by the drivers who sit behind the wheel. somebelieve, that for cars and trucks to be trulyenergy-efficient, they will need to drive themselves. the technology's coming intoplay, through sensors and capabilities for carsto drive autonomously. in 2007, the united states'department of defense held a competition to seeif a completely autonomous,

self-driving vehiclewas possible. darpa stands for the defenseadvanced research projects agency. they had a competitionto develop self-driving robots that could drivethemselves in traffic. the goal was to have multiplerobots, turn them loose on a course, and see if theycould go sixty miles in six hours, fully autonomously. driving may be one of the mostcomplex things we do every day. drivers make dozens ofdecisions at any given moment.

one study found that drivers were exposed to over 1,300 itemsof information per minute. we make so many decisions whenwe're driving without even thinking about it. so in creating our vehicle,a great component of the enterprise wasdeveloping software to handle lots of sensors,feeding lots of data, and generating a bunch of potentialpaths that the vehicle might follow. and eventhough the robot doesn't have

the ability to predictthe future, by using this fast random path generation,the robot could anticipate a potential accidentand choose a path to avoid it because its alwaysthinking about what things could the car do next. no one expects millions ofcars driving themselves anytime soon. but there is aplace where self-navigating technologies are beingoptimized to create the vehicle of the future.

we're on the scania testtrack outside stockholm, where we have basically, it looks like a highway but it'sa separate test track where we conduct our own experiments. scania, the swedish truckingcompany, has recently begun testing its next generationof long-haul truck, utilizing radar, sonar, andintelligent mapping. they've been able to drasticallyreduce fuel consumption. jonas martensson: we have thisexample with platooning, where

will make use of the reductionin air resistance, or air drag, that you get from drivingclose to each other with heavy duty vehicles. and in order to controlthis, you need to know where the other vehicles are,their position, their velocity, their actionsin the near future. and to be very close to thevehicle ahead of you, it requires that you havea very accurate control. if you look at robotics broadly,there's a wonderful set of

research of peoplelooking at schooling fish and trying to develop theability for robots to work together like that. so there are wonderfulexamples from nature of how cooperation can lead to moreefficient resource utilization. jonas hofstedt: you can see itwhen people are competing in tour de france. they platoonto reduce air drag. they are not bicycling behindeach other that close because it's fun, or because they areracing, it is because they are

reducing air drag sitting behindthe man who is leading. a truck traveling 55 miles perhour expends half its energy just to movethe air around it. at 65 miles per hour, thatnumber jumps to almost two-thirds. even if platooning can reducethe energy used by 10 percent, the savingswould be substantial. if a vehicle in front of anothervehicle wants to brake,

it immediately sends outthe brake message to the other vehicles, so they actuallybrake at the same time. hassad alem: the way we do thisis by, we have an automated system. so now for instance, if i take my feet off theacceleration pedal, and turn the system on, thevelocity is automatically governed by gettinginformation from the vehicle ahead throughits wireless system. we want thesevehicles to maintain a

short relative distance. so through this system,we can reduce fuel consumption by utulizingthe air drag reduction by 10%. and 10% would mean youwould be able to save approximately 8,000 eurosper single heavyduty vehicle per year. it may be sometime beforeautonomous vehicles make up the majority of cars onamerica's highways. nevertheless, some of thesetechnologies are already

making their way into our lives. now this polarbaby wants to sleep. do you get to pick out booksevery day or is it just... i get to pick outbooks sometimes. okay. when we look toward the future,the systems will absolutely make it safer and moreefficient and less costly for you and alsomake your life easier because you're spendingless time on the roads.

the city begins to talk, beginsto tell you where is there congestion, what's going onin different areas of town? suddenly the carbecomes a part of a much bigger ecosystem. we can look at how carsinteract with other cars, how cars interact withinfrastructure and us, the drivers, can start to make smart decisions abouthow to move around. suddenly, mobility becomesa whole other thing.

paul goldberger: no matter howmuch money they have, no matter how much oil they have, everybody has to go ina different direction. we've seen that changingthe way we drive can improve transportation efficiencies. but what if we change the way webuild and live in our cities? that's the subject of our nextstory, "searching for utopia". we'll travel to theunited arab emirates, and discover a city risingout of the desert.

let's take a look. from the beginning,we've dreamed of utopia. a place where we could live in harmony with each other,and in balance with nature. many have imagined it, tried to design it, but thedream always slipped away. then, i heard they werebuilding a new city called "masdar", near abu dhabi,in the arabian desert. it sounded like anunlikely place for utopia,

and i wanted to see it. the last half-century has been apretty bad time for the making of cities, mostly. the natural tendency has beento accommodate to the automobile more than anything else. try walking aroundabu dhabi, it’s impossible, you have to takea car everywhere. dubai, the same thing. they are amongthe least pedestrian-friendly

places in the world,they are not green by any other measure either, and theseare not easy things to fix. masdar is still underconstruction, and it doesn't look like much from the highway. but they claim it's going toredefine the way cities are designed, built, and powered. masdar city in abu dhabi, willbe the city of the future, and the role model for the world. once you see what they'veenvisioned for this

utopian city,its very impressive. it's carbon-neutral, pedestrianfriendly and powered by renewable energies. but i do notice, we'regoing to have to change our relationship with cars. car audio: welcometo masdar city. austin relton: we are driving inthe bowels of masdar city in an electric transportation system. it's slightly unnerving to seethis for the first time and

"where are we going?" the first big move thearchitects at foster and partners made was to put alltransportation underneath the city, leaving the streetsof masdar totally free of cars. the place reminded meof a medieval city. and actually, many designelements are adapted from ancient arabictowns and villages. it's all about looking backinto history to move forward.

there are some very very simple ideasthat have a huge impact. this is a pedestrian zone,there's no cars here. this has enabled us to pushour streets together to take advantage of the shade, channelthe cooling breezes through. the whole scale here is based onthe human being, its not based on the motor car. as soon as you lift up thepedestrian plane by seven meters, you've suddenlycaptured this breeze.

what you can see here onthe balcony is we've got a modern interpretation ofan ancient arabic screen. what we must avoid is direct sunlight hittingany piece of glass. as soon as thesun hits the glass, the heat's transferred into thebuilding and we have to use more energy to cool it down. can this really make allthat much of a difference? yeah, absolutely.

for example, downtown abudhabi... sixty-meter wide streets, black asphalt, mirroredreflective buildings, no relief from the sun. on a day in september, theair temperature in both places was 39 degrees. in abu dhabi, the temperature measuredat the asphalt was 57 degrees. in masdar, thetemperature measured on the ground, 33 degrees,so we've actually lowered

the air temperature. we're trying to do as much aspossible, with as little as possible. these simple design moves, cutair conditioning needs by 60%. but this place is also,technically, very sophisticated. the roof panelsnot only provide shade, they alsogenerate electricity. and the wallsthemselves are made of glass reinforced concrete,literally sand taken from the

desert. everything here is gearedtowards maximizing energy efficiency. masdar does represent awhole different value system. it represents anacknowledgment that, eventually, everybody has to go in adifferent kind of direction. no matter how muchmoney they have, no matter how much oil theyhave, no matter anything else. all of the cities herein this part of the world

have come out of nowhere. there was nothing herenot so long ago, except small settlements in the desert. and then all of this oiland all of this money, and suddenly, you know, wham,these cities started popping up. but they sprung upin a false love of a western model that wasalready out of date. the model of the late 20thcentury automobile-based energy-hogging city.

for most of the world, energy isvery expensive. but the united arab emirates is sittingon 10% of the world's oil, and energy is cheap,so cheap you can run a ski slope ina shopping mall, and build the world'stallest skyscraper. but even here, cheap energywon't last forever, and the people behind masdar aredetermined to find alternatives. martin haigh: one of the mostcrucial aspects of our energy odeling and scenarioquantification is how much

energy in total is theworld going to use in 2050. wim thomas: the scenarios teamis a bunch of people with rich imagination, i would say. adam newton: we have political scientists, economists,geopolitical experts. really we try to simplifythe complexity all around us. jeremy bentham: we in thescenarios team are currently putting a lot of attention intocities and city development.

a lot of megacities are going tobe built in the coming decades. we're talking about theequivalent of a new city of a million people every week. that is an incredible demand. most of the world's resourcesare consumed by the cities. what if we could offer ablueprint for a better city? public transportation,information, energy. we understand demand willrise, we understand the current supplies willstruggle to keep pace.

so we have to of course, find ways of bridging the gap betweenthe demand and the supply. decisions that we take now aregoing to have a major impact on decades to come. there's enough oil underthese sands to last 150 years. but fundamental to themasdar ideal, is getting energy from renewablesources, from geothermal and wind, and most ofall, from a source they have in abundance in thedesert: the sun.

this field of solar panelsmakes more than enough electricity to run masdar, andthe excess power is sent to the abu dhabi grid. but silicon panels areexpensive, and the price of solar power needs to drop if its going to be competitivefrom africa to asia to arizona. in the future, masdar hopes toget energy from this prototype called the solar beam down. uusing highly reflectivemirrors, the solar beam down may

generate power more cheaply andecologically than silicon panels. the mirrors bounce the suns raysup to the tower, and then down to a point. reaching atemperature of 600 degrees, steam canbe generated to run turbines to make electricity. there's just one problem:neither of these solar technologies work at night. so masdar needs todraw power from the grid

when the sun goes down, and thatpower comes from natural gas. the reality is, it’s just notyet possible to power masdar entirely without fossil fuels. the great challenge with masdar, will be "how do you makeit a place that will not be just this ideal city thatno other place could actually aspire to, 'cause itdoesn't seem real." what masdar has to be is alaboratory that develops things that then can be applied inexisting cities all around the

world, because that'swhere it will pay off. there's no pay off ifit's just about itself. the payoff is "how caneverything it's trying to do matter in therest of the world?" right now, there's only a store,two restaurants, a bank, and a few hundred studentsliving here. it's too early to tell if masdarwill work as a city when it's finished, but much hasbeen achieved: they are carbon-neutral, and largely,

powered by renewable energies. solutions here won'twork everywhere though, many cities are in coldclimates, and cooling is not their energy problem. they need to let sunlightin, not keep it out. cities like los angeles orhouston are built around cars. can masdar's lessonsbe applied to them? still, its a stepin the right direction. and, its impressivethat this step is being

taken by a country thatdoesn't need to take it. i met a guy who said "actually,they did need to take it." he took me to thedesert to explain. muhamad alkhalil: god says... [arabic] god talks about man'splace in, in the universe. that this world is a trust. and god offered thistrust to the mountains, to the heavens, to the land, to earth,and all refused it, refused to

take this trust. but man being adventurous, vain,maybe too ambitious, being man accepted it. now, accepting it,there is a responsibility. taking responsibilityisn't always easy. utopia may beunattainable, but we must reach for it, and masdardoes give us a clue to what cities will belike in the future. they may not lookquite like masdar,

but they will be shapedby the same concerns. by energy. where it comesfrom, and how its used. the way we've been buildingcities lately is unsustainable. we can't go onbuilding them that way. but to say that we can'tbuild cities the way we have been building them doesn't mean we can't buildcities in the future. in fact, we haveto build cities.

cities are the essentialstatement of human civilization. so, we will continue to makethem, but we have to make them in a different way. what we've seen is that theworld of 2050 won't look drastically different fromthe world today, but the challenges of agrowing population and increased energy usedemand real solutions. its innovations like those we'vejust seen that will be critical in charting our pathto the world of 2050.

Futuristic House Design Ideas


translator: joseph genireviewer: morton bast the most massive tsunami perfect storm is bearing down upon us. this perfect storm is mounting a grim reality, increasingly grim reality, and we are facing that reality with the full belief that we can solve our problems with technology,

and that's very understandable. now, this perfect storm that we are facing is the result of our rising population, rising towards 10 billion people, land that is turning to desert, and, of course, climate change. now there's no question about it at all: we will only solve the problem of replacing fossil fuels with technology.

but fossil fuels, carbon -- coal and gas -- are by no means the only thing that is causing climate change. desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert, and this happens only when we create too much bare ground. there's no other cause. and i intend to focus

on most of the world's land that is turning to desert. but i have for you a very simple message that offers more hope than you can imagine. we have environments where humidity is guaranteed throughout the year. on those, it is almost impossible to create vast areas of bare ground. no matter what you do, nature covers it up so quickly. and we have environments

where we have months of humidity followed by months of dryness, and that is where desertification is occurring. fortunately, with space technology now, we can look at it from space, and when we do, you can see the proportions fairly well. generally, what you see in green is not desertifying, and what you see in brown is,

and these are by far the greatest areas of the earth. about two thirds, i would guess, of the world is desertifying. i took this picture in the tihamah desert while 25 millimeters -- that's an inch of rain -- was falling. think of it in terms of drums of water, each containing 200 liters. over 1,000 drums of water fell on every hectare of that land that day. the next day, the land looked like this.

where had that water gone? some of it ran off as flooding, but most of the water that soaked into the soil simply evaporated out again, exactly as it does in your garden if you leave the soil uncovered. now, because the fate of water and carbon are tied to soil organic matter, when we damage soils, you give off carbon.

carbon goes back to the atmosphere. now you're told over and over, repeatedly, that desertification is only occurring in arid and semi-arid areas of the world, and that tall grasslands like this one in high rainfall are of no consequence. but if you do not look at grasslands but look down into them, you find that most of the soil in that grassland that you've just seen is bare and covered with a crust of algae,

leading to increased runoff and evaporation. that is the cancer of desertification that we do not recognize till its terminal form. now we know that desertification is caused by livestock, mostly cattle, sheep and goats, overgrazing the plants, leaving the soil bare and giving off methane. almost everybody knows this, from nobel laureates to golf caddies,

or was taught it, as i was. now, the environments like you see here, dusty environments in africa where i grew up, and i loved wildlife, and so i grew up hating livestock because of the damage they were doing. and then my university education as an ecologist reinforced my beliefs. well, i have news for you.

we were once just as certain that the world was flat. we were wrong then, and we are wrong again. and i want to invite you now to come along on my journey of reeducation and discovery. when i was a young man, a young biologist in africa, i was involved in setting aside marvelous areas as future national parks.

now no sooner — this was in the 1950s — and no sooner did we remove the hunting, drum-beating people to protect the animals, than the land began to deteriorate, as you see in this park that we formed. now, no livestock were involved, but suspecting that we had too many elephants now, i did the research and i proved we had too many, and i recommended that we would have to reduce their numbers

and bring them down to a level that the land could sustain. now, that was a terrible decision for me to have to make, and it was political dynamite, frankly. so our government formed a team of experts to evaluate my research. they did. they agreed with me, and over the following years, we shot 40,000 elephants to try to stop the damage. and it got worse, not better.

loving elephants as i do, that was the saddest and greatest blunder of my life, and i will carry that to my grave. one good thing did come out of it. it made me absolutely determined to devote my life to finding solutions. when i came to the united states, i got a shock, to find national parks like this one desertifying as badly as anything in africa.

and there'd been no livestock on this land for over 70 years. and i found that american scientists had no explanation for this except that it is arid and natural. so i then began looking at all the research plots i could over the whole of the western united states where cattle had been removed

to prove that it would stop desertification, but i found the opposite, as we see on this research station, where this grassland that was green in 1961, by 2002 had changed to that situation. and the authors of the position paper on climate change from which i obtained these pictures attribute this change to "unknown processes." clearly, we have never understood

what is causing desertification, which has destroyed many civilizations and now threatens us globally. we have never understood it. take one square meter of soil and make it bare like this is down here, and i promise you, you will find it much colder at dawn and much hotter at midday than that same piece of ground if it's just covered with litter,

plant litter. you have changed the microclimate. now, by the time you are doing that and increasing greatly the percentage of bare ground on more than half the world's land, you are changing macroclimate. but we have just simply not understood why was it beginning to happen 10,000 years ago? why has it accelerated lately?

we had no understanding of that. what we had failed to understand was that these seasonal humidity environments of the world, the soil and the vegetation developed with very large numbers of grazing animals, and that these grazing animals developed with ferocious pack-hunting predators. now, the main defense against pack-hunting predators is to get into herds,

and the larger the herd, the safer the individuals. now, large herds dung and urinate all over their own food, and they have to keep moving, and it was that movement that prevented the overgrazing of plants, while the periodic trampling ensured good cover of the soil, as we see where a herd has passed. this picture is a typical seasonal grassland.

it has just come through four months of rain, and it's now going into eight months of dry season. and watch the change as it goes into this long dry season. now, all of that grass you see aboveground has to decay biologically before the next growing season, and if it doesn't, the grassland and the soil begin to die. now, if it does not decay biologically, it shifts to oxidation, which is a very slow process,

and this smothers and kills grasses, leading to a shift to woody vegetation and bare soil, releasing carbon. to prevent that, we have traditionally used fire. but fire also leaves the soil bare, releasing carbon, and worse than that, burning one hectare of grassland gives off more, and more damaging, pollutants than 6,000 cars.

and we are burning in africa, every single year, more than one billion hectares of grasslands, and almost nobody is talking about it. we justify the burning, as scientists, because it does remove the dead material and it allows the plants to grow. now, looking at this grassland of ours that has gone dry, what could we do to keep that healthy? and bear in mind, i'm talking of most of the world's land now.

okay? we cannot reduce animal numbers to rest it more without causing desertification and climate change. we cannot burn it without causing desertification and climate change. what are we going to do? there is only one option, i'll repeat to you, only one option left to climatologists and scientists, and that is to do the unthinkable,

and to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for former herds and predators, and mimic nature. there is no other alternative left to mankind. so let's do that. so on this bit of grassland, we'll do it, but just in the foreground. we'll impact it very heavily with cattle to mimic nature, and we've done so, and look at that.

all of that grass is now covering the soil as dung, urine and litter or mulch, as every one of the gardeners amongst you would understand, and that soil is ready to absorb and hold the rain, to store carbon, and to break down methane. and we did that, without using fire to damage the soil, and the plants are free to grow. when i first realized

that we had no option as scientists but to use much-vilified livestock to address climate change and desertification, i was faced with a real dilemma. how were we to do it? we'd had 10,000 years of extremely knowledgeable pastoralists bunching and moving their animals, but they had created the great manmade deserts of the world. then we'd had 100 years of modern rain science,

and that had accelerated desertification, as we first discovered in africa and then confirmed in the united states, and as you see in this picture of land managed by the federal government. clearly more was needed than bunching and moving the animals, and humans, over thousands of years, had never been able to deal with nature's complexity.

but we biologists and ecologists had never tackled anything as complex as this. so rather than reinvent the wheel, i began studying other professions to see if anybody had. and i found there were planning techniques that i could take and adapt to our biological need, and from those i developed what we call holistic management and planned grazing, a planning process,

and that does address all of nature's complexity and our social, environmental, economic complexity. today, we have young women like this one teaching villages in africa how to put their animals together into larger herds, plan their grazing to mimic nature, and where we have them hold their animals overnight -- we run them in a predator-friendly manner, because we have a lot of lands, and so on --

and where they do this and hold them overnight to prepare the crop fields, we are getting very great increases in crop yield as well. let's look at some results. this is land close to land that we manage in zimbabwe. it has just come through four months of very good rains it got that year, and it's going into the long dry season. but as you can see, all of that rain, almost of all it, has evaporated from the soil surface.

their river is dry despite the rain just having ended, and we have 150,000 people on almost permanent food aid. now let's go to our land nearby on the same day, with the same rainfall, and look at that. our river is flowing and healthy and clean. it's fine. the production of grass, shrubs, trees, wildlife, everything is now more productive,

and we have virtually no fear of dry years. and we did that by increasing the cattle and goats 400 percent, planning the grazing to mimic nature and integrate them with all the elephants, buffalo, giraffe and other animals that we have. but before we began, our land looked like that. this site was bare and eroding for over 30 years regardless of what rain we got.

okay? watch the marked tree and see the change as we use livestock to mimic nature. this was another site where it had been bare and eroding, and at the base of the marked small tree, we had lost over 30 centimeters of soil. okay? and again, watch the change just using livestock to mimic nature. and there are fallen trees in there now,

because the better land is now attracting elephants, etc. this land in mexico was in terrible condition, and i've had to mark the hill because the change is so profound. (applause) i began helping a family in the karoo desert in the 1970s turn the desert that you see on the right there back to grassland, and thankfully, now their grandchildren are on the land

with hope for the future. and look at the amazing change in this one, where that gully has completely healed using nothing but livestock mimicking nature, and once more, we have the third generation of that family on that land with their flag still flying. the vast grasslands of patagonia are turning to desert as you see here. the man in the middle is an argentinian researcher,

and he has documented the steady decline of that land over the years as they kept reducing sheep numbers. they put 25,000 sheep in one flock, really mimicking nature now with planned grazing, and they have documented a 50-percent increase in the production of the land in the first year. we now have in the violent horn of africa pastoralists planning their grazing to mimic nature and openly saying it is the only hope they have

of saving their families and saving their culture. ninety-five percent of that land can only feed people from animals. i remind you that i am talking about most of the world's land here that controls our fate, including the most violent region of the world, where only animals can feed people from about 95 percent of the land. what we are doing globally is causing climate change

as much as, i believe, fossil fuels, and maybe more than fossil fuels. but worse than that, it is causing hunger, poverty, violence, social breakdown and war, and as i am talking to you, millions of men, women and children are suffering and dying. and if this continues, we are unlikely to be able to stop the climate changing,

even after we have eliminated the use of fossil fuels. i believe i've shown you how we can work with nature at very low cost to reverse all this. we are already doing so on about 15 million hectares on five continents, and people who understand far more about carbon than i do

calculate that, for illustrative purposes, if we do what i am showing you here, we can take enough carbon out of the atmosphere and safely store it in the grassland soils for thousands of years, and if we just do that on about half the world's grasslands that i've shown you, we can take us back to pre-industrial levels, while feeding people.

i can think of almost nothing that offers more hope for our planet, for your children, and their children, and all of humanity. thank you. thank you. (applause) thank you, chris. chris anderson: thank you. i have, and i'm sure everyone here has,

a) a hundred questions, b) wants to hug you. i'm just going to ask you one quick question. when you first start this and you bring in a flock of animals, it's desert. what do they eat? how does that part work? how do you start? allan savory: well, we have done this for a long time, and the only time we have ever had to provide any feed is during mine reclamation, where it's 100 percent bare.

but many years ago, we took the worst land in zimbabwe, where i offered a â£5 note in a hundred-mile drive if somebody could find one grass in a hundred-mile drive, and on that, we trebled the stocking rate, the number of animals, in the first year with no feeding, just by the movement, mimicking nature, and using a sigmoid curve, that principle.

it's a little bit technical to explain here, but just that. ca: well, i would love to -- i mean, this such an interesting and important idea. the best people on our blog are going to come and talk to you and try and -- i want to get more on this that we could share along with the talk.as: wonderful. ca: that is an astonishing talk, truly an astonishing talk, and i think you heard that we all are cheering you on your way. thank you so much.as: well, thank you. thank you. thank you, chris.

Futuristic House Design Concepts


(mellow music) - [voiceover] the following program is a production of pioneer public television. (calm music) (upbeat music) - hello, and welcome to compass, a new production of pioneer public television. i'm les heen, your host for compass. this week we're going to have a weekly discussion,

as we do every week. in this case it's going to be about public issues facing our viewing area. this week we'll look at how one facet of agriculture is changing, and that's the facet of agriculture known as the grain trade. there are lots of changes you can see in the grain trade just by crossing the railroad track in a small town,

and that is that grain elevators are being forced by the market to do larger and larger facilities all the time to simply load grain onto trains. here with the story is pioneer's laura k. prosser. - [laura] west-con consolidated co-op underwent construction and expansion at their appleton, minnesota, location earlier this year in efforts to meet the needs of their farming partners. the business had a few main reasons for these changes,

the first being market conditions. - market conditions have changed. iowa used to feed a lot of domestic corn to the south and the southwest. with iowa over-building in the ethanol business, they are a corn deficit state, which makes the up, which we can load cars in appleton much more advantage to run through the up down through iowa.

corn that used to be sold domestic market down there is now coming out of minnesota. that's what's supporting this project. - in 2013 and '14, the rail car demand was very high and there was a large discrepancy between car availability and prices on multiple railroads. we just began to investigate what it would take to add additional rail service to this area. first we had to work with our partner,

the tcw out of glenco. we asked if it was possible to bring bigger trains in and work with union pacific railroad. - [laura] after studying corn acres and local production, wes-con worked to figure out where all the corn was going and what was left for them to handle. they mapped out similar facilities in their trade area and made their project plan from there. - it's all about options, and right now as a company,

western consolidated had access to two railroads, and by doing the expansion in appleton we have access to three. that just multiplies the cars that we have access to. - we are directly tied to the burlington northern railroad right now, which is a very good railroad. we've hung our hat on them. they are the backbone of our company and have kept us very competitive.

the last couple years with the burlington northern with the freight premiums, we have run a lot of grain east, that normally we don't. we've run a lot of grain over to chicago and down into the southeast markets. so yeah, we have run a lot of grain out, and probably the last couple years, probably a little more to the ethanol plants than normal. that's simply a lack of reasonable railroad freight.

with the change in market conditions, hooking up to the up and the burlington northern, we get into every domestic market in the united states. - our market's become more domestic and ethanol driven. the up railroad and the tcw bring us access to more domestic and ethanol-type markets in the south. what it does for our trade is it increases access, which leads to higher prices and more options for our producers.

over the long term, it reduces wes-con's exposure to one railroad. - it also opens up 36 destinations in mexico. on the average, we feel, it'll be worth 2 to 3 cents on every bushel that runs through the company on an annual basis. - [laura] wes-con expansion project is a two-year process from start to finish. it is a substantial investment at $19.5 million.

the last two years wes-con has paid off more than $6 million worth of debt. the project added 40,000 bushels of dumping capacity, 7,000 bushels per hour of drying capacity, and additional storage. - appleton is frankly too close to the holloway facility, but it does give us the opportunity of a whole other market and a whole other railroad. it just takes pressure off of holloway.

that's the reason we built that over there. - it opens up a lot of trade area to the south and west of appleton that we're currently not accessing, and we fully expect to participate more in that market now than we have in the past. because of appleton's access to other rail lines, there are certain times of the year where we can access markets that other people

or other businesses in this area can't. that helps us grow our member base. it helps us grow our volume. it should only continue in the future. - south of appleton, we do expect our membership to increase this first year. in fact, we've seen it already. everything we've done in the past, we've been, i think, way ahead of everybody.

but the farmers keep expanding. i think our next expansion is to make sure we keep up with them, and that we keep a competitive advantage. - [laura] for local farmers like gary nygard, this expansion doesn't impact his income as much as it does his harvest. - the elevator's role is, of course, to be here and be open.

they accommodate us during harvest with longer hours and enough personnel that everything goes smoothly. it's not just the grain handling thing. once the crops are off we go to the agronomy department. we need soil testing, and we need fertilizer. then in the spring, of course, you need seed. it's kind of a complete package. the new technology with weighing in and weighing out and the new storage is really going to be good for the area.

it's going to help us through harvest because of expanded storage. this new facility at terminal a is state-of-the-art technology. it gets you in and out quickly. the sooner we can get back to the field and get the next load, it's better for us. - [laura] for smaller elevators, farmers with their own drying system

stand as competition to their business. wes-con works hand in hand with these farmers, nygard included. - corn, of course, most of the time, is going to require some drying. i do have a drying system on my farm. but then, if i'm north of appleton harvesting, there's just a few points of moisture to take out, and i've got it forward contracted,

i will more than likely not drive by their facility to haul it home to store it. i'll haul it here and let them dry it for me. there's no down side for us. when the elevator does well, the patrons get to share in it, whereas a private owned elevator you don't get that. - with us now to talk about these changes are two guests that we have

that know the grain trade very well. we have from wes-con cooperativein western minnestoa, we have dean isaacson, who's the general manager for wes-con, and wes-con operates in western minnesota, eastern south dakota. also with us is bob zelenka. bob is the executive director for the minnesota grain and feed association. gentlemen, thanks for joining us on compass.

- thank you. - thank you. - dean, i'd like to start with you. i know we've talked in the past, just informally, about the grain trade and all the changes. what does it really mean for you and for wes-con having to do all these changes? this seems like an awful lot to do. - the producers have advanced. they've gotten so efficient, large machinery.

the markets have changed. the railroads have changed. the river has changed. we're trying to keep up with the domestic market, the export market, trying to keep up with the producer, and still build quick, fast, efficient facilities. the other issue we have is hiring really good employees to come out and run these facilities. it's just a huge change in the last 15 years.

- when you talk about - i want to pick up when you talk about the idea of hiring more people all the time, and obviously we've seen a lot of automation, a lot of other things. but is the people part of this still really, really critical that you need a lot of really skilled people to run these facilities? - actually, today more than ever.

our equipment today, everything's automated. everything's run by computers. it takes an awful - not only working hard, it's really working smart today. our people need a whole lot more training, and even we look for a lot more education instead of just hiring a normal person. jobs are more specific. when i first started, you'd probably work fertilizer.

you'd probably work grain. you probably drove truck. nowadays we have an agronomy manager. we have a feed manager. we have grain merchandisers. we have grain origination people. so, yeah, it's much more job specific. we need very, very talented people, once again, to keep up to very, very talented producers.

- because there's a sophistication throughout all of it. now i know bob, from your perspective with the grain and feed association, you've seen these kinds of things all over the state of minnesota, and working with colleagues throughout the country. put some sort of context in. is this something you're seeing all over, or is it in pockets?

how is this really going on in the business? - well, it's happening nationwide. in minnesota we've seen over the last probably 20 years a real growth in the large facilities like dean runs. there's probably 150 rail users in the state, and 50 of those now are those large unit train loading facilities, where you can load 110-112 cars in less than 15 hours, going from one origin to one destination.

it's all about efficiency. i think railroads came across that idea back in 1979-1980. it's really taken hold, for various reasons. railroads are interested in efficiency. economics has led to some mergers, consolidations. but i think that just getting the best rates and best service is probably the biggest incentive that i think a lot of these guys have taken advantage of.

- what i'm wondering about is if you could quantify sort of the changes. i know you talked about the fact that years ago it was very different, just with the employees. of course, you talked about how it's changed over the years. one hundred and ten unit trains now. if we were to go back to when a lot of our viewers maybe grew up on the farm, or went to the local elevator,

if you went back 30 or 40 years, compare then to now. - well, back then you were looking at single car rail car, single car rates, or trucking your grain to various markets. there was a lot more livestock locally. so a lot of grain was consumed locally. today, again, you're seeing markets are international, domestic as well as international, overseas, mexico, canada.

to get at those markets we really need high efficiency. that's kind of where i think things have gone. but looking back in time, things have changed quite a bit. used to have a grain elevator every 7 to 9 miles, just primarily because that's where the railroad stopped every 9 miles. there was an elevator. you needed that just with moving things to town by horse, if you will, oxen, then by truck.

farmers have gotten more - their ability to move grain longer distances has really improved. most of them have semis. the whole industry has changed quite a bit, a lot of on-farm storage, and so on. anyway, just really to find our niche, we've had to go with the times and expand and provide that efficiency everybody needs.

- i'd like to pick up on what you said about the international trade a minute, because of course we all see grain trucks, and we see the trains, and we see them moving. but the idea of where does all of this grain go after it leaves where we are can be a mystery, because you don't see that part of it. how has that part changed over the years? - i think the international market has really grown.

you have the soviet union being a big market back in the '70s and so on. it's just continued to grow since then. the market development has been into asia, i think more so than anything. we used to have markets in europe, and so on. but those markets have changed. you've got new players in the game as well with brazil, argentina competing with us

on the international markets. but a lot of our grain, a lot of dean's grain will go west coast by rail, internationally, some going to mexico i suspect as well, and into canada as well. then we have feed markets in southwest, southeast part of the united states. grain will be moving down there as well. but we need efficient system up here.

we're as far away as you can be from any market, so it's important for us to be as efficient as we can, so that's been the challenge. - what about, why don't we talk about transportation. we talked about rail, but what about intermodal sorts of things. when you see national or local stories about the grain trade you may hear about barges and ships and all of the other pieces.

what about the broader infrastructure for grain? how does that affect what you do? - water is probably the cheapest way to move grain out of this region if you're close to the twin cities and to the river. barge traffic going through louisiana to new orleans is the best way to move grain, and the cheapest way to move grain. by having water access, it actually keeps pressure

on the railroads to be reasonable with their rates, because they have that competition. where you don't have that in north dakota, for example. you don't have water, just rail, sort of captive shipper, if you will. that's really an advantage for us. not to overlook the role the truck plays in all of this, in terms of moving for the short hauls, whether it's to the elevator, to the river,

to processing facilities and so on, the truck plays a key role in this as well. - of course, then market forces also playing a role. i'm thinking about the fact that in the last few years there was a lot of attention paid to the changes in the oil, with the oil boom, and now we've got declining oil prices. what happens with that, i'm sure, can affect what you do as well,

in terms of just competition for what's on the rails themselves. - we're seeing right now with our trains, we had one coming off the pnw here, normally it would take 5, 6 days. it's back in 2-1/2 days. the oil trains are off the track, so they're sitting in storage. the unit trains, hooking up oil ones

that go back and forth, there is no stopping them. they've just got a straight line. it's made it much, much more efficient, for the railroads, and the service is almost unbelievable. now they're showing up quicker than we want them. a year ago we'd have never said that. - that's another thing that for people who are inside the business,

i've talked to some people who've been working on these. they talk the fact that you would get a call, if you were working for an elevator, and you get up in the middle of the night, and then you'd have to go sit somewhere and wait and hope the train would come in. then when it did come in, it was sort of like, a wait and hurry up situation. now you're saying they're actually starting to show up

on time, or even a little earlier in some cases. - it's still, you know, we've got one supposed to be scheduled in today, and it's coming at 10:00 tonight, so we'll come in and load it all night. but normally that train wouldn't have been here for 2, 2-1/2 days yet. a year ago, maybe even 5 days later than what it's supposed to be. there's a lot less traffic on the railroads.

that's pretty much the bnsf, i think pretty much all of them right now with the oil being shut down. - i expect this would have really affected your planning, too, in the business. because if you think about something like the wes-con expansion here, what many other elevators do. you start planning that in one economic environment,

or one period of time, and by the time you actually get it built, things could be very, very different. have you seen that in the trade? - right now is a really good example. last year, cars were trading at probably $4,000 or $5,000 per car over tariff. now, what the producer's selling has slowed up a little bit with the grain prices down. the cars have speeded up.

so today we're seeing cars trade at, here a while ago they were $400 under tariff, and now you've got trains bought at $100-$150 over tariff and they're showing up at $400 under tariff, simply because of the speed. and there's some lack of farmers selling. every plan that you had six months ago, you can throw it out the window today and start all over, pretty much.

- but i know in the case of these facilities, when you walk by them, they're huge, they're well lit, they're impressive when people go by. i'm sure the reaction you get from people going by is, "wow, isn't it great that there's this great facility here," even though at times it may mean some changes in local roads and things. - railroads through the western part of minnesota, south dakota, north dakota,

we are the food line to the rest of the world. we are the main line to the pnw. we're fortunate here in appleton with our facility, we can go to mexico, we can get to the gulf, we can get through chicago over to the eastern markets. we can get into the lewisville. we're real fortunate we can get anyplace. - i want to talk about the investments that it takes to make that happen.

particularly when you're in a member-owned cooperative, those kinds of things, there are a lot of things to manage. you've got members, and people, and farmers who are bringing in grain, who are involved. what's the reaction from members, generally, in local elevators or even larger ones, about the investments that it takes to make this happen? - well, from my position, since 2000, we've spent $120 million in our region out here.

we take it to the - we have nine board of directors that are all producers. of course, we've go to work with coal banks are where we do all our financing. but generally you put it together, and it's all about market share. service is another thing. we need storage.

we've got to be able to load trains when we want, not when we have to. it's a number of things. we can get better service. we can get carry in to market. we're going to be more competitive in the market. so it does a number of things. my experience is the producers have been very, very accepting of what we're doing,

and very supportive. our producers have been very, very supportive. that's needed. even in 2000 a pretty good sized planter was probably a 12 row. today we've got 36 row. so we've had to go from a 12 row fertilizer plant to a 36 row fertilizer plant, to keep up with them. and the grain facilities are the same thing.

- because it's not just, in your case as a cooperative, it's not just the elevator part where the grain's coming in and going out. it's also the other services that farmer's are asking for. - it's fertilizer, it's grain, it's grain drying, it's storage, it's the whole - it's the big picture you've got to look at. it isn't really, as a local co-op, what we want. it's what our producers need.

so if we want to service them and keep their business, we have to continuously reinvest. but investment is huge. - bob, getting back to you for a minute, on some of the larger investments. we talk about wes-con as an example of what many elevators are doing. but there are other sorts of investments in rural areas that often have to happen as well.

for example, transportation. tell me about the transportation piece of this, because obviously it's one thing to get a train loaded and moving down the tracks. it's another thing to have the infrastructure in place before the grain even gets into the elevator, right? - right. a good road network is obviously very important. on the rail side, the railroads have put in a lot of money,

particularly the bnsf, since a couple years ago we had the perfect storm with oil moving and a lot of issues with weather and so on. but they've spent a lot of money in putting in infrastructure that's really helped with the efficiency and moving on rail. it really starts back to the country, having good access to the farm. there's a lot of grain stored on the farm.

in fact, in minnesota, over 75% of the total storage in minnesota is actually located on the farm. there's a lot of grain that is stored on the farm, has to move from the farm. a good farm-to-market system is something that's been discussed. we've been involved in that issue in the legislature for the last many years. it's very important to have a good total infrastructure

to really move this grain from the farm to the elevator. it's been coming along. back in the day we didn't have 10-ton road access to all communities. that kind of thing. that was a good starting point. but now we're on our way, hopefully we can look at some other things.

in the legislature, for example, as i mentioned, truck weights is something that we're looking at, trying to be on par with canada and our north dakota neighbors, in terms of being able to haul higher weights. we do have an exemption for our raw, nonprocessed commodities. but we'd like to see that expanded even further. - earlier we talked about technology a little bit,

and dean, you talked about the fact that you have people who really need to be well trained. there's a sophistication there. i'm sure you've seen that all over. let's talk about technology a little bit. how is technology really changing the grain trade? obviously, you said there's a lot more automation. are there other things that people really might not be aware of when they think of

the elevator of years ago, that they're watching it now, and say, "oh, wow, look at that." - as far as the marketing, it's instant. a producer calls us up. it used to be, we had the market tvs in our office. we were 5 minute, 10 minutes, maybe even 15 minutes at one time. today we have instant quotes. so when it changes in the chicago board of trade

it changes in our office. we can quote an exact price. if a producer would sell 10,000 bushels to us, we don't even call a broker anymore. we just punch it in our computer and put the hedge on the rates. there's so much eliminated. everything is instant access nowadays. it's just a start.

the farmers can, every co-op, every elevator, you can go on the gulf, you get the gulf bid. they can really find any bid they want. they can get the same pnw bid i get. there really are no secrets in the grain anymore. you've got your bid. you've just got to figure out how you're going to be competitive, and how you'll buy it. but the technology is there.

- it's a far cry from having to call up the local elevator and find out what's going on. now people will check it on their smart phone. they'll have it right there at their fingertips all the time, right? - our markets, every afternoon, we text them out to our producers, so they know what our mark - they don't have to call us at 3 o'clock

if they're sitting in the tractor. we text it to them. a lot of them have their ipads, of course. they can go on our web page and get them. the technology's really changed. - another thing, when people deliver grain to his facility or one of these other shuttle loading facilities, or unit train loading facilities, they don't even have to get out of their trucks anymore.

it's all done by, with a card. they get weighed in, they dump, they leave. again, you don't even have to get out of your truck anymore. so it's kind of worked out, again, part of that efficiency thing with these elevators. but they've really come a long way since the old horse and wagon days, that's for sure.

- or even for that, as i recall, the days of bringing in the truck. if the truck didn't have the hoist, the whole front of the truck would be lifted up. it was a very different world. i think for so many people who were growing up on a farm, or farming in those days, the changes now would just be staggering. as you said, not even getting out of your truck.

- it's really come a long ways. - in the few minutes we have left, i'd like to talk about, just glance into the future a little bit, about the future of the grain trade. we said there are so many changes from the time you start to invest in a facility until the facility's built, or so many changes in market forces,

i'm going to ask you to just look ahead a little bit, 2016 and beyond. what are the next things you see in the grain trade? - one of the big things that they're going to keep pushing, we're dealing with all the gmo issues. that's going to take a while to get resolved. food security, bob brought that up a little earlier. but food security's going to be a big thing. right now, we're not doing any identification

if we're preserving it. but it'll be the markets, $7 corn. we've taught south america how to grow corn, and that shows on our exports right now, on the pnw and the gulf. we're really, really down on corn. beans it's going to be a much shorter season. we've got some real world issues. the us dollar, of course, is affecting our market right now.

there's a number of things in '16 we've got to work through. we've got an awful lot of corn in the united states, but the rest of the world, actually, the inventory's dropped a little bit. we're going to have some issues this fall, where it's going to go, how we're going to handle it. we have to get competitive in the world market right now. as a producer, and us in our world, we've got a lot to deal with in the next 16 months

trying to make all of our budgets balance. - from your facilities, whether it's in - your facilities are in holloway, minnesota, and in twin brook, south dakota, and many other places. whether you're there, or wherever you are, you're going to have those facilities. bob, sort of a wrap up here on where we're going? - well, i think you're going to see,

and what we've already seen, is a continuation of mergers and consolidations within our industry. when i started 34 years ago, we had 225 local co-ops. now we're down to 79 local co-op firms. i think that's going to continue. it's primarily due to - a lot of it is regulatory. some of these older elevators just can't keep up

with the regulations that are coming on us now with food security and other things, osha regs and so on. it's going to be a real challenge, i think, too. but again, we're going to get smaller, but larger facilities. farmers have more mobility, so you don't need, i mentioned earlier, don't need an elevator every 7 miles.

problem is going to be employment, and finding good employees. that's a challenge right now, and i think that's going to continue to be a challenge for us into the future. - great. good note to end on. bob zelenka, dean isaacson, thank you both for joining us.

- as we leave you this week, we're going to show you a little bit of another local music production. it's called grassland jam. it's a show that we started a couple years ago here on pioneer public television, with a look at bluegrass music. as we leave you now, be sure to join us next week on compass, and enjoy the music. (bluegrass music)

Futuristic Hospital Design


hello everyone, good to see you again. ehh today we're gona build something awesome! today we're gona build a high school! i've just placed a sign with the number 6 cause on every side of the sign are 6 blocks here you can see: 1,2,3,4,5,6 in total and here: 1,2,3,4,5,6 in total and there is also a block in the middle. in total we get 13 blocks made with sandstone stairs

i'm using the same texture pack as always and i have made a little road, to make it a bit more cosy ehm, i think we can start now. by placing a sandstone block right here and here i think that i gona pop this out, like this but then we get a block on the pavement, let me try this let's take worldedit with us and select this corner and this corner

slash slash set, oops! let's switch off my capslock. set four and then we get a bigger pavement. which is more convenient let's continue with our sandstone thing let's put here one on top ok, like this: we're gona make an amarican style school and let's place here some sandstone stairs

so far we have a layer of two stairs maybe we can add one more layer and then we're gona do this: then we're gona build it up we can also change it to four instead of three take your stairs but first let me place some blocks under it that would make it easier to place the stairs

stair are very anoying to place without block under it just like glass panes. they are also anoying... most of the time they will facing to the wrong direction... and with stairs, you get them to stand upside down and that is very anoying... and let's take this out by three blocks and maybe we can place her something like a path to the entrance of the school and fill this up with sandstone i think these episodes will take a long time, because we're gona make a big school!

and american things are usually quite large and because of that, we'd made a high stair, like high school!

Futuristic Helmet Design


(mellow music) - [voiceover] the following program is a production of pioneer public television. (calm music) (upbeat music) - hello, and welcome to compass, a new production of pioneer public television. i'm les heen, your host for compass. this week we're going to have a weekly discussion,

as we do every week. in this case it's going to be about public issues facing our viewing area. this week we'll look at how one facet of agriculture is changing, and that's the facet of agriculture known as the grain trade. there are lots of changes you can see in the grain trade just by crossing the railroad track in a small town,

and that is that grain elevators are being forced by the market to do larger and larger facilities all the time to simply load grain onto trains. here with the story is pioneer's laura k. prosser. - [laura] west-con consolidated co-op underwent construction and expansion at their appleton, minnesota, location earlier this year in efforts to meet the needs of their farming partners. the business had a few main reasons for these changes,

the first being market conditions. - market conditions have changed. iowa used to feed a lot of domestic corn to the south and the southwest. with iowa over-building in the ethanol business, they are a corn deficit state, which makes the up, which we can load cars in appleton much more advantage to run through the up down through iowa.

corn that used to be sold domestic market down there is now coming out of minnesota. that's what's supporting this project. - in 2013 and '14, the rail car demand was very high and there was a large discrepancy between car availability and prices on multiple railroads. we just began to investigate what it would take to add additional rail service to this area. first we had to work with our partner,

the tcw out of glenco. we asked if it was possible to bring bigger trains in and work with union pacific railroad. - [laura] after studying corn acres and local production, wes-con worked to figure out where all the corn was going and what was left for them to handle. they mapped out similar facilities in their trade area and made their project plan from there. - it's all about options, and right now as a company,

western consolidated had access to two railroads, and by doing the expansion in appleton we have access to three. that just multiplies the cars that we have access to. - we are directly tied to the burlington northern railroad right now, which is a very good railroad. we've hung our hat on them. they are the backbone of our company and have kept us very competitive.

the last couple years with the burlington northern with the freight premiums, we have run a lot of grain east, that normally we don't. we've run a lot of grain over to chicago and down into the southeast markets. so yeah, we have run a lot of grain out, and probably the last couple years, probably a little more to the ethanol plants than normal. that's simply a lack of reasonable railroad freight.

with the change in market conditions, hooking up to the up and the burlington northern, we get into every domestic market in the united states. - our market's become more domestic and ethanol driven. the up railroad and the tcw bring us access to more domestic and ethanol-type markets in the south. what it does for our trade is it increases access, which leads to higher prices and more options for our producers.

over the long term, it reduces wes-con's exposure to one railroad. - it also opens up 36 destinations in mexico. on the average, we feel, it'll be worth 2 to 3 cents on every bushel that runs through the company on an annual basis. - [laura] wes-con expansion project is a two-year process from start to finish. it is a substantial investment at $19.5 million.

the last two years wes-con has paid off more than $6 million worth of debt. the project added 40,000 bushels of dumping capacity, 7,000 bushels per hour of drying capacity, and additional storage. - appleton is frankly too close to the holloway facility, but it does give us the opportunity of a whole other market and a whole other railroad. it just takes pressure off of holloway.

that's the reason we built that over there. - it opens up a lot of trade area to the south and west of appleton that we're currently not accessing, and we fully expect to participate more in that market now than we have in the past. because of appleton's access to other rail lines, there are certain times of the year where we can access markets that other people

or other businesses in this area can't. that helps us grow our member base. it helps us grow our volume. it should only continue in the future. - south of appleton, we do expect our membership to increase this first year. in fact, we've seen it already. everything we've done in the past, we've been, i think, way ahead of everybody.

but the farmers keep expanding. i think our next expansion is to make sure we keep up with them, and that we keep a competitive advantage. - [laura] for local farmers like gary nygard, this expansion doesn't impact his income as much as it does his harvest. - the elevator's role is, of course, to be here and be open.

they accommodate us during harvest with longer hours and enough personnel that everything goes smoothly. it's not just the grain handling thing. once the crops are off we go to the agronomy department. we need soil testing, and we need fertilizer. then in the spring, of course, you need seed. it's kind of a complete package. the new technology with weighing in and weighing out and the new storage is really going to be good for the area.

it's going to help us through harvest because of expanded storage. this new facility at terminal a is state-of-the-art technology. it gets you in and out quickly. the sooner we can get back to the field and get the next load, it's better for us. - [laura] for smaller elevators, farmers with their own drying system

stand as competition to their business. wes-con works hand in hand with these farmers, nygard included. - corn, of course, most of the time, is going to require some drying. i do have a drying system on my farm. but then, if i'm north of appleton harvesting, there's just a few points of moisture to take out, and i've got it forward contracted,

i will more than likely not drive by their facility to haul it home to store it. i'll haul it here and let them dry it for me. there's no down side for us. when the elevator does well, the patrons get to share in it, whereas a private owned elevator you don't get that. - with us now to talk about these changes are two guests that we have

that know the grain trade very well. we have from wes-con cooperativein western minnestoa, we have dean isaacson, who's the general manager for wes-con, and wes-con operates in western minnesota, eastern south dakota. also with us is bob zelenka. bob is the executive director for the minnesota grain and feed association. gentlemen, thanks for joining us on compass.

- thank you. - thank you. - dean, i'd like to start with you. i know we've talked in the past, just informally, about the grain trade and all the changes. what does it really mean for you and for wes-con having to do all these changes? this seems like an awful lot to do. - the producers have advanced. they've gotten so efficient, large machinery.

the markets have changed. the railroads have changed. the river has changed. we're trying to keep up with the domestic market, the export market, trying to keep up with the producer, and still build quick, fast, efficient facilities. the other issue we have is hiring really good employees to come out and run these facilities. it's just a huge change in the last 15 years.

- when you talk about - i want to pick up when you talk about the idea of hiring more people all the time, and obviously we've seen a lot of automation, a lot of other things. but is the people part of this still really, really critical that you need a lot of really skilled people to run these facilities? - actually, today more than ever.

our equipment today, everything's automated. everything's run by computers. it takes an awful - not only working hard, it's really working smart today. our people need a whole lot more training, and even we look for a lot more education instead of just hiring a normal person. jobs are more specific. when i first started, you'd probably work fertilizer.

you'd probably work grain. you probably drove truck. nowadays we have an agronomy manager. we have a feed manager. we have grain merchandisers. we have grain origination people. so, yeah, it's much more job specific. we need very, very talented people, once again, to keep up to very, very talented producers.

- because there's a sophistication throughout all of it. now i know bob, from your perspective with the grain and feed association, you've seen these kinds of things all over the state of minnesota, and working with colleagues throughout the country. put some sort of context in. is this something you're seeing all over, or is it in pockets?

how is this really going on in the business? - well, it's happening nationwide. in minnesota we've seen over the last probably 20 years a real growth in the large facilities like dean runs. there's probably 150 rail users in the state, and 50 of those now are those large unit train loading facilities, where you can load 110-112 cars in less than 15 hours, going from one origin to one destination.

it's all about efficiency. i think railroads came across that idea back in 1979-1980. it's really taken hold, for various reasons. railroads are interested in efficiency. economics has led to some mergers, consolidations. but i think that just getting the best rates and best service is probably the biggest incentive that i think a lot of these guys have taken advantage of.

- what i'm wondering about is if you could quantify sort of the changes. i know you talked about the fact that years ago it was very different, just with the employees. of course, you talked about how it's changed over the years. one hundred and ten unit trains now. if we were to go back to when a lot of our viewers maybe grew up on the farm, or went to the local elevator,

if you went back 30 or 40 years, compare then to now. - well, back then you were looking at single car rail car, single car rates, or trucking your grain to various markets. there was a lot more livestock locally. so a lot of grain was consumed locally. today, again, you're seeing markets are international, domestic as well as international, overseas, mexico, canada.

to get at those markets we really need high efficiency. that's kind of where i think things have gone. but looking back in time, things have changed quite a bit. used to have a grain elevator every 7 to 9 miles, just primarily because that's where the railroad stopped every 9 miles. there was an elevator. you needed that just with moving things to town by horse, if you will, oxen, then by truck.

farmers have gotten more - their ability to move grain longer distances has really improved. most of them have semis. the whole industry has changed quite a bit, a lot of on-farm storage, and so on. anyway, just really to find our niche, we've had to go with the times and expand and provide that efficiency everybody needs.

- i'd like to pick up on what you said about the international trade a minute, because of course we all see grain trucks, and we see the trains, and we see them moving. but the idea of where does all of this grain go after it leaves where we are can be a mystery, because you don't see that part of it. how has that part changed over the years? - i think the international market has really grown.

you have the soviet union being a big market back in the '70s and so on. it's just continued to grow since then. the market development has been into asia, i think more so than anything. we used to have markets in europe, and so on. but those markets have changed. you've got new players in the game as well with brazil, argentina competing with us

on the international markets. but a lot of our grain, a lot of dean's grain will go west coast by rail, internationally, some going to mexico i suspect as well, and into canada as well. then we have feed markets in southwest, southeast part of the united states. grain will be moving down there as well. but we need efficient system up here.

we're as far away as you can be from any market, so it's important for us to be as efficient as we can, so that's been the challenge. - what about, why don't we talk about transportation. we talked about rail, but what about intermodal sorts of things. when you see national or local stories about the grain trade you may hear about barges and ships and all of the other pieces.

what about the broader infrastructure for grain? how does that affect what you do? - water is probably the cheapest way to move grain out of this region if you're close to the twin cities and to the river. barge traffic going through louisiana to new orleans is the best way to move grain, and the cheapest way to move grain. by having water access, it actually keeps pressure

on the railroads to be reasonable with their rates, because they have that competition. where you don't have that in north dakota, for example. you don't have water, just rail, sort of captive shipper, if you will. that's really an advantage for us. not to overlook the role the truck plays in all of this, in terms of moving for the short hauls, whether it's to the elevator, to the river,

to processing facilities and so on, the truck plays a key role in this as well. - of course, then market forces also playing a role. i'm thinking about the fact that in the last few years there was a lot of attention paid to the changes in the oil, with the oil boom, and now we've got declining oil prices. what happens with that, i'm sure, can affect what you do as well,

in terms of just competition for what's on the rails themselves. - we're seeing right now with our trains, we had one coming off the pnw here, normally it would take 5, 6 days. it's back in 2-1/2 days. the oil trains are off the track, so they're sitting in storage. the unit trains, hooking up oil ones

that go back and forth, there is no stopping them. they've just got a straight line. it's made it much, much more efficient, for the railroads, and the service is almost unbelievable. now they're showing up quicker than we want them. a year ago we'd have never said that. - that's another thing that for people who are inside the business,

i've talked to some people who've been working on these. they talk the fact that you would get a call, if you were working for an elevator, and you get up in the middle of the night, and then you'd have to go sit somewhere and wait and hope the train would come in. then when it did come in, it was sort of like, a wait and hurry up situation. now you're saying they're actually starting to show up

on time, or even a little earlier in some cases. - it's still, you know, we've got one supposed to be scheduled in today, and it's coming at 10:00 tonight, so we'll come in and load it all night. but normally that train wouldn't have been here for 2, 2-1/2 days yet. a year ago, maybe even 5 days later than what it's supposed to be. there's a lot less traffic on the railroads.

that's pretty much the bnsf, i think pretty much all of them right now with the oil being shut down. - i expect this would have really affected your planning, too, in the business. because if you think about something like the wes-con expansion here, what many other elevators do. you start planning that in one economic environment,

or one period of time, and by the time you actually get it built, things could be very, very different. have you seen that in the trade? - right now is a really good example. last year, cars were trading at probably $4,000 or $5,000 per car over tariff. now, what the producer's selling has slowed up a little bit with the grain prices down. the cars have speeded up.

so today we're seeing cars trade at, here a while ago they were $400 under tariff, and now you've got trains bought at $100-$150 over tariff and they're showing up at $400 under tariff, simply because of the speed. and there's some lack of farmers selling. every plan that you had six months ago, you can throw it out the window today and start all over, pretty much.

- but i know in the case of these facilities, when you walk by them, they're huge, they're well lit, they're impressive when people go by. i'm sure the reaction you get from people going by is, "wow, isn't it great that there's this great facility here," even though at times it may mean some changes in local roads and things. - railroads through the western part of minnesota, south dakota, north dakota,

we are the food line to the rest of the world. we are the main line to the pnw. we're fortunate here in appleton with our facility, we can go to mexico, we can get to the gulf, we can get through chicago over to the eastern markets. we can get into the lewisville. we're real fortunate we can get anyplace. - i want to talk about the investments that it takes to make that happen.

particularly when you're in a member-owned cooperative, those kinds of things, there are a lot of things to manage. you've got members, and people, and farmers who are bringing in grain, who are involved. what's the reaction from members, generally, in local elevators or even larger ones, about the investments that it takes to make this happen? - well, from my position, since 2000, we've spent $120 million in our region out here.

we take it to the - we have nine board of directors that are all producers. of course, we've go to work with coal banks are where we do all our financing. but generally you put it together, and it's all about market share. service is another thing. we need storage.

we've got to be able to load trains when we want, not when we have to. it's a number of things. we can get better service. we can get carry in to market. we're going to be more competitive in the market. so it does a number of things. my experience is the producers have been very, very accepting of what we're doing,

and very supportive. our producers have been very, very supportive. that's needed. even in 2000 a pretty good sized planter was probably a 12 row. today we've got 36 row. so we've had to go from a 12 row fertilizer plant to a 36 row fertilizer plant, to keep up with them. and the grain facilities are the same thing.

- because it's not just, in your case as a cooperative, it's not just the elevator part where the grain's coming in and going out. it's also the other services that farmer's are asking for. - it's fertilizer, it's grain, it's grain drying, it's storage, it's the whole - it's the big picture you've got to look at. it isn't really, as a local co-op, what we want. it's what our producers need.

so if we want to service them and keep their business, we have to continuously reinvest. but investment is huge. - bob, getting back to you for a minute, on some of the larger investments. we talk about wes-con as an example of what many elevators are doing. but there are other sorts of investments in rural areas that often have to happen as well.

for example, transportation. tell me about the transportation piece of this, because obviously it's one thing to get a train loaded and moving down the tracks. it's another thing to have the infrastructure in place before the grain even gets into the elevator, right? - right. a good road network is obviously very important. on the rail side, the railroads have put in a lot of money,

particularly the bnsf, since a couple years ago we had the perfect storm with oil moving and a lot of issues with weather and so on. but they've spent a lot of money in putting in infrastructure that's really helped with the efficiency and moving on rail. it really starts back to the country, having good access to the farm. there's a lot of grain stored on the farm.

in fact, in minnesota, over 75% of the total storage in minnesota is actually located on the farm. there's a lot of grain that is stored on the farm, has to move from the farm. a good farm-to-market system is something that's been discussed. we've been involved in that issue in the legislature for the last many years. it's very important to have a good total infrastructure

to really move this grain from the farm to the elevator. it's been coming along. back in the day we didn't have 10-ton road access to all communities. that kind of thing. that was a good starting point. but now we're on our way, hopefully we can look at some other things.

in the legislature, for example, as i mentioned, truck weights is something that we're looking at, trying to be on par with canada and our north dakota neighbors, in terms of being able to haul higher weights. we do have an exemption for our raw, nonprocessed commodities. but we'd like to see that expanded even further. - earlier we talked about technology a little bit,

and dean, you talked about the fact that you have people who really need to be well trained. there's a sophistication there. i'm sure you've seen that all over. let's talk about technology a little bit. how is technology really changing the grain trade? obviously, you said there's a lot more automation. are there other things that people really might not be aware of when they think of

the elevator of years ago, that they're watching it now, and say, "oh, wow, look at that." - as far as the marketing, it's instant. a producer calls us up. it used to be, we had the market tvs in our office. we were 5 minute, 10 minutes, maybe even 15 minutes at one time. today we have instant quotes. so when it changes in the chicago board of trade

it changes in our office. we can quote an exact price. if a producer would sell 10,000 bushels to us, we don't even call a broker anymore. we just punch it in our computer and put the hedge on the rates. there's so much eliminated. everything is instant access nowadays. it's just a start.

the farmers can, every co-op, every elevator, you can go on the gulf, you get the gulf bid. they can really find any bid they want. they can get the same pnw bid i get. there really are no secrets in the grain anymore. you've got your bid. you've just got to figure out how you're going to be competitive, and how you'll buy it. but the technology is there.

- it's a far cry from having to call up the local elevator and find out what's going on. now people will check it on their smart phone. they'll have it right there at their fingertips all the time, right? - our markets, every afternoon, we text them out to our producers, so they know what our mark - they don't have to call us at 3 o'clock

if they're sitting in the tractor. we text it to them. a lot of them have their ipads, of course. they can go on our web page and get them. the technology's really changed. - another thing, when people deliver grain to his facility or one of these other shuttle loading facilities, or unit train loading facilities, they don't even have to get out of their trucks anymore.

it's all done by, with a card. they get weighed in, they dump, they leave. again, you don't even have to get out of your truck anymore. so it's kind of worked out, again, part of that efficiency thing with these elevators. but they've really come a long way since the old horse and wagon days, that's for sure.

- or even for that, as i recall, the days of bringing in the truck. if the truck didn't have the hoist, the whole front of the truck would be lifted up. it was a very different world. i think for so many people who were growing up on a farm, or farming in those days, the changes now would just be staggering. as you said, not even getting out of your truck.

- it's really come a long ways. - in the few minutes we have left, i'd like to talk about, just glance into the future a little bit, about the future of the grain trade. we said there are so many changes from the time you start to invest in a facility until the facility's built, or so many changes in market forces,

i'm going to ask you to just look ahead a little bit, 2016 and beyond. what are the next things you see in the grain trade? - one of the big things that they're going to keep pushing, we're dealing with all the gmo issues. that's going to take a while to get resolved. food security, bob brought that up a little earlier. but food security's going to be a big thing. right now, we're not doing any identification

if we're preserving it. but it'll be the markets, $7 corn. we've taught south america how to grow corn, and that shows on our exports right now, on the pnw and the gulf. we're really, really down on corn. beans it's going to be a much shorter season. we've got some real world issues. the us dollar, of course, is affecting our market right now.

there's a number of things in '16 we've got to work through. we've got an awful lot of corn in the united states, but the rest of the world, actually, the inventory's dropped a little bit. we're going to have some issues this fall, where it's going to go, how we're going to handle it. we have to get competitive in the world market right now. as a producer, and us in our world, we've got a lot to deal with in the next 16 months

trying to make all of our budgets balance. - from your facilities, whether it's in - your facilities are in holloway, minnesota, and in twin brook, south dakota, and many other places. whether you're there, or wherever you are, you're going to have those facilities. bob, sort of a wrap up here on where we're going? - well, i think you're going to see,

and what we've already seen, is a continuation of mergers and consolidations within our industry. when i started 34 years ago, we had 225 local co-ops. now we're down to 79 local co-op firms. i think that's going to continue. it's primarily due to - a lot of it is regulatory. some of these older elevators just can't keep up

with the regulations that are coming on us now with food security and other things, osha regs and so on. it's going to be a real challenge, i think, too. but again, we're going to get smaller, but larger facilities. farmers have more mobility, so you don't need, i mentioned earlier, don't need an elevator every 7 miles.

problem is going to be employment, and finding good employees. that's a challenge right now, and i think that's going to continue to be a challenge for us into the future. - great. good note to end on. bob zelenka, dean isaacson, thank you both for joining us.

- as we leave you this week, we're going to show you a little bit of another local music production. it's called grassland jam. it's a show that we started a couple years ago here on pioneer public television, with a look at bluegrass music. as we leave you now, be sure to join us next week on compass, and enjoy the music. (bluegrass music)

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