Can this technology be an answer to farmland water use in the West?

ByThomas L. Elston

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This short article is printed by the Excellent Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that associates information, schooling and media companies to aid inform individuals about the plight of the Good Salt Lake — and what can be performed to make a difference before it is far too late. Examine all of our stories at

CASTLE DALE — Rod Magnuson has a great spread in rural Utah, elevating cattle and alfalfa in an operation that is the backbone of a fourth-generation legacy invested in agriculture.

The drought turned his prospective buyers for survival into a nightmare.

A ton of hay went for $135 in 2019.

In 2021, agricultural producers compensated $195 a ton.

This year? It really is $325 a ton.

The price of fertilizer for rising hay and other crops has spiked to stages not noticed considering the fact that 2008, which, together with electricity prices, prompted riots in 40 nations around the world all around the planet. In 2022, it is effortlessly three times as a great deal as a calendar year in the past for certain kinds of fertilizer.

Offering in or heading huge

Magnuson is at ease in his rancher’s skin, with an amiable smile, rugged very good looks, and a silent and shy demeanor that yet seeks to accommodate a small group of media firing thoughts at him on a recent May perhaps early morning in Castle Dale, Utah.

As he clarifies the storage capability of a pair of grain silos exterior this building, there is the odor of ranching that wafts in the wind. Could be manure, could be the processing of white wheat ready to “plant” when it can be all set.

Each and every of the silos retains 28 tons that are portion of a unique rising operation, that at this time, is the greatest of its variety in the United States.

All eyes are on this developing and the assure it retains for conserving h2o and preserving a way of everyday living that has been the hallmark of the West — delivering not only food stuff and fiber — but a custom that fosters carrying on tricky work that builds character, toughness, and appreciation for land.

Utah and other states through the area have been struggling with a a lot more than two-a long time-extensive generational drought made extra difficult by raging catastrophic fires destroying non-public and community rangeland.

Hydrogreen feed is pictured in Castle Dale on May 11. The new technology transforms seed into feed within a matter of days and uses less than one-tenth of the water required for traditional alfalfa fields.
Hydrogreen feed is pictured in Castle Dale on May perhaps 11. The new know-how transforms seed into feed in just a make any difference of times and employs considerably less than just one-tenth of the h2o demanded for standard alfalfa fields. (Image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

This new technological innovation is not the panacea, but it lessens agricultural water use, encouraging to continue to keep a lot more water in the technique — water that together the Wasatch Entrance could assist the Wonderful Salt Lake, which dipped to its historic record very low previous 12 months and will very likely recede even a lot more this yr.

The making on Magnuson’s house and what is inside of represents a $650,000 expenditure that will help you save a huge amount of money of h2o and preserve the rancher in company. It can be a shining gentle of hope for this chopping-edge technologies to be a savior that is even now bumping up against skepticism or wariness from bankers. He stated he found a financial institution that loaned him the funds, but will some others get that leap? He does not know.

Magnuson could have walked away from the strain of farming and ranching. Without this technological know-how, he explained he would have been performed. But when he seemed into the faces of his five sons, their eyes, and that of his spouse, Jodi, turning his back again on his family members legacy of ranching was an alternative that withered like vegetation in a drought.

“I experienced to do anything or I would have absent out of business, so I had to do this,” Magnuson claimed.

I had to do one thing or I would have absent out of business enterprise, so I had to do this.

–Rod Magnuson

He opened the door to in which all the magic takes put and released us to Hydrogreen nutrition technology.

In this 75-foot by 40-foot framework, there are a few towers with many trays that make 9,000 pounds of feedstock for each working day.

There is seed at the base that grows into forage that is blended with straw to lessen its protein content. It consumes less than one particular-tenth of the h2o utilised in regular hay fields, and this operation replaces the land and drinking water of what a 450-acre hay area calls for. And it can do it 365 times a yr.

It is a five to six-working day development cycle from begin to finish, and the out-the-doorway fees are $65 for each ton of feed as opposed to more than $300 for each ton of hay.

Fodder or fields give preference

Magnuson planted his first crop in the 6-level towers on Xmas Eve very last yr. It acquired a slight rebuke from his wife, Jodi, since what need to have been an night of family gathered all over the celebration of the coming start of Christ as a substitute was the coming delivery of one thing untried, untested, and operating on religion. The metaphor did not escape Jodi Magnuson.

“We have these 5 boys that we are attempting to secure a long run for,” she stated. “They are all interested in carrying on.”

In front of her are the towers of grain that experienced sprouted into forage.

Jodi Magnuson in particular is searching at her oldest boys, the twins named Wyatt and Will. They will turn 22 in August.

“I assume this will pull us as a result of the drought,” she stated, and as the seems and scent and mild come speeding by way of in this escalating procedure, a smile will take around her deal with.

“It has to,” she said. “It will.”

The test of time

“This will be the future of agriculture with land and h2o troubles we experience these times.”

That is the outlook of Lee Magnuson, the brother of Ron Magnuson. He seems to be on at the procedure and is hopeful.

He is a supplier, a provider of this technological know-how, while he did not market it to his brother.

“You cannot pay back for land with cows and feed and develop it currently with the bucks desired,” he said, enthusiasm starting to improve in his gestures and voice. “This is a remedy to a issue in which there is no more h2o, no extra land, and we nonetheless have to increase the feed. But we do it in a scaled-down footprint.”

Agriculture consumes 80% of drinking water in the Colorado River Basin which incorporates Utah, 6 other states, and Mexico. In this location, drought is horrific.

Hydrogreen feed is watered in Castle Dale on May 11. The new technology transforms seed into feed within a matter of days and uses less than one-tenth of the water required for traditional alfalfa fields.
Hydrogreen feed is watered in Castle Dale on Might 11. The new technological innovation transforms seed into feed within a make any difference of times and employs much less than a person-tenth of the drinking water required for regular alfalfa fields. (Image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Information)

In drought, in time of progress, in time of all individuals agriculture shortages, is this Hydrogreen technologies Magnuson invested in a probable solution?

“I think most people who needs a protected food stuff offer for their animals demands to search into this,” Lee Magnuson stated. “I consider this is the foreseeable future of agriculture.”

In a legislative hearing in mid-May well, Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, explained he frequented the site and claimed it should really be on everyone’s radar in the Utah Legislature when it comes to water personal savings. The Utah Legislature’s Water Development Fee agreed to review it and is prepping for a visit from the Magnuson relatives this summer.

“What I enjoy about this is you have outdated-school cowboys working with chopping-edge technology,” Lyman explained.

A lifeline for legacy

“That is why I am carrying out this, for them,” Rod Magnuson explained, smiling as he glances at his twins. “This procedure sustains us. It sustains the animals. It is an insurance plan policy.”

The forage is slice and travels up a conveyor belt. It lands in a device and is mulched and mingled with straw. This is feed for the upcoming.

It truly is windy, and a bit chilly, but the Magnuson household sales opportunities a team of media up the hill to a pasture dotted with 400 cow/calf pairs.

It is apparent these animals have completed this just before. They see the tractor and start out mooing and operating. They are hungry.

Difficulties forward for foodstuff, h2o, and us

It’s simple to place hay or alfalfa in the barn and retail store it for future use. A obstacle to this fodder procedure is to scientifically identify if what Magnuson is escalating can be saved above the prolonged phrase in the variety of cubes or as silage.

He has the summer season selection for his cattle and in the interim, Hydrogreen will lab check for silage.

“The samples will be in the store. I have sent it off for tests.”

If it operates, it will be the way to help the “factory” and to assistance community agriculture.

“I would truthfully be broke proper now and would have to promote off 50 percent my cow herd simply because of the price of hay and this kind of,” he stated. “Simply because you know my cows, they are my manufacturing unit that creates my profits. She grows a calf, I offer the calf to make a living. … We do the job to aid the cow so she will aid us.”

Rod Magnuson looks at these animals that are so indelibly woven into his becoming, the legacy he desires to go away for his 5 sons.

The twins, Wyatt and Will are on horseback. They have just herded the “manufacturing facility” so their father can supply feed developed with this new engineering.

Rod Magnuson has a father’s eyes full of hope. This household is not supplying up.


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