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

Barbie Espinol

Believed go through time: 7-8 minutes

This write-up is released via the Excellent Salt Lake Collaborative, a answers journalism initiative that companions information, education and learning and media companies to aid advise people today about the plight of the Fantastic Salt Lake — and what can be performed to make a distinction right before it is as well late. Browse all of our stories at

CASTLE DALE — Rod Magnuson has a awesome distribute in rural Utah, increasing cattle and alfalfa in an procedure that is the backbone of a fourth-generation legacy used in agriculture.

The drought turned his potential clients 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’s $325 a ton.

The cost of fertilizer for increasing hay and other crops has spiked to amounts not observed due to the fact 2008, which, together with electricity expenditures, prompted riots in 40 nations about the environment. In 2022, it is quickly 3 moments as substantially as a 12 months ago for specified styles of fertilizer.

Providing in or going significant

Magnuson is snug in his rancher’s pores and skin, with an amiable smile, rugged very good looks, and a peaceful and shy demeanor that however seeks to accommodate a little team of media firing queries at him on a modern May perhaps morning in Castle Dale, Utah.

As he describes the storage ability of a pair of grain silos exterior this constructing, there is the smell of ranching that wafts in the wind. Could be manure, could be the processing of white wheat ready to “plant” when it truly is all set.

Just about every of the silos retains 28 tons that are component of a exclusive expanding operation, that at this time, is the greatest of its variety in the United States.

All eyes are on this making and the guarantee it holds for conserving water and preserving a way of daily life that has been the hallmark of the West — supplying not only foodstuff and fiber — but a custom that fosters carrying on challenging perform that builds character, toughness, and appreciation for land.

Utah and other states all over the region have been battling with a a lot more than two-decades-lengthy generational drought manufactured a lot more complicated by raging catastrophic fires destroying personal 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 Might 11. The new technologies transforms seed into feed inside of a make any difference of times and uses fewer than 1-tenth of the water needed for common alfalfa fields. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Information)

This new technology is not the panacea, but it lessens agricultural water use, serving to to continue to keep a lot more water in the method — h2o that alongside the Wasatch Front could aid the Fantastic Salt Lake, which dipped to its historic history minimal past year and will possible recede even more this calendar year.

The setting up on Magnuson’s assets and what is within represents a $650,000 financial commitment that will help you save a great quantity of h2o and keep the rancher in organization. It can be a shining mild of hope for this slicing-edge know-how to be a savior that is nevertheless bumping up in opposition to skepticism or wariness from bankers. He reported he uncovered a bank that loaned him the funds, but will some others acquire that leap? He does not know.

Magnuson could have walked away from the stress of farming and ranching. Without this technologies, he mentioned he would have been accomplished. But when he seemed into the faces of his five sons, their eyes, and that of his spouse, Jodi, turning his again on his family members legacy of ranching was an option that withered like vegetation in a drought.

“I had to do something or I would have absent out of organization, so I experienced to do this,” Magnuson stated.

I experienced to do a little something or I would have long gone out of organization, so I had to do this.

–Rod Magnuson

He opened the doorway to wherever all the magic usually takes spot and launched us to Hydrogreen nutrition technology.

In this 75-foot by 40-foot construction, there are 3 towers with numerous trays that produce 9,000 lbs . of feedstock for each working day.

There is seed at the bottom that grows into forage that is mixed with straw to cut down its protein content material. It consumes considerably less than a single-tenth of the water made use of in traditional hay fields, and this procedure replaces the land and drinking water of what a 450-acre hay field demands. And it can do it 365 days a yr.

It is a five to 6-day growth cycle from get started to complete, and the out-the-doorway charges are $65 for every ton of feed in comparison to additional than $300 per ton of hay.

Fodder or fields give preference

Magnuson planted his initial crop in the six-degree towers on Christmas Eve last year. It earned a slight rebuke from his wife, Jodi, due to the fact what need to have been an evening of loved ones gathered all-around the celebration of the coming delivery of Christ as a substitute was the coming start of some thing untried, untested, and working on faith. The metaphor did not escape Jodi Magnuson.

“We have these 5 boys that we are trying to protected a future for,” she explained. “They are all fascinated in carrying on.”

In entrance of her are the towers of grain that had sprouted into forage.

Jodi Magnuson in unique is hunting at her oldest boys, the twins named Wyatt and Will. They will convert 22 in August.

“I consider this will pull us via the drought,” she explained, and as the sounds and smell and light-weight appear dashing by way of in this rising operation, a smile requires more than her deal with.

“It has to,” she stated. “It will.”

The take a look at of time

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

That is the outlook of Lee Magnuson, the brother of Ron Magnuson. He appears on at the operation and is hopeful.

He is a supplier, a provider of this engineering, although he did not promote it to his brother.

“You can’t pay back for land with cows and feed and develop it today with the bucks wanted,” he said, enthusiasm commencing to improve in his gestures and voice. “This is a resolution to a trouble wherever there is no more drinking water, no extra land, and we however have to improve the feed. But we do it in a more compact footprint.”

Agriculture consumes 80% of water in the Colorado River Basin which features 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 Could 11. The new technological innovation transforms seed into feed within just a make any difference of days and uses less than one particular-tenth of the water demanded for regular alfalfa fields. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Information)

In drought, in time of expansion, in time of all all those agriculture shortages, is this Hydrogreen technological know-how Magnuson invested in a feasible remedy?

“I consider everybody who desires a protected food items provide for their animals requirements to glance into this,” Lee Magnuson reported. “I feel this is the long term of agriculture.”

In a legislative listening to in mid-May well, Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, explained he visited the internet site and stated it must be on everyone’s radar in the Utah Legislature when it comes to h2o cost savings. The Utah Legislature’s Water Growth Commission agreed to analyze it and is prepping for a pay a visit to from the Magnuson household this summer.

“What I adore about this is you have outdated-school cowboys making use of reducing-edge technological know-how,” Lyman reported.

A lifeline for legacy

“That is why I am accomplishing this, for them,” Rod Magnuson stated, smiling as he glances at his twins. “This procedure sustains us. It sustains the animals. It is an insurance policies coverage.”

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

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

It is obvious these animals have carried out this before. They see the tractor and begin mooing and operating. They are hungry.

Challenges in advance for food, water, and us

It can be uncomplicated to place hay or alfalfa in the barn and retail outlet it for future use. A problem to this fodder procedure is to scientifically figure out if what Magnuson is growing can be stored around the very long time period in the kind of cubes or as silage.

He has the summer months selection for his cattle and in the interim, Hydrogreen will lab take a look at for silage.

“The samples will be in the retailer. I have despatched it off for tests.”

If it performs, it will be the way to support the “manufacturing unit” and to assist regional agriculture.

“I would truthfully be broke correct now and would have to market off fifty percent my cow herd because of the selling price of hay and this kind of,” he mentioned. “Mainly because you know my cows, they are my manufacturing facility that provides my profits. She grows a calf, I promote the calf to make a residing. … We function to support the cow so she will support us.”

Rod Magnuson appears at these animals that are so indelibly woven into his becoming, the legacy he wishes to depart for his 5 sons.

The twins, Wyatt and Will are on horseback. They’ve just herded the “manufacturing facility” so their father can produce feed developed with this new know-how.

Rod Magnuson has a father’s eyes total of hope. This family members is not offering up.


Most recent Utah drought tales

Amy Joi O’Donoghue and Dan Spindle

A lot more stories you might be interested in

Next Post

Thoughts from the CIOs of the Year

The CIO of the 12 months Awards wrapped up last week, highlighting main details officers’ achievements above the earlier calendar year.  The were 5 awards offered the winners ended up: Matt Pedalino, CIO of Harrison Pensa LLP: Upcoming Generation Leader of 2022 Mazen Joukhadar, vice president and CIO of Change […]

You May Like

Subscribe US Now