Mushroom growing from compost barrel

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Q: This is by my compost barrel. Can you tell

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John Deere announces supplier agreement with engcon

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MOLINE, Ill. John Deere has announced a preferred supplier agreement with engcon, a manufacturer of tiltrotators. Tiltrotator models ranging from the EC204 up to the EC233 will be available through John Deere construction and compact construction equipment and Hitachi excavator dealers. These tiltrotator models match with the John Deere 26G through 345G and Hitachi ZX26 through ZX345 Excavator models.

“We strive to provide our customers with product and technology offerings that improve their performance on the jobsite. When we launched our Smart Industrial strategic direction, we committed to investing our resources in solutions that deliver increased value to our customers, such as this agreement with engcon,” said David Thorne, senior vice president, sales & marketing, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “Our excavators are known for their multi-functioning capabilities and hydraulic control, and, with the addition of the engcon tiltrotators, we’re providing additional solutions to help our customers increase productivity and efficiency on the job.”

The engcon tiltrotators are designed to maximize productivity and profitability. When equipped, a tiltrotator enables an excavator bucket or other attachments to rotate 360 degrees around the axis and tilt up to 45 degrees side to side. A tiltrotator-equipped excavator offers enhanced value for customers, especially those working in tight, challenging jobsites or tackling applications that require precision and versatility. Using a tiltrotator, the time required to complete tasks such as digging, contouring and backfilling is reduced, increasing jobsite production and enhancing the operator’s user experience. Additionally, with a tiltrotator, wear on the machine’s tracks is decreased as a result of reduced travel.

“Through this agreement we’re building on the strengths of engcon and John Deere to enable contractors to optimize machine efficiency and productivity on jobsites that require versatility and precision,” said Krister Blomgren, CEO, engcon Group. “Our proven tiltrotator solution incorporates innovative features to deliver bottom line-boosting results. By offering our lineup through the John Deere and Hitachi excavator dealer networks, customers will have streamlined access to some of the industry’s top products.”

One of the features on the engcon lineup is the quick coupler system, EC-Oil, available for the John Deere 75G through 380G Excavators and Hitachi ZX75 through ZX380 models. EC-Oil allows operators to change attachments equipped with hydraulic and electrical connections from the machine cab, increasing productivity and efficiency.

The engcon tiltrotator lineup will be available at John Deere and Hitachi excavator dealers in the United States and Canada starting in the second half of 2021. For more information, customers can contact their local dealers or visit www.johndeere.com

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John Deere unveils Precision Construction, new maintenance program

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MOLINE, Ill.  John Deere has unveiled Precision Construction.

Precision Construction provides customers with a suite of technology solutions focused on maximizing uptime and delivering increased productivity.

“Since the beginning, delivering innovative solutions to our customers has been a core focus for John Deere, and the Precision Construction portfolio is taking that commitment to the next level,” said Andrew Kahler, manager, technology solutions, John Deere. “In recent years, we’ve unveiled an array of technology solutions that directly address our customers’ concerns on the jobsite. Now, we’re building on that foundation, pushing down on the gas pedal, and moving the industry toward the next generation of smart machine solutions.”

With Precision Construction, the existing John Deere technology portfolio is restructured, making it easier for customers to select solutions that help them resolve pain points on the jobsite. The result is a suite of solutions focused on maximizing uptime and helping contractors efficiently accomplish more each day. Organizing the current offerings into four pillars, Connected Support, Grade Management, Payload Weighing and JDLink Telematics, this shift enables customers to identify and incorporate technology solutions based on their unique needs. Moving forward, John Deere will add to the capabilities in these core areas while also carving a path for new introductions that further support the automation-to-autonomy journey.

To learn more about Precision Construction, click here.

Additionally, John Deere announces its preventative maintenance program for construction equipment, John Deere Protect. With John Deere Protect, required maintenance is performed at every 500-hour interval by an experienced dealer service technician.

“Our customers are balancing numerous things every day, from managing operators to looking ahead at projections to ensure the long-term success of their business. Through the John Deere Protect program, we’re taking away a worry — machine uptime — and putting it into the hands of our trusted and experienced dealer technicians,” said Mark Wagner, manager of service business for the John Deere Construction and Forestry Service Business. “The John Deere Protect program adds a layer of certainty and predictability with machine costs and downtime, giving owners the room to focus on other aspects of their business.”

First introduced on the John Deere Ag business, John Deere is extending the program to the construction lineup. 

“We started piloting this program in early 2021 with a select group of dealers, and the feedback we have received so far has been extremely positive. A main benefit of the program is that the task of maintaining machines is put into the hands of our dealers. As a result, our customers are more confident because they know their equipment is being watched by an expert. When combined with the power of JDLink telematics, the dealer can monitor machine status and proactively perform scheduled service, eliminating missed service internals and reducing unexpected downtime,” Wagner said.

The John Deere Protect program will be available for select John Deere construction equipment in the United States and Canada starting in May 2021.

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National Garden Scheme celebrates 25 years of fundraising for key beneficiaries

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The National Garden Scheme (NGS) is celebrating 25 years of support and more than £20m in funding for its three for key beneficiaries: Marie Curie, Hospice UK and Carers Trust charities.

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Is There Actually a Seed Shortage?

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While some seed varieties are selling out, there is enough seed to go around.

The post Is There Actually a Seed Shortage? appeared first on Greenhouse Grower.

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Cover crops for the garden

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Q: Last fall I planted oats as a cover crop

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Hino Trucks, Cummins announce new engine offerings.

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NOVI, Mich. – During the virtual 2021 NTEA Work Truck Show, Hino Trucks announced its intent to produce medium- and heavy-duty Hino trucks with Cummins engines for sale in North America. As a result, Hino intends to offer Cummins B6.7 and L9 engines in Hino’s L and XL Series models by the end of 2021.

“We are thrilled to offer Cummins’ proven B6.7 and L9 engines,” said Hino’s Bob Petz, senior VP of vehicle and parts sales. “The reliability, performance and durability presented with Cummins engines coupled with the award-winning Hino conventional cab will provide our customers the Ultimate Ownership Experience.”

“The Cummins B6.7 and L9 have an unmatched legacy in the medium-duty space, with nearly 80 years of combined production history,” said Amy Boerger, Cummins’ vice president and general manager, North America On Highway. “We are confident Hino customers with Cummins engines will continue to enjoy low cost of operation ownership with our combined offering.”

As part of Hino’s Work Truck Show announcement, Hino plans to redirect engineering and other resources to accelerate the development of the battery electric vehicle (BEV) portion of Project Z, the company’s development path to zero emission vehicles (ZEV). The company had previously announced plans to develop and produce a full range of class 4 through 8 Battery Electric Trucks by 2024.  It is now planning to begin low volume production of the BEV models in the fourth quarter of 2022, ramping up to full production by the end of 2023.

“Our industry is in the midst of a generational shift from traditional vehicles to Zero Emission Vehicles,” said Hino’s Glenn Ellis, senior VP of customer experience. “This new partnership is in line with the recent shift we have seen among other OEMs who are looking to strong industry partners to help offset their growing R&D investments into new ZEVs.”

Hino will begin production of Cummins powered trucks at the West Virginia and the Woodstock plant in October 2021, using engines built by Cummins at their Rocky Mount Engine Plant in North Carolina. The company plans to make the Cummins B6.7 engine available in the L Series by the end of 2021, initially offering the engine in two ratings: 240 HP and 260 HP. The B6.7 will be paired with Allison’s 2000 and 3000 Series transmissions. Starting in 2022, the Cummins L9 engine will be available in Hino’s XL Series model, initially in three ratings: 300 HP, 330 HP and 360 HP. The L9 can be paired with Allison’s 3000 or 3500 Series transmission or an Eaton manual.

Hino and Cummins will continue to evaluate additional opportunities to collaborate on powertrain strategies in the future.

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Optimizing Systems for Cannabis Greenhouses

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Plastic Coverings in Cannabis GreenhousesSelecting quality construction materials, managing air infiltration, and using active controls are all keys to efficiency and yield.

The post Optimizing Systems for Cannabis Greenhouses appeared first on Greenhouse Grower.

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Pay it out

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© Beth Walrond

Figuring out how much to pay your employees – and, for that matter, how to pay yourself – can seem like a delicate situation. How much is too little for new laborers? When is it time to give someone a raise so they don’t jump ship and join another company? And how do you evaluate your own job performance to pay yourself accordingly?

These are complex questions only further complicated by a global pandemic. And as landscapers nationwide refitted their trucks and restructured their companies to adjust for safety protocols, they also had to make on-the-fly decisions about payroll.

“In March and April, I was very frank with my staff. We had a huge project – the biggest commercial job that, in 18 years, we were ever going to undertake,” says Benjamin Lewis, the president of Browder-Hite in Virginia. The project got tabled because the owners’ funding source backed away due to the financial implications of COVID-19. “I thought, ‘My goodness gracious, if this is the beginning of the year, I have no idea what this year will be like,’” he says.

For some, the adjustments were awkward – Lewis says his company enjoyed a great 2020, while at Clarke’s Landscape Solutions, Jonathan Clarke says he suffered a 30% loss in revenue. Couple that with crews who didn’t want to work, and he says the year resulted in a pay cut for everyone, including himself.

“I had to limit the amount of work I estimated, but my guys were paid consistently,” he says. “I just adjusted my pay accordingly.”

“There’s always going to be some subjective component, but we try to make (pay) as objective as possible, driven through data and numbers.”Paul Fraynd, CEO, Sun Valley Landscaping

Tightening things up

For Paul Fraynd, the CEO at Sun Valley Landscaping in Omaha, Nebraska, all the necessary COVID-19 precautions were put into place almost immediately. They closed for a day right around when the rest of the world seemed to – the tipping point for him was when the NBA started cancelling games. And when they quickly reopened, they had to be particularly careful around their clients as 55% of the work they do is residential, largely either design/build or maintenance.

Then, Fraynd implemented a pay freeze across the entire $6-million company that would later be lifted in July, so pay raises were temporarily suspended. Other perks for his 55 employees were also removed, including the complementary local zoo membership each of his employees enjoys.

But by the summer, Fraynd had a new plan in place: They reestablished a portion of the budget for pay raises and started divulging full financial information in monthly Zoom calls to the employees to be transparent. Between explaining that and asking for their input – they all collectively decided to keep pay raises over company parties, for instance – Fraynd says his company navigated the pandemic well.

“Honestly, people just want to go to work and feel safe,” he says. “We’ve built that trust by sharing the real facts. It helps when you’re not making promises you can’t keep. That part kind of bonded everyone, like if you go to war together. Obviously, we’re not in battle, but still.”

Meanwhile, Clarke says his residential hardscape company – made up of somewhere between three and seven employees – struggled during the year. He says many of his employees left to collect unemployment checks, leaving it more difficult to properly cut the checks. Those who did good work were rewarded even despite the financial hit his company took, Clarke says.

“If I can rely on them to show up and do proper work, and if they’re good employees and I want to keep them around, I’ll always pay them more,” Clarke says.

Credit where it’s due

Lewis says it’s rare his 20 employees, who all do either maintenance or irrigation, don’t earn some sort of financial incentive opportunities. His office employees earn a salary while his field workers are paid hourly, but he says the crews have some “skin in the game.”

When his crews still finish up early on a job – for example, working 89 hours instead of 100 – he’ll still compensate for the time they saved working efficiently.

“I’m not a hoarder. I’m not looking to keep every dime,” Lewis says. “I have a philosophy that my employees come first. I operate from a Biblical standard that says pay the worker what he’s owed.”

For Fraynd, pay raises can be awarded from a budgeted 3% of total revenue. As always, in 2020, he left it up to his supervisors on how the pay could be awarded – some crews started paying $1 more an hour across the whole unit, while others just handed $3 more an hour to the employee who made the biggest difference out in the field. It helps that they’ve established pay ranges for each position so they know the maximum someone can earn in each role – if someone wants to earn more than the $18-$22 crew mower earns, they must try and learn another role within the company.

And Fraynd monitors his competition to ensure they’re paying among the best in the Omaha area. He noticed a huge spike in pay rates five years ago, and as a result, they “planted their flag in the ground” and paid the most in town. Soon after, everyone else recalibrated as well, meaning he’s now trying to pay in the top 10 percentile.

“I struggle because I want everyone to raise up, but not everybody wants to. Some people are happy to make what they make, and we need those people, too,” he says. “With the employees, you generally get what you pay for.”

One for all

At some point, company owners have to assess how they’ll make money, too.

With his smaller company, Clarke says he determines how much he’ll earn based on how much remains after paying it out to his crew workers. And Fraynd says he’ll always make sure his employees are paid their proper dues first before deciding his salary. Just like how he assesses the success of his crews, Fraynd says he tries to score his own performance as a leader, taking a cut from the overall sales. It behooves him to press his employees to perform well as much as it benefits them.

“We either make the sales and have the work or you don’t. I think everybody’s kind of familiar with that,” he says. “There’s always going to be some subjective component, but we try to make (pay) as objective as possible, driven through data and numbers.”

But it can feel like a relatively subjective decision. Company owners might have a bias toward paying themselves too much, or they might shortchange themselves in the name of appearing like a team player.

Lewis says it helps to find a third party, such as a consultant, to help determine a company owner’s pay. He and his consultant meet in the late summer to plot out the next year.

“As a general rule, I’m paid a salary, and it’s generally a percentage of anticipated income through the year, and I also take draws on capital,” Lewis says. “If we don’t make sales in a specific quarter or failed to meet expectations, then I will not take a full-sized draw.”

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CASE launches new CASE ReNew used equipment centers

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CASE Construction Equipment has launched the first official CASE ReNew Centers in partnership with dealers Associated Supply Company, Inc. (ASCO), Hills Machinery and RPM Machinery. The CASE ReNew Centers will inspect, service and recondition CASE lease returns and/or other used CASE equipment which will then be sold through CASE dealers in equipment markets.

CASE ReNew Centers also feature certified technicians in the network and will offer reconditioning services for used equipment including CASE as well as other brands.

“This partnership with these dealers represents the first wave of CASE ReNew Centers that will appear in high-volume used equipment markets across the US and Canada,” says Terry Dolan, head of CASE Construction Equipment — North America. “We now offer equipment buyers a range of used equipment reconditioning services and purchase price points to best fit their needs and investment strategies. Equipment buyers can also have faith that ReNew badged used equipment has been properly cared for, inspected and serviced compared to equipment purchased in private sales.”

CASE now offers three levels of used equipment:

  • Standard: Basic sale/trade-in (includes all competitive equipment). This category is ideal for price-driven buyers who prefer “as-is” transactions and repairing their own equipment.
  • CASE ReNew: CASE used or lease return equipment — all product lines — that has been serviced and repaired to retail-ready condition, functionality and performance. It has also been inspected by a CASE-certified technician.
  • CASE Certified Used (where available): Certified Used equipment undergoes a 100+ point inspection, including extensive fluid testing and repair by a Level 2 CASE-certified technician, use of CASE Genuine or REMAN Parts, and features an extended warranty and competitive financing. CASE Certified Used equipment availability varies by dealer and currently includes only CASE skid-steers and compact track loaders. The program is slated to expand to other product lines in the near future.

The first CASE ReNew Centers are located in Euless, Texas (ASCO); Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina (Hills); and Lebanon, Indiana (RPM).

To find a CASE dealer near you or to get more information on the entire lineup of CASE equipment and services, visit CaseCE.com.

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