Field Report – May 2007

Caterpillar donates Cat Chopper as fundraiser for Victory Junction
Caterpillar has donated a custom-designed Cat Chopper to the Victory Junction Gang Camp for seriously ill children. The motorcycle will be used to raise money for the camp, which operates on donations and provides a unique opportunity for children whose medical conditions prevent them from participating in other camps.

The Victory Junction Gang Camp, founded and supported by the Petty family of NASCAR racing, aims to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing exciting, empowering camp experiences in a safe and medically sound environment. The camp, located in North Carolina on land donated by the Petty family, features a NASCAR racing theme. Caterpillar is in its 14th season as a NASCAR sponsor.

“This donation will help raise funds to continue to send children with chronic medical conditions to Victory Junction for a life-changing camping experience,” says Pattie Petty, CEO and cofounder of Victory Junction. “The fact that Caterpillar has reached out to create such a great partnership with the camp speaks volumes about their organization.”

The donated motorcycle, one of two identical choppers created for Caterpillar by Orange County Choppers, includes design elements of Caterpillar equipment.

“Caterpillar and its dealers have used the Cat Chopper to raise money for a variety of charities nationwide,” says Jay Alexander of the Caterpillar North American Commercial Division. “It is fitting that we help such a worthy program as the Victory Junction Gang Camp.”
~ Staff report

E-85 Explained
Amid concerns about oil dependence, the rising price of gasoline and its effects on the environment, E85 is emerging as a feasible alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuels for gasoline-powered vehicles.

E85 fuel is created by blending ethanol distilled from organic matter – usually corn – with conventional gasoline. The makeup of the fuel is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, hence its name.

Proponents of E85 say it could decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil in the coming years because it uses renewable, domestically grown, agricultural crops instead of pure petroleum. Kristen Kinley, spokeswoman for Ford Motor Company, says the use of just 10 percent ethanol nationwide would reduce gasoline consumption by more than 10 billion gallons each year.

As a fuel, E85 also burns cleaner than 100 percent petroleum. This environmental advantage holds true throughout the life of a gallon of E85 fuel: It emits 25 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than conventional gasoline from the time it is produced in a refinery to when it is burned in an engine as fuel. In addition, E85 provides better engine performance than gasoline because of ethanol’s higher octane rating of 105.

Despite its benefits, E85 is not widely available in most regions of the country today. Ford, which produces flexible fuel vehicles designed to use E85, has partnered with VeraSun Energy Corporation in an effort to increase the fuel’s availability in the Midwest, where most E85 stations are located. Still, the E85 infrastructure is in the early stages of development, with fewer than 1,000 of the nation’s 180,000 service stations offering E85. Kinley says the difficulty is raising awareness and convincing fuel providers, station owners, policymakers and consumers to accept E85 as a near-term alternative fuel source.

“Many station owners are hesitant because they claim it’s costly to swap out an existing petroleum pump for an E85 pump,” Kinley says. “Plus, E85 can – at times – be priced higher than conventional gasoline, which further makes it difficult for station owners to justify the cost of installing an E85 pump.” Converting a station to sell E85 where another product line of mid-grade gas is deleted costs $3,000 to $5,000, according to Ford. The price of E85 is typically competitive with that of unleaded 87-octane gasoline. For updated prices, visit this site.

Once fuel providers are able to reduce the cost of E85, it should cost about 20 percent as much as conventional gasoline, Kinley says, and the market will likely find it more appealing. E85 fuel economy varies from one vehicle to another, but since the bio-fuel produces less energy per gallon than gasoline does, users can expect to see fuel mileage decreases from 20 percent to 30 percent when running on E85. Trucks used for hauling or towing will probably fall into the upper part of that range, Kinley says.

According to Susan Cischke, vice president of environmental and safety engineering for Ford, about five million flexible fuel vehicles from Ford, GM and Daimler-Chrysler are on the road today. Ford manufactured Model T’s that ran on ethanol before World War I, Cischke says, and plans to double its production of flexible fuel vehicles by 2010.

Some research, however, has found that E85 actually uses more energy than it generates. According to a 2005 study by Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley, corn requires 29 percent more fossil fuel energy to create than the liquid fuel it produces generates. Likewise, switchgrass requires 45 percent more fossil fuel energy and wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil fuel energy than the it produced in the refining process.

David Pimental, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell and one of the researchers, says the production of ethanol contributes to air, water and soil pollution, and the majority of the subsidies help large ethanol-producing corporations, not farmers. “Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation’s energy security, its agriculture, economy or the environment,” Pimental says. “Ethanol production requires large fossil fuel energy input, and therefore, it is contributing to oil and natural gas imports and U.S. deficits.”

According to a report released in May by UN-Energy, a consortium of 20 U.N. agencies and programs, biofuels like E85 may help reduce global warming and create some jobs, but they may also create a detrimental impact on the environment and result in higher food prices. The report says that “rapid growth in liquid biofuel production will make substantial demands on the world’s land and water resources at a time when demand for both food and forest products is also rising rapidly.”
~ Lori Creel

Rain Bird offers chance for golf getaway
As part of its Three Course Giveaway contest Rain Bird, a leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services, is offering a golf trip for one winner and three friends to three championship courses – Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Pebble Beach in northern California and Pelican Hill in southern California. Other prizes include a set of Callaway Golf Clubs and a new Rain Bird automatic sprinkler system. Visit this site.

PGMS accepting entries for 2007 Green Star Awards
The Professional Grounds Management Society is accepting submissions for its 2007 Green Star Awards competition, a program designed to recognize well-maintained grounds on a national level. The Green Star Awards acknowledge the grounds superintendent and staff who maintain a well-manicured landscape throughout the year. The deadline for entries is Friday, August 3. For more information and an official entry form, visit this site.

Hitachi Koki acquires Tanaka Kogyo
Nikko Tanaka Engineering, a new subsidiary of Hitachi Koki, has acquired the business of Tanaka Kogyo. The agreement, which went into effect May 1, also includes the transfer of the business of Tanaka America to Nikko Tanaka Engineering U.S.A., a subsidiary of Hitachi Power Tools. The Tanaka brand will continue, and all employees will remain.

DeWitt Tree Ring product showcase is June 23
DeWitt Tree Ring designed by Barco will host a product showcase from 2-8 p.m. June 23 at their testing facility in southeastern Missouri. The showcase will feature the DeWitt Tree Ring and other DeWitt landscaping products. For more information, visit this site>, call (573) 857-2796 or e-mail [email protected].

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor:

In “Preventive Maintenance for Small Engines” in the May 2007 edition of your magazine (page 53), the article comments about using a plastic gas can instead of a metal one. I understand that there could be rust from the can but if you are a company that is governed by OSHA, OSHA states that fuel needs to be in a safety can. This means a can that has a self-closing lid and spark arrester. They are usually made of metal. There is one brand that can be used that is plastic, but it is more expensive than the metal one. Not only should we be talking about preventive maintenance, but also how to complete it safely.

Kevin Cote
Midwest Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Trugreen Companies

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover