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Dr. Addison Lawrence, Ralco President Jon Knochenmus, SMSU President Dr. Connie Gores, and Ralco Vice President Brian Knochenmus faced a camera at the conclusion of the Ralco Innovation Summit.

Feeding the World
Ralco Innovation Summit
spotlights food challenge

Visions for a prosperous American agriculture future came into focus at the Ralco Technology Campus in Balaton last week.

More than 200 community and farm leaders turned out for Ralco’s first-ever “Discover New Frontiers” technology and research conference.  Visitors were treated to tours of Ralco’s Balaton facility, and briefings on the company’s products and goals.

Jon Knochenmus, Ralco president, welcomed  visitors.

“The future is bright and great for agriculture,” he said.  “Forty years from now, we will need twice as much food to keep up with population growth.”  With little additional land remaining to put into ag production, meeting increased food demand  will require innovative applications of new technologies.

Knochenmus singled out farmers for being leaders in the adaptation of new technology.

“The most innovative people in the world…they are you, our farmers.”


International reach

Ralco, which has locations in both Balaton and Marshall,  is a multi-national company with 200 employees and a presence in 20 countries.  The company has developed products for beef, crop, swine, poultry, and dairy and dairy production.   Ralco’s   new division of Agnition, a brand dedicated to crop products, utilizes the company’s state-of-the-arts greenhouse in Balaton and has 20 employees.

Jon Knochenmus, and his son, Brian, both stressed  Ralco’s commitment to rural economic growth, as evidence by the investments made in the former Balaton Public School site.  The renovated buildings are now used for Ralco’s research  and product development,

Jon Knochenmus, a graduate of Balaton High School, reflected on Ralco’s humble beginnings. His father-in-law, Bob Galbraith, founded the company 43 years ago by mortgaging his furniture.  Ralco, Knochenmus said,  will continue to take risks to bring about new innovations in agriculture.


Product displays

Self-guided tours through the Ralco facility provided information about a host of Ralco products and services. Displays emphasized Ralco mission of utilizing new technologies to help produce a safe and abundant world food supply.

One station, staged by the  culinary arts department at Southwest Minnesota State University,  featured food items related to specific Ralco products.

Another display showed how airborne drones are having an impact on agriculture.  Brett Hood, of Jaycox Implement, Luverne, demonstrated a Phantom 2 Vision Plus drone.  The ground-controlled aircraft is equipped with a three-axis camera capable of providing producers with high-definition photos of their crops and fields

For more on this article, see this week's Headlight-Herald.