On a small farm outside of Quito, Ecuador, a farmer has been able to save several piglets that would typically have died and sold them as additional income for his family. A cattle ranch west of Melbourne, Australia, was recently able to sell its beef cattle earlier and feed more of its own hay for greater profit. One of the largest wheat producers in the U.S. was able to increase his winter wheat harvest by more than 7 bushels/acre, resulting in dozens of semi loads of additional wheat for flour and other food. Also, a large swine producer in Iowa has been able to increase production and reduce the water consumption of his herd for economic and environmental benefits.
Although the producers live continents apart they are all part of the global food chain. They also have one other characteristic in common: Ralco technologies increase their profit and help feed a hungry world.
Ralco is a science and technology company based in Marshall, Minnesota, focused on providing the agriculture industry with natural technologies that enhance large segments of the livestock, poultry, aquaculture and crop industries. The 44-year-old, third-generation multinational started in a garage. However, during the past decade it has been the vision of Jon Knochenmus, president of Ralco, that has taken the business from a regional feed company to a global provider of essential technologies to more than 30 countries.
“I actually grew up in the small town of Balaton, Minnesota,” Jon recalls. “My father worked at a grain elevator, but I always wanted to be a salesman. The opportunity to work with my father-in-law came up in 1971, back when Ralco was strictly an animal feed operation. Today, it’s really our mission that guides us. We use our God-given gifts to produce a safe and abundant food supply.”
Innovative Natural Technologies
Ralco provides food producers with patented technologies that naturally increase the vitality of plants and animals. Although the technologies are natural, they undergo rigorous research and testing to ensure quality, consistency and safety. The company has invested in an extensive technical team including more than a dozen scientists, each with a Ph.D. or advanced degrees. Investments in research facilities and people at a time when consumers are moving away from food treated with antibiotics has well positioned Ralco in the agriculture industry.
“We’re all concerned about how our food is raised and where it comes from,” says Jon. “We want it to be as natural as possible. Also, the consumer trend is away from antibiotics. We develop natural technologies that can be applied to commercial production, which brings innovation and agricultural solutions to our market.”
A significant portion of Ralco’s business is swine nutrition, beef nutrition and animal health products. Five years ago Ralco branched out into the agronomy sector with products that improve soil and plant health.
Most recently Texas A&M University licensed a worldwide patent to Ralco for a form of indoor shrimp production that will revolutionize the industry. The technology enables producers to raise 1,000,000 pounds of shrimp per acre of water annually. A state-of-the-art shrimp research facility will open in 2015, which complements the swine research facility, poultry research facility and greenhouse that are currently taking Ralco technologies to the next level.
From Humble Beginnings
Bob and Lou Galbraith started Ralco in their garage April 21, 1971. Jon was dating the couple’s daughter, Niter, when the company was in its infancy, and he helped load one of the first Ralco trucks.
Soon the product line expanded and a history of innovation was born. Jon spearheaded the introduction of the first baby pig milk replacer to the livestock industry. Ralco was the first to widely promote essential oil to the livestock industry. It was the first company to formulate swine diets based on net energy, and it is the first and only company to introduce a Microbial Catalyst technology to the crop industry. Soon it will raise shrimp on a global scale.
“You have to have vision to be in this business and to solve the problems of tomorrow,” says John. “We have to double food production by 2050 and there is only 8 percent more arable land. We must use technology to produce more food for a growing world. That’s why it’s so important for us to reinvest in new technologies that increase food production safely and naturally.”