When United Prairie made the decision to increase their emphasis on seed, they put together a team of seed specialists to spearhead the effort. That’s what brought Randy Mosier to the company.
“I was working for my family farm and seed business, and Kyle Meece was the United Prairie agronomist working with us,” Randy says. “When I was looking for a change, Kyle and another individual from United Prairie got me in front of Tal Holmes and Tim Hughes. I started in June and I’m excited to be here.”
Randy literally grew up in the seed business. “My dad was a seed dealer, and I remember going on deliveries with him as young laborer, so my brother and I threw a lot of 50-pound bags of seed,” he recalls.
Though Danvers is technically his home base, Randy lives in Bloomington-Normal and will generally head north, south or east from there every day. He and the other members of the seed team—Darren Roelfs, Mitch Holmes and Tal Holmes—operate as a seed-focused resource for United Prairie customers and agronomists.
“We’ll be in the fields right after the planters are done, scouting throughout the growing season and evaluating the seed for the next season,” Randy explains. “We’re attending all the meetings through the summer and winter, relaying new developments to the sales agronomy team and working with them to convey that information to the grower. We’ll be providing touch points for producers throughout the growing season.”
As to advice for the coming season, Randy has this to say: “The biggest thing I’m talking to people about is making sure they’re getting a return on their investment. With the tight margins, it’s more important to run your numbers and make smart decisions, but also to keep an open mind on things that provide a proven return. For example, fungicide application on certain hybrids and fertility management.”
“Seed placement is going to be more and more important going forward,” Randy continues. “Every acre is different and every farmer is different. The Easy Button doesn’t work anymore. You can’t just say I want so many units of this hybrid at this cost. We’re going to have to take a much more precise approach to seed selection, field-by-field. That’s what we’re here for.”
For the past two years, I’ve been working to develop the framework for a new position at United Prairie—the innovation agronomy lead. I brought the concept to Tim Hughes and the management team a year ago and they thought it was a great idea. I’m excited to say that the position has now become a reality.
Dekalb®/Asgrow® used to have a local field advisor in our area, and I thought it was a very effective position. The advisor’s role was to support not only the local growers but also the sales team. My new role includes elements of that position and draws on my years of experience digging deep into a producer’s operation to apply what we’ve learned from our field trials.
United Prairie understands that return on investment is critically important today and will become even more so in the future. My role is to help our farmers—and our sales agronomists—see all the opportunities that exist to improve farm profitability. Jeff Brown does a great job with the Innovation Farm. My role is to take what we learn there to the farm gate.
Like any new position, this one is a work in progress. I’ll be working closely with Drew Mulvaney as he moves into my former role. Producers who want to dig deep into the agronomic side of their operation should start by contacting your sales agronomist. I strongly support the team approach, and I want to work for both the farmer and the sales agronomist.
What I’m seeing
Regarding what I’m seeing in our trials this year, the one thing that stands out to this point is the response of corn to fungicide. I’m seeing a 25-30 bushel per acre yield increase from fungicide application. I’ve seen more gray leaf spot than I can recall this year, and I believe fungicide did a good job of mitigating stress for the corn in our plots, holding back disease and helping the plant fight through.
Now, there are individuals that I’ve talked to who report little or no response from fungicide. In my years of farming experience, I’ve learned that if you’re not seeing a response from fungicide in a year like we’ve had, there is another limiting factor—fertility or hybrid selection, for example—that needs to be addressed before fungicide application will be effective. This is where I slip into the role of innovation agronomy lead and say that we need to dig deeper and find out why you’re not getting a response.
I’m excited about my new role and the chance to put our research to work for our growers. There are still more plots to take off and data to analyze this year, and we’ll be keeping you informed via email, newsletter and, most importantly, our winter meetings. Watch for details on when and where those meetings will take place.
We are very proud that another strong year for United Prairie has drawn to a close. We are thankful for all of the faith and trust our growers place in us. We work hard every day to exceed your expectations.
There are many exciting things happening within United Prairie. The construction of our new facility in Hoopeston is certainly at the top of the list. The ammonia plant is complete and ready for fall. The rest of the facility is right on schedule and should be fully functional this winter.
We are also making numerous improvements to our existing facilities and equipment. We are proud to have the best people in the industry working with the most up-to-date equipment to serve your farm. It’s a great combination.
We also just wrapped up our first year working with the great people in Danvers. Overall, it went very well. We also know we can do better. Continual improvement of our level of service is in our plan for year two. One of our new Air Max twin bin dry fertilizer spreaders was recently delivered to the Danvers location. Spreading fertilizer with an air flow unit is far superior to the old method of spinning it on. We are thrilled to bring this upgrade in service to the area.
Operationally, the dicamba situation was improved over 2017, but we are still dealing with the issues presented when using that chemistry. We know this is being carefully monitored by the regulatory agencies, so we’ll wait to see what the final assessment of 2018 is. As we move into 2019, it will also be interesting to gauge the impact of major industry consolidations in the past year.
As I conclude, I would like to acknowledge the contributions Roger Miller made to our growth as one of the founders of United Prairie. We will miss his presence on the board and his leadership. Words can’t really express how big an impact Roger had over the years and how thankful we are for all that he has done for us.
I will wrap up by saying thank you again to all of our customers. You are our owners and your patronage will never be taken for granted. We are always looking to improve. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you see an area where we can do better. Also, I would like to give a huge thank you to all of our dedicated employees and their families. It is humbling to lead such a great group of people. Have a safe and prosperous fall.
Producers in the Hoopeston area will soon have a convenient new source of quality agronomy products and services. United Prairie will begin construction this spring on our new location just east of town.
“We’ll have a chemical shed and an anhydrous facility,” says location manager Tod Hufford. “We’re building with additional warehouse capacity, so we can expand into seed if the need develops. We’ll be able to provide everything the farmer needs, including dry fertilizer, which we can pull from the Crescent City or Tolono locations.”
Tod joined the United Prairie staff right before Thanksgiving and has been busy meeting area growers. He brings 34 years of ag experience with him, 25 of those years as a location manager. As the new facility gets up and running, he will transition into a full-time sales role.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots,” Tod says. “I enjoy getting out in the country, talking with our customers and helping them with their production decisions. You don’t get to do as much of that as a location manager.”
Tod grew up near Alvin and has worked in the area all of his life, so he knows the territory well. “I’ve worked with some of the producers in this area for more than 20 years, and I’m excited about what United Prairie offers them,” he states. “It’s important to give our customers sound, useful agronomic information that works where they farm, and this company does a good job of that. Their products are second to none, and United Prairie also brings a third-party financing alternative to our farmers through AgQuest®.”
The new facility is slated to be completed and ready for operation this fall.
Managing costs is on every farmer’s mind as the ag economy continues to lag entering the 2018 production season. How to best do that is the question our agronomy sales staff has been hearing a lot recently.
“Last week, a grower asked me where he could save this year—where he could cut to improve his profitability,” says Anthony Conn, Crescent City agronomy sales. “The truth is, you can’t just cut your way to profitability. We have to feed the crop. You don’t want to start cutting the products that are giving good ROI.”
David Nesbitt, Jamaica agronomy sales, agrees. “At these commodity prices, we need to get every
bushel we can,” he states. “That may involve spending an extra dollar or two, but if those dollars spent more than pay for themselves at harvest, you’re ahead.”
Both Anthony and David agree that the local research conducted by United Prairie on their Innovation Farm and on the farm with area cooperators is a valuable resource in determining which practices consistently provide the best returns where you farm.
“In our area, fungicide application on both corn and beans—and applying insecticide to the beans at the same time—has shown consistently good results,” David says. “Foliar feeding has also been a positive practice, though application timing is critical. This is when you want to check out the trial results, because all foliar feeds are not created equal.”
“One thing I have seen with fungicide application is not only does harvestability improve, but overall plant health,” Anthony adds. “That occurs whether disease pressure is present of now. The majority of the time, fungicide use pays on both corn and soybeans. Seed selection is also important, knowing which varieties need help standing for harvest, but at the same time, increased plant health drives yield.”
Test to know
Anthony also notes those who have recent, accurate soil tests may benefit this season from variable rate fertilizer application by being able to spread fertilizer where it is needed. The only way to know for certain where and how much to spread or not spread is to grid sample.
“There are a lot of choices available when soil testing, and you will want to pick the most accurate option,” he says. “When those samples are taken, even the environmental conditions at the time, will impact the results you get.”
Anthony says that any member of the agronomy sales team would be happy to sit down with a grower and go through the results from United Prairie’s research program. “We can access even more data than what was published in our booklet this year,” he explains. “Every grower is unique, and we may have some information that will be an even better fit for their operation. We can show you what kind of return you can expect, and we may find that it’s those “add-on” products that will give our growers the yield boost they’re looking for.”
As we gear up for the second year of dicamba application, there’s no doubt the revised label creates challenges for both applicators and producers. We pride ourselves on meeting the needs of our customers promptly and correctly. With dicamba, we’re asking for your help in the process.
One of the biggest challenges for us this year will be identifying surrounding crops and, in particular, those directly bordering the field to be applied. It will be logistically impossible for our sales staff to identify all of the fields that potentially could be impacted. So, we’re reaching out to you, our customers. If you’re using Engenia®, FeXapan™ or XtendaMax®, please help us out by talking with your neighbors to find out what’s going to be planted next to your field.
Please identify not only susceptible crops, but anything we should be aware of adjacent to the field. For example, a home, garden or orchard. We want to be able to apply every field you want us to cover, and your help in identifying any concerns surrounding your field will give us a much better chance of getting every acre applied without incident.
At United Prairie, we place a very high value on local research. All sorts of products and practices come to the market with some big claims. Our goal is to determine which products will actually perform, and provide a consistent return on investment, under the growing conditions we encounter in our trade area.
We shared our 2017 trial results to a very receptive audience at our grower event earlier this year. Not only do we have the results from last year, because the Innovation Farm and our system of cooperator trials are well established, but we now have a three-year track record with some of these products and practices. Over these three years, we have seen two practices deliver consistently strong results:
- The MicroShield micronutrient foliar package
- Fungicide on both corn and soybeans
As you’ve read or will read, our sales agronomists have confirmed the effectiveness of these practices in their areas. And we will continue to test these practices going forward to determine their ongoing effectiveness.
I’d like to let the numbers make the case for some of the practices which have been shown in our research to deliver a positive ROI. You’ll also see that not everything we test lives up to our expectations. That’s ok, because we want our research to honest, transparent and above all, useful to you.
If you have questions, be sure to talk to one of our sales agronomists. Ask them for a copy of the results booklet we have produced. Research information is also located on our website, unitedprairie.com/2017-results.
All United Prairie Locations will be closed on Monday, February 19th for Presidents Day. If you have any needs please contact your United Prairie Sales Agronomist prior to this weekend. Thank you, and enjoy your Presidents Day.
Don’t Forget to Pre-Register!
The United Prairie Winter meeting is fast approaching!
Do not forget to Pre-Register for the meeting by January 9th for a chance to win a pair of Dugout Box tickets to the Cubs/Cardinals game on July 29th in St. Louis!
You can Pre-Register by Calling 217-485-6000.
The United Prairie Winter Meeting is on January 16th at the iHotel in Champaign.
United Prairie Locations will be closed on Friday, December 22nd and December 25th for Christmas and then again on January 1st and 2nd for the New Year. We hope you all have a safe and wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. We look forward to working with you again in 2018!