Down To A Seed Science

Many a dealer appreciates the biology and technology used to engineer a blow-out harvest for grower customers. But as the world of two yield enhancers in particular — seed genetics and now, planting equipment — grows more complex, so the price tag rises for staying savvy.

In fact, dealers need to be experts in seed, soil, nutrient, and pest science to be the go-to suppliers for their farmers.

MaxYield Cooperative, West Bend, IA, has invested five years and lots of capital to create an extensive database of hybrid/variety performance. The company runs three major yield plots in the same area every year plus watches acreage on three cooperating farmers’ fields. It uses information gained in its trademarked SciMax Solutions program.

“We’re very heavy into research,” says Larry Arndt, agronomy/sales and marketing team leader at MaxYield. “But R&D is not cheap. If it was reasonable, everyone would do it.”

Ag Partners, Albert City, IA, has created a new system for helping growers evaluate varieties. The InSite/CDM (Crop Data Management) program creates “learning blocks” within certain farms that enable a grower to test the affects of higher populations, higher fertilizer application, and the like in the real world. This program, coupled with sales agronomist expertise, is helping place the right seed on the right acre, says Brent Low, vice president of sales and marketing.

In fact, in 2012 Ag Partners will launch a very aggressive R&D project, the first of its kind in northwest Iowa. This project coupled with its “top secret blue print will have great benefit to our farmer customers and the industry alike,” says Low.

Arndt is a big supporter of planting “the right seed in the right place.” But he believes the phrase is overused by some in the industry. He notes that one seed company advertises the same philosophy but has no database to back up its seed placement recommendations.

Scott Coon, director of procurement and marketing with West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, has a different take on test plots. “They’re not as important as they were in the past,” he says. “They’re a good way to feature new products that are in short supply, but with yield monitors in almost every combine, growers already have a lot of the information they need to make a decision.”

Sweetening A Sale

Science has also yielded profit-generators beyond the seed product itself. For instance, West Central Coop made a decisive move recently to grow sales with soybean enhancements. “We’ve been very aggressive with bulk soybeans and downstream treating of soybeans,” says Coon. The company now treats 85% of the soybeans it sells.

“Downstream treatment is the only logical way this works with soybeans,” he adds. “You need to have a just-in-time system to minimize the number of treated units that do not make it into the ground.”

The coop also has a unique advantage of conditioning soybeans for one of its largest vendors. Coon adds that management would like to pursue even more conditioning opportunities as well as work with seed companies for some exclusivity on products.

More dealers are making seed recommendations for variable-rate planting, a science in itself. MaxYield Coop is one of the first dealers its region to offer the service. Says Arndt: “It’s an area of our business that’s exploding — and we charge for it.” His team creates population prescriptions based on soil type, past yield history, seed hybrid/variety selection, tillage, and more.

Ag Partners has expanded its technical support of precision ag equipment and now has two fulltime precision ag technicians to help its expanding customer base. Low says this is a service that differentiates the company in the marketplace and helps expand its agronomy offering.

In general, seed science expertise at dealerships varies, with some companies investing heavily in staff.  MaxYield Coop has three dedicated seed specialists, each with a specific list of customers to help. “This actually means more to the clients than to our company,” says Arndt.

West Central Coop calls upon its young field marketers to enhance sales by returning to their home areas to pursue “a number of built-in contacts,” says Coon.

Genetic Solutions

Looking ahead, dealers were excited about a number of the newest product offerings, including soybeans resistant to rust and to HPPD-inhibitor herbicides. Then there are soybeans with the AMS (Aphid Management System) and RR2Y (Roundup Ready 2) trait package promising higher yields. In corn, there are now products for drought tolerance; one engineered to make ethanol production easier; and hybrids possessing both insect and herbicide resistance.

Arndt is not sold on the high-yielding “supercorn” that’s being hyped — that will deliver 400 bushels/acre. “We’ve not even gotten to 300 yet,” he says.

He’s also cautious about new, higher population rates. He points out that the genetics might offer high rates, but growers need to consider the soil it’s placed in, whether there’s enough food. “It’s a very basic science that needs to be practiced more,” he says.

West Central’s Coon is worried that the new traits will require multiple pricing zones. “When drought resistance hits the market, will we need to have zones different than our current ones to capture the right value,” he wonders.

While improved genetics may sound great, Ag Partners’ Low is more concerned about the pace of the seed business and the lifecycle of seed. “Keeping our sales agronomist educated to make sure we are providing the best advice possible will be mission critical,” he says.

Arndt laments the amount of “details” behind seed, pointing out the constant improvements that demand different approaches every year. Retailers don’t have three to five years to learn a product, as in the past — now, it’s more like one to two.

In fact, part of MaxYield Coop’s strategy to simplify seed sales has been to decrease its offerings, selling product from just three companies instead of eight. And while Coon appreciates the “really good mix” of traits he’s found in the six companies West Central represents, but he, too, would like to streamline that figure down to three.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Down To A Seed Science

Seed/Biotech Stories
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesGenetic Literacy Project: There’s No Such Thing A…
April 17, 2015
Read the latest “analysis” on GMOs from Consumer Reports and you’ll “learn” that glyphosate, the chemical developed by Monsanto (its Read More
HerbicidesNew Resistance To 2,4-D Discovered In Australia
April 17, 2015
In a world-first case of herbicide resistance, researchers have confirmed that sowthistle weed in the south east of South Australia Read More
ManagementNews From RTP Company Visits and Growers Buying Older S…
April 16, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips to the Research Triangle Park area and market seed sales trends. Read More
soybean field
StewardshipNew ASABE Standard Establishes Framework For Sustainabl…
April 16, 2015
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated a project to develop a new standard to establish Read More
MicronutrientsSouthern States: An Inside Look At Our Tissue Sampling …
April 15, 2015
Remember learning about the food pyramid in school? The nutritional diagram recommends the proper amount of nutrients you need on Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds New U.S. Fungicides Marketing Manager
April 15, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently hired Deneen Sebastian as its Marketing Manager for U.S. Row Crops, Fungicides. Most recently, Sebastian Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Launches Phosphite-Based Cereal Fungicide
April 14, 2015
A new, phosphite-based fungicide designed for improved suppression of deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat and barley infected by Fusarium head blight Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesSURVEY: Close To 90% Of Growers Battle Weed Resistance
April 14, 2015
Herbicide resistance management continues to be a priority for corn and soybean growers, and they’re working together more effectively to Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
StewardshipFMC Corp. Joins Sustainable Agriculture Alliance
April 14, 2015
FMC Corp. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to define, measure and Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds Two To Goëmar Sales Team
April 14, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced two new additions to the Goëmar sales team: Steve Kelly, Technical Service Manager – Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgVariable Rate Irrigation Gains Followers
April 14, 2015
Irrigation systems have had the ability to apply different amounts of water throughout a field for decades, using timers that Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Gr…
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsThree Ag Co-ops Poised For Possible Merger
April 13, 2015
Following months of study and preparations, the Board of Directors for United Farmers Coop (UFC), Farmers Elevator Cooperative (FEC) and Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture Braces For More Belt-Tightening
April 13, 2015
Spring is in full bloom across the U.S. and ag retailers and their grower-customers are busily getting into high gear. Read More
ManagementPollinator Health and Washington, DC
April 9, 2015
CropLife America’s Kellie Bray speaks with CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj regarding bee health and proposed Beltway regulations. Read More
InsecticidesValent Takes On MGK Insecticide Portfolio
April 9, 2015
As of April 1, Valent U.S.A. Corp. became the exclusive provider of the MGK crop protection line of insect control Read More