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/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Targets Farmers, AFBF In Syngenta Takeover
July 21, 2015
As Monsanto Co. struggles to convince rival Syngenta AG to discuss a potential merger, the seed and agrochemical giant is Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Unveils Wheat Technology Center
July 20, 2015
A ribbon-cutting ceremony today in Filer, ID, marked the grand opening of Monsanto’s Wheat Technology Center, which will serve as Read More
Bayer Seed Care Shakopee MN
Seed/BiotechBayer Celebrates SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center Grand Opening
July 13, 2015
Bayer CropScience celebrated its continued commitment to leading the agriculture industry with the grand opening of its SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Feed Division Facilities Receive Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification
July 13, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Feed Division, a marketer and distributor of value-added feed ingredients for the aquaculture, livestock and pet food industries Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Expands To Brazil With Acquisition
July 8, 2015
BRANDT has acquired a majority interest in Target Brasil Fertilizantes Ltda. through its Brazilian subsidiary. Target Brasil manufactures, distributes and Read More
Latest News
StewardshipOhio Grower: Why Water Quality Matters To Me
August 3, 2015
Fresh off the first anniversary of last summer’s unfortunate Toledo Water Crisis — which was largely attributed in mainstream media Read More
Young soybean field
Industry NewsH.J. Baker To Build New Facility In Emporia, KS
August 3, 2015
H.J. Baker has announced the expansion of its Animal Health and Nutrition division with the ground breaking of a new Read More
Young corn plants
Crop InputsNufarm Reorganizing Ag, Industrial Vegetation Managemen…
August 3, 2015
Today Nufarm announced a reorganization of its Agriculture and Industrial Vegetation Management sales and marketing organizations effective August 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipExcellence Through Stewardship Reaches 30 Members
August 3, 2015
Excellence Through Stewardship, a non-profit that promotes the adoption of best practices and stewardship in agricultural technology, reached the milestone Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
FungicidesReport: Sudden Death Syndrome Symptoms Appearing In Soy…
July 30, 2015
Last week, symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Read More
Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
ManagementTechnology and agriculture: a Futurist’s Perspective
July 30, 2015
Futurist David Zach, speaking at this week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, shared thoughts on the benefits and limitations of Read More
Biofuels Plant in Lousiana
Industry NewsIdle Biofuels Plant In Louisiana To Reopen As Ammonia F…
July 30, 2015
A Lithuania-based company plans to spend $265 million to reopen an idle biofuels refinery in Grant Parish as an ammonia Read More
FFA at Monsanto Booth at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Industry NewsFive Students Receive The 2015 Monty’s Plant Food Compa…
July 29, 2015
This fall, five college-bound students will have financial support through the Monty’s Plant Food Company FFA Scholarship. All five scholarship Read More
GYPSOIL Blendable Pellets
Crop InputsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches Pelletized Gypsum …
July 29, 2015
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) announced this week at Ag Media Summit that its GYPSOIL Pelletized Products Division will open a Read More
StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosph…
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
FertilizerKoch Agronomic Services Launches N-TEGRATION Technology
July 27, 2015
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) has launched  N-TEGRATION Technology, a process technology platform designed to enable production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers at Read More
HerbicidesExpert: IARC Herbicide Classifications Leading To Confu…
July 24, 2015
Few people in the crop protection industry had heard of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) before this Read More
ManagementFCI Trade Summit Update & Precision Tank Turns 50
July 23, 2015
Editors Dave Frabotta and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the upcoming FCI Trade Summit in Las Vegas, NV, and how Precision Tank Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesUSDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait
July 23, 2015
The USDA today issued its decision deregulating Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the U.S. The USDA has now completed its Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Showcases Versatile Product Por…
July 23, 2015
Technology has revolutionized agriculture by bringing farmers, retailers and distributors to the forefront of the digital age. To meet the Read More