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

Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In The Midwest
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked Microbial Seed Treatments Result In Increased Yields
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
Seed/BiotechNufarm Introduces New Seed Treatment Solutions
February 3, 2017
Nufarm Americas, Inc. has announced the addition of new, innovative and proven seed treatment solutions to its product portfolio. Promoting Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrisure Viptera Trait Demonstrates Effective Control Of Above-Ground Insects
February 1, 2017
Across the Corn Belt this past season, hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated effective control of above-ground insects in Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More