Leading With Service

Harvest Land Co-op employeesThe past two years have seen a dramatic increase of cooperative mergers in the Midwest, as once fierce competitors find benefit in merging to create larger organizations that are better able to weather volatile changes in prices and market conditions – and provide optimal customer service.

Last year, Harvest Land Co-op Inc. and Ag One Co-op Inc., which together serve part or all of 21 counties in west central Ohio and east central Indiana, made the decision to join forces and do business under the Harvest Land brand. The benefit of additional resources has served the combined cooperative well, putting 400 employees and 60 facilities under one organization and delivering over $300 million in annual sales.

In particular, the cooperative’s agronomic services have blossomed as it has made improvements to its comprehensive YieldPro program. Harvest Land describes the program as “a partnered process that integrates agronomic expertise and technology by developing and implementing site-specific crop solutions that optimize yield and maximize profit. Or, as Otto Clausen, the Decatur, IN, branch sales specialist says more simply: “completely servicing the whole acre.”

Clausen and Branch Manager Jamie Cressman work out of the Decatur, IN, location, where they have worked to bring the YieldPro program to all the cooperative’s grower-customers. The roots of the program date back to combining two successful programs. Ag One started offering precision agriculture services back in 1985 when the Dunreith branch received its first Soilection machine. Harvest Land started offering comprehensive precision agriculture services in 1996.

Sampling And Seed

The YieldPro program has evolved over the years, and in particular over the past four seasons with the addition of an in field diagnostic component. Today, YieldPro is a complete consultation and service solution for grower clients who buy into the program, from seed selection, nutrient analysis and crop planning to in field diagnostics.

Growers can enroll acres into the program at any time during the season. But like the traditional site-specific agronomy program, the first step for the new customer is geo-referenced soil analysis. This serves as the basis for building a total acre cropping recommendation for the season ahead.

Like many successful full-service retailers, Harvest Land has increased its emphasis on seed sales in recent years. Its seed efforts have gotten a boost from the YieldPro program — seed sales have grown 50% from  2007 to 2008.

Seed placement is a critical aspect of Harvest Land’s comprehensive approach to crop management. Making the best seed recommendation takes into consideration the soil test values, the genetic backgrounds of the available hybrids and varieties, and the appropriate use of fertilizer and crop protection products.

Trait selection is important, but Clausen and Cressman assert that understanding the genetic basis for variety selections is just as critical. For example, with corn, they take into consideration the region where each hybrid was developed as a factor in the decision process.

On-farm trials are also factored into variety consideration in addition to the cooperative’s own test plots. The idea is to unearth the strengths and weaknesses of each seed hybrid or variety, place these factors up against field factors, and make the best seed placement. Then, using all the information about field and seed, Harvest Land sales specialists can make the best determination about the nutrient and crop protection recommendations, says Clausen.

Crop protection includes not only applied products, but seed treatment as well. The Decatur location features a state-of-the-art seed treatment facility with built in features that reduce seed damage and minimize weighing error.

Clausen says that Harvest Land thrives on having as much program flexibility as possible on all inputs, and has come to value seed and input programs that allow that flexibility. He points to the AgriEdge program from NK Seeds, which Harvest Land carries along with Croplan, Dekalb, Asgrow, and Mycogen, as a good example.

“We base our recommendations on field by field recommendations, so we need a certain amount of flexibility,” says Clausen. “AgriEdge give us that flexibility.”

As an integrated part of the YieldPro program, getting growers to lock in seed decisions has become more viable. By harvest, Clausen says that about 80% of the upcoming year’s seed orders are booked, and by Christmas, 90% of orders are committed.

Walking The Acres

In-season is where Yield-Pro really shines, when the focus is on putting people in the field as frequently as possible. The agronomy department brings college students on board to spend the summer looking at fields and generating reports for growers. Cressman and Clausen are also out walking fields during the summer — Cressman focuses on larger acre farms and key customers. “In 2008, we had 17 students scouting fields across our 25 ag locations,” says Cressman. The company plans to bring in more than 20 next year.

The field techs receive daily briefings from the Harvest Land agronomy team, and then hit the fields. Each field tech can cover from 400 to 500 acres per day. “You can only maximize yields by staying on top of things,” says Clausen.

An upgrade offering available to growers is CropWatch.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Leading With Service

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Ali…
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
Eric SfiligojGMO Or DNA? LOL Or WTF?
January 19, 2015
A new survey finds the American public seems generally confused when it comes to any three-letter descriptor for their food. Read More
FertilizerAGROTAIN Wins No-Till Product Of The Year Again
January 19, 2015
This marks the 10th straight year AGROTAIN nitrogen stabilizer has been named the top product in this category; no other product has matched this honor Read More
FertilizerTFI President To Give Update On Nutrient Management Eff…
January 19, 2015
The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn will give the keynote address at the 2015 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference February 4. Read More