Changing For The Environment

McGregor team

If you work at any facility with the name “McGregor” on it, there is a lot of pressure to step up when it comes to stewardship, says Tom Zornes, office manager for the company’s Oakesdale, WA, outlet. Indeed, McGregor locations have captured numerous Environmental Respect Awards at the state, regional, and national levels in the past decade. In fact, the past two national award winners have both been McGregor facilities.

But until recently, says Zornes, Mc­Gregor Oakesdale wasn’t among the honorees. “This location dates back to the mid-1960s, so there were a lot of upgrades I thought we needed to make before we were ready to try for an Environmental Respect Award,” he says.

So, with the help of the facility’s employees, McGregor Oakesdale began changing the way it conducts business to reflect a more environmentally conscious stance. The outlet discontinued the practice of rinsing off equipment in a wastewater lagoon on-site and started rinsing them before they left grower-customer fields. The company switched from carrying smaller crop protection containers and moved to bulk chemical ones, cutting down on the amount of waste the outlet generated per year. Finally, McGregor Oakesdale enhanced its security measures by installing surveillance cameras and valve locks across its grounds.

Gaining Respect

In 2006, these environmental improvements were deemed good enough for Zornes to enter the outlet in the Environmental Respect Awards competition. The facility won a state award.

Encouraged by this success, Zornes once again entered the 2007 contest. This time, his outlet’s efforts were rewarded with a regional award. “I couldn’t be more proud of our facility in winning a regional Environmental Respect Award,” says Jeff Black, area manager for the outlet. “This was a long time in the making, but it helps prove that our facility is carrying through with the environmental standards put forth by our parent company.”

Sustaining The Land

According to Zornes, one of the key tenets at any McGregor outlet is sustainability. The company motto — Every Drop Counts — is proudly displayed for any visitor to the facility to see upon entering. “That’s the cornerstone of everything we try to do here,” he adds.

Take product containment, for instance. “Our liquid fertilizer containment was one of the first for our company to meet the new standards and as such became a model for our other branches to follow and improve upon,” says Zornes. “It was constructed with 125% capacity in mind, which has given us flexibility when installing new tanks. We are phasing out the old mild steel tanks and replacing them with stainless steel, cone bottom tanks for ease of clean out, less water usage, and speeding up the cleaning operation.”

To protect these tanks from intruders, McGregor Oakesdale has installed security cameras to monitor products being transferred from anhydrous ammonia storage, bulk pesticide tanks, and bulk fertilizer containment. “These cameras are monitored from the branch office,” says Zornes.

For an added layer of protection, McGregor Oakesdale has also changed the way it processes grower-customer orders, switching from an informal handwritten model to printing detailed computer records. “At times, this has slowed down the ability of our growers to get product from us, but it has increased our ability to track all crop input sales immeasurably, so that’s a trade-off we were willing to make,” says Zornes.

Outreach Efforts Work

Within the community, McGregor Oakesdale has spent years reaching out. Besides counting a few volunteer firemen among its employees, the company helped the town build a new firehouse a few years ago.

Moving forward, McGregor Oakes­dale plans to continue making environmental upgrades to its location. Next up, says Black, the outlet will probably rebuild its main containment area, which is beginning to show some signs of concrete wear. “We can probably accomplish this during our slow season and be in a much better position to maintain our company’s legacy of stewardship,” says Black.

Changes such as this, adds Zornes, will only help make the entire ag retail community stronger. “We all know agriculture is changing,” he says. “Farms are getting bigger and needing fewer people to operate them, equipment is getting bigger and more expensive to own and operate, and the cost of operation keeps going up, but the return to the grower is stagnant at best. So what are we going to do? We can either join the doom and gloom crowd, roll over and die, or we can come out fighting. We prefer a good fight.”

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

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
StewardshipBayer Lands Honor For Bee Care Center, Other Initiatives
June 3, 2014
Bayer Corp. has been named a 2014 Responsible Care Company of the Year by the American Chemistry Council, thanks in large part to its Drive Toward Zero initiative and North American Bayer Bee Care Center. Read More
StewardshipStrip-Tillage: A Sustainable Effort
March 3, 2014
As sustainable agriculture grows in popularity, interest in custom strip-tillage is growing. Read More

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Management2014: Looking Back, Looking Forward
December 22, 2014
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss key emerging issues from the year past that retailers will be watching closely in Read More
FungicidesAlfalfa Expert: Root Rot More Widespread Than Previousl…
December 22, 2014
Once thought of as a wet-soil disease, aphanomyces root rot is more widespread than many realize. Read More
Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More