Leading In Stewardship
Wisconsin River Agronomy LLC, this year’s Midwest Regional DuPont Environmental Respect Award Winner, has now collected two significant awards for its environmental stewardship. In the summer of 2005, the Adams, WI, agribusiness was named a top winner in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Environmental Partners Program.
“We have a great team here,” explains Agronomy Manager Scott Firlus. “We try to help each other do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment,” he adds. “We have a policy where each day, one person is named to be the last to leave. It is that person’s responsibility to make sure all products and equipment are secure before departing.”
The Central Wisconsin soil is light and sandy, cropping is varied, and growers depend upon circle irrigation. For Firlus and crew these conditions mean “spoon feeding” the field corn, soybeans, potatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, peas, cucumbers, and peppers, with the proper amounts of fertilizer and crop protection products. “Each field and each crop has a different recipe and we have to work hard to meet our customers’ yield potential and remain good stewards of the land,” says Firlus.
“Timing is everything,” he says. “It goes back to having a good staff that is in touch with its customer base. We take GIS grid soil samples and tissue tests throughout the season so we always have a timely site-specific recommendation for each situation.”
Wisconsin River Agronomy applies approximately 35,000 tons of dry fertilizer each season and impregnates much of that product with systemic and contact herbicides. The company’s liquid fertilizer business includes a state-of-the-art computer blending facility that creates special prescription mixtures which include micronutrients and different hormonal additives.
“With all the different crops, we can count on our season running from March until October,” says Firlus. “Our customer numbers have decreased over the past 10 years, but the size of each customer’s business continues to grow as we see more verticle integration. For example, we supply nearly $5.5 million in products and services to just one key customer,” he says.
“One of the toughest tasks in my job,” explains Firlus, “is to keep the staff motivated and optimistic as they work long hours, day after day. We want to help our staff balance their home life and their work life so we keep happy, productive employees.”