Six Steps To Stewardship

Wisconsin River Agronomy Crop Protection Products

It’s a time-honored adage of those involved in American agriculture:  Leave the land better than you found it. But how do you carry out this mission in the face of the increasing demands of customers and the pressing need for retail business profitability?

At Wisconsin River Agronomy, a full-service dealer based in Central Wisconsin, it means being proactive every day in living out a company motto they all agree on:  “Profitably Serving With Pride and Professionalism.”

The operation’s efforts were clearly validated this past July in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, when Wisconsin River Agronomy received the 2007 National Environmental Respect Award, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection and CropLife® magazine.

Agronomic challenges, as with many other dealers, are many and varied in this territory in Wisconsin where light, sandy soils and a great diversity of crops require prescription farming.

“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 Scott Firlus, agronomy manager.

To some, instituting stewardship procedures may seem complicated and possibly costly. However, Firlus says, there are several simple and inexpensive steps a dealership can take to immediately affect safety and stewardship:

1. Offer training for new employees and existing hires regularly. According to Firlus, the dealership trains on a semi-annual basis, with an outside compliance representative who gives employees information on everything from anhydrous ammonia (NH3) safety to applicator safety to driver safety. New hires ride around with a senior employee for a day and then shadow that employee for two additional days before working with customers on their own.

“Besides our in-depth safety training, our staff receives comprehensive training at its monthly department meetings on everything from products and application to sales and customer service,” says Firlus. “We encourage everyone to take responsibility for their actions and to mentor new hires in answering questions that arise.”
Employees are encouraged to attend industry training seminars hosted by Agriliance and the University of Wisconsin Extension Office; the human re­sources Department keeps a database of employee training history.

2. Develop procedures for daily equipment maintenance. The dealership focuses much of its attention on equipment safety and maintenance and has a mobile mechanic who goes out into the field to handle any problems on site, where and when they happen.

“We go through every piece of equipment before each season, from sprayers to spreaders to custom application equipment,” says Firlus. “This really helps keep our accidents to a minimum. We believe strongly that training is essential to the success of both our employees and customers, and we invest in it.”

The company also has instituted a “Last to Leave” policy, and each day, one person is named the last to leave. It is this person’s responsibility to make sure all products and equipment are secure before exiting the property that day.

3. Make clean-up easy. Wisconsin’s policy: the easier clean-up is, the more likely it is to actually happen, says Firlus. The proper tools for emergencies and quick clean-ups are kept readily available for all employees, making it easier for workers to be responsible and do the job correctly. The company has paved loading and unloading areas to make dry spills easy to sweep up and has a quick response team to handle any accidents that may happen in the field.

4. Review your procedures consistently. According to Firlus, this is a key component to staying up-to-date with new and existing safety methods.

“After every season, we sit down with our employees to see what we need to improve on and what fixed assets could be changed to make us a safer business,” says Firlus.

5. Communicate with local authorities. Having an open line of communication with state inspectors, and local police, fire, and rescue makes emergencies a lot easier to deal with. “We are able to be proactive and correct things they may point out before a problem arises,” says Firlus.

6. Retain good people. Hiring the right employees who respect the environment and know what needs to get done is important, and something that Wisconsin River Agronomy doesn’t take lightly, says Firlus.

“We have a great team here. 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.”

Why invest in environmental stewardship? Wisconsin River Agronomy does it for the preservation of future generations.

“While the look of farming has changed over the years,” says Firlus, “it has evolved into a complex science with an output that touches each and every one of us on a daily basis. As an ag-related business, environmental respect is critical to the continuity of our business and ‘doing the right thing’ is important to our community as a whole.”

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
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More