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
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More