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

Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
FertilizerFort Wayne 4R Farming Event Set For February 12
January 29, 2016
The Nutrient Stewardship Council will host a complimentary “4R Farming 4 Sustainability” educational workshop Feb. 12 in Fort Wayne, IN, Read More
LegislationARA, TFI: Retailers Urged to Consider PSM Compliance
January 20, 2016
In December, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised Interim Enforcement Policy addressing enforcement of Process Safety Read More
StewardshipIowa Water Task Force: Give Farmers Cheap Loans To Incentivize Conservation
January 15, 2016
A task force designated to find solutions to Iowa’s water quality problems says the state should offer low-interest loans or Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More