Premier Ag, LLC of Dalhart, TX — one of this year’s Regional Environmental Respect winners — acquired a radically different approach to environmental protection three years ago when Mike Simpson was hired as operations manager. Simpson and his wife Chris moved from southwest Wisconsin to this Texas Panhandle retail outlet. He brought with him a different set of operating standards.
“It was almost culture shock when I moved from a state with a whole lot more regulations in place,” explains Simpson. “It’s been a struggle and I’ve had to ruffle a few feathers to implement what I know needed to happen here,” he says. With the full support General Manager Bret Clark and other owners, Mike Simpson has refitted the 10-year-old facility with the containment, safety features, and procedures he was used to in Wisconsin.
Good Crop Yields
Premier Ag’s operational area is the western Texas Panhandle where plenty of sunshine and irrigation wells provide corn yields that average close to 280 bushels per acre. “The farm size here averages about 6,000 acres with some reaching 15,000 acres,” says Simpson.
Premier Ag employs five Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) and two full-time farm managers to advise and write input recommendations for its grower/rancher customers. The Premier Ag farm managers hire out all the custom farming work for their clients as well as provide all inputs needed for successful farming operations.
“We’ve poured a lot of concrete since I came on board,” Simpson says. “Our liquid fertilizer mixing and loading area is all under roof, diked, and contains a drain and storage tank to collect any potential spills.” Premier Ag loads four semi-trailers at once in just minutes. The outlet stores more than 4 million gallons of liquid fertilizer in diked and poly-lined containment. “Our tanks are protected with sensors that would automatically send an alarm to the sheriff if fertilizer levels drop suddenly,” he says.
“We have 16 bulk herbicide tanks and soon all of the loading and storage will be completely diked and under roof,” he says. “Both our bulk and dry herbicide storage areas are completely protected by smoke, fire, and motion sensors.
Premier Ag is a high-volume retailer that has adopted a strategy of contracting out all truck deliveries and application services. “We have just four outside people who handle 80,000 tons of dry and liquid fertilizer along with herbicide orders each season,” says Simpson. “Our contracted drivers and applicators attend our safety meetings and we are very fussy about who we employ.”