United Coop’s South Beaver Dam Location Wins National ERA Honors

The South Beaver Dam, WI location of United Cooperative was honored recently in Washington, DC, as the National DuPont Environmental Respect Award (ERA) winner.  The envelope containing the name of the winning business was opened in the US Capitol, as ERA winners representing 13 countries around the globe were present to celebrate 21 years as the world’s premier production agriculture environmental award.

The South Beaver Dam facility is located about 30 miles from Madison in the glacier-carved fertile soils of central Wisconsin. “We are here for a short duration in time; the water, wind, and earth are forever,” says David Cramer, United Cooperative president and chief executive officer. “The cooperative strives to be good stewards of the environment every day. Even when I’m in the planning and building stages for additions, environmental safety is always a priority.”

The 2011 national ERA winning facility exemplifies what planning for environmental impact really means.  The South Beaver Dam agronomy operation can only be described as a state-of-the-art retail outlet, expertly designed and set on a massive floor of blacktop. 

“There are acres of blacktop out there,” says Kevin Williams, vice president for agronomy operations.  “Whenever there are small spills, we are not dealing with digging in the dirt.  We can get Oil Dry, lime chips or whatever is needed to contain any spill, and obviously we can catch every spill or drip before the vehicle leaves the plant.”

The South Beaver Dam agronomy location includes 28,000 tons of liquid crop nutrient storage and 24,000 tons of dry storage. “We take great pride in both our dry and liquid plant nutrient facilities,” says John Hying, agronomy operations manager.  “All products are stored under roof or within tanks featuring secondary containment.”

The automated mixing and loading building was constructed in 2004. “Bulk crop protection products are dispensed through our Junge automated system,” explains Hying. “We have a dedicated line from every bulk tank so there can be no cross contamination. Everything is measured by weight to maintain consistency. The system automatically triple rinses after each load.”

The system injects crop protection products into the carrier and automatically holds back 3,000 pounds of carrier which is used to flush any product out of the line as the load is completed. “Our orders are all computer generated and the entire mixing system is controlled by the computer,” says Hying.

The dry fertilizer side of the business is handled in much the same way as the liquid product.  “One click of the mouse and the order is entered into our system,” explain Duane Swenson, dry fertilizer facility manager.  “From that point on all I have to do is push a couple more buttons and the entire order is loaded into the blender and dispensed into the truck.  I don’t leave my perch and the driver never gets out of the truck.”

With all of this automation humans still play an important role in the operation and it’s not hard to imagine how busy the blacktop roadways just outside the mixing facilities can become.  It’s John Schoenfeld’s  job as safety and compliance manager to make sure that human error does not create unsafe conditions. 

“We’ve instituted a near-miss unsafe conditions report,” says Schoenfeld.  “The report allows employees to communicate any risk behaviors or conditions that they witness everyday that could lead to an accident. We often see things and forget about them so this is a tool to record near-miss information.”

Schoenfeld says he hopes employees will correct the conditions that they witness and take a leadership role. “There are times when engineering changes may need to occur, so that may take further research before we can correct the situation,” he says.

The South Beaver Dam facility relies on information gained each season from their grower answer plots. These plots create test situations upon which to recommend new products as well as helping to educate customers on all aspects of crops including seed selection, crop protection products, United Cooperative services including a precision agriculture program.

“Farming in this region started to change dramatically about five years ago,” explains Jim Kemink, vice president, seed and agronomy sales.  “We went from a dairy-based farm economy in the late 1990s and started to transition into a grain economy. Yields started to increase dramatically so we took a much closer look at fertility programs and we started to see that our potash and potassium levels were dropping dramatically.  We realized that with yields going up there was a lot more demand for borate fertilizers.”

“United Cooperative and the South Beaver Dam location continue to invest in bringing precision agriculture and nutrient management planning to the grower level,” explains Cramer. “This has helped improve net-profit potential for the growers while practicing environmental stewardship. We have brought our environmental concern to the forefront and our customers have picked up on that and they are as equally concerned about doing their part,” he says.

Reaching out into the community around Beaver Dam, WI is all in a days work for the United Cooperative employees.  The cooperative has developed a policy of focusing its financial and volunteer support on agriculture-related organizations and rural emergency agencies. Local schools have an opportunity to learn more about the work of a retail farm supply.  Dan Huitema, a south Beaver Dam employee, recently packed up a load of “Fun with the Plant Nutrient Team” coloring books and drove his spreader truck to the local elementary school.  “The kids had a great time taking turns sitting in the driver’s seat,” he says.

“We have big plans to increase our use of precision agriculture and associated technology,” says Cramer. “We are also excited about the future of variable-rate nitrogen, variable-rate seed and variable variety seed.  By using variable-rate phosphorous, potassium and aglime with variable rate nitrogen our growers can continue to increase yields while reducing potential impact on the environment.  They can easily follow the four Rs of nutrient application: right product, right rate, right place and right time.”

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Corn and ditch
ManagementStudy: Saturated Buffers Reduce Nitrates From Subsurface Field Drainage Systems
July 19, 2016
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dr. Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory Read More
StewardshipAg Organizations Partner To Host 4R Technology Field Day
July 12, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) is partnering with The Fertilizer Institute, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Council, Environmental Read More
Crop InputsExperts Predict 2016 Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom ‘Less Severe’ (w/Gallery)
July 8, 2016
As sun-drenched media members and various other dignitaries crowded around the back deck of the docked Bio-Lab – bobbing gently Read More
Trending Articles
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Latest News
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Shareholder Proposes Monsanto ‘Host…
July 20, 2016
One of Bayer AG’s top 20 shareholders said Wednesday it may make sense for the life-science company to launch an Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Industry NewsNew Leaf Symbiotics Snags Former Monsanto Microbials Le…
July 20, 2016
NewLeaf Symbiotics, announced today the appointment of Dr. Janne Kerovuo as Vice President for Research and Discovery.  Dr. Kerovuo comes Read More
Corn and ditch
ManagementStudy: Saturated Buffers Reduce Nitrates From Subsurfac…
July 19, 2016
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dr. Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentAgronomists, CCAs, Custom Applicators Invited To FSR Ag…
July 19, 2016
Agronomists, Certified Crop Advisers (CCA) and custom applicators can stay current on agronomy issues on the grounds of the Farm Read More
Soybean Field
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Brian Hill Legislator Of…
July 19, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Latest Monsanto Rumors: A Game Of Tones
July 18, 2016
When companies are engaged in the back-and-forth of the acquisition game, the tone of their various announcements is always important. Read More
Nozzle spray close-up
AdjuvantsWest Central Distribution Introduces New Elite Family O…
July 14, 2016
West Central Distribution recently released a new line of Elite adjuvants to work alongside the new herbicide technologies that combat Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsBayer Makes New Offer For Monsanto
July 14, 2016
Bayer AG boosted its takeover offer for Monsanto Co. to about $65 billion in a bid to overcome the U.S. Read More
ManagementAn Update on Water
July 14, 2016
CropLife Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matthew Grassi discuss agricultural water issues in conjunction with a recent field trip in Ohio. Read More
Co-Alliance employee
EmployeesNew Purdue Program To Focus On Talent Management
July 14, 2016
Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business is starting a new professional development program to help food and agribusiness Read More
Industry NewsFMC Agricultural Solutions Appoints New Global Regulato…
July 14, 2016
FMC Corp. has named Andy Hedgecock as Global Regulatory Affairs Director for FMC Agricultural Solutions. He joins the company this Read More
Corn Field
Seed/BiotechWhat Can Inoculants Do For You?
July 13, 2016
When it comes to preventing disease and promoting growth in your plants, who couldn’t use a helping hand? By forming Read More
Microbes
Seed/BiotechMighty Farming Microbes: Companies Harness Bacteria To …
July 13, 2016
What if farmers, instead of picking up some agricultural chemicals at their local dealer, picked up a load of agricultural Read More