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The Cover Crop A Quarterly Magazine for Servi-Tech's Owner Cooperatives Winter 2016 Edition

New Year, New Ideas


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Year-end Report

By Greg Ruehle President and CEO This contribution to The Cover Crop coincides with the end of the calendar year, providing an opportunity to highlight several recent wins from the past year at Servi-Tech. Profitability and Patronage – Profitability in the crop service and lab divisions as the fiscal year ended September 30 allowed the Servi-Tech board of directors to authorize patronage payments for the year’s business. These checks will be ready for distribution in early 2017. Broad technology platform – ServiTech Expanded Premium Services, the technology division (STEPS, LLC) has introduced an aggressive portfolio of technology products for the 2017 crop season. These products are available to our owner-cooperatives directly, or through the crop service division agronomists.

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Sales staff – All Servi-Tech sales positions have been filled as of November, bringing a dedicated sales professional to each crop service territory, and supporting each laboratory. Key hires – Steve Soden began as chief crop service officer, Jeff Britten joined as Amarillo lab manager, and Ryan Hassebrook presumed the eastern Nebraska territory manager duties. These gentlemen each bring new and exciting leadership skills to their respective areas of responsibility. Facility improvements such as additional space and new equipment at each laboratory location are in place to help manage throughput and turnaround time during the heaviest sampling seasons of the year. What is in store for 2017? A variety of new service offerings in the crop service division, including limited check programs that can be complimented by technology products such as grid sampling, aerial imagery, and other tools designed to improve a grower’s return on investment (ROI). Full-service programs for higher-valued acres remain, as well. Let us know how we can meet your needs. Continued strong performance by the Servi-Tech lab division allows us to work toward developing more business around the Amarillo lab, as well as identifying new ways to grow and expand this part of the company. I am working with key staff to build this book of business at Servi-Tech, and look forward to sharing more details as plans come together in the near-term.

By the time you receive this publication, the Servi-Tech board of directors will have met to review and approve a new strategic plan. The intention is to develop a more coordinated and seamless strategy that clearly identifies our customers (cooperative owners and their patrons, as well as preferred stockholders), and builds on past successes in delivering highquality agronomic, scientific, and technology solutions. Before the first quarter of 2017 ends, Servi-Tech will also be hosting its Annual Meeting (March 7 in Salina, Kansas). The location has been moved closer to the center of our trade territory, and the agenda will be modified to include a keynote speaker and opportunities to learn more about the crop service, laboratory and technology divisions, as well as the chance to meet with key staff in each area. More details will be sent to each owner-coop by early January. There are three board seats up for election this year. The three incumbents have agreed to stand for election, and additional candidates are being sought. A mailer was sent to each general manager in late November. Please let me know if you need another copy or more information. Please mark March 7 in your calendars, and make plans to attend the Annual Meeting in Salina. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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Servi-Tech, Inc. Servi-Tech was formed in 1975 by three farmer-owned cooperatives that saw a need to provide technical services for agricultural producers in southwest Kansas. Servi-Tech is organized as a federated cooperative owned by 60 farmer-cooperatives across six states. In the 41 years since our founding, we have expanded into Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota Texas and South Dakota. Servi-Tech began with 100,000 acres under contract in 1976. Today, we provide consulting on almost 1 million acres on behalf of both individual growers as well as cooperatives of all sizes.

Jeff Kugler, CEO of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, LLC (STEPS), the technology arm of Servi-Tech, talks with a participant at the Governor’s Water Conference in Manhattan, Kansas in November. Servi-Tech has attended the conference for the past few years to talk about soil moisture probes and soil moisture monitoring. On the cover: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at Servi-Tech! Cover photo by Cecil Smalley, web developer at our Hastings Laboratory. On pages 4-5: Photo by Director of Education Orvin Bontrager.

Since our founding, Servi-Tech has been dedicated to providing growers and cooperatives with the solutions they need to make more productive decisions in the field. Combined with the new technology developed through Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, LLC (STEPS); our precision ag experts; and the world-class laboratories in Dodge City, Kansas; Hastings, Nebraska; and Amarillo, Texas; Servi-Tech provides the ultimate in agronomic knowledge for cooperatives and growers alike. To learn more about how Servi-Tech can help you serve your growers, visit us online at servitech.com for the full list of services, or call us at 1-800-557-7509.

EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM Greg Ruehle

President and CEO greg.ruehle@servitech.com 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1215

Jeff Hiers

Chief Operating Officer jeff.hiers@servitech.com 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1214

Jeff McDaniel

Chief Financial Officer jeff.mcdaniel@servitech.com 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1201

Randy Royle

Chief Laboratory Officer randy.royle@servitech.com 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1110

Steve Soden

Chief Crop Service Officer steve.soden@servitech.com (308) 340-5997

Jeff Kugler

CEO of STEPS, LLC jeff.kugler@servitech.com 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1199

To Submit Content: Monica Springer

Communications Specialist monica.springer@servitech.com 620-801-4147

Kaci Davignon

Communications Specialist kaci.davignon@servitech.com 620-801-4134

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Your Unicorn

Unicorns are mythical creatures always said to be just beyond your reach. Finding one is a miracle of sorts. Servi-Tech wants to be your unicorn for service and technology-related agronomic solutions.

By Greg Ruehle President & CEO It seems that advertising slogans like “You can’t afford not to” or “What have you got to lose?” proliferate during times of low prices and narrow profit margins. While the slogans may catch your eye, they also raise questions regarding whose interests the advertisers really have in mind – the grower or their own. It seems that most every ag publication is filled with ideas for higher yields, lower costs, or other quick-fixes that are not well-rooted in modern agronomic principles. In most cases, an honest evaluation verifies that these new wonderproducts or services do not pass muster – from an agronomic or economic point of view. As we look toward our 42nd year,

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Servi-Tech continues to offer tried and true programs built around grid soil sampling, boots-on-the-ground agronomic evaluation, independent recommendations for key inputs, year-end evaluation of results and necessary improvements for the next growing season. These programs are delivered by a team of trained agronomists and supported by technology developers with deep roots in ag. We visit fields before, during and after the crop season. We consult with growers in person, rather than from a distance by phone or email. We are active in the communities we serve. We don’t seek to be ‘good enough’ – we strive to provide the best service possible at the acre, field and customer levels! Combine these mainstay programs with thoroughly evaluated technology

solutions, from remote soil moisture management (TheProfiler), to aerial imagery with actionable results (CropView), to a new evaluation tool that turns yield maps into acreby-acre ROI tools (ProfitZones), among others. There really is no other company who can deliver such a broad range of solutions tailored to the needs of the grower and their farming operation, but with a willingness to partner with others. Partnerships Servi-Tech is currently working through a strategic planning effort, and one of the most important outcomes has been identifying our key customers. As a cooperative owned by you and 60 other farmerowned coops across six Midwestern states, our primary customer is our owners and their farmer-patrons. My intention is to restore those customer

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relationships over the next year, through direct interactions by myself and other senior staff members. Direct contact is only the first step in this process of rebuilding relationships. As partners, we must strive to build programs that contribute to the success of each party involved – Servi-Tech, our coop owners and our respective customers. With our focus on service and technology, and your focus on input products and grain marketing, the grower has a dedicated team of professionals at their fingertips to help make important decisions before, during and after the growing season. As the marketplace becomes more competitive, we understand that the relationship you have with your grower-patrons is critical to your success. In order to compliment,

rather than confound, that relationship, Servi-Tech has begun working with a number of ownercoops to develop agronomic programs that rely on Servi-Tech labor and expertise (e.g., sampling, scouting, lab analysis) while maintaining a close relationship between the coop and the grower. Contact me or one of our sales staff to learn more about these unique opportunities. Unicorn Unicorns are mythical creatures always said to be just beyond your reach. Finding one is a miracle of sorts. Servi-Tech wants to be your unicorn for service and technologyrelated agronomic solutions. With an agronomic staff of over 90 trained professionals, nearly as many employees across our three laboratory locations, and a team

dedicated to technology evaluation, Servi-Tech is unique in the ag services marketplace. Combine those skills with an aggressive in-house IT department, a well-trained sales staff, and an administrative team as their backbone, and your common-stock ownership stake in Servi-Tech becomes very unique – your Unicorn! Conclusion I look forward to implementing this strategic plan and renewing strong relationships with our coop owners. My column near the front of this issue outlines our annual meeting, set for March 7, 2017 in Salina, Kansas. I would encourage you to make plans to attend, and to keep an eye out for more details. Thank you for your business. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Meet Jeff Britten

Jeff accepted the position of Amarillo Lab Manager earlier this year. Learn more about his experience and his goals for the Amarillo Lab in the Q&A below. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was raised on a farm in a small town 40 miles east of Amarillo, Texas. As the number 11 child of 13, I quickly learned the value of smart work. I graduated from high school and attended West Texas A&M University receiving a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S in Biology in 1992. My career began in the summer of 1992 working as a chemist for an oil refinery in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was quickly promoted to lab manager and my responsibilities were focused heavily on attaining quality certification in ISO 9002 for three different laboratories across the United States. Since my time with the oil refinery, I have spent several years in quality assurance consulting in addition to several years in manufacturing as a plant manager.

needs, and adjust our processes to meet those needs, Servi-Tech will overcome all associated challenges. In your opinion, what qualities do customers value most in a laboratory? In my opinion, the number one quality that customers value most in a laboratory is accurate results. While the speed and price are important factors, the cost of analysis is negligible compared to the enormous expense of an incorrect test result. The time required to perform the analysis is well worth the wait to insure a result that is as accurate as possible.

What do you want customers to know about the Amarillo Laboratory? Based on the answer above, I want Jeff Britten our Amarillo customers to know that In your six months with the company, the Amarillo Laboratory’s top priority Amarillo Lab Manager what’s the most interesting thing is to provide an accurate result on every you’ve learned? sample submitted. We will continue The most interesting thing that I have learned is how to strive for perfection in each of the processes involved important cooperatives (Servi-Tech and its owners/ in achieving an accurate result for a competitive price as customers) are to agriculture and in helping the planet quickly as possible. become more productive. The unique business model of our customers owning our business allows for common goals What future direction do you see the Amarillo Lab and shared profitability. going? The future direction of the Amarillo Lab will depend What opportunities and challenges do you see for the solely on our customer’s needs and our ability to adapt our Amarillo Lab? business to meet those needs. I am confident that There are many opportunities for the Amarillo Lab. One Servi-Tech will do what is required to improve of our biggest opportunities is to continually listen to and communications with customers, strive for perfection learn from our customers. If we communicate with our in all processes, and help the agricultural community be customers regularly, document and evaluate all customer successful.

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2017: Things Servi-Tech is Looking Forward to in the New Year By Steve Soden Chief Crop Service Officer

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Our engagement, internally and externally, is ramping up to meet the challenges of the new year. Within crop service, we are working closely with Servi-Tech Expanded

What a great start! Activities in the field are moving at Premium Services (STEPS, LLC), the technology a rapid pace. The open weather through October and now arm of the company, to bring the new offering to our most of November allowed us to stay after it with minimal customers and prospects. These products and services will interruptions. It is rewarding to see everyone’s planning prove to be a great asset for customers, as they will provide and hard work come together to get us started quickly and not only the information, but the analysis of the information in the right direction. to allow for improved real-time farm management. It’s We are kicking into high gear for 2017. I see and hear a fun to create renewed level information. Our of optimism focus will be to when I talk to As always, we will continue to view our job as stewards make it useful in the territory of the land, water and air that make agriculture possible. decision making. managers and Information without -Steve Soden agronomists. analysis is merely With the noise in the system. economy We can make a suffering, we difference with our data management expertise and our have found that our customers are excited to have us back 90+ agronomists in the field. That is the biggest difference in 2017. In fact, we are finding new opportunities in every between Servi-Tech and the competition – we are actually territory. in the field working hand-in-hand with our customers. As we execute our plans for 2017, communication, Focus is the most important part of the plan. Everything engagement and focus are top-of-mind. We are not visible else drops if we do not keep our focus on the customer. We enough in many areas of our footprint. Where we are can create or work with any new technology, service or visible, it’s not at a high enough level, even where we are product, but those are only tools for us to use to help our very successful. It’s time to let the secret that is Servi-Tech customers, both retail and growers, make better decisions. out of the box! As always, we will continue to view our job as stewards The 2017 year will be one of renewed communication of the land, water and air that make agriculture possible. efforts. We plan to go through the doors of more owners, Our focus must remain engrained in “how can we do this grower customers, retail companies and prospective better,” with the right level of inputs and profitability for business than we have been through in the past. We have our customers and Servi-Tech. Our focus is on 2017 and the a robust group of new offerings; we need to make sure opportunities we create. everyone knows what they are and how they will benefit Merry Christmas! their business. Our territory managers, agronomists and the now fully-staffed sales division have a keen understanding of the advantages we can gain and the business nuances we can pick up when we make talking to our owners, retailers and customers a priority. Too many times, we don’t know what we don’t know. Our goal is to figure out what we don’t know so we can grow in all aspects of our business.

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“That’s Our Guy.” Addition of two new salesmen helps Servi-Tech expand its footprint in the Midwest By Servi-Tech Staff We spend a great deal of time talking about technology and the services we deliver here at ServiTech, which are incredibly exciting. We also see a need to keep the developmental process current, as well as on the cutting edge. Our next challenge is to tell the Servi-Tech story. We chose to do it in the same fashion as we have in agronomy, through boots-on-the-ground. Our agronomists are in the field taking care of our customers one field at a time, giving them current information to help them maximize their yields at the lowest cost. Likewise, we have staffed each of our territories, including the labs, with a member of the sales team. They will serve as our ‘boots on the ground.’ As they make their calls around the Servi-Tech footprint, we want you to think, “That’s our guy.” Your ‘guy’ will be your go-to person that you can ask questions and get the information you need to help your business succeed. These guys will tell our story about our worldclass agronomists, the finest labs for soil, feed, environmental, and water testing. They will talk about Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services (STEPS, LLC), the technology arm of the company, which

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is exploring cutting edge information systems that make you and your company more efficient. These representatives will tell the story of an IT department with six on-staff programmers and a total staff of 11 that can help with integrating data into your system. This is just a snapshot of the story these folks will tell. Our sales ‘boots on the ground’ team consists of Steve Arens, Lincoln, Nebraska; Dane Knudsen, Lincoln, Nebraska; Steven Burback, Juniata, Nebraska; Randy Law, Clear Lake, Iowa; William Kerschen, Offerle, Kansas; and Charlie Carter, Petersburg, Texas. “We are excited about our sales team,” said Jeff Hiers, chief operating officer. “Our team has an extensive background in agriculture and a passion about this industry and its customers. We are here to fulfill our mission, which is ‘Making the Planet More Productive.’” In a field that is constantly changing, Servi-Tech is ecstatic about the future. Having a solid sales staff in place will serve as a bridge between our customers and organization to get questions answered. We are a group that is built on relationships and we want them to last. It is what makes both parties successful, so we can continue on doing the best we can within the agriculture industry.

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Sales Representatives by Area Steve Arens

Randy Law Dane Knudsen

Steven Burback

William Kerschen

Hastings Laboratory

Charlie Carter

Dodge City Headquarters/ Laboratory Amarillo Laboratory

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Moving forward

with precision ag services From soil moisture monitoring systems to mapping and aerial imagery, our technology can benefit our cooperative owners. By Austin Bontrager Servi-Tech Agronomic Technology Support Specialist Making wise use of new technology in agriculture is not a simple thing to do. It takes a great amount of knowledge and discernment to avoid one of two major errors. The first error is to refuse to change the way you are doing things, and thus make it impossible to improve. The other is to chase every new fad that comes along, only to spend time and money on things that never end up paying off. Either mistake is easy to make, and sometimes no amount of foresight can replace learning things the hard way. At Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, we realize that our growers and cooperative/retail partners alike will need to adopt new technology to stay competitive into the future. We also know how many times you

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have heard someone breathlessly rave about how some new thing will “change the way you farm,” only for it to end up being a disappointing waste of time and money. I would like to take the time to discuss three areas where we see the potential for growers, as well as cooperatives owners, to gain real benefits from technology; Profit mapping, aerial imagery and soil moisture monitoring. While these technologies may seem to have little in common, they all share one major theme. Taking something that you have always had to intuit, approximate, or guess about, and making it a known. None of these technologies are as simple as “buy x, increase yield by y,” which is exactly why it takes local agronomists and retailers to properly support them in use. This should be an encouragement for many of us, in a time where there is always a lowest bidder waiting to

swoop in and offer your customer “the same thing,” but for a lower price. Your knowledge and expertise are a vital part of what makes these services beneficial to the customer, so learning how to properly support them is what will set you apart from the competition. Profit mapping is one the simplest, yet potentially most valuable, things that a grower can do with their yield data. “Bushels per acre” may be a useful number to brag about to your neighbor, but it doesn’t tell you whether or not you’re actually going to stay in business next year to plant that same field. “Bushels per thousand dollars of input” is an infinitely more useful thing to know about your fields, but do you know this number off the top of your head for the fields that you farm, scout, or sell product for? When you look at a yield map, can you tell me exactly which acres are making money and

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which ones are losing money? From a grower’s perspective, this information is vital to your decisions regarding where to put that next pound of nitrogen, which fields will pay for that fungicide treatment that you are reluctant to pay for, and where you should go all-in with the expensive but high-yielding seed. As an agronomist or a salesperson, you know that business does well when your customers do well, and the best way to gain their trust is by helping them make smarter decisions with the way that they farm. Servi-Tech’s ProfitZones service is a fast, simple and cost-effective way to turn basic yield and budget information into powerful decisionmaking information. First, the grower gets a report of how each of their fields compare in terms of input costs, return on investment and “working capital opportunity,” (which is a fancy way of saying

“dollars that would be better spent elsewhere.) Secondly, they get “field report cards” that show their actual profits (or losses) across their fields, as well as the cost reduction or yield improvement that would be required to break-even on those acres. Third, they can make any number of changes to their input costs and yield estimates (across the field only in certain zones) to test out different scenarios of how they can improve their management of that field in the future. Will ProfitZones automatically tell the grower what they should do to make more money? No! That is where their own experience, along with the expertise and knowledge of the person providing the service, comes into play. Without this information, they are left making business-critical decisions with incomplete information about their current operation. Growers that try

to fully exploit their best acres while cutting expenses on their worse acres will find themselves in a much better place than if they had remained ignorant of the improvements they could have made to manage their fields. The second service that I would like to mention is aerial imagery. Satellite imagery is inexpensive, but is still limited by a severe lack of resolution (detail) as well as very inconsistent availability. UAVs provide imagery that is high resolution, but often inconsistent across the field, and is extremely labor-intensive to collect and process. Manned aircraft are able

— See Precision Ag, Page 12

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12 Precision Ag from Page 11—

to deliver imagery that is much higher resolution than satellites, much cheaper than UAVs, and more consistent and reliable than either. CropView is the STEPS aerial imagery product. Rather than fly our own planes, we work with the people who do make sure that we are providing imagery that is cost effective as well as high quality. We understand that the value of aerial imagery isn’t in handing a grower a pretty picture and walking away. The ‘boots on the ground’ verification and understanding of what is showing up in the image is what makes the information actionable, and valuable to the grower. Irrigation problems, nutrient deficiencies, application errors, insect pests and diseases are just a few of the many issues that can show up in aerial imagery. In some cases, you may spot a field problem that can be corrected that season. Other times, you may see things that will help you make a better decision for the next season. Planting rate maps, nutrient prescriptions and variable rate irrigation prescriptions can all be created or modified using aerial imagery as well. One way to think about aerial imagery is as a highresolution preview of your yield map for that season. If something is going wrong in the field, it is better to know now, when it can be diagnosed, than to discover a mysteriously low yield as you are driving through the field in the combine! Crop consulting is certainly able to catch many problems, but without aerial imagery it is easy for even experienced agronomists to miss a problem that isn’t affecting the entire field. As a retailer that is working with the grower, aerial imagery of their fields allows you to make better recommendations for the placement of fertilizer, crop protection and even hybrid selection across their fields.

TheProfiler is Servi-Tech’s remote soil moisture monitoring solution. Moisture measuring sensors have been available for decades that can tell the farmer how much water is in their soil, but in recent years the ability to deliver this information to the grower in a usable way has greatly improved. Instead of having to visit the probe site to take a single reading, the grower can see their field moisture change hourly throughout the season in real-time on their phone or computer by using stepspro.com website. With the proper telemetry, well flow, pivot location information, as well as weather, evapotranspiration estimates based on current crop growth stage and growing degree units can be viewed at stepspro.com. This means that on a single website the grower can see all of the information that can help inform their decision of when to turn on the irrigation and when to wait. In many cases, there are cost-share opportunities that growers can use to pay for most of the cost, or even more than the cost of the soil moisture monitoring system. Helping your growers learn how to sign up for these grants and providing them with valuable irrigation advice will go a long way towards earning their trust and saving groundwater in your local watershed. Not every new technology is going to pay off for every grower. Some technologies are only going to be useful in specific cases, and some products may be new and exciting but disappear in a few years when growers realize they aren’t worth the money. Aerial imagery, profit mapping, and soil moisture monitoring are services that all of our growers could benefit from, across all of their fields. Knowing where you are making or losing money is vital information for any business. You have to be able to find the problems in your field before you can fix them. We must continue to use our irrigation water more efficiently if we hope to keep irrigating in the future.

You’re invited! What: The 2017 Servi-Tech Shareholders Meeting When: Tuesday, March 7 Where: Salina, Kansas This meeting is a key opportunity to provide updates about Servi-Tech to our cooperative owners. We will also conduct elections for expiring positions on the ST Board of Directors. Please join us in Salina in March! Lunch will be provided.

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13 Servi-Tech Board of Directors

Get to Know: Jerald Kemmerer

Jerald Kemmerer

JKemmerer@prideag.com

For each edition of The Cover Crop, we feature one of the members of the Servi-Tech board of directors. This edition we sat down with Jerald Kemmerer to talk Servi-Tech, cooperatives and the future of agriculture. How long have you been on the Servi-Tech board of directors? I was appointed as an associate director in 2010 or 2011. In 2012, I became a director. Tell us a little about yourself. I am a native of Jewell, Kansas. I came to Dodge City in 1981 to attend St. Mary of the Plains College and I graduated with a degree in agribusiness. I also have a master’s degree from Doane College in

Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ve been in the industry for 32 years. My career began at Dodge City Cooperative. Since I first began, I have worked for the coop system for 30 years, 18 years of that at CHS, a regional cooperative. I have worked in many different positions at local cooperatives, including a cross country merchandiser, manager of grain terminals and trading, managed a FCM office for CHS on the Kansas City Board of Trade and was a licensed broker. I then moved back to Dodge City 22 years later to assume my current position as the

ever experienced before. The key is, how does a company develop and manage at this speed? Because, some processes you may be doing today, which is new itself, may be replaced with something newer within a year. How has Servi-Tech benefited your cooperative? Servi-Tech results are produced from feed, soil and other samples through the laboratories. ServiTech takes the back seat to no one in the industry when it comes to producing analysis on these samples

The cooperative that I manage today is part of a combination of the three separate coops that helped start Servi-Tech. It is something that the cooperative system should be and is proud of what Servi-Tech has become today. -Jerald Kemmerer

CEO of Pride Ag Resources. What excites you most about ServiTech and the upcoming future? I am excited not just for Servi-Tech, but for how technology is pushing agriculture for all the changes. I find it fascinating and at the speed it is happening at, it is very mind boggling. The speed of the change is 10 times faster than any point in history of agriculture that we have

and how technical the information is returned. Our organization continues to work with Servi-Tech with all the new sensors, equipment, and technical opportunities which we are anticipating in the future. The cooperative that I manage today is part of a combination of the three separate coops that helped start Servi-Tech. It is something that the cooperative system should be, and is, proud of what Servi-Tech has become today.

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News from Around Servi-Tech

Southwest kansas

The staff has also been busy scouting wheat acres throughout the territory. Unseasonably warm and dry Early in the season, army cutworm weather across the territory has caused some issues towards the kept the staff busy with field work southern portion of the territory the early part of the fall. Harvest requiring treatments on some fields. was completed at a rapid pace this Wheat planting on the eastern side fall as there was very few weather of the territory was slowed in some delays from start to finish. This has portions, due to excessive rainfall, allowed the agronomists to get into while spotty stands, due to lack of the fields in a timely manner to rainfall, are common on the western complete soil sampling. Composite side of the territory. We are even sampling on contracted acres is on seeing some of the early planted wheat the downhill slide and should be completed in the next couple weeks. starting to stress due to the lack of That should allow recommendations moisture and warm weather on the western side of the territory. The to go out quickly so producers can rainfall in the short term forecast has get a jump start on fall fertilization everyone on the western side hopeful throughout the territory. Grid the rest of the wheat will finally have a sampling is starting to pick up in chance to emerge. the northwest part of the territory Over the past several weeks we with several thousand acres on the books at this time. The grid samples have been working with several member owner cooperatives setting have been booked by both contract up consulting programs in areas producers and owner cooperatives. where the field staff has room to take Lower commodity prices have on additional scouting acres. These growers seeking ways to maximize programs range from limited check production along with increasing systems on the dryland acres, to full efficiency. Grid sampling is a very scouting programs in the irrigated valuable tool to accommodate areas of the territories. The ever efficiency as it allows producers to changing landscape of troublesome precisely place fertilizer in the field weeds has made these programs to help maximize production. valuable to our members by providing additional insight on how to battle some of the tough issues we are facing within agriculture.

Eastern colorado We have had a great fall to get fieldwork done, so of course that means it has been dry and warm.

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Harvest has moved along quickly with a lot of areas wrapped up. Yields were good, but generally, not the exceptional yields that there were here last year. The dryland yields have been exceptional in the spots that had late summer moisture! Wheat is up well in most areas, but is rapidly drinking what moisture is stored and starting to show stress. Contracting is ahead of last year ,at this date. Staff is working on getting additional contracts done and using recent training to improve their approach to securing new business both from existing and new customers. Part of the staff met with Stratton Equity Coop in Burlington on November 3, to explore how we might work together to provide consulting services to their customers. It was a very positive meeting and should result in some business. We are also meeting with common stock members and other retailers to see how we might partner to deliver services to our mutual customers. I expect some of those to develop additional business as we move forward in the coming years.

central nebraska Composite, grid and zone soil sampling is in full swing with a steady stream of work orders coming in. We are definitely seeing a swing towards a larger volume of samples we are pulling for ag retailers, several of which are brand

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15 new business for crop service as well as our laboratory. There does seem to be a larger sense of awareness on fertility management within the ag sector this year, and I’m guessing the inputs arises from the current ag economy. The work order system is doing a great job in communicating information and improving efficiency. The great fall weather has been a blessing in helping to expedite the work load. It is during this time of year when our consultants spend face to face time with our grower customers formulating a crop management plan for the 2017 season. One of the hottest topics on the table will be waterhemp and palmer pigweed control. Our opportunities will focus on a good burndown program followed by solid pre-emerge and post emerge applications with good residual herbicide options. From field observations we have seen first hand, it appears that control of these herbicide resistant weeds is best achieved prior to their emergence. We also anticipate more of the Liberty option utilized as well as the newest seed technologies allowing the use of growth regulator type mode of action products. While these strategies are not silver bullets, they can be very useful tools. As we move into the winter months and field operations slow a bit, this is a good time for our field staff to become reacquainted with our ag retail partners. We encourage our local field staff to stop in for a visit and to discuss cropping

plans for the upcoming season. There may be some good opportunities of holding some agronomy-type training sessions that would include both your agronomy sales leads and our crop service staff. Building solid relationships will put us in a much better position to serve the needs of the farmer/grower.

Eastern nebraska Much like the rainfall, wind events, diseases, weed pressure and insects this summer, yields throughout eastern Nebraska were variable. Many of our growers saw tremendous yields on soybeans and respectable, but not necessarily bin busting, yields in corn. While there is plenty of concern about commodity prices in the coming year, there is still optimism about what’s ahead in 2017. Soil sampling continues to be a focus, as long as we are able to pull. Now more than ever, our growers need precise data to help them make important economic decisions for their farms in the coming year. Our crop consultants are also focused on improving themselves and continuing their education through seed and chemical round-table meetings with our central Nebraska territory and industry partners. They are also attending other agronomic trainings provided by universities and ag seed, chemical, equipment and precision ag companies. Recruiting for summer interns is in the final push, and we are always pushing to recruit new customers and

retail partners. We have a lot to be thankful for, and we are looking forward to some much needed family time during Christmas and New Years.

Iowa We’d like to welcome Randy Law to our sales staff. He has many years of experience in lab sales and comes from a background of consulting. Randy lives in Clear Lake, Iowa and started on November 1. Our Iowa staff have been extremely busy pulling soil samples for our retailers, keeping them current with their orders. With the ideal fall weather we’ve had for harvest, all the sampling came at once as harvest took less than three weeks for most growers. Yields for corn were good, but variable. Yields for soybeans were some of the best we’ve ever had overall. I am hearing about some variable soybean yields, but most of our customers are doing very well. As with another record harvest, fertility management is of utmost importance, so please utilize our Servi-Tech staff to help you keep your customers up to date with fertility in the fields. We can still handle any last minute soil sampling needs before the hibernation season gets here for some growers. We are currently working on securing our customers’ business for 2017 and planning for the 2017 crop. Let us know if there’s anything we can help you with as we get into the planning season for 2017!

THE COVER CROP

THE COVER CROP 15


The Cover Crop A Quarterly Magazine for Servi-Tech’s Owner Cooperatives

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All rights reserved. The information and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily the opinion of the board of directors, executive management team, or other staff of Servi-Tech, Inc.

Merry Christmas!


The Cover Crop, Winter 2016