The Cover Crop - December 2017

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The Cover Crop A Quarterly Magazine for Servi-Tech's Owner Cooperatives Winter 2017 Edition

Preparing for a new year


Year-end Report

A feature article in this issue includes updates and insights from several members of the Servi-Tech Executive Management Team. Highlights include the status of agronomic services in an age of new technologies such as CropView, TheProfiler Plus and Servi-Tech’s own Sirrus app. With all data from these services flowing through the website, growers will enjoy a more streamlined and efficient system for collecting and analyzing key field data. No similar product exists elsewhere in U.S. agriculture. Additionally, improvements have been made this year to the Servi-Tech Labs (e.g., equipment and facilities). The Hastings Laboratory has repurposed By Greg Ruehle space in our existing building, plus the President and CEO addition of a new building next door. In Dodge City, work spaces were changed Let me begin by wishing each of you and updated to fit current sample flow. a Merry Christmas, as we look toward a These improvements increase throughput prosperous New Year! I am thrilled to announce that the 2018 and efficiency, especially during those busy crunch times during the fall Servi-Tech Annual Meeting will enjoy sampling season. a new venue – the Hyatt Regency Hotel As the common stockholders of ST, in Wichita. The meeting will be held the these changes are designed with you in afternoon of March 21, 2018, following the KFSA Annual Meeting and just before mind – from the sub-distributorship the CoBank Western Plains Meeting. I am options for CropView that reduce a excited to co-locate the meeting with two coop’s risk while providing a revenue outstanding cooperatives. KFSA provides source, to resale opportunities in one of insurance and risk management services the most cutting-edge technology tools (TheProfiler Plus), to accessing a modern, to coops throughout the Midwest, and cloud-based field scouting app, and CoBank really needs no introduction to improved lab throughput for the benefit the cooperative community. of our customers and our employees. I have written this article as the last Servi-Tech strives to be your oneaddition to the quarter’s publication stop shop for agronomic, scientific and – as a complement to several critical technological services and support. updates found throughout this issue. Servi-Tech is also very aware of the Let me highlight these articles here, and changes facing coops today, and how encourage you to read them in their those changes impact our collective entirety as you review this issue.


relationship. As we develop new services for growers, or introduce cutting-edge tech products that help improve a farmer’s bottom line, we are also aware of the role our owners can play in bringing these products to the marketplace. The reasons for changing the ServiTech Annual Meeting are numerous – improved meeting efficiency by co-locating with other relevant industry meetings being at the top of that list! In January, we will be announcing an outstanding speaker to address the importance of technology in the agronomic space. I am confident this topic is as relevant to your coop as it is to ours! Let me close by pointing toward a bittersweet article in this issue – the retirement of Jeff Kugler after more than 41 years at Servi-Tech and Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services (STEPS). I was quickly and regularly reminded of the impact Jeff has had on customers, board members and staff as we hosted a large group to recognize his years of service. Congratulations, Jeff! We wish you all the best as you enjoy retirement with family and friends. I encourage you to take time to review this issue of The Cover Crop. Give the articles and insights shared here your undivided attention, and make plans to attend the Servi-Tech Annual Meeting on March 21 in Wichita. With a cooperative spirit, we can identify programs that benefit your coop, Servi-Tech, and our collective patrons.



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 42 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 and cooperatives of all sizes.

Above, from left to right: Casey Brauer, Jenna Hampton, Jeff Hiers, Tara Stahl, Johnny Dougherty and Amber Curtis work in the Dodge City Laboratory checking in samples. All three of Servi-Tech’s laboratory locations (Dodge City, Hastings, and Amarillo) have been busy over the last few weeks with soil and feed samples. On the cover: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at Servi-Tech! The photo was taken in Aurora, Nebraska. A special thanks to John and Mardell Jasnowski for letting us photograph their tractor! Cover photo by Cecil Smalley, web developer at our Hastings Laboratory.

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 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 for the full list of services, or call us at 1-800-557-7509.


Jeff McDaniel

Steve Soden

Jeff Hiers

Randy Royle

Jeff Kugler

President and CEO 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1215

Chief Operating Officer 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1214

Chief Financial Officer 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1201

Chief Laboratory Officer 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1110

Chief Crop Service Officer (308) 340-5997

CEO of STEPS, LLC 1-800-557-7509 ext. 1199

To Submit Content: Monica Springer

Communications Specialist 620-801-4147

Kaci Davignon

Communications Specialist 620-801-4134



Where’s the beef?

Servi-Tech Laboratories, strategically located in the heart of cattle feeding country, offers feed and mycotoxin testing.

By Servi-Tech Staff Servi-Tech Laboratories got its start early on as a soil testing lab, but today it provides a wide range of tests for producers both large and small. Given Servi-Tech’s footprint and the location of our three laboratories in Dodge City, Kansas, Amarillo, Texas, and Hastings, Nebraska, it’s a natural fit to provide animal feed analysis to the cattle feedlots, beef feeders and feed mills in the Midwest. “We’ve all grown accustomed to reading food labels for ourselves,” said Randy Royle, Servi-Tech’s Chief Laboratory Officer. “Our labs are providing that same information for cattle feed.”

Servi-Tech Labs routinely tests for protein, fat, fiber, minerals, and starch, among others, to help nutritionists to better balance feed rations for cattle. “The small producer has access to those same services for determining safety of feed – like nitrate and prussic acid – to determine if the feed is safe to consume,” Royle said. Every day in the U.S., 76 million people eat beef. And, according to the House Agricultural Committee, the U.S. cattle industry is the largest single segment of American ag with more than 800,000 cattle producers, with Texas leading in cattle production. Eight of the top 10 beef feedlot operations in the U.S. look to Servi-Tech to provide quality analytical services, as well as seven of the top 10 North American feed manufacturers. Fumonisin A hot topic this year across the Midwest and Servi-Tech’s footprint was the concern about mycotoxins, specifically fumonisin. Fred Vocasek, Senior Lab Agronomist at Servi-Tech Labs in Dodge City, said fumonisin is a poisonous compound or toxin produced by various fungi and

Servi-Tech Labs in Amarillo recently became certified as an approved location in the “One Sample Strategy” for Aflatoxin and Fumonisin. For more information, please visit our Amarillo Laboratory, or contact us by calling 1-800-557-7509.




Cattle density in the United States

= Servi-Tech Laboratories Hastings, Nebraska Dodge City, Kansas Amarillo, Texas molds. These molds grow on agricultural commodities in field or during storage. Toxicity problems from growth of these molds are more common with warmer, wetter conditions. “Servi-Tech is able to provide testing for fumonisin, which was a major concern within our footprint this past fall,” said Royle. Fumonisin is associated with various adverse health effects in livestock and is considered a cancer-causing agent in people. It can affect horses drastically after ingestion and can cause a myriad of symptoms, even death, of the horse. Servi-Tech Labs in Amarillo recently became certified as an approved location in the “One Sample Strategy” for aflatoxin and fumonisin. Sampling requirements call for a minimum of a 5-pound sample pulled by a certified grain sampler.

Feed testing is an important service provided to livestock producers, but there are other lab services important to the livestock operation. Analysis and monitoring of the livestock drinking water supply has become important as water sources may change over time. Many livestock operations are required to implement a land application plan as part of their facility operating permit. This usually requires nutrient analysis of the manure, compost, or wastewater to be applied and soil samples from the land scheduled to receive the collected livestock wastes.

Other services Other services that can complement feed testing include livestock drinking water analysis and analysis of manure and lagoon water.



Looking forward to a new year 15-flight plan will help us to identify issues from a different perspective; not from the ground, but from the air,” says Steve Soden, chief crop service officer. He continued: “TheProfiler Plus will also be offering With 2018 around the corner, Servi-Tech is very excited two soil stations in a field. This will improve our growers’ for a new year and new beginnings. The Executive ability to manage water and access to that information Management Team is thrilled to begin a new year! The on the stepspro. management com website. team meets This information monthly to track will be available progress with anytime or hopes of meeting anywhere and at goals of various the touch of our kinds. fingertips. I sat down “Lastly, as many with three of the of us know, data members from management the EMT to is key to our ask them what Randy Royle Greg Ruehle grower’s success. excites them Steve Soden Chief Laboratory Officer President & CEO Chief Crop Service Officer Having a uniform most about the consulting upcoming year. “This year I platform will give us the ability to identify issues in an area quicker, while am very excited to talk about the three areas we will be at the same time, notify our consultants of the potential focusing on. Those areas include CropView, TheProfiler pests that move into an area. Plus, as well as data management. While we still have our boots on the ground, CropView, our aerial imagery “These three areas all work together to help our consultants have more timely, detailed information to program, will provide us one more look at a field. The By Kaci Davignon Communications Specialist



7 identify issues in an area quicker. At the same time, these tools provide the grower with opportunities to access their information in real time. We are definitely looking forward to 2018.” Just as technology and information are important for crop service, it is also important to the three Servi-Tech labs located throughout the Midwest. “Our Dodge City and Hastings laboratories have had renovations and additions this last year. Each of these areas of construction have created more usable lab space and renovated equipment and facilities that were showing their age,” says Randy Royle, Chief Laboratory Officer. “Our goals for the upcoming year are to provide accurate and timely data for decision making. When the economy is tight, our services become even more valuable, allowing producers to know what resources they are working with and to use them efficiently,” says Royle. “With the labs and crop service group’s efforts in growth and development, it’s important that we stay unified as an organization,” says Greg Ruehle, CEO of Servi-Tech. “We must position Servi-Tech as an industry leader in

technology solutions, coupled with boots-on-the ground agronomic expertise. Continued growth in feed testing, as well as ethanol and feed manufacturers business in the labs, while seeking growth among feedlot and dairy operations is crucial to continued success within the agricultural industry.” Ruehle continued: “As the agricultural industry grows, we will position Servi-Tech for the future, among our cooperative-owners and our grower-customers. The agriculture retail space is changing rapidly. Servi-Tech must be free to operate in a way that complements the needs of our customers. We will continue to refine our offers in crop service, agronomy and technology by using artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities to glean new insights from our deep database of agronomic and laboratory information.” The new year brings a bright future with numerous possibilities. From all of us at Servi-Tech, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous, New Year.



Why is “density” the new buzzword in precision ag? By Austin Bontrager Servi-Tech Agronomic Technology Support Specialist

at 28,000 feet and use huge cameras cut into the hull of the plane to capture the imagery. Servi-Tech’s aerial provider, When it comes to the return-on-investment for precision TerrAvion, is somewhere in the middle. They capture about technologies, “where” can be as important as “what!” a mile swath as they fly over fields. If you have been talking with anyone from Servi-Tech Distance is money, when it comes to collecting aerial Expanded Premium Services (STEPS) lately, you may have imagery. The further you have to fly between fields, the noticed us using the word “density” a lot. What we are more hours you have to pay for the pilot and the more describing is a strategy to squeeze the most value out of fuel and maintenance you have to pay for the plane. If technologies like aerial imagery and soil moisture sensors, you connect the dots between fields with a mile-wide so we can deliver the paintbrush, you quickly realize just best insights about their how many fields are being flown crops at a price that can along the way! No one is using (or It costs a lot more money be easily recouped. In paying for) that imagery, though, so to fly this field... this article, I will explain it is effectively going to waste. When why the placement of our we sign up multiple fields that are services are so important close to each other for aerial imagery, for maximizing the value it doesn’t cost much more to collect that our customers get than if we had signed up a single field out of aerial imagery and that the pilot had to go out of their soil moisture sensors, and way to visit. how it paves the way for The image at left shows how many more exciting things to fields are being captured by a single come. pass of the aircraft. Than it does to fly There are a few different It’s a nice thing to save the pilot fuel all the rest! strategies to collecting by consolidating our aerial imagery aerial imagery. Some acres, but what’s in it for the grower? providers fly ultralight To keep a simple and consistent price aircraft as low as about a This image shows how many fields are being for the grower, we aren’t going to be captured by a single pass of the aircraft. thousand feet and make asking them to pay different amounts multiple passes over a from county to county. There are two field in a method that is different ways that we can pass along not very different than a better offering to the grower in the how UAVs are used to map a field. On the other end of the long term, however. We can obviously pass along a better scale, some providers fly much larger twin-engine aircraft value by lowering the price of the service, but another way




is to keep the price the same while increasing the frequency type setup? It all depends on the number of soil stations of flights and the improving the resolution of the imagery. per gateway! The closer together we are able to place the What this means is that the more acres of aerial imagery, soil stations, the fewer gateways we need to service them, the better offering it will be for everyone! reducing labor and hardware needs. I hope that it makes a lot of intuitive sense as far as the TheProfiler Plus network isn’t going to stop at soil density of fields affecting the value of aerial imagery. But moisture stations, though. Tank level monitoring, pivot and what about soil well diagnostics, in-field weather, moisture sensors? and more are being developed The old version of at this time to work on the same TheProfiler used LoRa radio network. It’s a good a separate cellular thing that the gateways can each modem at each soil handle the traffic from hundreds moisture location in of individual devices, because the order to move the data options for field-monitoring and from the field and onto equipment-monitoring sensors our servers. This was are going to greatly expand in the the best technology coming years. at the time, but now As these options for there are ways to do in-field sensors increase, STEPS things much more will continue to develop our efficiently. website and app to keep this With TheProfiler information at the fingertips of Plus, the soil stations our agronomists and growers, use a medium-range but without overwhelming them radio to report back with unmanageable amounts of All six of these Soil Stations (marked by the red X) can be to a nearby gateway, information. The ideal outcome served by a single gateway on the pivot. which is mounted on with any of these sensors is that the a pivot, grain bin, or grower is given timely, actionable other structure. These low power LoRa radios are able to advice, rather than a flood of raw data. communicate for several miles, with perfect line-of-sight, To summarize: the density of our aerial imagery and soil and can still send a reliable signal up to a mile away when moisture monitoring in 2018 is going to play a big part located under the canopy of corn. The integration device, in our ability to continue to improve both the quality and (the little gray box that the moisture sensors plug in to) runs value of those services in future years. By lowering the cost on two AA batteries for an entire season. The gateway can of collecting imagery and reducing the amount of hardware serve many soil stations, which reduces hardware costs and and labor involved with in-field sensors, we will be able to cellular fees. offer better services, at better prices, year after year. Just how much lower is the cost with a gateway/soil station



An overview on the 2018 aerial imagery program

Servi-Tech has implemented some changes in the 2018 CropView program. Sign-up for the 2018 growing season is under-way, so please contact Servi-Tech for more details. Changes to the program include: • 15 flights for $5 per acre in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska • 13 flights for $5 per acre in Iowa and Minnesota (13 flights due to increased cloud cover) • Weekly flights between end of May through end of July during peak growing season • Early bird discount on orders placed before January 15, 2018 • Additional volume discount based on county density

8 a.m. Takeoff

4 p.m. Landing

5 p.m. Upload & processing

You’re invited! Servi-Tech’s Annual Meeting will be on March 21 at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita. The meeting will immediately follow the KFSA Annual Meeting, and will happen just before the CoBank Western Plains Customer Meeting.

Who: Servi-Tech What: Annual Meeting Where: Wichita, Kansas When: March 21, 2018




Issues aerial imagery caught in 2017 Sub-surface drip irrigation problem

Pea aphids in alfalfa

Vigor/NDVI (May 16)

Vigor/NDVI (May 12)

Green snap in corn

Pivot problem

Natural color (August 12)

Thermal (June 19)



Get to know...

Jessica Kolo

Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Jessica Kolo and I am a graduate from Iowa State University. In my free time, I enjoy riding my two horses, hunting, hiking, spending time with my family and friends and getting crafty. How long have you been working at Servi-Tech and why were you interested in the job? I have been with Servi-Tech since May 15th of this year. I was particularly interested in the sales position for Servi-Tech in Iowa because it fit the criteria that I had for a career path. I would describe myself as a people person that likes a challenge. I like to develop relationships with people while learning about their operation and finding a solution to help benefit them. Tell us about your ag background. I grew up in central Iowa on a row crop and diversified livestock farm. Before college, I was active in 4-H and FFA. I was the vice president for my high school’s FFA Chapter and was an active participant all four years. I grew up showing swine competitively at Jessica Kolo the county and Iowa State Fair levels and had some humbling successes through the Sales Representative in Iowa years. I met some of my best friends and acquaintances from my different agriculture experiences, which lead to even stronger friendships in college. I am very passionate about agriculture and believe that it is a special culture no other industry obtains. I feel blessed to be a part of the Servi-Tech team of “People Making the Planet More Productive.” What excites you the most about Servi-Tech? What excites me most about Servi-Tech is that every day I am able to meet new people, form new relationships and help with their operations. I enjoy being able to tackle new challenges along the way. Working at Servi-Tech is a rewarding job because I am able to share my passion for agriculture with like-minded people; while learning something new from their experiences/challenges that they have faced in the industry. This job is fun because I am able to see new places, people, and operations everyday. There is not one day that will be identical to the last. I am able to learn something new from the people I come across or find a connection in this awesome industry. The Servi-Tech team makes my job enjoyable because we have an awesome team. What are your overall expectations over the next 12 months? My overall expectations are to continue to form and build new relationships across Iowa while sharing the opportunities Servi-Tech has to offer. While doing so, I will continue to maintain current customers and find new customers. I will continue to build my relationships with the agronomists across Iowa and assist them as needed. I want Servi-Tech to be well-known throughout Iowa.




Mark Morten What are your primary objectives for the year? To organize new employee training workshops as needed. Plan and coordinate the annual PDC conference, as well as assist with or coordinate any additional training events throughout the year as needed by experience level and geographic area. What do you most want to accomplish in the position in 2018? Hold a new employee training this spring before the field season begins and another in the fall. Establish an understanding of the training needs for each of Servi-Tech’s different territories and create a plan to accommodate all of them. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am from central Nebraska and grew up in Holdrege. I worked around agriculture all of my life, starting with detassling in the 8th grade. My hobbies include most outdoor activities, but mainly hunting and hunting dog training. I am married with three daughters and live north of Kearney, Nebraska.

Mark Morten

Director of Education

How long have you been with Servi-Tech, and what positions have you worked in? I have been with Servi-Tech for three years. Prior to this position I was a precision ag specialist in which my duties included variable rate mapping and data analysis.

Tell us about your new role as Servi-Tech’s new education director. What made you interested in the job? What interested me about this position is the opportunity to work with Servi-Tech’s entire footprint and not just the central Nebraska area. I have always had an affinity for coordinating, education and multitasking. What excites you the most about Servi-Tech? The fact that we are the largest agronomy company not affiliated with any input products in the region. This allows us to give advice in an unbiased manner to bring the best possible recommendations to our customers. Where do you see agriculture going in the future? What changes do you expect to see happening a few years down the road? I see a big shift happening right now. The low crop prices are forcing every ag business, including growers, to re-evaluate their operations and seek out the most efficient methods possible. A large part of this is the introduction of technology into the system. Not just introduction of technology, but the filtering of the useless from the useful. As with everything, some techniques work and some don’t. The companies that identify and implement the useful techniques first are going to have a leg up on the rest of the industry.



A lifetime of service

Jeff Kugler of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services is pictured at his retirement party on Dec. 2 in York, Nebraska. Kugler will retire after 41 years at Servi-Tech. Photo by Cecil Smalley

Servi-Tech’s Jeff Kugler to retire, search for replacement underway Jeff Kugler of Manhattan, Servi-Tech’s longest serving employee, is set to retire December 31. “Jeff has had an incredible career at ServiTech, spanning more than 40 years and serving in a variety of capacities,” offered Greg Ruehle, Servi-Tech President and CEO. “He helped shape Servi-Tech into the company that it is today.”


Kugler has worn many hats in the company throughout the years. Currently, he serves as CEO of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, LLC, (STEPS) which is Servi-Tech’s technology arm. He earned the company’s first ever 40-year service award earlier this year. “Jeff has devoted his entire adult life to making our company better. That is amazing,” said Ted Glock, a grower from Rising City, Neb., who serves on Servi-


15 Tech’s board of directors. “Jeff is a great, intelligent, dedicated human In the spring of 1976, Kugler was finishing his being,” Burkey said. “Congratulations, and many master’s degree. He interviewed with several more years to him.” companies, but none seemed to be the right fit. Orvin Bontrager, a technical service agronomist Meanwhile, Servi-Tech left word with the Kansas with Servi-Tech based in Aurora, Neb., has worked State University agronomy department that it was for Servi-Tech 39 years and has known Kugler just looking for agronomists. as long. “Servi-Tech needed people and I needed a job, so “He’s mentored a lot of agronomists over the that’s how my career started,” Kugler said. years, not only in our company, but across the High In 1976, a Servi-Tech crop service vehicle was Plains,” Bontrager said. “Seed companies, chemical a Jeep CJ-7, with no air conditioning and crank companies, and extension agents have learned a lot down windows. Agronomists communicated with from him over the years.” their customers via landline phones or by mail. Back then clean till was the normal tillage Search for a replacement practice and there were no water restrictions. On behalf of Servi-Tech, Greg Ruehle, President Things have & CEO, is changed in undertaking the past 40 a search years. for Kugler’s He started replacement. as a crop The position - Greg Ruehle, President & CEO of Servi-Tech specialist in is modified Pratt in 1976. slightly. The He was then successful a division manager in Kansas and Nebraska, and candidate will serve the dual role of CEO for STEPS was promoted to regional manager over eastern and Chief Technology Officer for Servi-Tech. Nebraska and Iowa in the 1990’s and 2000’s. “Filling Jeff Kugler’s boots will be a challenge, Servi-Tech itself is 42 years old and now employs but one that I am looking forward to leading,” approximately 200 people in six states (Kansas, Ruehle said. “As Servi-Tech and STEPS continue to Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Texas). develop new products that grow market share, I Tim Burkey, who serves on the Servi-Tech board am confident that we will receive interest from a of directors, said Kugler is a friend and was a number of good internal and external candidates.” crop consultant on his family’s farm for three More than 50 people applied for the position, and generations. the field has been narrowed to four candidates. On Wednesday mornings, Burkey and his father A decision will be made by the end of December would have the “Hey, Jeff is here” meeting and at with an announcement to follow. the end of the crop year, there was a “This will be For more information, please contact Greg Ruehle your last irrigation round” meeting with Jeff, and directly at 800/557-7509 or by email at greg. they would cheer afterward.

helped shape Servi-Tech into the “ Jeff company that it is today.





17 Jeff Kugler of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, LLC, is pictured at his retirement party on December 2 in York, Nebraska. Jeff will retire on December 31 after 41 years at Servi-Tech. Page 16: Jeff Kugler, center, is pictured with his wife Joan and Greg Ruehle, President & CEO. Tim Burkey and Ted Glock, who both serve on Servi-Tech’s board of directors, are pictured at Jeff Kugler’s retirement party. Page 17: Jeff and Joan Kugler pose for a photograph in York. Friends, family and colleagues attended Jeff ’s retirement party. Photos by Cecil Smalley, web developer at

our Hastings Laboratory



News from Around Servi-Tech

Southwest kansas Staff in Kansas have been very busy pulling acres of grid sampling throughout the country. We have also been actively working and educating ourselves on seed varieties, as well as what is coming through the pipelines from the chemical and fertilizer companies. With the New Year approaching, we want to make planning for the upcoming season an easy process. Give us a call if your organization is needing some extra boots on the ground. We would be more than happy to assist with agronomic needs.

season were excellent crops. It was just another year that it is hard to compare to any others since all seasons seem to have idiosyncrasies that depart from previous experience and long term averages. As harvest has concluded, fall tillage and fertilizer application is proceeding rapidly.

Eastern colorado Harvest continues to wrap up with the primary areas left being areas that planted crops very late due to heavy May and June precipitation. Those crops were not fully mature before the hard freeze and have been slow to dry down. An abundance of foggy, damp days also slowed harvest. It is unusual to have this much harvest activity after Thanksgiving. Yields have been good to excellent. There are plenty of areas that almost burned up crops due midsummer drought. Those areas may have crops planted at a normal time that didn’t fill the grain when crops planted later due to the


Growers are trying to get work done before a weather change that may freeze the soils and stop all field work. Staff has worked to keep ground soil sampled ahead of the fall fertilizer applications so growers have data available when needed. Contracting is proceeding, but at a slow pace due to delayed field work and some growers being slow to make commitments due to economic stress and questions about what the future holds. We have done a series of small group meetings to further train our staff on the new Sirrus field data recording and reporting software. We have also discussed holding grower meetings this winter and have discussed sales programs on other services such as CropView and TheProfiler Plus. The staff is cautiously optimistic on what future business prospects are as

commitments become contracts and other service possibilities are discussed.

central nebraska Our central Nebraska staff remains concentrated on soil sampling with a goal to complete as much as possible prior to soil freeze up. Composite sampling still seems to be the most popular method, but more interest has developed with both grid and zone sampling. Also, deep soil nitrate testing has been a very common practice and is required in most of the NRD regions we serve. With the soil sampling expertise of our staff of agronomists, the end goal is to provide accurate nutrient requirements based on crop, yield goal, and fertilizer application techniques. In my opinion, grid sampling is the best way to see the overall fertility levels of a given field and the variabilities that exist across that given field. We may not necessarily end up applying less fertility amendments, but what is applied is placed where it is needed most. Often the higher producing areas within a field may show the lowest fertility levels and vice versa. Solid thinking would tell us that maximizing yield potential in this economical way offers the best chance for a positive return on your fertilizer investment. Other areas of focus include around aerial imagery and remote soil


moisture monitoring and management. Our staff have actively been searching for those customers interested in these pieces of technology. On the aerial imagery side, we are offering a program consisting of 15 flights per field over the growing season at a cost of $5/acre. These are manned flights that produce images at an 18 centimeter resolution (about 7 inches). The types of images delivered are color, vigor, infrared, thermal, and zone. With remote soil moisture sensing, we are now able to offer multiple soil moisture monitoring sites per field at an economical price. The offer consists of a 3-year lease program of the equipment. Entry level cost of $1,160 per field per year would provide the customer with two soil moisture monitoring sites. We will also be offering to do the installs, maintenance, and extractions for $150 per station.

Eastern nebraska In this holiday season, we often reflect on the blessings in our lives. In eastern Nebraska, we have had many. Our soil sampling business has increased in pace and amount from last year, and the weather has held beautifully to help get that work completed. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to sampling, work orders continue to remain steady. We are also happily above last year’s pace in terms of scouting contracts. In the next month, we are eager to invite all our eastern Nebraska grower customers to join us for three different education meetings in the territory. During these meetings, we will highlight new services that we are offering, including aerial imagery and TheProfiler Plus. We’ll also educate growers on cover crops, common traits of high yield soybeans and fungicide usage. In past years, these types of meetings have been well received. With

all the exciting new technologies and services that we have to offer our growers, we cannot wait for these opportunities to shout about them from the mountain top. On behalf of all of us in eastern Nebraska, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a successful New Year.

Iowa Our group had a really good fall this year with record corn yields. Soybeans yields weren’t too far behind, making harvest very plentiful for our growers. We had a fast and furious run with grid sampling that is starting to wind down. Most of the retailers kept us very busy with lots of soil sampling throughout the area. Rain has been very scarce within the last six weeks. Therefore, we are getting back to the dry side again. As 2018 approaches, we are looking forward to a bigger season with TerrAvion so we can expand our more offerings to our customers. It will be an exciting year. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Amarillo Laboratory The Amarillo Laboratory is experiencing heavier feed sample numbers, but lighter than normal soil samples which are being delivered much dryer than last year. This year’s capital expenditures will include a GC that will give us the capability to test both methanol and glycerin. We are very excited about the potential growth opportunity this piece of equipment will provide. In addition, we will be purchasing additional distillers and a glucose analyzer. Both of these units will aid in testing of the additional feed sample volume.

Dodge City Laboratory As expected, November has been a busy soil month here in Dodge City and December is off to a good start. In fact, we have run more total samples in November than any month ever at this laboratory.


The staff is doing a great job of keeping up with the number of samples of all types that are moving through the laboratory. We are dedicated to providing the finest service and technology for the benefit of you, the customer, and we understand turn-around time is critical. When samples arrive they are unboxed and assigned lab numbers before being placed in the dryer. It is very important that we have accurate information with the corresponding samples. Here are some things to remember when submitting samples. 1. Getting a good sample is the most important part of the process. If the sample is not taken properly, there is nothing we can do in the laboratory to change this. 2. It is extremely important to include information sheets with your samples along with your name, address, and phone number in case there are questions. We will do all that we can to quickly run your samples through the laboratory, but a lack of accurate information or duplicate sample IDs may slow down the process and delay the return of your data. 3. Remember, you can order sampling supplies, retrieve data, and access various articles and information at with your username and password. If you have not set up a username and password, please call the lab at (800) 557-7509 and we can help. 4. As always, contact the laboratory if you cannot find the information you need, or if you need help interpreting your results.


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

Dodge City Hastings 1816 E. Wyatt Earp Blvd. 1602 Park West Drive Dodge City, KS 67801 Hastings, NE 68902 620-227-7509 402-463-3522

Amarillo 6921 South Bell Amarillo, TX 79109 806-677-0329

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!