Thursday, February 28, 2013

Visit to Snow Country (Could be a lot of places)

Well snow country could be a lot of places lately, but this was up in NW Kansas.  And I doubt any place appreciated the snow as much as the growers up here.  This is drought country, and the snow was very welcome here, but much more snow and rain are needed.  Here is a wheat field near Oakley, Kansas that received around 8 inchees of snow.  Not a lot of water, but it's a start.  At least it got people talking about topdress.
One of the stops on this fertilizer mission was to meet with one of the Liquid dealers up here, and that was Frontier Ag.  They have quite a few locations and their salesmen came to the Oakley office where Sales Account Manager Brian and I presented product information and research results applicable to them.  I had not worked with them before, but it was a good group and they received some usable information to help growers in their areas.  (No really, they are paying attention.)
The next morning we drove over to Goodland where there is a Liquid fertilizer factory.  Now I used to go to Goodland quite a bit back in the day.  Like when one of our favorites, Area Manager Bill Ashton was a Liquid pioneer there along with Judy his wife. That was long before this facility was built.  In fact, I can't remember when the last time I was there. But anyway, I had a car and followed Brian into the site.  I knew what it looked like as I had seen pictures.  I took this one as I approached the site.  There were trucks lined up to get loaded up with Liquid fertilizer.
Once inside Brian and I had a chance to visit with some of the Goodland crew.  Here is my former golfing partner Teresa (that's another story), site manager Robert, and Dani, whom I just met.  They said they were happy to see us.  They are smiling after all.
Robert gave us a tour of the outside.  (Don't worry Dale, I didn't see any of the secret stuff.) On the left are the three new half-million (that sounds like so much more than 500,000) gallon tanks, and the ground is being prepared for another one behind these. I think there should be a big "Go visit the NCRS" painted on the sides of those big tanks.  Or at least something Liquidy. While most of the trucks are loaded on the inside of the building, during busy times they also load on the outside there by the tracks.  Robert said they put up that enclosure on the right as it was often so windy that there was danger of the loading person being blown off the top of the tanker.  I think magnetic boots would have been cheaper. 
When we got back to the front of the building after the tour, there was a familiar yellow semi-tractor and tanker parked waiting to get loaded.  Could it be???  It was!  There was Danny Barker.  I had not seen him for several years.  I've known Danny since he had his fertilizer and aerial and ground spray business in nearby Brewster.  And that was quite a while back.  Since then Danny has been running a trucking business, still doing some flying, and selling fertilizer down in West Texas.  And lives in Tulsa.  He has never been one to sit around.  It was great to see him again.  I do have some entertaining old pictures of Danny doing the hula in Kauai, and his story about climbing the Sleeping Giant mountain in the rain there is a classic.  Oh, and I also saw Area Manager Roger Mauck of Hoxie Flying Service also in to pick up a truck load of fertilizer.  I didn't pester him for a picture, but it was good to see him.
After that we drove up to Bird City for a grower meeting at one of the Frontier Ag stores.  There was a good turnout and the information presented was outstanding as usual.  Now if we could just have a year of at least some rain to get a good use of AgroLiquid in the dryland fields and to make it easier in the pivot fields.  I drove North from there and saw more fields of snow and kept my fingers crossed.
Somewhere North of Bird City there was this interesting array of something.  So of course I stopped.  (This is why I often like to drive myself.  If someone is going to go to the trouble to make this, then I feel obligated to have a look.)  Well as the sign on the left says, it seems that near this spot back in 1867-1868 there was a cavalry camp and General George Custer was stationed out here and used the camp.  Probably should have stayed.  It didn't say when this metal commemoration was erected, but it looked old.  If it's not an antique now, it will be someday.
And then just over the Nebraska border is the town of Benkelman.  Well I did not know that this was where Ward Bond was born. But he was, in 1903.  I like it when small towns put up stuff like this.   Now I am old enough to know who Ward Bond is, but many today may not.  He was as actor who was in lots of movies, but rarely as the lead.  He was mainly in cowboy movies.  He went out to California and played football at USC where met another future cowboy star who became known as John Wayne.  I didn't know he played football too.  Ward was in 23 movies with John Wayne.  But to me his most memorable role was as Bert the Cop in "It's a Wonderful Life."  If you haven't seen that movie at least once then you may as well move to Tibet.
I do love seeing what there is out there across rural America.  Just be prepared to stop if you are riding with me and we drive by something cool.  (I'm sure Brian still remembers when I made him stop years ago to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas.  Oh yes, and I made Galynn go see the World's Largest Hand-Dug Well in Greensburg.)  Kansas is really cool.  And they probably have other interesting stuff besides twine and a hole!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Destination LIQUID

So this was a week of planning meetings at the headquarters of that little company you know as AgroLiquid.  The place was full of sales, marketing, agronomy and research managers from across the Land of Liquid.  So at week's end we all had the year planned out, and it looks good for all users of Liquid.  Senior Sales Manager Galynn was here from Guymon on Monday morning and made himself at home at his desk.  Actually it is a model for the new building work stations, and is out in the warehouse by my trailer office.  (This said to demonstrate the need for the new office building.)  Now this was Galynn's birthday, and it was nice of him to come in early to celebrate with all of us here in St. Johns.  I won't say how old he is since he tells everyone he is only 28.  But here's a clue: He had an "L" of a nice day.  (Need more? Think Roman.) 
We all took a tour of the new office building under construction.  I had not been in there since November 20.  (For comparison, see the blog post on that date.)  Here we are in the lobby as Nick gives the lowdown on what's up.  I thought that was a big stone fireplace in the back, but I think it's an elevator.
And here are Cory, myself and Galynn in an area that may be where our future work stations will be located.  It will be tough having grads from Nebraska, Oklahoma State/Michigan State and OU so close together.  But I promise to be a gracious, and frequent, winner.  (Not sure what the "sparkles" are in the pic.  Maybe new- building crystals.)
Here is the group on the walkway to the lobby silo.  This will be quite a place when completed next summer.
Troy describes the plans for the ag tech center.  It will be the highlight of the whole place.  Although we were told that there will be a new name for it, so that's why I used all small letters.  If you want to perhaps have it named after you, send me a "donation" (one with lots of zeros after a big number) and I'll see what I can do.  Results guaranteed. (Not guaranteed.)
Cory checks his phone for messages.
Stephanie does the same.  (I'm sure I will pay for this.) 
And back to current HQ for more (fill in appropriate adjective) meetings.  This picture was on Wednesday morning, and by Friday we were covered with snow.
On Friday, Field Agronomy Managers Mike from Florida and Rick from California made it clear that they will be happy to leave the snow behind and return to the warmth of home.  Hey, isn't that Mike in that Volkswagon commercial playing catch in his front yard? (I'm sure I'll pay for that too.)
So now it's time to get caught up on all the work that piled up during the meetings.  And off I go on another fertilizer mission next week.  Happy weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Big Sky Journey

So I was in Montana earlier this week on a fertilizer mission.  But even when working in Western Montana the scenery is spectacular.  And a shutterbug like me has to make lots of stops.
Here is a bridge over a highway.  Big deal.  Except this is an animal bridge.  There is tall fence along either side of the road so that if animals want to get across, they have to do it here.  They say that they are well used. 
Hey, now I know where Montana fertilizer comes from.  Wish we had time for a visit.  Wouldn't it be cool to say you live in Phosphate?  (I need to get out more.)
Remember the blog post from January 26 where there was a picture of Phil in the NCRS shop with a liquid fertilizer application kit?  Well here it is at a research facility of an institution of higher learning.  There is the assembly slide I made on the computer screen.  Now I have said that I don't like to talk about stuff we are going to do, but rather wait until it is done, or at least being done.  So I will park this story for now.  (This is so people will keep coming back to the blog...a cliff hanger if you will.)
But first I will show this picture of Area Sales Manager Jeremiah Gulick having a look at the drill on which all of this equipment will be attached.  Jeremiah offered to make fertilizer tube attachments at the end of the shank.  So now we know it will work!
Well here we are in Fairfield where there is one of the outlets of Gulick Farm Fertilizer.  There are several 30,000 gallon tanks and a number of smaller tanks for all sorts of Liquid fertilizers.  Jeremiah has been a liquid pioneer in this area of NW Montana where dry fertilizer has reigned.  But much headway with liquid has been made thanks to Gulick Farm Fertilizer.  I did compliment Jeremiah on the decorative concrete blocks on this dike.
Here is a pic of Regional Sales Manager and native Montanite (or is it Montanner, Montanan, or guy from Montana?) Stuart and Jeremiah doing a tank check.  Everything is in tip-top condition. Later that afternoon we had a grower meeting to bring area growers up to speed on AgroLiquid product information and latest research results.  It was very good of course.
Talk about dedication.  Here is a home-made hydraulic soil probe on the passenger side of a pick-up truck that Jeremiah built. (The probe, not the truck.) Well we do encourage and rely on soil tests, and this enables coverage of a lot of ground in this one seater. 
Good-bye Big Sky Country.  
Well-named place.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Armed for N-Action (not inaction)

These are some recent pictures of our Hagie sprayer with the sidedress units in place.  Tim D took these. Sidedress is the major method of N application to corn at the NCRS as well as other places.  This unit also will enable us to make later applications to taller corn, and to simulate later applications through overhead irrigation, as we have done in the past with drop nozzles.  Now our research plots are only 6 rows wide, so we will drop the outside applicators for plot work.  But we will also use this for our so-called production corn as well as wider field-sized plots.  Should be great, so stay tuned.  And remember this is from the company that does real research to support our products.
Well you didn't think you drive down the road with all of the 11 row units opened up knocking down mailboxes, did you?  It folds up as shown enabling safe transit from farm to farm.  Also could be used to coax open sticky barn doors I guess.
Unfortunately I had a camera incident where my camera bit the dust and somehow rendered the SD card to be no good too.  Couldn't download pictures from last week of our snow storm, barn leaping contest and machete throwing exposition.  Lost forever.  But I am on a fertilizer mission this week and have a back-up, so hopefully have something to show later in the week.  Something of interest?  Don't put restrictions on me.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Did You Watch RFD Live The Other Night?

So did you?  It was really good.  I'm sure there will be a link at the website that will enable you to watch it, or watch it again, and again.  They did talk about research a number of times, and aired several videos that showed the NCRS.  Below is a collage I made from pics on the TV show.  It shows me in a familar scene of being in the field with my computer.  Then also is Stephanie and Tim talking about the importance of research to support the fine line of AgroLiquid nutrients.  And then there is a scene showing Dr. Brian and Tim B running plot potatoes on the sorter.  So research and the NCRS was prominently featured.
The rest of the show had these guys.
Well actually that is our Senior Sales Manager Galynn along with Area Manager and owner of Agmerica Northeast, Steve Darrington.  They talked about the company and what makes Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers different from everyone else.  And I mean everyone!  One thing that Galynn discussed is something that I'm sure many people might think, and that is Why should I believe research from your own research farm?  He told how there might be those that think we make up results, but that would only be a short-term benefit.  Further, that AgroLiquid is here for the long haul to the future.  So there is no benefit to releasing fake information that would turn around and hurt us long term.  He correctly said that our research is to prove the products work and to train our sales people, like Steve, on how to position our fertilizers correctly.  We have been doing that as a company for over 30 years, and telling the truth has only helped us grow.  Besides, do I look like someone who would do something like that?

Oh, and Galynn also mentioned that we are transparent when it comes to our research and the NCRS.  The picture below proves that!
There was also a video of our wise CEO talking about our company and commitment to agriculture.

So that was nice.  What else is going on today?  The Superbowl of course.  It's about an hour till kick-off and I need to make my predictions.  I really don't have ties to either team.  So let's see, we use Raven controllers in our equipment, so maybe I'll cheer for Baltimore.  But on some of our fields we use 4 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 9 gal/A of Sure-K, so maybe I'll be for the 49ers.  Hmmm.
I think it will be pretty close, but I'll pick the Ravens, say 34 to 31.  Now let's go watch.

I Get Around

So last week was fun and productive.  I do enjoy getting out and working with our sales people and Liquid dealers.  On Monday I went to Arkansas and was met by SAM Jacob aka Jake.  We met with a group of non-Liquid growers (for now) at the shop of one of our long-time Liquid growers in Colt, AR.  In fact this grower, Tim Fisher, won the 2012 Arkasas Corn Growers Yield contest with 301 Bu/A.  And the season was pretty hot and dry at times even with irrigation.  But good crop nutrition sure helps.  Tim thinks he has been using AgroLiquid for 14 years or so, and it was good to see him again.  Then the next day Jake and I went to visit Farmers Supply in Marvell.  They have been dealers of Liquid for at least a dozen years and I always enjoy seeing them.  We met with one of the owners Chris and their sales agronomists on product info, research and new programs.  Below Jake discusses soil tests and recommendations.
In the afternoon we went to call on another long-time Liquid customer.  We saw quite a few fields with very large numbers of snow geese.  They are said to be something of a nuisance eating up wheat.  I guess that's one of those things that you just have to tolerate, there are seemingly millions.  They are in season though.  They will be moving on sometime soon.
We saw quite a few fields of tillage radishes as cover crops, as in this field at the grower we went to see.  It was pretty warm out and you could smell them as they start to rot.  Not too bad if you like sulfur gas.  We have tillage radish on some fields of the NCRS, and I showed pictures in this here blog last fall.  This is my first year with them, so I don't know what the spring will bring at our farm.  I was curious if they would decompose without having to do tillage of them.  At the No-Till conference they showed me pictures of them all rotted away without tillage.  Time will tell. 
On Thursday I flew up to North Dakota for some grower and dealer meetings.  It was 75 degrees when I got off the plane Monday afternoon in Little Rock.  Kevin and Mitch picked me up and we stayed in Bismarck for the night.  Here it shows -17 on the GMC temperature gauge.  Actually I was hoping for it to get down to -25 so I could experience a 100 degree temperature swing for the week.  But 92 degrees is still a personal best.
We went to the metropolises of Wilton and Hurdsfield to talk to area growers about the virtues of using AgroLiquid.  These meetings were hosted by the local Hefty Seed stores, and it was enjoyable getting to know them.  The only thing I don't like is all of the traffic out there.  I don't see how anyone ever gets anywhere.
I will say this: look for a lot of corn to be planted this year.  In Arkansas and North Dakota, that was the talk.  There will be very little cotton in Arkansas.  There will still be some rice and soybeans, but corn is by far the biggest crop now.  I remember when I used to go there years ago, and hardly anyone grew corn.  Same with North Dakota.  I recall in the early '90's when soybeans were a novelty there and corn was non-existant.  Now through greatly improved genetics, corn and soybeans are common even that far north.  There will still be wheat, field beans, sunflowers and canola, but corn is king.  Well you know what happens when everyone plants the same crop, prices fall by harvest.  There is plenty of talk about that in the air.  But with talk of drought persistance in parts of the country and good prices still to be had, it's full steam ahead for corn in many states.  And if you are going to grow corn, you might as well grow the best crop you can, and that takes AgroLiquid.