Sunday, July 20, 2014

Exploring Excellence

So last week at Liquid headquarters in St. Johns we had the growth conference for AgroLiquid area managers.  The theme was Exploring Excellence.  There were two sessions: Monday to Wednesday and Wednesday to Friday, take your pick.  But there were dealers from all over the country and it was a good time for interaction and a great learning opportunity.  The coming year is likely to present challenges in areas of probable low crop prices, environmental issues, climatic unknowns and who knows what else.  So an effort was made to provide some information that would be beneficial to our dealers business going forward.  Can we proceed with excellence and preparation?  Well hopefully there was information presented to help. The meetings were held at the new company office, and there was plenty of room to spread out and have some discussions during breaks. 
There were numerous presentations.  In fact you had to choose between three simultaneous presenters each time.  Topics included nutrient legislation, ag economics outlook, employee training, sales programs, selling in complex markets, production management, water efficiency and of course, several research presentations and updates.  Plus a new methodology developed by AgroLiquid to replace salt index.  And much more.  Including Dr. Chris Underwood giving a "how it works" presentation on eNhance, Sure-K, flavonol chemistry plus an overview on new experimentals being researched at the NCRS.  It was the first time that I remember that such information was presented and it was well received.
Stephanie and Tim gave a "how they do it" presentation of research at the NCRS plus the research that gave us new products in recent years like ferti-Rain, eNhance, accesS, Kalibrate and others.  With more to come too.
We were also pleased to have Brian Hefty take time away from preparations for the Ag PhD Field Day next week to come talk to us.  He talked about challenges facing production agriculture, plus a whole bunch of ways to use nutrition and soil management to get the most out of fields for crop yield.  That was on Tuesday.
And not to be outdone, Darren Hefty came to address the second session group on Thursday.  He pretty much addressed the same topics, but had his own perspective and experiences to share.  It's easy to see why these brothers are essentially the voice of reason in agriculture.  They challenged us to explain the truth and benefits of agriculture and food production to the non-ag public.  Darren told about how his dad used to look for people at a gas station filling their cars with regular gasoline and pull up next to them and engage in conversation with them about the benefits of ethanol blends being cleaner than dirty gasoline.  It was a great story.
Lunch was a barbeque under the tent outside.  This was Tuesday.  It was a nice sunny but cool day.  Troy looks like he is enjoying the excellent food.  Everyone else did too, including me.
Now the above picture was taken at 12:18 and the picture below was at 12:27.  So in 9 minutes it went from sunny to downpour.  Bob Buessing is un-fazed.  It must rain all the time in Kansas.  But it was sunny again in a little while. It was a crazy weather week though.
Troy had two very good presentations to the whole group.  At the conference in the day at St. Johns he talked about the "why" of what we do, and how that is more important than the "what" or "how" we do what we do. He also talked about the Responsible Nutrient Management foundation, and how it is working to promote what is right in agriculture. And at the banquet at the hotel in Lansing, he talked about excellence and leadership, which was kind of the theme of the conference anyway.  I've heard Troy give presentations for over twenty years, but he was really prepared and passionate here.  We have to take this attitude as we go forward to continue to promote AgroLiquid for our nations growers.
Another highlight of the conference was a tour of the IQ Hub.  It is not fully operational, but there was enough going on to see how great this will be when completed.  My favorite is the depiction of the beginning of Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers as Mr. Cook and Troy use the "bucket brigade" to put ingredients together for what would become the products that were the basis for what we still use today. (Must be weird to see yourself in a museum.  But this had to be shown, as this is how it all started.)
 We were fortunate to have a number of FFA students on site to give explanations of the exhibits.  Like this one that showed how ground up bones was one of the first sources of phosphorus fertilizer. (And that's a real original bone grinder there in the display.)
There is a theater for video exhibits, like this one about feeding the growing population on our planet. Bob seems amused.  Now turn around and pay attention! Notice the corn growth stages going around on the top of the theater.  That was designed by Stephanie and Tim, as well as the nutrient displays around the roots.  Gotta see that one. 
 There are numerous interactive displays, like this one on soils and soil tests and other related subjects.
And they put the NCRS interns to work as well.  Here is Emily explaining the barrel depiction of Liebig's Law of is it "Minimum" or "Maximum"?  I should have paid attention. 
And here is the Kid's Room.  I could tell because it was full of kids.  It certainly looked like they were having fun.  They probably didn't even know that they were learning stuff.
There were lot's of other displays in the IQ Hub.  The person behind all of the planning and development is Burt Henry, and I'm sure he was a nervous wreck before the opening for the conference. But it was a huge success for our visit, and we are all looking forward to the real Grand Opening. Hope everyone can come back.  There will be another tour opportunity at the Research Field Days. That is reason enough to attend right there.