Friday, October 30, 2015

Research Season Closes at the NCRS

So this past week the last plot at the NCRS was harvested.  And just like that the plot season was over.  But now the data summary begins.  Then the interpretation.  Then the writing of the Research Report.  And hopefully some new discoveries about new and existing products.  

So who is that taking a sample from a harvested plot of corn?  Pink coat give it away?  
Tim was busy on this day running strip till on plot ground for next year.  Always planning ahead.
Tuesday was sugarbeet harvest on Farm 7.  This is what they are after.  The leaves of the underground beets are flail-chopped off leaving the beets in the ground.
Then they are lifted out of the a lifter.  There is a scale on the lifter to determine yield.  That's Tim on the back entering the data, while taking samples and putting them in those white bags. These samples will be analyzed for %sugar and other quality measurements.  
Then they are dumped into this trailer and hauled to a pile by the road to be collected later.  We used to have the scale in the trailer, but this is better.
So here is something I am not happy about.  Canada Geese have selected one of our wheat fields on Farm 12 as a hotel and buffet.  There are hundreds of them.  There are quarry lakes in the area that they like, and this is the nearest wheat.  Well there are no research plots here, but I don't like it.  I haven't seen them on our actual research plots on other farms, so at least they aren't interfering with science.  But they are a pest.  In the summer we have deer and raccoon bothering crops, and now this.
At least they have the decency to not pull it completely out of the ground.  Wheat can withstand grazing as cows know.  But it's usually larger before they start feeding.  These geese aren't so patient.
Well as soon as one season ends, the next one is getting underway.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last Stop: Southern Illinois...

 So last Friday was the last day of our road, I mean air trip.  On the way home from Kansas we stopped to see a new Retail Partner, Southern Illinois Ag Service of Cobden, IL.  Good luck finding Cobden.  But it is North of Cape Girardeau, Missouri across the river in Illinois. It is run by Josh Lofton and his wife Christy.  As you can see from the sign, they provide pretty much all you need to grow crops here.  I had not met Josh before, but he is really service oriented putting the needs of the farmer first.  He just got started this past summer taking several tanker loads of Sure-K for foliar apps to soybeans.  But he is getting all set for 2016.  Here is Josh giving us the tour of his office and chemical storage.  That's Sales Account Manager Rick Knifley to the right of Galynn, then Josh and Craig.  Rick picked us up at the Cape Girardeau airport the night before and is hauling us around.
 Now I was most impressed with his new plot planter here.  It can plant both 30" and 15" rows, and is set up with Ag Xcel pump and flow control equipment.  We use Ag Xcel for our fertilizer application equipment at the NCRS, and it is second to none.  Josh had long planted corn and bean plots for his seed business, but liquid fertilizer is a new option.
Down the road in Jonesboro is where the Liquid fertilizer tanks will go.  They have this property set for new large tanks that will replace these.  It is right off the highway, so it will be easy for truck traffic.
 Here is where the seed and fertilizer plots will be next year.  The best farmland is bottom land down near the Mississippi River.  They use flood irrigation here and expect good yields.  There are also plans for a field day next July, so stay tuned.  And you can't have a field day without food and a place to congregate.
Well here we go.  The farmer is also the owner of the Grassy Lake hunting club.  Craig is an avid waterfowl hunter, and this made his trip.  This area of Southern Illinois is a top hunting area for ducks and maybe some geese.  He said geese aren't as prevalent down here as they were since they are staying up North as the lakes don't freeze as before.  Also the increase in no-till has allowed for more food (corn cobs on the ground) so that the geese are happy to stay up North.  Anyway, we are optimistic about our plans for the field day.
 After that we went back to Cape Girardeau for lunch prior to take off.  It is a nice old town that has kept it's charm in the downtown area.
 Here is a wall that serves as a levee to keep out Mississippi River floodwater should it be needed.  They have painted historic scenes of the area along it.  Very nice. 
 Here is the river view on the other side of the wall.  That is the bridge we crossed going to and from Illinois.
After a delicious lunch, we were ready to head back to Michigan.  Craig was especially ready having been gone seven days now.  However, his fans weren't at all ready to see him go.  Calm down and get away from the plane.  He'll be back.
After taking off, we flew over that same bridge.
 The whole trip we saw numerous combines running to get harvest completed.
 We had just crossed the border to be back in Michigan when I took this pic.  You could see the colorful leaves on the trees below.
And here is Michigan State University.  Even though the plane engine is loud, you could still hear the cheers coming up from the happy students after beating University of Michigan in the most exciting finish to a football game ever.
Well that was a good time.  What's next?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Gracious Hosts in Kansas, Plus A Big Hole

 So as you see from the above picture, last Tuesday us management types paid a visit to Retail Partner Tyree Ag.  They have been retailers of AgroLiquid since they started fifteen years ago.  In fact, their celebration of this milestone is coming up in November.  How time flies.  I can remember meeting Tim and Paige back in the beginning in their small office when it was just the two of them, and now they have 25 employees and two locations.  Of course much of their success is because they are both alumni of Oklahoma State University.  Well hard work probably helped too.  Below is a picture of one of their ground rigs next to the bulk fertilizer tanks, as they provide custom application. They also sell Pioneer seed and fertilizer.  So why would anyone have to go anywhere else?
We occasionally like to get the senior managers together at one of the retail partners so that we can all learn more about what it takes to market and move AgroLiquid these days.  We took a tour of Tyree Ag's facilities.  Tim shows us their chemical storage and where they load the sprayers.  Lines come in from the outside bulk tanks to load fertilizer here as well.
 There is plenty to see outside as everyone seems to be looking all directions.
 They also have tank trailers for growers to haul fertilizer around as they plant.  No question what kind of fertilizer goes in.  I think they said they have sixty trailers.  Not sure how they keep track of them all as they said it used to be tough in the beginning keeping track of five.
Tim started out as an aerial applicator himself.  He now has two of these Air Tractor 502 planes.  However he admitted that he rarely flies himself anymore due to the size of the business now which keeps him on the ground managing operations.  He said he could still do it, but the complexity of aerial application is more full time than occasional time to keep your brain sharp.  Plus all of the wind turbines around these days are an extra hazard.  They have their hangar set up as a drive through loading operation.
 They also have ferti-Rain and NResponse in those tanks up top which are fed by gravity to the mixer when needed in an application.  The fungicide applications usually include some fertilizer, and sometimes they are added with insecticides as well.
 Lunch makes for a successful meeting, and we were served an excellent meal.  Everyone cleaned their plates.  Several times.
 We also had some discussions on a variety of topics with all employees present.  Here Paige and Tim recall the start up days and their goals for the future.  One thing that was mentioned a number of times by all employees, from truck drivers to salesmen to the office staff, was the value of customer service.  They said that customers see the value of that compared to other retailers.  They also said that many of their customers like dealing with an independent compared to a national retailer, and have gotten some business just for that reason.
 After meeting all day, we went to nearby Greensburg which has a motel and restaurant.  You may recall that Greensburg was 95% destroyed by a big tornado back on May 4, 2007.  It was an EF5 tornado that was two miles wide.  They are still rebuilding.  The mayor came to our manager meeting the next day to talk about the rebuild.  They decided to follow "green" practices.  Even though many of the people stayed and rebuilt, there are still voids in the downtown. The Tyree's lived in Greenburg and lost their house.  Their business in nearby Kinsley was not affected.    
There is a museum in town that we visited.  They showed this pottery piece of the Last Supper that was found after the tornado.  I suppose you could make a connection as to who kept his head through it all.  You can read the story on the sign in back.
The museum is also build over the Big Well.  But not just any well, but it's the biggest hand dug well in the world!  It was finished in 1888 and was 109 feet deep.  It reached into the Ogallala aquifer and had ten feet of water in the bottom.  It supplied water for the town till 1932.  By then they had a regular water tower.  But imagine digging it with picks and shovels and filling barrels of soil and rocks to be lifted out. Now that's real work.
 Here is a view looking down as Nick carries little Ruby down the stairs while Paul, David and Levi walk.  It is encased in stone from nearby.  These stairs are new.  Galynn and I came here maybe fifteen years ago and the stairs then were old and went straight back and forth, not round and round like now.  Oddly enough, this was Tim's first visit here.  But it was on his to-do list.  And he finally did.
This is looking back up from the bottom of the stairway.  It is maybe twenty feet or more from the bottom.  I didn't see any water in the bottom.  I suppose irrigation has lowered the level of the aquifer.
So if you're ever in Greensburg, be sure and drop in.  Or take the stairs like we did.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kansas...more than just ruby slippers.

 So then last Sunday we were in Sedgwick, KS home of Retail Partner Quality Ag which is Jerry Cordell and his wife Kelly.  Jerry has been providing AgroLiquid in he area for many years, and I've known him that long as well.  We all were in for a crop tour of the area.  Like these soybeans fertilized with AgroLiquid that are close to harvest.  That's Jerry between Galynn and Craig.
Milo is a major crop in the area which is just North of Wichita.  Here is a nice looking field of milo grown with AgroLiquid.  Looking good and close to harvest.  Milo is popular since it has a lower water requirement than corn.
 Birds like milo and occasionally you see a flock having a buffet.  But there are more fields than birds.
 Some fields of milo look good, and some not so much.  Well a number of fields didn't look so good and this was one of those.  The culprit?  Sugarcane aphid.  They have been increasing in numbers the last couple years as they have blown up from Louisiana.  There is nothing to harvest here as the heads are void of seeds
This picture is from a research plot in milo near Hinton, OK last year.  See all of the aphids?  Well they literally suck the life out of the milo.  You can also see some Lady Bug larvae eating them, but there are not enough to do the job.  Monitoring fields and spraying for control early is the key.  But these fields that are ruined by the aphid evidently were not checked.  So the lesson is to monitor your crops.
Jerry grew up on a farm right close to where he is now.  Here is a John Deere DFB-16 drill bought by his grandfather in 1966.  He has it set up for AgroLiquid and decided to use it to seed a 100 acre field on the family farm.
Jerry shows it to Galynn and Craig.  There is a connection to the past using the same equipment that his grandfather used.  But the old mixed with the new as far as the plant nutrients.
 Here is the field several weeks after seeding.  A lot of work with a 10 foot drill.  You can see the encroachment of Wichita moving to the country.
Well Jerry also set up some drill fertilizer comparisons.  Here is the crew looking at some dug up wheat plants.
On the left are some plants that had some LiberateCa along with the Pro-Germinator + High NRG-N + Micro 500 compared to no Liberate on the right.  In the plants extracted, it looks like the Liberate promoted root growth.  But he will check yields at harvest next year.
On Monday we flew West to Kinsley, the home of Tyree Ag.  Tim Tyree started the business fifteen years ago with his wife Paige.  They offer ground and aerial application of plant protection products along with AgroLiquid fertilizers.  Tim gave us a tour of the area.  Now on Monday the wind was blowing about as strong as it could be without a hurricane warning.  Here we are watching some milo harvest.  Harvest is just about wrapped up.
Galynn couldn't resist the opportunity to make sure they were loading the grain trailer correctly.
Here Tim and Galynn visit with a grower applying Pro-Germinator + High NRG-N + Micro 500 as he seeds his wheat.  He remarked about how clean the fertilizer is as it ran through the drill compared to other fertilizers used in the past.  Now who can argue with that?
 Here is another field that was seeded earlier with AgroLiquid.  Looking as good as it can.
So that was a good couple of days seeing local performance of AgroLiquid nutrition and seeing our Retail Partners.  And they did get a couple tenths of rain.  But more is requested.