January 26, 2021

Planting Early? Put Tour Seed to the Test Next Year

If you’re like many growers in our area, you’re planting earlier in the spring. That often means planting in cold, wet soil. Is your seed up to the challenge?

“When you consider your seed investment, you want the confidence to know that a certain lot number will perform well in cold, wet conditions,” said Brad Engh, agronomy sales team leader for MaxYield Cooperative. “We can test for that.”

While seed companies conduct standard cold germination and warm germination tests, there’s also a saturated cold-germination test you might want to consider. This is a higher-level germination or stress test to determine how seed will germinate under less-than-ideal conditions, including the variable weather conditions that tend to come with early planting.

“There are certain lot numbers that will work best for planting in cold, wet conditions,” Engh said. “We can help you with a saturated cold-germination test, which can give you a higher probability of success with planting.”


If you plant early, knowing the cold saturation germ helps you to select what hybrids to plant first and determine what fields to plant them in. The information can also help you adjust planting populations for cold, wet weather conditions.

Engh recommends conducting a saturated cold-germination test in March. The test can be run after the seed has been delivered to your farm, or while MaxYield is storing the seed for you. The MaxYield seed team can help you gather samples for testing.

“After the seed is sent to the lab, it takes about two to three weeks to get the results back,” said Engh, who noted there is a fee for the saturated cold-germination test. “We’ll help you review the results, so you’ll be ready for planting in early to mid-April.”•


For more information about the saturated cold-germination test, contact your local MaxYield seed or agronomy specialist. We appreciate your business.

Do This One Things to Kill More Weeds

It’s no secret that using herbicides with the right active ingredients (AI) can help protect your crop from yield-robbing weeds.

But that’s only part of the equation. Did you know the adjuvants you mix with a herbicide can be just as important as the AIs?

“Adjuvants are a key to managing a variety of weed-control issues, including challenging weather conditions,” said Brad Engh, agronomy sales team leader for MaxYield Cooperative. “The right adjuvant helps your herbicide work more efficiently to kill weeds.”

Some adjuvants help reduce drift. Others help the herbicide reach its target zone more efficiently. As weather conditions get drier, for example, cuticles on plant leaves get thicker. This makes it harder for an AI to penetrate the leaf. An adjuvant like methylated seed oil helps the herbicide droplets penetrate the cuticles on the leaves, so the AI can work properly.

The water in the herbicide tank-mix also influences the need for adjuvants. Some AIs chemically bond with ions in hard water containing calcium and magnesium. Ammonium sulfate (AMS) interrupts this chemical bonding so the AI can function properly and get the job done.

AMS is another useful adjuvant, but on its own it won’t help with drift and deposition. That’s why MaxYield is using Array Link®, an adjuvant that works well with Liberty® herbicide. “Liberty is a contact killer, so you need it to reach all of the weed’s growing points,” Engh said. “Array Link has a blend of ingredients, including milled ammonium sulfate, organic polymers and antifoam to help manage drift and provide better canopy penetration.”

When used with post-emerge herbicides, Array Link helps with:

  • improved spray droplet retention
  • improved spray pattern quality (keeps spray on target)
  • improved canopy penetration (better coverage)
  • improved performance


While growers sometimes know the herbicide they want to use, they are often less familiar with adjuvants. That’s where MaxYield’s agronomy specialists come in.

“As solutions providers, we can help you increase your chances of a successful spray,” Engh said. “We want to set you up for as much success as possible.”•


Contact your local MaxYield agronomy specialist for more details. We look forward to serving you.

4 Steps to Powerful Weed Control with the Liberty® System

When Tim Lindhorst started farming a field south of Algona about 20 years ago, he knew weed control would be a huge challenge.

“This field is on a slope at the lowest end,” said Lindhorst, who lives near Burt and is a MaxYield Cooperative client who has been farming full-time for 37 years. “Due to the slope, weed seeds wash down into this field. The giant ragweed got so intense it would choke out other plants. You can’t imagine how ugly it got.”

Those tough weeds seemed immune to any herbicide Lindhorst used. “Pursuit® herbicide was so convenient, but over time it didn’t pack the punch it used to,” he said. “Then came glyphosate, which worked incredibly well at first. Over time, however, we threw Roundup® and everything you could think of at those weeds. Nothing seemed to work very well.”

When Lindhorst’s MaxYield agronomy specialist urged him to try the Liberty® system, he wasn’t sure. He was planting genetics from another seed company at the time, and the company didn’t have a Liberty soybean variety. “I hesitated and decided not to go with the Liberty system,” Lindhorst said.

His MaxYield agronomy specialist kept encouraging him to take a look at the Liberty system, however. “I knew I had a weed control problem that wasn’t going away,” said Lindhorst, who finally decided something had to change.

About six years ago, Lindhorst tried some Liberty beans from Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. “The giant ragweed started coming on like it always does, so we sprayed Liberty,” Lindhorst said.

A few things were obvious right away. Liberty didn’t burn or stunt the beans like other products. At first, however, it didn’t seem like the Liberty was doing much to control the ragweeds. “My MaxYield agronomy specialist at the time said, ‘Tim, they’re dead. They just don’t know it yet.’ It wasn’t long before that field looked beautiful.”

Lindhorst was dumbfounded. The results were so dramatic that Lindhorst planted 100 percent Liberty soybeans the next year. “It’s just amazing,” said Lindhorst, who has MaxYield apply pre-emerge herbicides to his fields, while he applies the post-emerge products. “I’m also pleased with the yields I’m getting.”


Success stories like this stand out at a time when weed control is becoming more complicated than ever. “There are limited options for weed control in soybeans,” noted Tim Bruns, an agronomy specialist with MaxYield Cooperative. “The efficacy of many herbicides is decreasing, plus you’ve got all the traditional issues of timely spraying.”

Then there’s the challenge of herbicide resistance. “Did we learn anything from Roundup? This question is huge,” Bruns said. “Roundup was an incredibly effective, all-encompassing chemistry, and we messed it up by relying on it almost exclusively.”

Mother Nature hasn’t made things any easier. Wet conditions in previous years made it tougher to control weeds in a timely manner. This has boosted the weed seed bank in many fields. “That’s one bank account you don’t want to pad, because a lot of those seeds are viable for four to five years,” Bruns said.

Relying on post-emerge products to control weed escapes isn’t the answer. “While Flexstar® has been the basis of many post-emerge treatments on beans, time and time again I’ve seen it not do the job it should,” Bruns said.

If all that weren’t enough, it’s getting more complicated for crop-protection companies to get new weed control chemistries through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a timely manner. “When it comes to weed control in soybeans, the easy button has left the building,” Bruns said. “If we don’t take a different approach, weed control will only get more expensive.”


Bruns and his agronomy team members at MaxYield have seen impressive results when clients incorporate the Liberty system into their farming operation. Liberty’s unique mode of action provides excellent performance on key weeds and greater application flexibility.

The four-step S.T.O.P. system offers an effective way to put Liberty to work for your acres:


Preventing early weed growth reduces yield loss from weed competition and enables more effective weed control from post-emerge herbicides. “One of your best weed-control weapons is a pre-emerge residual herbicide,” said Bruns, who urges farmers to use the full rate on corn and soybeans. “If you can stop weeds from coming up, you’ll have fewer problems down the road.”

Successful weed control might need to involve multiple residual herbicides, Bruns added. It could include the pre-emerge, followed by a different residual product applied with the post application.


Weeds like waterhemp and Palmer amaranth grow incredibly fast and can be hard to control once they reach 3 inches. In all cases, small weeds are easier to control with post-applied products than big weeds. “Liberty is labeled for 4- to 6-inch weeds, not 1-foot tall weeds,” Bruns said.


Apply the correct rate of herbicide, along with the proper water volume and the right droplet size for best results. “Liberty is a contact herbicide, so proper coverage is essential,” Bruns said. “If you’re using Liberty, go with the full label rate,” he added. “You’ll only build herbicide tolerance every year if you don’t.” Also, don’t skimp on water when applying Liberty. “Coverage is key,” said Bruns, who noted that 20 gallons of water per acre is the recommendation with this herbicide. “So what if you have to haul more water? It beats weedy fields and it increases your odds of getting it right on the first application.”


Use multiple effective sites of action for pre-emerge and post-emerge residuals helps prevent resistance by reducing the pressure on a single herbicide. “At MaxYield, we do our homework,” Bruns said. “We understand what the product labels says, and know what products work well in a tank mix together.”

Finally, don’t shy away from old-fashioned weed control. “Even when you use the right crop-protection products at the right time, there could still be a few weeds escape,” Bruns said. “When you see these weeds, get in your Gator or side-by-side vehicle, and go pull those weeds.”

Your MaxYield agronomy specialist is ready to help you figure out a weed control strategy tailored to your fields’ unique needs. “We can also advise you on what’s working—and not working—on other farms,” Bruns said.

Remember one key question as you make your weed control decisions, he added. “What’s your long-term goal? Do you want to keep crop-protection products working as effectively as possible for as long as possible, or do you want to go back to walking every acre of beans?”


The answer is clear to Lindhorst. While the field he farms south of Algona will always pose weed control challenges, due to the lay of the land, he knows weeds don’t have to get the upper hand.

“I have absolute confidence in MaxYield’s recommendations,” Lindhorst said. “It’s such a relief to have Liberty. I’m 55 years old and hope I can finish out my career using Liberty.”

He also encourages other growers who are facing weed challenges to try the Liberty system. “I’ve yet to talk to anyone who is using Liberty who doesn’t like it.”•


For more information on the Liberty system and how it can work for you, contact your local MaxYield agronomy or seed specialist.


Just How Good Are Liberty® Soybean Varieties?

It’s one thing for the Liberty system to offer an effective weed management solution. But how well do these soybeans yield?

“We’ve been working with Liberty beans for over ten years, and their yields are competitive with any other variety,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader at MaxYield Cooperative. “The idea that there’s a yield drag with Liberty-trait soybeans today is a myth.”

New options for Liberty soybeans fit even more growers’ production systems. In 2019, MaxYield began offering Stine brand Enlist E3® soybeans. “These beans were competitive, in terms on agronomics and yield,” Bjorklund said. “They averaged 70 bushels per acre at our Algona plot.”

Liberty herbicide can be used not only with specific genetics from Stine Seed and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, but XtendFlex® soybeans under the Asgrow brand, which will be available in 2021. Liberty herbicide can be used as part of a planned weed-control strategy, or it can be used to clean up weed escapes, Bjorklund said.

Don’t forget that the Liberty system can help you address other challenges beyond weeds. “We sell a lot of Liberty beans in the Des Moines Soil Lobe across MaxYield’s territory, because growers like the beans’ tolerance to the high pH soils that tend to be common in that area,” Bjorklund said. “XtendFlex and Enlist E3 beans continue to be the highest yielding varieties across our territory, with options for strong offensive and defensive varieties.”

As you plan your 2021 crop, work with your MaxYield agronomy or seed specialist to select the right soybean varieties and agronomic package for your acres. We appreciate your business and look forward to providing the solutions you need.

Harvest Update and Health Precautions – September 2020

Dear MaxYield Cooperative Clients,

As we’ve seen throughout the spring and summer, agriculture remains an essential business. While many sectors and industries have shut down or reduced production during this time, farming and the business activities associated with agriculture have maintained operations and will continue to do so.

Though harvest 2020 is beginning, COVID-19 is still present in our communities. We must continue to make choices that help protect our team members, neighborhoods and you, our clients. All counties in the MaxYield trade area are experiencing a steady or increased number of positive cases. In response we are continuing with adjustments to our office procedures:

  • Team members, clients, and others should refrain from entering location offices, other than to conduct essential business (paperwork, grain samples, etc.). Meetings will be held via web conference or phone when possible.
  • If entering a location for essential business or meeting elsewhere, please maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others. This includes any on-farm visits by MaxYield team members.
  • We encourage the use of masks by team members and clients, especially when social distancing is not possible.

Though we are conducting business a little differently, we’re still working hard to provide solutions to you and your farming operation. Our grain, agronomy, feed, energy, and on-farm trucking teams are ready to work with you this fall.

We encourage clients who prefer to contact our team via phone, email or text to do so when possible and appropriate this season. You can find contact information for all MaxYield locations on our website. Connection Central is another great tool for you to view grain contracts, sales tickets, statements and more online and in real time.

I thank you for your flexibility and perseverance through the past several months. I wish you a safe and healthy harvest, and we all look forward to the day when we can put the coffee on, pop the popcorn, and welcome you into our locations with open arms once again.



Keith Heim

Fostoria Fire Department Receives Matching Funds Contribution from CHS, MaxYield

Fire chief Kim Kroger accepts contributions from MaxYield Cooperative and CHS that will complete their fundraising campaign to purchase new bunker gear for the Fostoria Fire Department.

MaxYield Cooperative presented the Fostoria Fire Department with a contribution of $2500, plus an additional $2500 in matching funds from the CHS Seeds for Stewardship program. Fire chief Kim Kroger accepted the contributions and the funds will be used to purchase new bunker gear for the fire department.

“After receiving grant money from other sources and with these contributions from CHS and MaxYield, we now have raised enough money that every volunteer with the fire department will now have new and updated gear,” Kroger said. “For a small fire department like ours, that is a big deal. We are really grateful for CHS and MaxYield’s support on this project.”

About CHS Seeds for Stewardship

The CHS Seeds for Stewardship is a competitive grant program that matches funds for projects that develop the next generation of ag leaders, improve ag safety and enhance rural vitality in local communities. CHS is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. More information about CHS is available at www.chsinc.com.

About MaxYield Cooperative
MaxYield Cooperative is a diversified local farmer-owned cooperative serving members and clients in Iowa, and southern Minnesota. Founded in 1915, MaxYield Cooperative is headquartered in West Bend, Iowa. More information about the cooperative can be found online at www.MaxYieldCooperative.com and www.FromTheField.com.


Seeing Is Believing: Fine-Tuning Management Styles to Match Hybrids

Making every penny count is more important than ever in crop production. What if you could match your management style to specific hybrids to maximize your crop input investment?

That’s why hybrids like CROPLAN® 4203 in MaxYield Cooperative’s learning plots are so fascinating. “When 4203 puts on an ear, it puts on a monster ear,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader at MaxYield. “It pulls back, though, and almost always leaves a big tip.”

Still, 4203 produced a decent yield when it was grown in the basic-management section of MaxYield’s learning plot in 2019 near Algona. When it was grown in the high-yield management section of the learning plot, however, 4203 showed a big yield response. “It was the second highest yielder in the plot where we added the additional crop inputs,” Bjorklund said.

This prompted Bjorklund and his team members to dig deeper in 2020. “In the high-yield management plot, we’re using biologicals, fungicides and inputs that are prescribed to maximize yield response.”

“Our goal is to develop a prescription for feeding each unique hybrid like 4203,” Bjorklund said. “What if we can get those ears to fill out to the tip?”

Understanding how different hybrids respond to different management styles is the key to higher profit potential. “We can help you better manage your crop inputs, especially when it’s important to scrutinize every cent,” Bjorklund said.



The unique design of MaxYield’s learning plot makes it easier for team members to gather data and help clients to see the results. The concept developed in 2019, when the MaxYield seed team planted 55 hybrids in the 600-foot-long learning plot near Algona.

The plot included an alleyway in the middle. While one side of the plot received basic management practices, the south side received a prescription of inputs based on crop needs. Along with 130 pounds of nitrogen in the fall, the south side received 50 pounds of additional nitrogen around the V5 stage, Bjorklund said. “We also applied a micronutrient package with boron, zinc and manganese. Around tassel time we applied fungicide.”

At harvest, some hybrids showed no yield difference between the basic-management plot and the high-yield management plot. Others, however, revealed a yield advantage of up to 40 bushels per acre in the high-yield management plot. The yield boost on other hybrids ranged somewhere within this range, Bjorklund said.

“Hybrid management responses across 20 different hybrids resulted in an average increase in yield of 18.4 bushels per acre. Even when we saw a yield response, we kept asking one big question: is that yield response repeatable and what is the ROI?”

That’s why MaxYield is working with two learning plots this year, including one near Algona and one near Fostoria. While the Algona plot has been rotated to a different site, it includes the same number of hybrids and same treatments. The MaxYield team is once again studying the results of normal-management practices compared to high-yield management practices.

The Fostoria plot includes 12 rows treated with the standard management system, and 12 rows treated with the high-yield management system. “We added these 24 rows to the end of the plot, so it’s a bigger sample size,” said Bjorklund, who noted that these rows run the length of the plot.

Clients enjoyed touring the Algona plot in 2019, and they’ve been eager to see results from the 2020 plots, as well. “When you walk in that alleyway, look at the standard-management side and compare it to high-yield management area, it’s easy to see vast differences in ear size and plant health by August and September,” Bjorklund said. “If we see these same results in 2020, I’ll be a lot more confident in sharing this knowledge.”



Selecting the right type of management style for a specific hybrid all goes back to genetics. “If we find a hybrid that’s highly responsive to high management, we’ll label it a ‘racehorse’ hybrid,’” Bjorklund said. “Then there are ‘workhorse’ hybrids, which perform about the same no matter what management style you use.”

Hybrids’ genetic heritage influence a variety of yield-influencing factors, including ear type. Some corn hybrids’ genetics mean the ear size is fixed, while other hybrids are “flex” ears that have the ability to adjust ear size, depending on growing conditions.

“If a hybrid puts on a big flex ear, it will need additional nitrogen at the end of the season to maximize its yield potential,” Bjorklund said.

Other hybrids may not need that level of management to maximize yield potential. “The next step is to evaluate the top four or five hybrids in the high-yield management trials and put them through field-scale trials with SciMax Solutions, taking soil type into consideration,” Bjorklund said. “That will help us gain more detailed knowledge about which hybrids are worth extra inputs to get an extra bushels per acre, especially since this can translate up to 40 bushels per acre.”

Being a solutions provider means finding these answers for MaxYield clients. “I’m in my 41st season in agronomy, and I can’t wait to keep learning,” Bjorklund said. “We’ll continue to seek more answers in 2021.”



If you’d like to get a one-on-one tour of the plots at Algona or Fostoria, contact your MaxYield agronomy specialist or MaxYield seed solutions specialist.

MaxYield Cooperative Announces Positive Fiscal 2020 Results

WEST BEND, IA, – MaxYield Cooperative® recently announced its fiscal results, for the year ending July 31, 2020. The board of directors for MaxYield reviewed and approved the financial audit at their board meeting on August 27.

MaxYield CEO Keith Heim stated that the cooperative had positive local and total savings to report. “Each year presents challenges and opportunities and Fiscal 2020 was no different. I am especially proud of how our team performed and showed grit and resiliency during this COVID-19 pandemic. MaxYield is a solution’s provider and I appreciate the solutions our team brings to our members and clients every day.”

MaxYield Cooperative’s Local Savings from Operations for the 2019-2020 fiscal year were $1,512,243 and pre-tax Total Savings for the cooperative totaled $8.6 million.

“In Fiscal 2020, we achieved the second best total revenue in company history”, Heim said. “Most all revenue areas showed consistency with the past year and remain on upward trend lines. Some areas of note include the second best drying revenue year, solid total energy and feed margins, strong total seed margins and exceptional soybean margins.”

The MaxYield board approved using a portion of this year’s available Section 199A tax deduction internally to mitigate the cooperative’s tax obligation. Heim added that the unused Section 199A tax deduction amount of approximately $1.4 million will be passed through to members for possible use on their individual tax returns.

Heim said that the cooperative maintains a solid balance sheet. “Term debt was reduced by approximately $4.0 million. We maintained adequate working capital levels while spending approximately $13 million on capital expenditures during the fiscal year.”

Member’s equity increased by about $2.65 million in 2020, noted Heim. “MaxYield once again increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $67 million as compared to 1997, when retained savings were ($122,242). The retained savings comparison is a good perspective of the financial improvement at MaxYield over the past 23 years.”

The cooperative’s annual meeting is December 9, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ketelsen Community Center, located in Everly, IA. More details regarding the annual meeting will be sent to member’s closer to the event.

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 25 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for three Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at www.MaxYieldCoop.com and www.FromTheField.com.

Hunter Gelhaus Grows His Agronomy Career at MaxYield

When Hunter Gelhaus is in the field with his team members, it’s hard to stump him when it’s time to diagnose crop issues. What’s going on with corn when the leaves fail to unfurl properly and the whorl becomes tightly wrapped and twisted?

“It’s rapid-growth syndrome,” said Gelhaus, an agronomy specialist trainee at MaxYield Cooperative. “When I get it right, Matt Keel jokes, ‘I taught you way too much last summer.’”

Keel, a MaxYield seed solutions specialist, served as Gelhaus’ mentor when Gelhaus was a MaxYield agronomy sales intern during the summer of 2019. Now Gelhaus is a full-time agronomy specialist trainee, serving clients in the East Area, including Belmond, Klemme and Britt.

He’s building on a solid knowledge base. Gelhaus completed a successful seed and agronomy sales internship with MaxYield in 2019.

“I had such good experiences as an intern here and got to know so many people on the MaxYield team that I felt comfortable here,” said Gelhaus, who grew up in Lakota and earned his ag business degree and agronomy minor from Iowa State University in May 2020. “It was an easy decision to accept MaxYield’s job offer last fall.”

“MaxYield can set you up for big things”

It has been a smooth transition to come back as a full-time team member, adds Gelhaus, who scouts clients’ fields, delivers crop-protection products and enjoys getting to know more farmers in the area. “No two days are alike,” he said. “Also, every field is different, and every situation is different. That means you have to get to know each client to provide the right solutions.”

As an agronomy specialist trainee, Gelhaus works closely with his mentor, Levi Quayle, a MaxYield agronomy specialist. “He’s someone I can look to for advice and answers to my questions,” Gelhaus said.

Having a mentor also offers peace of mind when you’re a new full-time team member, he added. “It’s good to have someone who is easy to talk to and is there to help you learn,”

Gelhaus also appreciates the continuing education opportunities available through MaxYield, which is big enough to offer advancement opportunities and small enough to feel like family. “A MaxYield internship can set you up for big things.”

Editor’s note: In his free time, Gelhaus enjoys farming, hunting and spending time with his fiancé, Cassidy Sachs, who grew up two miles from him. The couple is planning an August 2021 wedding.

Agronomy Internship Helped Tyler Hoffman Clarify His Career Goals

When Tyler Hoffman completed his agronomy internship at MaxYield Cooperative in 2018, he gained clarity on two things. He knew he wanted to keep learning about agronomy, and he wanted to grow his career in Iowa.

He has the opportunity to do both, now that he’s an agronomy specialist trainee at MaxYield. “I really like the culture and people at MaxYield,” said Hoffman, who grew up a farm near Graettinger and earned his ag business degree from Iowa State University (ISU) in May 2020.

While Hoffman had a good experience as a MaxYield intern, he still wanted to explore his career options before he graduated. “After I had an internship with a seed company in the summer of 2019, that’s when I knew I wanted to come back to MaxYield. When they made me a job offer last October, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.”

After to the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools across the state this spring, Hoffman began working full-time for MaxYield in mid-April 2020. “I was especially grateful for this job after some of my college friends had their job offers pulled after COVID-19 hit,” he said.

Growing a client base

Hoffman started at MaxYield’s Superior location and helped deliver crop-protection products. As the summer progressed, he worked with Justin Zwiefel, a MaxYield agronomy specialist based in Mallard, to scout clients’ fields. “I’ve liked getting to know more MaxYield clients,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman appreciates having Zwiefel as his mentor. “Justin is down-to-earth and easy to get along with. While I have a lot of freedom to grow relationships with MaxYield clients, I like being able to reach out to Justin when I have questions.”

It has been a smooth transition from MaxYield intern to full-time agronomy specialist trainee. “As an intern, I became more comfortable talking to growers and having intelligent conservations with them about solutions for their acres,” Hoffman said. “It helped a lot to learn the basics like soil sampling and crop scouting.”

It’s a plus that his full-time job with MaxYield allows Hoffman to be close to home, so he can help his parents on their corn, soybean and hog farm. If you’re thinking about trying a MaxYield internship, go for it, he added. “You can dip you toe in the water and try a little bit of everything here. That will help you find out what you do and don’t like as you figure out your career path.”

Editor’s note: In his free time, Hoffman enjoys playing in the golf league at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Graettinger and strength training at a local weight room.

How Farm Analytics Help You Become More Efficient

By Rodney Legleiter

In tough years, it’s even more important to manage your inputs and to maximize profit. Way too often, I hear people want to maximize yield and, obviously, the more bushels you have the more you have to sell. But if it costs you too much to raise, you might not have increased your profitability by increasing yield. – Eric Marchand, Britt, IA

Eric Marchand farms southeast of Britt, IA. He started farming with his dad in 1997 and has slowly taken over and grown the operation.

As a SciMax Solutions® Specialist I get to help growers utilize their data to help them maximize efficiency and profits. Together with SciMax, I’ve been working with Eric Marchand since 2013, utilizing variable rate seeding, variable rate nitrogen and farm analytics. We took some time to ask Eric questions about the benefits of SciMax.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: How do farm analytics help your farm become more cost efficient?

ERIC MARCHAND: Well, when you can take your farm and break it down, you can see where the profit robbing issues are. You can try to correct them or combat them with different hybrids, different nitrogen rates, different fertilizer responses and variable rate planting in certain areas. SciMax compiles the data from other growers in the area, then helps find different practices that are working versus what isn’t working so you can not only see your farm operation but see what others are doing anonymously. This way you can manage each acre slightly different to maximize your profitability on each acre.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: How do you manage input costs to protect profits?

ERIC MARCHAND: It’s about having the right population of the right hybrid on each acre in each area of the field, as well as optimizing your nitrogen rate, your micronutrients, and even your P and K rates. Going clear back to the basic as-planted map and overlaying that with your yield mapping, you can determine your profitability by field, acre and hybrid.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: Talking about variable rate, you’ve been variable rate seeding for quite a few years. Tell us the timeline and history of how you’ve been using variable rate prescriptions and seeding.

ERIC MARCHAND: In 2013 I purchased hydraulic drives on my planter and knew I could variable rate. Since I had the technology available to me, I tried a little bit of corn in a field or two each year. I broadened that into trying a field of beans based on pH and adding four more corn acres. It went to having a prescription written for every acre of corn and beans that I plan to plant each year. I believe variable rate really pays off in optimizing your population. I wouldn’t say you’re cutting back in the less productive acres. You are cutting back your population, but you’re optimizing your population more than just cutting it back to save seed. Cutting back saves the seed cost, but it also allows the best population on that acre to produce the best yield. Saving input cost, as well as increased yield for return, is a double-ended benefit.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: There’s a misconception that you’re going to cut your seeding costs drastically, but that’s really not the case when you’ve pretty much got the same average rate across the field.

ERIC MARCHAND: You’re right. If you decide the ballpark of what you would flat rate that field by seed, once your prescriptions are written, most of the time you’re within one bag. So you’re not cutting back seed. You’re taking it out of the less productive areas and putting it in the higher producing areas. You’re trying to be a little more offensive in the good ground and a little bit more conservative to optimize the situation in the less productive ground.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: Throughout the years you’ve tried the SciMax Nitrogen program with variable rate nitrogen and you’ve been able to reduce your rates by anywhere from 25 to 30 percent over those acres and still maintain, if not, increase yield. What are the different things you’ve tried with the SciMax Nitrogen® program?

ERIC MARCHAND: Yes, definitely. With the variable rate single application or dual applications, you can cut your rates back. I used Learning Blocks to test different rates to see if there was a yield drag where the nitrogen rates were cut. To start, I used Learning Blocks as a convincing agent, especially with variable rate nitrogen. For too long, guys have thought if I pump more nitrogen out there, I’ll get more yield. And then, you see some of the data that SciMax has shown with reducing nitrogen rates, and it really challenges the comfort zone of the ‘old-time-thinking’ and wanting to dump more nitrogen. We wanted to see for ourselves, so we put a Learning Block out that used my old nitrogen rate and a higher rate. When we got our yield maps and lay over the nitrogen rate learning block we saw little to no change, even sometimes a negative response on the higher rate. It builds confidence to make the decision for the right rates next year. And it’s not only nitrogen, you can start analyzing nitrogen rates to planting population to micronutrients and fungicides. Instead of doing strips where your ground might vary across a field, do a section where you see if what you’re doing really matters. You can start to ask the questions, ‘What if I went and did that? Would I have had the same results anyway? Did I just get a banner year and get a good yield out there? Or did I do the right thing by pushing the population or by cutting the population back?’ The Learning Block tells you changing this did work or, in some instances, maybe changing this didn’t work. But it’s not a test plot from a hundred miles away. It’s your Learning Block right there in your own field.

RODNEY LEGLEITER: The farm economy is being impacted, more so in some areas than others. Tell me a little bit about your thought of the farm economy and what you’re seeing, how it’s affecting you and what keeps you up at night, as far as the current farming economy?

ERIC MARCHAND: In tough economic years, it’s even more important to manage your inputs and to maximize profit. Way too often, I hear people want to maximize yield and, obviously, the more bushels you have, the more you have to sell. But if they cost you too much to raise, you might not have increased your profitability by increasing yield. I’m proud to say I have a good partner in SciMax by managing input costs and maximizing profitability.