July 3, 2020

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.

Annual Meeting Held for MaxYield Cooperative

In addition to detailing MaxYield’s positive local and total returns in 2019, CEO Keith Heim reviewed the cooperative’s commitment to further investments, including this grain storage expansion project in Britt, IA at their annual meeting held December 12.

WEST BEND, IA – MaxYield Cooperative® held its 105th annual meeting Monday, December 12 at the Kossuth County Ag & Motorsports Museum in Algona, IA.

Board chairman Howard Haas called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.

During the meeting, MaxYield CFO Susan Post discussed the financial results of the cooperative. The audited financial report for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2019 reported local earnings of $1,790,071 with total pre-tax earnings totaling $7.4 million. Both earnings levels were greater than the prior fiscal year.

In his remarks to the membership, MaxYield CEO Keith Heim stated he was pleased with the cooperative’s fiscal results. “I’m also pleased to report that each department at MaxYield contributed positively to these earnings,” he said.

Heim noted that the cooperative continues to have a very strong balance sheet. “Term debt has decreased by over $4.8 million, member’s equity increased by more than $3.6 million and we added over $2.5 million to working capital in 2019. MaxYield also increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $59 million. In 1997, retained savings were ($122,242), so you can see we continue to make significant progress in strengthening the financial position of MaxYield.”

Both Heim and board chairman Haas emphasized that MaxYield continues to invest in the company. “In January 2019 we purchased property near Britt that included three warehouse buildings totaling 17,000 square feet of space, real estate and seed treating and bulk seed storage tanks. Among other capital expenditures, we’ve also committed to building additional grain storage space in Britt and Belmond in 2020,” Heim noted.

Heim went on to say that MaxYield expanded its footprint in 2019. “On August 1st MaxYield and Standard Nutrition Services entered into a joint venture where we will be handling the grain purchasing, grain accounting and risk management at their newly acquired feed mill east of Waverly, IA. Since 1995, MaxYield has provided grain procurement and risk management services to feed mills and end-users, including Kerber Milling in Emmetsburg which is now owned by Standard Nutrition.”

Nominating committee member Rich Harves of Dickens announced the results of the director election. Eric Marchand of Britt was reelected and Greg Guenther from Algona and Don Salton of Dickens were elected to serve three year terms on the board of directors.

Following the annual meeting, Howard Haas was nominated by the board to continue serving as chairman. David Garrelts and Eric Marchand will continue to serve as vice chairman and secretary/treasurer, respectively.

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 or www.FromtheField.com.

 

MaxYield Cooperative Announces Positive Fiscal 2019 Results

WEST BEND, IA, – MaxYield Cooperative® recently announced its fiscal results, for the year ending July 31, 2019. The board of directors for MaxYield reviewed and approved the financial audit at their board meeting, held August 22.

MaxYield CEO Keith Heim stated that the cooperative had positive local and total savings to report. “The recently completed fiscal year had reduced corn and soybean bushels in the fall of 2018, compared to recent years and reduced grain drying revenue. That said, the reduced bushels and drying revenue were more than offset by strong margins in most all product areas and disciplined expense control across the cooperative.”

In addition to recent upgrades in Algona and Greenville, MaxYield recently announced the board of director’s approval to build new grain storage in Belmond and Britt in 2020, with each of the bins totaling 725,000 bushels. Heim went on to say that MaxYield’s board of directors continues to place strong emphasis on upgrading and improving facilities, equipment and rolling stock.

MaxYield Cooperative’s Local Savings from Operations for the 2018-2019 fiscal year were $1,790,071 and pre-tax Total Savings for the cooperative totaled $7.4 million.

Heim said that the cooperative’s balance sheet remains very strong. “We continue to build our already solid balance sheet. Term debt was reduced by over $4.8 million, member’s equity increased and we added $2.5 million to working capital in 2019, which is up by over $5.5 million over the past two fiscal years. MaxYield also increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $59 million. In 1997, retained savings at MaxYield were ($122,242), so you can see we continue to make significant progress in strengthening the financial position of MaxYield. Retained savings is a good benchmark putting into perspective the financial improvements here over the past 22 years,” he added.

The cooperative’s annual meeting is December 12, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at the Kossuth County Ag & Motorsports Museum, located in Algona, IA.

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.

 

 

 

Find Out How to Grow 80-100 Bushel Soybeans!

Find out what it takes to grow 80-100 bushel soybeans!

Join us for our 80-100 bushel soybean meeting.

Dan Bjorklund, MaxYield Seed Team Leader, will be presenting high-yield management strategies to consider this growing season.

Monday, March 18th
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

MaxYield’s Tire & Auto Service Center – Meeting Room

310 4th Ave. NE
West Bend, IA

Join us for pie and coffee and high-yield management strategies!

Contact your MaxYield agronomy specialist or Mike Hommez at 712-260-4491, mhommez@maxyieldseed.com for more information

MaxYield Cooperative Announces Fiscal 2018 Results

WEST BEND, IA, – MaxYield Cooperative® recently announced its fiscal results, for the year ending July 31, 2018. The board of directors for MaxYield reviewed and approved the financial audit at their board meeting, held August 23.

“The recently completed year-end showed solid earnings and financial results in a continued challenging agricultural environment,” stated MaxYield CEO Keith Heim. “We had a strong fall 2017 season and even with a very difficult spring, in which some crop inputs and nutrients were simply not applied, seed, crop nutrient and crop protection margins in total were higher than the previous fiscal year.”

Heim added that other noteworthy accomplishments included strong grain drying revenues, increased propane gallons, solid energy margins, plus increased transportation, SciMax Solutions and feed revenues. “Our emphasis on expense control, plus improved grain margins in 2018 also helped us achieve strong fiscal results,” he added.

MaxYield Cooperative’s Local Savings from Operations for the 2017-2018 fiscal year were $1,593,687, and pre-tax Total Savings for the cooperative totaled nearly $4.9 million.

Heim noted that the cooperative continues to build its balance sheet. “This is arguably the strongest balance sheet in our cooperative’s history. Term debt was reduced by $4.4 million, member’s equity increased and we added $3.0 million to working capital in 2018. MaxYield also increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $52 million. In 1997, retained savings were ($122,242), so you can see we continue to make significant progress in strengthening the financial position of MaxYield. We have been and will continue to focus on enhancing revenue and decreasing expenses in this tight economic environment,” he added.

The cooperative’s annual meeting is December 10, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Britt Community Center, located in Britt, IA.

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 24 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for two Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at www.MaxYieldCoop.com and www.FromTheField.com.

Dayton Brugman, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

In some ways, interning at MaxYield was like coming home for Dayton Brugman. Not only was he back in northwest Iowa close to his hometown, but his internship has allowed him to learn even more about local agriculture.

“I’ve grown up around MaxYield and heard about how good their internships are,” said Brugman, 19, a 2017 Clay Central Everly High School graduate who is studying ag business at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny. “I worked in Dickens at the chemical facility and at the seed warehouse in Spencer this spring. Treating seed and learning about the different types of seed really sparked my interest in agronomy.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a corn and soybean farm near Peterson, so ag has been part of my life from the beginning. I like it and try to stay connected to farming no matter where I’m at. In the fall, I work for a farmer near Ankeny and run the combine for him.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: I got an early start on my internship since I started here in March 2018. With a MaxYield internship you learn the foundations of agronomy from the roots up. I’ve learned a lot by participating in MaxYield’s plot days, where you learn from MaxYield’s team and speakers from WinField.

I was based out of Everly but had the chance to go all over MaxYield’s trade territory. I got into soil sampling, crop scouting and tissue sampling. While there’s a push on getting the work done, MaxYield always emphasizes learning. It’s not just busy work. The team is also fun to work with.

I’d definitely recommend a MaxYield internship. It’s so much different than writing answers on a test at college. It’s a lot easier to grasp these concepts in the field.

Q: How have you benefited by having Mason Mentink as your mentor at MaxYield?

A: Mason is very knowledgeable about agronomy. He’s always fun to talk to and is good with the clients. His ability to communicate with them is impressive because he knows how to adapt to different personalities. He knows what each client expects of MaxYield and works hard to serve them.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  After I graduate from DMACC, I plan to transfer to ISU in the fall of 2019. I’m undecided about what I want to do at ISU and in my career, but my MaxYield internship is helping me find out what interests me. I know I want to stay in Iowa after college. I’d like to come back to northwest Iowa, because I’m interested in production ag and running our family’s farm.

Editor’s note: Brugman appreciated the chance to have an internship close to home, since he raises show pigs. These pigs have won top honors at the Clay County Fair and have competed in shows including the Iowa State Fair, the World Pork Expo and the Arizona National in Phoenix. Raising pigs is a family affair for Brugman, his parents (Dan and Darcy), his younger brother, Davin, and his younger sister, Dalayna. In his free time, Brugman also enjoys watching sports, including the Minnesota Vikings, ISU men’s basketball and the Washington Capitals ice hockey team. He’s also a fan of the Stanley Cup finals.

Cody Tjossem, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

Cody Tjossem doesn’t settle for average. Instead of just one major, he decided to pursue two majors at ISU.

“I looked into accounting but decided that was kind of boring,” said Tjossem, 19, a sophomore who is majoring in ag business and supply chain management. “I was more interested in business and chose supply chain management because I like how it’s focused on doing things as efficiently as possible.”

When it was time to look for a summer internship, this ambitious, 2017 South O’Brien High School graduate was already familiar with MaxYield. “My brother, Brian, used to be an applicator for MaxYield, and he always had great things to say about the company,” said Tjossem, who visited with the MaxYield team at the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Day.

The more he learned about MaxYield, the more he liked the internship program and MaxYield’s core values. “Going into this, I wanted to be able to say I worked hard and got lots of experience here,” Tjossem said. “It’s important to get involved as much as you can, especially leadership positions, and get a lot of life experience.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: My parents, Vernon and De Ann Tjossem, farm near Sutherland and Royal and raise corn and soybeans. I like growing things and enjoy making new things. That’s what a lot of farming is. You put a seed in the ground and see if you can grow it into a good yield.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: While it’s hard to stay busy at some agronomy internships, there’s lots of hands-on training in the field at MaxYield. To actually be able to see and touch the things you’re learning about is great, because it’s nothing like just reading a textbook.

We do tissue sampling early in the week, soil sampling and crop scouting. I also want to learn more about machinery and equipment, and you need a strong base in agronomy to make the most of technology. MaxYield’s team members are always willing to help me learn.

I know the work we’re doing matters because MaxYield’s clients want us to help them learn how to grow better crops.

Q: How have you benefited by having Brian Cable and Megan Phelan as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Brian is very personable and has introduced me to clients and the various MaxYield team members in the area. This made me feel welcome at MaxYield. I’ve also appreciated all the hands-on experience Megan has given me with tissue sampling and other projects. She’s a good teacher.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d prefer to stay in Iowa, but I’ll go where the jobs are.

 Editor’s note: Tjossem likes to be outside, spending time with family and friends, golfing and boating at the lake. He’s involved in ISU’s Ag Business Club, which invites guest speakers to campus to share their stories of business ownership and offer tips on how to succeed in business.

Jason Hinkeldey, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

When he was looking for a summer internship, Jason Hinkeldey didn’t have to look too far from home.

“MaxYield has a good reputation,” said Hinkeldey, 19, a sophomore at South Dakota State University who is majoring in ag business with a minor in agronomy and agricultural marketing.

He became even more confident after he watched YouTube videos of previous MaxYield interns and read their stories. “I knew I’d learn a lot with a MaxYield internship.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a row-crop farm near Alta, Iowa, and want to go into production agriculture.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: It has been quite a trying year due to the weather, but that has also helped me learn a lot about agronomy. My goal for my MaxYield internship has been to gain more knowledge about variable-rate planting and precision ag. I enjoyed going to MaxYield’s test plot near Algona, where we learned about hybrid selection, crop growth staging, weed identification and nutrient deficiencies in plants. Dan Bjorkland, MaxYield’s seed team leader, is a wealth of knowledge.

I learn best with hands-on experiences, because I retain more information that way. I’ve also liked getting to know the MaxYield team. They’re ready to lend a helping hand whenever you need it.

Q: How have you benefited by having Amanda Pederson and Chris Warren as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Amanda is very knowledgeable and has taught me a lot about crop disease identification and modes of action with various crop protection products. I’ve also worked with Chris Warren with SciMax Solutions, who has taught me a lot about variable-rate technology and precision planting.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’m a fifth-generation farmer and want to return home to farm full-time.

Editor’s note: Hinkeldey enjoys watching sports and cheers for the Iowa State University Cyclones.

Tyler Hoffman, crop scouting/soil sampling intern

You just never know where you’ll come across a great opportunity. Just ask Tyler Hoffman.

“I want to learn more about the business side of ag,” said Hoffman, 21, a junior who is majoring in ag business with a minor in agronomy at ISU. “When my mom was at a women-in-ag seminar, she talked to someone from MaxYield who encouraged me to meet with Chad Meyer at ISU’s ag career day last fall.”

Hoffman, who grew up on a farm near Graettinger, started asking his buddies what they knew about MaxYield. He checked in with Costas Hatzipavlides, a fellow ISU student who completed a soil sampling/crop scouting internship in 2017 at MaxYield.

“Costas has a lot of good things to say about MaxYield, so I decided I wanted to intern here, too,” Hoffman said.

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I’ve been around ag my whole life. My parents, Duane and Kimberly, raise corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs near Graettinger. I also like working with growers. I can relate to them, since I grew up on a farm.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield internship?

A: I wanted to become more comfortable talking to growers and have intelligent conversations with them about their unique needs and solutions for their acres. It has helped a lot to learn the basics from soil sampling to crop scouting. This gives me the chance to talk to farmers about everything from switching maturity dates on corn to deciding what needs to be sprayed.

I also like visiting MaxYield’s test plots, where we discuss a lot of different agronomy topics. I learn new things and bounce ideas off my dad.  I’ve learned a lot more this summer through my MaxYield internship than I have in some of my ag classes at college. I appreciate this internship, because it’s hands-on. That makes it a lot easier to grasp the information I’m learning.

Q: How have you benefited by having Levi Quayle and Matt Keel as your mentors at MaxYield?

A: Levi is easy to talk to. I’ve learned a lot from him about weed identification and what crop protection products to use. I like working with Matt, too, because he’s also easy to talk to and is fun to be around.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d like to stay in Iowa and am open to opportunities. I’ve gotten more interested in the agronomy side of the business through this internship. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t have an interest in agronomy until they have a MaxYield internship. I’m just scratching the surface with what I’ve learned this summer and want to keep learning about agronomy.

Editor’s note: When Hoffman isn’t working or studying, he enjoys working out at the gym, watching Netflix and spending time with his family and friends.

Katie Decker, communications intern

If Katie Decker puts her mind to something, there’s no stopping her. When a friend needed someone to take his senior pictures in high school, Decker handled the job. Even though she was a junior in high school at the time, she did her homework, learned from professional photographers on YouTube and practiced—a lot.

Decker used this same approach when she was selecting an internship. “I was really determined to get an internship this summer,” said Decker, 20, of Rockwell City, who is an ISU sophomore majoring in ag communications. “I did a lot of homework about various companies before the ISU ag career fair. MaxYield stood out because it has such an established, clear-cut internship program.”

Even so, not everyone in Decker’s family thought this internship would be exceptional. “When my grandparents heard I’d be working for a co-op, they thought I’d probably have to run the scale and mow the lawn,” Decker said. “It’s not like that at all. It’s a continuous learning process and great leadership development opportunity here.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?

A: I grew up on a farm near Rockwell City, where my family runs Farmers Best Popcorn. My great-grandfather started Farmers Best as a livestock feed business. My summer job was to go to stores and hand out samples of popcorn and stock the shelves. When I was on my own, I had to step up to the plate. I also found out I liked working in ag.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield communications internship?

A: I’m interested in photography and design, so my goals were to enhance my video production skills and learn from Greg Latza, the professional photographer who works with MaxYield. I also wanted to learn more about the cooperative system and discover how everything comes together to create a successful business.

While I knew about co-ops from growing up on a farm, I never realized how multi-faceted a co-op like MaxYield is. I was surprised by all the different jobs, including Patti Guenther’s role as education team leader.

I’ve liked the work setting here and the way MaxYield focuses on the team. I’ve enjoyed creating training and intern feature videos for MaxYield’s YouTube channel and have liked working on MaxYield’s tractor calendar.

I’ve also liked the field trips, including the chance to work with PSI Printing in Fort Dodge to discuss design ideas for MaxYield’s calendar. I’ve also visited the communications team at CHS in Inver Grove Heights, MN and Paulsen Marketing, the agency in Sioux Falls that designs MaxYield’s magazine.

Q: How have you benefited by having Chad Meyer as your mentor at MaxYield?

A: Chad has worked really hard to involve me in as many things as he can. He prioritizes my career goals around my internship goals.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A:  I’d like to stay in Iowa, because I love it here. I’d also like a job that has a lot of variety every day. Since I’ve already started a photography business, I’ve seen how I can do what I love and live where I want to live, right here in rural Iowa.

Editor’s note: Decker, a former FFA member, is now a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) at ISU. During her second semester of college, she served as a secretary for Sen. Dan Zumbach, who chaired the Senate Ag Committee in the Iowa Senate. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time at Twin Lakes with her family, and her Golden Retriever, Snickers, and building her photography business.