July 6, 2020

Meet Ben Buie, MaxYield’s New Grain Team Leader

What does a field of milo have to do with grain marketing at MaxYield Cooperative? A lot, now that Ben Buie has joined the company as the new grain team leader.

“I used to work for a feed processor in New Mexico, and the second year I was there, farmers had grown a beautiful crop of milo that was 4 feet tall, green and lush,” said Buie, who joined MaxYield in early September. “I started selling that crop, but then the weather turned hot and dry. When temperatures shot up to 110 degrees, farmers started cutting the milo for silage.”

The experience left a lasting impression on Buie, who has been working with Harry Bormann, MaxYield’s current grain team leader, to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.

“I learned you can’t always count on a crop in that part of the world, so you have to be lean and efficient to sustain your business. That really got drilled into me, along with the importance of not counting your crop before it’s in the bin.”

Buie brings a wealth of practical experience like this to MaxYield, thanks to his 22-year career in the grain industry. “I’ve worked from the Upper Midwest to the Southwest and have seen a lot of different ways of going about the grain business,” he said. “This has given me some unique perspectives into solutions for grain industry challenges.”  

Q: What’s your ag background?

A: Both of my parents grew up on farms, and I’ve been around agriculture my whole life. I grew up in Missouri and Illinois. My dad was a controller for a river terminal. I lived in bigger cities like Kansas City and small towns like Beardstown, Illinois.

Q: What do you enjoy about agriculture?

A: I love seeing the fertile ground and watching seeds transform into green crops that turn into the food we eat, the fuel we use in our vehicles and a thousand other products we all use every day. I love being a little part in a big system that creates things we need to survive and thrive.

Q: What’s your educational background?

A: I studied civil engineering early in my college career, since I like math and problem solving. I also like working with people, so I switched my major to economics. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Illinois in 1996. I later went back to school and earned my Master of Business Administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2001.

Q: Where has your career taken you?

A: After earning my economics degree, I took a job as a feed ingredient merchandiser for Garvey Processing, Inc. in St. Charles, Illinois. I also sold feed to customers in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Then the company transferred me to its New Mexico location, where I was a feed sales manager and grain originator. I moved to New Mexico in 1997 and lived in the Southwest for 13 years. Through 2006 I continued working for Garvey Processing in Portales, New Mexico, as a sales manager. That’s a big region for dairy production, and I enjoyed interacting with the dairy farmers, who are hard-working and family-oriented. After J. D. Heiskell & Co. (the fourth largest feed manufacturer in the United States) bought the feed facility in Portales, they moved the headquarters to Amarillo, Texas. I became J. D. Heiskell’s grain merchandising manager from 2006 to 2011.

Q: What brought you back to Iowa?
We wanted to be closer to our family in the Midwest. In 2012, I began a new role as grain division manager for ECI Cooperative based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I worked there six and a half years before coming to MaxYield.  

Q: What attracted you to MaxYield?
MaxYield has a great reputation in the ag industry. I knew some of the team members, since I had bought some Enogen® corn to go into our feed mill when I was at ECI Cooperative. MaxYield has great team members, financial strength to run the business the right way and the resources to grow.

Q: What do you value about the cooperative system?

A: I appreciate the co-op’s focus on its clients and the commitment to serve them. This includes sharing the financials. After working in private industry, it was a pretty big shock for me to walk into a co-op and see the financials sitting on the front counter. Private companies tend to be tight-lipped about how the business is doing financially.

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: Iowa farmers have integrity and take a lot of pride in how they do business. I look forward to serving our clients and building on the strong foundation that Harry Bormann maintained for years at MaxYield.

Editor’s note: Ben Buie and his wife, Stella, have two children, including Lucas, 17, and Moira, 15. Ben has coached many of his son’s youth sports teams, including soccer, basketball, flag football and baseball. Buie’s wife was a theater professor with a specialty in costume design, and daughter Moira is also interested in this area. In his free time, Buie enjoys reading, walking the family’s three dogs and cheering for the Fighting Illini.


Keith Heim, MaxYield CEO, on Ben Buie’s role 

“Ben grew up around this business, has grain trading experience, country grain elevator experience and has led some elevator expansion projects. The geographic diversity of his professional background is also good for MaxYield. There’s no doubt Ben will do an excellent job.”

Getting to the Root of the Matter: Avoid the #1 Mistake in Soybean Production

Were your soybean yields better in 2018 than 2017? If you weren’t pleased with this year’s results, it’s time to get to the root of the matter.

“This year was all about the roots,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader for MaxYield Cooperative.

Maybe it seemed like a good idea last spring to skip seed treatments on soybean seed or just use the bare minimum. But then the rain came—lots of it—in many parts of Iowa, especially regions of northern Iowa.

There was so much rain (and snow) across MaxYield’s trade territory this spring that a lot of soybeans didn’t get planted until late May, early June or later. As soon as the seeds started to germinate, the roots were under attack from diseases, including rhizoctonia root rot.

“Our area had nearly perfect conditions for rhizoctonia root rot this spring,” Bjorklund said. “It was driven by the extraordinarily warm May, as well as the wet conditions.”

When diseases like this take hold, the consequences can be severe. As the infection strips lateral roots from the plant, this slashes the soybeans’ ability to absorb vital nutrients and water.

Conditions never got easier for beans in MaxYield’s territory in 2018. The assault on the young roots continued into summer, since the crop spent most of June with wet feet. Some parts of MaxYield’s trade territory received 12 inches of rain in June alone, Bjorklund noted.

Saturated soils led to season-long challenges for the crop, especially if soybeans were planted with no seed treatment or had inadequate protection during the growing season.

“Think of the soybean plant as a factory,” Bjorklund said. “Roots are the underground ‘assembly line’ for the factory. If the roots shut down for any reason, this slows down the assembly line, which hurts the crop’s yield potential.”

Keep that factory running with seed treatments

Failing to protect those all-important roots is the #1 mistake a grower can make, Bjorklund added. In fact, more research is pointing to root health as the key to increasing crop productivity in the future.

Healthy roots lead to:

  • Protection against yield-robbing insects and diseases below the soil surface
  • More efficient water and nutrient uptake
  • The development of stronger stems and foliage that better withstand field stress loads generated by fungal diseases, nematodes, insects and adverse weather conditions
  • Protection of the crop’s genetic potential

Seed treatments offer a key resource to help keep the factory operating efficiently, Bjorklund noted. “Farmers who didn’t use seed treatment this year witness decreased yields.  Those who only used a basic seed treatment found out that often wasn’t enough in the conditions growers faced in our area.”

            There are a variety of seed treatments available to protect the crop and help it get off to a good start. Options can range from fungicide only to fungicide plus insecticide to fungicide plus insecticide and specialized treatments.

“This turned out to be the year that an inoculant would also have been good to add,” Bjorklund said. “Soybean inoculant will also be essential for good nodulation in 2019.”

The payback from the right seed treatment program can be significant, depending on soil conditions and disease levels. “If you’ve had sudden death syndrome (SDS) take out 10, 15 or 20 bushels per acre, it doesn’t take long to get a return on investment (ROI), as high as 5 to 1 with a seed treatment investment, depending on the severity of the disease conditions, Bjorklund said.”

Not all seed treatments are created equal

Thanks to advances in technology, seed treatments are no longer a commodity. Not all seed treatments are created equal.

 “Seed treatments are like cars,” Bjorklund said. “While a race car and an entry-level car might be painted alike, the differences become clear when you put them to the test on the race track.”

That’s why MaxYield is looking at new seed treatments with the active ingredient sedaxane, which was developed to control fungal diseases like rhizoctonia root rot. Protecting the roots with sedaxane helps combat yield-robbing rhizoctonia and optimize crop performance.

MaxYield is also assessing Tripidity, a seed treatment that first became available in 2017.  The product contains a specific ratio of key ingredients, including auxins that promote root growth. “MaxYield has Tripidity trials on both corn and soybeans. With soybeans, Tripidity can be paired with Heads Up®.  

Giving plants a helping hand when they’re building their root systems is also the goal of Heads Up®, a seed treatment we are evaluating, that helps germinating soybean seeds inhibit diseases like white mold by stimulating the plants’ own defense mechanisms.

Bjorklund recommends layering seed treatments, as needed, to manage field stress loads. “You can select seed treatments a la carte. Maybe you just want an inoculant and fungicide. Maybe you need to add ILeVO®, a seed treatment that offers effective protection against sudden death syndrome (SDS), or options to protect against nematodes in the seed zone.”

            MaxYield’s team members are ready to help you select the right combination of seed treatments for 2019. Building a better root system when the young soybean plants are most susceptible to diseases and other yield robbers pays off throughout the growing season, Bjorklund said.

“Pythium, phytophthora rhizoctonia, fusarium and other organisms have built up in the soil this year and are just waiting for the right environmental conditions to explode. Seed treatments will be essential in 2019 to help promote healthy roots and maximize yield potential.”

MaxYield Announces $1000 Ag Scholarships

MaxYield Cooperative announced recently details of their scholarship program for area college students and graduating high school seniors.  MaxYield will once again offer up to six $1000 scholarships to students who are in pursuit of a degree in agriculture.

“The purpose of the scholarship program is to encourage and provide financial assistance for area youth to pursue and prepare for careers in agriculture.” stated Chad Meyer, client relations/communications director for MaxYield.

Applications are available at area high schools, local community colleges, and any MaxYield Cooperative location.  New this year, the scholarship application form can be completed and submitted online. As a part of the application process, students must submit an essay entitled “Why I selected agriculture as my career.”

Meyer continued, “Often, MaxYield is the largest employer in many of our communities.  We feel we have an obligation to provide opportunities for our children to return to our local communities.  This is one avenue by which we can support that goal.”

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2018.

MaxYield Cooperative serves nearly 1700 members in 24 communities, with 210 team members.  For additional information on the MaxYield scholarship program, contact any MaxYield location.

To apply or for more information, head to https://www.maxyieldcoop.com/agscholarships.

Emmet County 4-H Membership Dues Decreased with Help from MaxYield

Morgan Matthews, Emmet County Youth Coordinator, accepts a contribution from MaxYield that will decrease the cost of 4-H membership in Emmet County. 

MaxYield Cooperative recently presented Emmet County Extension and Outreach with a contribution aimed at decreasing the cost of enrollment in 4-H youth programs.

“4-H has long been a key resource for youth development in our local communities, and clubs continue to offer high-quality educational programs. Making 4-H membership accessible to more families is important to MaxYield Cooperative. That’s why we contribute more than $13,000 to 4-H in seven northern Iowa counties annually,” said Chad Meyer, client relations/communications leader at MaxYield.

“We’re continuing our support of local 4-H and commitment to our youth,” said Meyer.  “Recently, we presented a contribution for $10 per 4-H member in Emmet County to decrease the cost of 4-H membership.”

MaxYield has two goals as it helps support 4-H. “First, we want to make 4-H an affordable youth program for local families, especially families that have multiple children enrolled,” Meyer said. “Second, by paying a portion of each 4-H member’s enrollment fee, we are able to continue our mission in supporting 4-H so that each member benefits.”

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

Grain Outlook Meetings Scheduled

The MaxYield Grain Team is dedicated to offering the latest in technology and solutions, all with the future of farming families in mind.

Join us for our Grain Marketing Outlook meetings, featuring Bruce Nelson, risk management expert at INTL FCStone.

January 16, 2019
9:00 -11:00 a.m.
The Shores
14 N. Lawler St.
Emmetsburg, IA

January 16, 2019
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Clay County Regional Events Center
800 W. 18th St.
Spencer, IA

January 17, 2019
9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Britt Community Center
170 Main Ave S
Britt, IA

Contact your nearest MaxYield location or Grain Solutions Team Member today for more details. See you there!

Harry Bormann Retires from MaxYield Cooperative

Harry Bormann, grain team leader based at MaxYield Cooperative’s West Bend corporate office, was recognized on December 19,2018 with a retirement coffee, honoring his 22 years of leadership at the local cooperative. His last day at MaxYield will be December 28. Ben Buie, who was announced as MaxYield’s next grain team leader in August, will replace Bormann.   

Bormann began his career at the Cylinder Co-op in 1974, promoted to general manager there at the age of 28 in 1982. After spending 22 years at Cylinder, he became MaxYield’s grain team leader in 1996.

During retirement, Bormann looks forward to spending more time with his family and grandchildren, in addition to hunting, fishing, and golfing.  

About MaxYield Cooperative MaxYield Cooperative is a 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

MaxYield Internships: What Are They All About?

Welcoming, fun environment, team oriented, like family, a great experience. These are just a few ways summer interns describe their experiences at MaxYield Cooperative. The internship program at MaxYield is to be commended for the hands-on experiences available to students, and the opportunities it opens for them. This summer, seven interns were hired in the areas of crop scouting and soil sampling, seed and agronomy sales, and communications and client relations. Each intern is assigned to one or two MaxYield team members who serve as their mentor throughout the internship. The mentorship program provides a look into the mentor’s job on a day-to-day basis, and the mentor’s role is to make sure the internship experience is unique to the student’s interests and goals.

The crop scout and soil sample internship at MaxYield is the perfect opportunity for students to learn the basics of agronomy. The crop scout and soil sample interns all agreed that a needed trait for the internship is a desire to work hard, but it doesn’t require a farm background. With the rainy weather this season, all of the interns spent quite a bit of time with their mentors learning about weed and pest identification. In the short spurts of dry weather, they were working hard taking grid soil samples. The soil samples are used for SciMax Solutions variable rate programs to determine where and how much fertilizer is needed in a particular field. Cody Tjossem expressed that he enjoyed that he stayed busy in his internship. Much of the work was very hand-on, and provided great learning experiences.

The seed and agronomy sales internship was also affected by the late spring and wet weather, but interns say it wasn’t necessarily a negative thing for them. Intern Leah Bunkers says she benefitted from the difficult weather because she didn’t miss out on the busy season that would’ve normally taken place before the start of the internship. She commented that these difficulties brought reality, and gave her a sense of what it would really be like to be in the business. Though it made for great learning experiences, the difficulties with weather gave the interns a taste of the stress that tough times put on farmers. Both of the seed and agronomy sales interns expressed the importance of keeping a positive attitude through these times, and always working hard to keep the client happy.

The communications and client relations internship is jam-packed with many different projects throughout the summer. A few of these include coordinating the antique tractor calendar, shooting and editing videos featuring MaxYield interns and team members, and creating marketing materials such as brochures and flyers. Intern Katie Decker added that her favorite part of the internship was job shadowing industry professionals and field trips to learn more about careers in the communications field. This internship is quite busy, but Katie commented that it’s important to effectively manage any down-time to plan ahead for projects. An intern in the communications and client relations position gains experience through practice in writing and editing. This internship is perfect for a student seeking to build their professional skills and define the areas of communication in which they would like to pursue moving forward.

Internships at MaxYield Cooperative stand out from others due to the real-world approach that encourages interns to think and act like full-time team members. The flexibility in creating an internship that is unique to each student allows interns to work with team members in various departments based on the types of things they’d like to learn more about. MaxYield truly lives out their motto, “We See More in Your Fields,” by viewing interns as the future, and investing in them to develop leaders in agriculture.


Tyler Hoffman: Soil Sample & Crop Scout Intern at MaxYield

Tyler Hoffman is not one to shy away from hard work. He’s definitely had to put this to the test this summer with short time frames to get the necessary work done as a soil sample/crop scout intern at MaxYield. From Graettinger, IA, Tyler grew up on a farm and will be a junior at Iowa State University majoring in agricultural business with a minor in agronomy. In his free time, Tyler enjoys watching Netflix, going to the gym and playing intramural sports at Iowa State.

Describe a typical day in your internship.

This year has been so different from most, so it has allowed me to do a greater variety of things within my internship than an intern might do on any other given year. When the weather is dry I’m out taking soil samples. During the wet weather this year I’ve been with my mentors, Matt Keel and Levi Quayle, doing things like crop scouting, checking weed pressure, talking to clients, and learning more about the seed sales side of the business.

What have you enjoyed about your internship?

I love being outside, and my soil sampling and crop scouting internship has allowed me to do that, weather permitting. I also enjoy talking with MaxYield clients, so when it’s too wet to soil sample I’ve enjoyed traveling with my mentors to meet with clients.

Would you recommend this internship to other students?

I would recommend the soil sampling/crop scouting internship to students looking for an internship that will give them a good foundation for a start in the agronomy field, or really any agriculture-related career.

Doreen Shaw Retires from MaxYield Cooperative

Frank Uhde, East area leader, presents Doreen Shaw with a retirement gift at an event held in her honor on July 20th at MaxYield’s Meservey location. Shaw served as Client Care Leader in Meservey for 37 years.

Shaw began her career at Farmers Co-op Service Center in Meservey in 1981 when it was owned by Klemme Co-op Grain. She became a part of the MaxYield team when the location was acquired in 2005.

Shaw looks forward to spending more time with family in her retirement.

President of Iowa State University Visits MaxYield Cooperative

On Wednesday, July 18, MaxYield hosted Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, President of Iowa State University, and Dr. John Lawrence, Vice President for Extension and Outreach. Chad Meyer, client relations/communications leader shared MaxYield’s mission of recruiting for internships and trainee positions on campus, and Harry Bormann, grain team leader discussed crop conditions in the territory and the impact of the farm economy on our communities. We appreciate their visit to MaxYield!