November 30, 2020

Leveling the Playing Field: MaxYield Forms New Grower Learning Group

Dan Goemaat, left, discusses weed control strategies with Cody Ostendorf.

Dan Goemaat, left, discusses weed control strategies with Cody Ostendorf.

The boom times that transformed agriculture in the past few years encouraged many young adults to return home and farm. Many of these new farmers are finding out how steep the learning curve can be, however, especially with technology changing so fast.

“We’ve found that there are a lot of agronomic principles, new products, and technology that many farmers need to brush up on,” said Amanda Pederson, a MaxYield Cooperative agronomy specialist based in Algona. “We wanted to provide a solution.”

That’s why MaxYield created the New Grower Learning Group in June 2014. Growers throughout MaxYield’s trade territory with five or fewer years of farming experience are invited to attend. “We want to give them useful information and help level the playing field,” said Pederson, who coordinates the group’s quarterly meetings with Greg Sweeney, MaxYield’s seed team leader, and Cody Ostendorf, a MaxYield agronomy specialist.

In January, the New Grower Learning Group met in West Bend at MaxYield’s new Tires and Auto Service Center. Growers learned about in-season fertilizer options and side-dressing, crop protection strategies, and the importance of rotating modes of action to manage resistance. MaxYield CEO Keith Heim also detailed the benefits of cooperative membership.

In September, 30 growers met at the Britt Answer Plot®, where MaxYield team members challenged some myths regarding soil sampling, variable-rate technology, and other agronomy topics. Pederson was glad to see fathers attend with sons. “These sessions are something they can attend together, and discover new solutions for their farms.”

Becoming better stewards of the land
There is no fee to attend the meetings of the New Grower Learning Group, which are held in the early evening, usually last about an hour and a half, and include dinner. There are no sales pitches or pressure to do business with MaxYield. “We want to offer an open forum where people can network, learn, and open the lines of communication,” Pederson said.

Dan and Sara Goemaat of Belmond appreciate this opportunity. “While we’re the new kids on the block, it’s good to know we’re not the only ones,” Dan Goemaat said. “I like the informal setting where we get a refresher course in agronomy basics and learn from each other.”

The topics are timely, Sara Goemaat added. “When we talked about modes of action and herbicide resistance, it’s clear that the choices you make have a lasting impact. We want to use these technologies wisely and preserve their effectiveness.”

Pederson hopes to create New Grower Learning Groups in each of MaxYield’s three regions and reach out to more young farmers like the Goemaats. “Our goal is to help farmers have the best tools to be sustainable for the long-term and to be more profitable,” she said.

For more information on the New Grower Learning Group, contact Pederson at 712-260-1856.

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