GROWMARK Part of ResponsibleAg

Wells_Rod5X7 copyThe first ResponsibleAg board of directors members were recently named and Rod Wells, manager of the plant food division of GROWMARK is one of nine.

Rod says it’s important for GROWMARK to be involved in this non-profit organization designed to work with retailers ensuring best practices are in place providing a safe product to the consumer.

“This is an industry led initiative,” said Rod. “We want to demonstrate that we are doing the right things, that we are operating safety, we’re complying with regulations, that we are accountable. We feel like ResponsibleAg is a very transparent way to show that we are committed, compliant, and safe operators in the communities that we serve.”

You can listen to my interview with Rod here: Interview with Rod Wells, GROWMARK

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced the board of directors for ResponsibleAg will meet next month to finalize bi-laws, an operating budget, elect officers and begin looking for a business manager to oversee the day to day operations of the new organization.

First ResponsibleAg Board of Directors Selected

responsibleagThe Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today announced the selection of individuals to serve on the newly formed ResponsibleAg Board of Directors.

The nine representatives include:
– Alicia Duke, Director, Health and Safety, Simplot
– Justin Gough, Director, Agricultural Products, LSB/El Dorado Chemical Company
– Dave Ito, Manager, Human Resources & Regulatory Affairs, Lyman/Tremont Group
– Pete Mutschler, Environmental and Safety Director, CHS Inc.
– Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President & COO, Brandt Consolidated, Inc.
– Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President, Public Affairs, CF Industries, Inc.
– Billy Pirkle, Sr. Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, Crop Production Services
– Scott Rawlins, Director, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs, Wilbur-Ellis Company
– Rod Wells, Manager, Plant Food Division, GROWMARK, Inc.

ResponsibleAg is an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.

“We are pleased to have named the representatives who will lead this groundbreaking safety and security initiative forward,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “I am confident the Board’s broad spectrum of knowledge and experience will contribute to the success of ResponsibleAg.”

“Engaging these key industry leaders is a critical step as ResponsibleAg continues to develop and evolve,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “We are privileged to have volunteers committed to making this initiative a success.”

The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting on May 5 at the offices of Asmark, Inc., in Owensboro, Ky. During its first meeting, the board will adopt ResponsibleAg bylaws, create an annual operating budget, elect officers and begin the selection process for a business manager to oversee day-to-day operations of ResponsibleAg. After the board meeting, the new directors will tour the auditor training facility site, which is also located in Owensboro.

Nominations Open for 2014 4R Advocate Program

4R_NutrientStewardship_largeThe Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently launched the 2014 4R Advocate Awards Program. They are calling for entires from retailers wishing to highlight the exceptional nutrient stewardship practices of their grower customers. The program is in it’s third year and recognizes farmers who are protecting the environment, boosting profitability and benefiting society through nutrient stewardship practices based on the 4R’s.

Use of the right nutrient source at the right time, at the right rate at the right time and in the right place.

“The farmers honored in the 4R Advocate program know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “This award program adds value to the 4R nutrient stewardship initiative by engaging growers and retailers with peers who can share their fertilizer best management practices success stories.”

The five winning growers will win a trip to Commodity Classic where they will see the latest agricultural innovations first-hand, meet other growers and agricultural leaders from across the county and will be honored at a banquet.

2013 4R Advocate winners Rick and Jesse Brunner, of Fifth Generation Farms, recently spoke about the importance of 4Rs in preserving their land for future generations. “The 4R program epitomizes our philosophy to farm management. We strive to improve our overall soil health, to limit our environmental impact, and to increase our profits while continuing the farm legacy we received.”

Entries are due by November 12. For a nomination form and more information on the 2014 4R Advocate Awards Program is available here. Winners will be announced in mid-December. For questions contact the TFI Director of Stewardship Programs, Lara Moody, by telephone at (202) 515-2721 or via e-mail at

Ferilizer Use Growing in Argentina

ifaj13-profetilFertilizer use is on the rise in Argentina, which is a major contributor to increasing yields in that country. We found out more about that during the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress in Argentina.

We visited Profertil, a joint venture with Canada’s Agrium and the nation’s largest fertilizer producer. “The use of fertilizer technology has improved a lot,” said Profertil commercial manager Pablo Pussetto. “More or less, 80% of all the urea consumed in Argentina is supplied by Profertil,” he said.

Argentine crop yields have doubled in the past two decades as fertilizer use has increased 10 fold with farmer education. “We cannot continue mining our soil to make our agricultural practice,” said Pussetto. “We need to replenish the nutrients in every system.”

The approach to farmers in Argentina is similar to the 4R message in the United States – the right source, the right rate, the right time, and the right place. “The concept is not to use a lot of fertilizer but to use the correct fertilizer, the correct amount of fertilizer in order to maximize not only economic value or yield but at the same time make your crop more sustainable,” Pussetto said.

Argentina supplies much of its own nitrogen and urea fertilizers, but needs to import phosphate from other countries, including the United States, as most of the soils in the major producing area are phosphate deficient. Interview with Profertil's Pablo Pussetto
2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Find Soil & Fertility Solutions at Calcium Products

fps-13-725-editedExhibits large and small flooded the 2013 Farm Progress Show in Illinois last week. Calcium Products was one of those booths you could visit and quickly have all your soil and fertility questions answered.

After talking with Craig Dick, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Calcium Products, I learned why they come to the largest out-door farm show and how they are helping farmers improve yields and solve their fertilizer needs.

“Calcium Products is a 26 year-old company. We produce the countries purest, most efficient pelletized gypsum and lime products, SuperCal S04 and SuperCal 98G. And we distribute the products all across North America.”

Calcium Products has recently redesigned their website, Now it is easier to find resources to help you optimize your soil and raise your bottom line. Find product information and custom calculators, agronomy research, stories of real results and much more.

Listen to my interview with Craig here: Interview with Craig Dick

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Growmark and New Holland

New CEO for Calcium Products Inc.

CalciumProducts4Calcium Products, Inc. has a new CEO.

Mike Hogan has been named to succeed founder Larry Moore, who grew the business into one of the largest producers of pelletized limestone and gypsum in the world. Moore plans to stay on with the company in a consulting capacity.

CPI_MPH_photo-1Hogan joins Calcium Products following a 24 year career with John Deere, where he was most recently the business director and factory manager for one of Deere’s tractor divisions in Augusta, Georgia. Previously he was the general manager for Deere’s sprayer business in the Netherlands and also managed certain tractor operations for Deere in Waterloo, Iowa. Hogan is an Iowa native and attended Iowa State University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago.

“Larry Moore has done an outstanding job of building a strong team and establishing Calcium Products as the market leader in pelletized limestone and gypsum,” Hogan said. “These innovative products improve crop yield and I’m excited to have the opportunity to lead the company into the future.”

Calcium Products recently opened a second plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa to meet increasing customer demand. The new plant complements the company’s existing operations in Fort Dodge as well as its pelletized limestone plant in Gilmore City, IA.

Nitrogen Loss Stinks at AMS

ams13-kochEveryone has experienced that nasty smell of a well-used porta potty on a hot day. Okay, so that’s what nitrogen loss smells like. Yuck.

Kerry Overton with Koch Agronomic Services was the guy who treated unsuspecting visitors to his booth at the Ag Media Summit InfoExpo to the “here, smell this” experience. Gotta tell you, it was gross, but it made the point.

The solution to nitrogen loss? AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer products. Find out more at

Watch the video and imagine the smell.

2013 Ag Media Summit Photo Album

Investing in Illinois Soil’s Wealth

ctic-13-jean-payne“The wealth of Illinois is in her soil, and her strength lies in its intelligent development.” That quote was from one of the first presidents of the University of Illinois almost 200 years, but attendees of the recent Conservation Technology Information Center tour in Livingston County, Ill., heard it reiterated by Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, who spoke at one of the tour dinners.

She says, while many recognize the need for good investment in that great natural resource, the recent economic troubles of Illinois has ended up cutting any state funding to nurture that investment. Rather than relying on the government, members of Jean’s group decided they’d take their own fate in their own hands and not be dragged down by what went on with the politicians.

“Are we going to let this tremendous [ag] industry get sucked down the vacuum that is becoming our state government? I said ‘No!’”

They went to other ag groups, including the Farm Bureau, corn and soybean growers, pork producers and Syngenta Crop Protection, and they were able to raise support for research. Eventually, they talked the Illinois legislature into letting them put together their own fertilizer checkoff that the groups, not the state, would manage. Now, they’re able to collect $2.5 million each year that they can use to be good stewards of the land.

“Despite the fact that we have a vacuum in our state government, I feel phenomenal about where our Illinois agriculture stands with our nutrient stewardship efforts. And it’s only going to get better,” Jean said.

She said they’ll need to keep working to educate people about the need for the checkoff and the dividends it pays on that investment.

“We have had to fight for this, [but] everything in life worth having is worth fighting for.”

Listen to Jean’s remarks to the CTIC group here: Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association

2013 Conservation in Action Tour Photo Album

New Ag Chem Company Launched

A new agriculture and chemical company has been formed to produce and market a next generation of urease inhibitor.

ecoagroEco Agro Resources was launched on May 1, with its patent-pending flagship product, N-Yield.

David McKnight, CEO states “Eco Agro Resources is made up of 30 team members with over 100 years of agriculture and chemical experience. We have multiple lab and manufacturing locations with a home base in High Point, NC. Our current chemical sales are projected to top $50 million USD annually, while our global presence and patent pending technologies continue to expand.”

Ray Perkins President of Sales says, “Our flagship product, N-YieldTM is an environmentally friendly nitrogen inhibitor solution that is used to treat urea and UAN based fertilizers to improve the retention of nitrogen content in soil. N-YieldTM can be used to coat either urea granules or can be mixed with ammonium nitrate (UAN) solutions and offers several advantages over the current brands available.”

Eco Agro ResourcesTM offers a strategic limited distribution business model as well as co-branding opportunities. We are a previous active ingredient supplier to leading urease inhibitor brands.

Nutrient Management with Late Planting

fieldwaterPlanting progress continues to be slowed by wet and cold weather in most of the major corn producing states.

According to USDA
, just 5% of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of Sunday, only a percentage point of difference compared to the previous week. Last year at this time, nearly half the crop was in the ground and normally at least 30% should be planted by now. All 18 major corn producing states are behind the five year average and five have nothing in the ground yet. Another half dozen have less than 3-4% planted.

grandinJohn Grandin, Senior Field Sales Agronomist at GROWMARK, Inc. says that while planting is definitely running behind normal in the Corn Belt, it’s nothing to worry about just yet.

“We’re not behind the eight ball as far as we’ve missed out on all the growing degree days,” said Grandin, who adds that field work is progressing in his area of Iowa.

Grandin stresses the importance of sticking with the original plan when it comes to nutrient management. “If the original plan calls for spring-applied anhydrous ammonia, then stick with spring-applied anhydrous ammonia,” he said.

However, Grandin points out the possibility of burning corn roots or even killing the seedling if application is followed too quickly by planting. “We can manage that by putting the anhydrous ammonia on at an angle to the direction of row planting,” he said. That will help decrease the possibility of free ammonia being trapped in the knife track as a result of wetter soils. “We don’t want to be planting directly on top of the anhydrous knife track for any length of row.”

Listen to this interview with Grandin to find out more: GROWMARK agronomist John Grandin

Mighty Mississippi Rolling Along

bargesAt the beginning of this year, closing the Mississippi River to barge traffic as a result of low water levels was a very real possibility, but that crisis has been averted thanks to some Army Corps of Engineers work.

“There was an emergency move by the Army Corps of Engineers to blast rocks out of the river floor at Thebes and Grant Tower, Illinois,” said Tracy Mack, director of bulk and packaged goods logistics for GROWMARK. “That added about two feet to the navigable channel between Memphis and St. Louis.”

gmk-mackThat project was complete by the beginning of February, sooner than expected, and some timely rains also helped. “Because of the recent rains and the forecast rain right now, we’re not in imminent danger of closure,” Tracy said. “It’s looking that we have enough water to get us through the month of March at least if drought continues.”

It was a different situation when Tracy was a guest on the AgFanatics podcast in early January so he is glad it has improved.

Listen to my interview with Tracy here: GROWMARK's Tracy Mack

Koch Agronomic Services Has Scientific Integrity

Greb Schwab AG CONNECT ExpoKoch Agronomic Services is on display here at AG CONNECT Expo. I visited with Greg Schwab, Director of Agronomy (seen on AgriTalk), to learn what he’s talking to farmer attendees about.

Greg says the company has grown tremendously in the last two years with multiple acquisitions to add to their product lineup. One of the key issues he’s talking to attendees about is nitrogen management. He’s also talking about the company commitment to “scientific integrity.” He says that they’ve been working with university researchers around the country to make sure the products they develop bring real value to producers that will help their bottom line.

You can listen to my interview with Greg here: Interview with Greg Schwab

2013 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album

GROWMARK Excited About N-Watch

Ag journalists on the GROWMARK media tour in Iowa last month had the chance to learn about N-Watch, which started this year as a small scale, pilot program by GROWMARK in partnership with FS Member Cooperatives.

The objectives of the program are to quantify the form of available, soil-applied nitrogen (N), where it is located, and what happens to the concentration of available N over time in the upper 0-12 and 12-24 inch profiles of the soil.

“We go out after harvest and take an inventory of plant available nitrogen,” explained GROWMARK Agronomy Services Manager Dr. Howard Brown. “Once we have that determination, we take composite samples after that every 2-4 weeks, track the nitrogen until it freezes, then after it thaws in the spring we’ll continue to pull the samples to see if the residual nitrogen is still there.”

Brown says it’s not an exact science, “but it’s a move in the right direction, this is what we need to be doing.” GROWMARK has over 45 sites in Illinois now and they are now moving in to new sites in Iowa, where we heard about the program last week during a GROWMARK media tour.

GROWMARK is so excited about the N-Watch concept that they want it to spread quickly. “We came up with the phrase (N-Watch) but we gave the license to the Illinois Council for Best Management Practices so that it can be utilized in the Midwest,” said Howard. “It would be great if everybody used N-Watch.”

Howard held a little impromptu news conference at the Machinery Shed in Des Moines to tell us all about N-Watch. Listen to Howard’s overview of N-Watch here and watch him in the video below: Dr. Howard Brown, GROWMARK

New GROWMARK Dry Terminal in Iowa

The first loads of fertilizer came in this week to test the new GROWMARK dry terminal in Stuart, Iowa but earlier this month I joined some of my fellow ag reporters in climbing to the top of the 15,500 ton facility. Notice it was all females – left to right, Rita Maloney of Illinois RFD Radio; Deanna Thomas of WMBD in Peoria; and Carrie Muehling of WJBC in Bloomington – with me. The guys on the trip declined to make the climb.

The facility will handle granular urea, monoammonium phosphate and white potash. It has capacity for 18 railcars with six 10 ton hoppers, five micro hoppers and a blending capacity of 300 tons per hour.

In the video below, GROWMARK Plant Food Operations Manager Brian Hundman provides a behind-the-scenes look at the new facility in its nearly complete stage. You can also check out photos from the media tour last week in the photo album and hear more about it in this month’s Precision Pays podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.

GROWMARK Iowa Media Tour Photos

Real Farms Show Real Results on Tour

One of the nicest things about trips such as the Indian Creek Watershed Project Field Tour is the chance to see real farms with real crops growing under real conditions. Chuck stopped at Marcus Maier’s farm in Illinois where they were showing split application of nitrogen on corn. Maier explained they’re trying to display how varying rates of nitrogen in particular areas and depths across a field can be effective and how it fits into the overall conservation theme.

“We’ve always done no-till beans and minimal-till for corn, so hopefully, this is just showing us some ways to fall apply and spring apply some nitrogen to take advantage of the product itself,” Maier said. He added this also cuts down on the amount of nitrogen that might leach into groundwater, showing good conservation practices in that sense.

Maier said this is the first year they are using AGROTAIN‘s SuperU product to control nitrogen loss. He’s looking forward to the results, especially since he’s heard from others that SuperU has increased yields by 20-30 bushels an acre.

Listen to more of Chuck’s interview with Marcus here: Interview with Marcus Maier

2012 Indian Creek Watershed Project Field Tour Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the CTIC Indian Creek Watershed Field Tour is sponsored by AGROTAIN

AGROTAIN SuperU to the Rescue

The extreme dry weather in the midwest was very evident at this week’s Indian Creek Watershed Project Field Tour. Out in the corn fields we had a nice breeze, but that breeze was blowing a lot of dust! On our first stop, Martin Case, AGROTAIN, was a presenter. This is the second year of this tour and we’ve gone from one weather extreme to the other. As Martin puts it, “We’ve got the tale of two years,” since last year’s weather was abnormally wet and this year is abnormally dry. Maybe comparing nitrogen use data for both those years will yield an average?

Martin says that AGROTAIN is trying to evaluate nitrogen stabilizer strategies in this project which can also be used in other areas of Illinois and beyond. It’s all about improving nitrogen use efficiency to not only increase the return on investment to the farmer but also to the environment. He says that last year they saw an extreme advantage to using their SuperU technology. Data for this year is not available yet. Listen to Martin explain more about the two technologies contained within SuperU in my interview with him: Interview with Martin Case

2012 Indian Creek Watershed Project Field Tour Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the CTIC Indian Creek Watershed Field Tour is sponsored by AGROTAIN

Total Grain and Fertilizer on Track

Total Grain Marketing (TGM) handled 70 million bushels of grain at its 31 locations in Illinois last year and this year is likely to be even more.

During the recent GROWMARK media tour, we visited TGM and South Central FS in Casey (that’s pronounced Cay-zee) and learned about that facility in particular which was created when the two entities joined in 2010 as part of the GROWMARK and FS member companies partnership that was started in 2006.

“We have an 8 million bushel elevator, it is on the CSX railroad, we are a 90 car unit train express load shipper, and handle about 16 million bushels of grain a year,” South Central FS CEO Randy Handel said. That express loading process can rival a pit stop in the Indy Car Series. “We have 15 hours from when the train comes to load it, grade it and put the train back together and have it ready for the CSX to take,” he says, noting that they can load 1,000 bushels a minute – or 90 cars in six hours or less.

Randy says the venture between South Central and TGM has been very successful. “It’s been a win-win for our local grain producer in that it has helped enhance their margin, it’s been profitable for us as a company, but we’re a local cooperative so in turn it’s profitable for our owners and members,” he said. Most of the grain goes to the southeast to the poultry market and ADM and Bungee on the bean market.

We also got to visit the brand new GROWMARK-owned fertilizer facility on the same site. “It is a 25,000 ton dry fertilizer blend facility and a 10,000 ton solution facility and this is the first spring we are using it,” Randy said. The fertilizer facility also benefits from being right on the rail line. “It’s a very good location being on the CSX track and it’s good sharing the resources with our grain elevator and it’s a very strategic location.”

Listen to my interview with Randy Handel here: South Central FS CEO Randy Handel

See more photos from the TGM visit here: GROWMARK 2012 Media Day

Stabilized Nitrogen For Faster Plant Start

The Director for Agronomy for Koch Agronomic Services, Greg Schwab, visited with me in the media room at Commodity Classic. Greg runs the company research program. He says they have twenty five land grant universities working on their products. He coordinates that effort.

Since it’s planting season I asked him what advice he has for growers. Greg says that with farmers managing larger amounts of land these days it is becoming increasingly important to get in the field to plant quickly and that the planting date means a lot in terms of final yield. He points to their AGROTAIN nitrogen stabilizer which allows a farmer to use a broadcast application of urea instead of a more traditional incorporated or injected application. The AGROTAIN treated urea prevents volatilization loss that would normally occur with surface applied urea. This means a faster start for plants. He says growers are also finding a split application helpful.

Listen to my interview with Greg here: Interview with Greg Schwab

2012 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Coverage of the 2012 Commodity Classic Show is sponsored by BASF and New Holland

GROWMARK Building Fertilizer Storage Facility in Iowa

GROWMARK is building a dry fertilizer storage facility at Stuart, Iowa that will have the capacity to hold 15,000 tons and will complement the acquisition of CF terminals made by GROWMARK in 2011.

Construction will begin in spring 2012 and completion is expected in fall 2012. The facility will have rail receiving capability from the Iowa Interstate Rail System which is looking forward to this new venture. “Our connections with all Class One rail carriers at multiple locations, along with access to the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, will help provide an enhanced alternative for transportation to this region,” said Carrie Evans, Iowa Interstate Railroad vice president of sales and marketing.

Local retailer AGRILAND FS, Inc. will conduct the day-to-day operational activities at the facility. “The location of the Stuart facility is a good fit for AGRILAND FS, and will save the cost of replacing a dry fertilizer building in Winterset,” added John Knobloch, AGRILAND FS general manager.

AGRILAND FS, Inc. is an agricultural based cooperative, headquartered in Winterset, Iowa. It provides ag-related inputs including feed, seed, plant food, crop protection, fuel, lubricants, and grain marketing services to farmers and rural residents in 38 southern Iowa counties.

AGROTAIN’s Tim Healey Wears Many Hats on CTIC Tour

Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) past chairman Tim Healey of AGROTAIN wore many hats during last week’s 2011 Conservation In Action Tour, including bus monitor, sponsor, interviewee and interviewer.

“We’ve been doing this for five years now and each year the conservation tour gets better,” Tim told me at the end of the tour in northwest Ohio. “We hear from farmers who are really dedicated to instituting conservation practices to make sure that the majority of nutrients they apply in the field stay in the field.”

Listen to my interview with Tim here: Tim Healey of AGROTAIN on CTIC Tour

The tour had a record number of participants this year, over 200, and many of them were farmers who had the chance to learn about conservation practices from other farmers. During time on the bus, Tim did an interview with one of the farmer participants, Gerald Heck of Monroe, Michigan.

Tim asked Gerry why he decided to come on the tour. “Couple of reasons,” Gerry answered. “The opportunity to gain more knowledge about conservation tillage and the six CCUs also were a nice incentive since I’m a CCA.” Gerry says he does use continuous no-till in some fields. “Started no-tilling back the late 80s, with soybeans, then wheat and finally corn, as the equipment became available,” he said. “We moved to no-till to save on fuel and wear and tear on our iron.”

Listen to Tim’s interview with Gerry here: Tim and Gerald Heck

CTIC 2011 Conservation in Action Tour Photos

AgWired coverage of the CTIC Indian Creek Watershed Field Tour is sponsored by AGROTAIN