Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Engaging youth in agriculture

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Now that school is back in session, kids are being immersed in reading, science and math. Outside the classroom at the Kansas State Fair, children had the opportunity to experience first-hand the importance of agriculture.

Last Friday I had the chance to volunteer with the Kansas Beef Council (KBC) at Agriland. Agriland, an interactive exhibit in the Pride of Kansas building, provides youth and adults the opportunity to learn the importance of agriculture and the impact it has on their everyday lives.

Guests visiting Agriland traveled through learning areas for beef, dairy, soils, grains, stewardship and nutrition/dietary guidelines. In those areas we taught visitors about how crops and livestock provide us not only with food, but also with numerous products we use in our everyday lives—from basketballs to bubble gum. In the livestock area, fair goers took photos with the cutouts and weighed themselves on a scale, comparing themselves with the weights of a calf or a bushel of grain. In the grains area children immersed their hands in buckets of grain including corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, sunflowers and others. A favorite for the kids was the experience of "driving" a combine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Cooperative Advantage

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

There are reward cards and punch cards. You may have coupons or store cash but very few
MKC Field Marketer, Jared Jones, personally
delivers patronage checks to MKC members,
Jim Schmidt and Ben Schrag.
businesses offer an incentive quite like your cooperative. MKC returns profits to its customers, the members who use its services. That is the cooperative way of doing business.

“Doing business with MKC definitely has its rewards,” said Jim Schmidt, McPherson County producer. “Not only do we get quality and personal expertise, but facilities continue to be improved or new ones are being built, and at the end of the year we see a patronage check for our business.”

MKC Chief Financial Officer, Danny Posch, said we are often asked what does a cooperative do with its net earnings. “One of the primary uses is allocating a portion back to our members based on the business they did with the cooperative during the business year,” he said.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where Answers Grow

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

As crop values and input costs reach new heights, so does the value of solid, trusted agronomic advice. That’s exactly what MKC and WinField Solutions can provide.

MKC kicked off the 2013 Answer Plot season on July 16 near Inman with more than 125 guests in attendance. The hands-on experience of an Answer Plot® plus the expertise of MKC field staff equals valuable insights for the producer. 

“The Answer Plot® program has been one of the most beneficial learning tools for growers,” says Kent Nichols, MKC Agronomy Field Sales Manager.  “These in-field classrooms are much more than the traditional test plot that only compares one hybrid or variety to another.  Answer Plots are about a total agronomic system.”

WinField employees were an instrumental piece of making this year’s Answer Plot® a success.  In addition to coordinating the studies that are replicated in MKC’s local plot, WinField provided information to area producers in attendance. WinField employees kicked off the learning sessions by hosting a sprayer clinic for those present. 
MKC Field Marketer, Jeremy Peterson, explains how to get
the best coverage from sprayers by making the correct tip selection
and using the correct adjuvant package.

The sprayer clinic focused on many different aspects of both operating a sprayer as well as what types of adjuvants are available for both custom applied acres and those who spray their own fields. With new herbicide technologies coming soon, presenters illustrated different spray tips which are available. Many new herbicide technologies are requiring that producers and custom applicators use certain types of spray tips. Utilizing the correct spray tips in combination with recommended adjuvant products available from MKC, growers will be able to minimize chemical drift.

The field sales team of MKC also conducted a series of educational presentations.  Growers were split into three different groups and rotated through the different sessions. The first stop on the rotation focused on recent events which have occurred throughout the MKC trade territory, including Green Snap. MKC staff demonstrated the importance of large root systems in corn as well as other positive characteristics.  Examples of plant diseases were also presented, providing growers a better understanding of what to look for in their own fields.

The second rotation explained the NutriSolutions tools that are available to producers through WinField Solutions, LLC. NutriSolutions is a systems approach to nutrient management.  The main component of the NutriSolutions program utilizes tissue sampling, a process that utilizes plant tissue from different stages of a plant’s life cycle. This allows growers to make changes to a fertility program part way through a season, if the tissue sample shows that a plant is in need of additional nutrients. Moving forward, there will be additional tools available such as digital imaging as well as technology which allows growers to know exactly how much nutrients are available from the soil within a field.

The final stop at this session illustrated the differences between WinField’s Gold and Silver management practices. These different practices utilize multiple technologies such as seed treatments, in-furrow seed treatments, in-furrow growth promoters, as well as different levels of fertility.  Nichols stressed the importance of growers understanding the yield potential of their fields and managing it accordingly. 

“MKC field marketers are well versed and professionally trained in developing management practices which incorporate many different technologies,” Nichols said. “But there’s nothing like attending an Answer Plot® Knowledge Event, which is based on the idea that seeing is believing.”