Federated Co-ops Ag News

  • No Such Thing as Too Much Safety

    Tom Rausch, Federated's safety director, reminds everyone that farm accidents are usually avoidable with a little extra care, and proper attention to equipment and the people who use it.

    Stay aware, and use this simple checklist throughout the growing season.

    • Is all farm equipment in proper working order, with all parts properly secured?
    • Are machinery safety guards and other protective features kept in place?
    • Is equipment turned off, hydraulics lowered, and keys removed before leaving equipment unattended?
    • Is proper eyewear worn when working on equipment?
    • Is loose clothing removed or tucked in securely when approaching any moving parts on machinery?
    • Are product labels intact - and read before use?
    • Are chemicals locked up and out of reach of children?
    • Are children kept away from tractors and machinery and not allowed to operate or ride as passengers on any equipment?
    • Are equipment operators - growers, family members, hired hands - getting enough sleep so they are alert on the job?
    • Is there a plan in place in case of accidents or injury - who to call, etc.?

    Federated looks forward to serving growers all the way to harvest!  Safety is no accident.

  • Nutrition is Essential. MicroEssentials Makes it Easy.

    Crop nutrition is made easier with MicroEssentials. "Everything is all in one pellet," said Ron Paulson, manager of Federated's Isanti location. MicroEssentials, by Mosaic, is a starter fertilizer that combines all the nutrients in one granule -- which, as Paulson put it, "is the whole deal that delivers uniform nutrient distribution."

    The traditional method of adding sulfur, phosphorous, and zinc to starter fertilizer doesn't ensure that nutrients are evenly spread across the field, but MicroEssentials solves that problem with a patented Fusion technology (see video below).

    MicroEssentials contains 12% nitrogen, 40% phosphorus, 10% sulfur, and 1% zinc. It includes two forms of sulfur, both the quick-acting sulfate that plants need early, and the long-lasting elemental sulfur that won't be gone with the first heavy rains (especially in sandy soils).

    Paulson noted that "MicroEssentials offers a yield advantage, too," based on field testing. It's crop nutrition for the 21st century that works. Contact your Federated Agronomist to learn more.

    See video
  • Healthy Soil, Healthy Yields

    Many agronomy publications talk about soil health, fertility, soil management, and natural additives to improve soil health," said Craig Gustafson, Federated's eastern division agronomy manager, but what is healthy soil?

    To understand what makes soil healthy, it's necessary to understand what destroys soil health. "That could be a long list of possibilities," said Gustafson, and he went on to describe what can improve soil health:

    1. Tillage. While working the soil is important, don't overwork it. Multiple tillage trips across the field in the spring disrupts soil microbes. These are living organisms that make nutrients available to your crop, which translates into yield. Overworking the soil also increases the possibility of erosion and soil loss, reduces water holding capacity, and increases the possibility of compaction.
    2. Soil Acidity (or pH). Acidic soils are like battery acid; living organisms cannot survive inside a battery. Such is your soil; beneficial soil microbes cannot survive in acidic soil conditions. The loss of soil microbes means a loss of the natural mode of transportation for crop nutrients to the plant roots. When this take place, soil health is reduced and so is yield. The addition of a high-quality ag lime will sweeten the soil.

    Soil health is measured through a soil health test. Gustafson offered an example from his own farm in Osceola, WI. He pulled a five-acre composite soil sample in the fall of 2015. "The last time this field was tilled was 1999, and it has been in a corn and soybean rotation. [The soil health test] looks just like a normal soil test with the addition of what is called a Soil BRAN test. This is the measurement of biological respiration and nitrification." (See attached soil health assessment from Midwest Laboratories.)

    So then, Gustafson mused, "What do I do with the information? Great question." He continued, "Soil health testing is relatively a new tool in the tool box, and we are still learning how to interpret the results. Next step would be to resample this area in the fall of 2018 and compare." Healthy soil is undeniably the best soil.

    For further information regarding soil health, contact your nearest Federated Agronomist and discuss crop management options to improve soil health.

    "And," Gustafson added, "think safety this spring as the planting season arrives." 

  • Evaluate Alfalfa Stands Early

    Getting out in the alfalfa fields early offers the best opportunity to evaluate the stand. Look for winterkill now so that remedies can be put in place yet this spring.

    Duane Droogsma, Federated Agronomist at the Rush City location, defined how to evaluate the stand:

    • Are there at least five healthy plants per square foot?
    • Are there 10-15 healthy shoots or buds per plant?
    • Dig down; do the roots look healthy? (Roots that are gray and water-soaked, or brown, dehydrated, and stringy are indicators of winter kill.)

    If 50% or more of a field shows signs of damage, it's time to discuss remedies, such as rotating into corn or soybeans. And, whether damaged or healthy, it's important to fertilizer alfalfa annually with potash (boron and some form of sulfur), Droogsma said.

    Talk to your Federated Agronomist with any alfalfa questions or concerns. View this fact sheet for additional info.


  • Call Ahead for Seed Treatment

    Federated's state-of-the-art seed treatment facility in Ogilvie is up and running with:

    • storage space for 14,000 units of soybeans;
    • the ability to treat seed with two products without down time for line changes or cleaning;
    • two bulk delivery trucks ready to head to the farms.

    From the grower's end, one simple phone call will help the process -- and, ideally, that call will be made within 48 hours of need. "If we are given notice in advance, we can have the seed there [on their farm], treated, and ready to go out when they need it. [Growers] can transition from corn to beans, or variety to variety, without having to wait on us," said Cody Lezer, Federated's central warehouse manager at Ogilvie.

    Contact your Federated Agronomist with seed orders -- and seed treatment needs -- to help us help you in the timeliest and most efficient manner. "It will be easier . . . to make plans and have a successful spring," said Lezer. 

  • Planning Ahead for a Smooth Spring . . . Now!

    Planning for Spring -- which means now -- is more than just an exercise. Good plans are the basis for a strong start to the new growing season.

    Ryan Peterson, custom application manager, and Tim Stelter, location manager, both at Federated's Osceola site, reiterated the need for communication between growers and Federated agronomy team. Federated needs to hear from you now, before the rush hits.

    So just what does Federated need from you?

    • Product Service Policy for 2017. Even if you had one last year, you need a newly signed document on file with Federated for this calendar year.
    • Field maps. Properly labeled and named, your
      field maps should be on file with Federated to make it easier for get applicators to your fields, the right fields. Bring the maps in now (or send e-files if you have them) and ensure they are updated: Did you change anything, pick up new ground, etc.? Federated uses the Surety mapping program (see photo) and would be happy to help you get your fields set up in the system.
    • Orders. If you know what you need (seed, fertilizer, chemicals), order it now, and we will work with you on delivery, application, etc. when the time arrives. We have many customers to service, and we want to service you all well.
      • For last minute fertilizer orders, remember that earlier in the day is best, when the truck drivers are still mapping their daily routes.
      • Weekends are a challenge for everyone. We are on board every day in the busiest weeks of planting, but weekend staff often gets stretched to the limit. Please work with us as we work with you.
    • A valid pesticide applicator certification license. You must present it every time you order or pick up crop protection products (this is state law). You might want to store your license in your pick-up's console!

    Finally, as things get busy in season, Peterson pointed out that contacting your agronomist to place an order is not the best option. Call your local Federated location; the office staff is best equipped to handle ordering details. Of course, call your Federated Agronomist with crop-specific questions. 

    And, let's make it a safe, productive season.

  • Crop Nutrition: Best Practice, All Season Long

    When it comes to crop nutrition, said Rod Gustafson, Federated Agronomist at the Albertville location, "growers need to seriously look at the BMPs -- Best Management Practices." Those farming practices are the ones that are economically and environmentally sound, and backed by good research.

    "Growers need too look at the sources of nitrogen (N) they are putting down, and account for the nitrogen added [or removed] by the previous crop," said Gustafson.

    "Also take into account the nitrogen supplied through the manure [in the case of livestock producers]. And consider anything applied commercially, through starter fertilizer, for example," he said.

    As the season progresses, what's been figured out in the spring will determine what's needed throughout the season.

    For growers in medium to fine-textured soils, the trend has been to put on all the N pre-plant. However, the trend has moved toward split applications - 50% pre-plant and the balance as side dressing when the corn is about 12 in. tall. Crops in sandy soils have been following that practice all along, due to greater potential for leaching, but more and more growers are finding benefit in the split application.

    "Side dressing puts nitrogen down closer to the time when the crop needs it," said Gustafson.

    Protecting N with good products, such as SuperU (see article above), and using split applications play an important part in managing the total N. "Basically," said Gustafson, "make sure you take credit for the N that is there, and then add the proper amounts."

    These links from the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and from the University of Wisconsin offer good nitrogen articles, guidelines, and charts related to BMP and accounting for N levels. As always, talk to your Federated Agronomist for additional help with nitrogen management all season.

  • SuperU® Fits Well in Nitrogen Management

    "Growers should consider using SuperU® stabilized nitrogen as part of their nitrogen (N) management solution," said Brian DeVries, Federated's location manager at Ogilvie.

    DeVries continued, "SuperU is a granular urea fertilizer  that maintains a 46-0-0 analysis. It is a blue granule that is uniform for spreading and it is treated all the way through, not just a coating. It is soluble in water, identical to urea, and available to your crop once it is hydrolyzed."

    Super U:

    • contains a urease inhibitor (NBPT) to control volatilization losses for 10-14 days or more; 
    • contains a nitrification inhibitor (DCD) to reduce the potential for denitrification and leaching;
    • maintains a higher level of ammonium nitrogen (which is the positively charged and more stable form of N) for a longer period of time;
    • improves the potential for plants to feed on the ammonium. 

    These properties reduce N loss in a pre-plant application, but can also benefit the crop on light textured soils in a side-dress application. 

    DeVries pointed out that not only does SuperU reduce N loss into the environment, but it can add bushels to your crop with minimized N loss in the soil, and maximized yields at harvest.

    Contact your local Federated Agronomist to learn more about SuperU and how it can fit your 2017 nutrient management plans.

  • Proof of Certification Needed at Sale & Pick-Up

    Federated needs your help. Craig Gustafson, Federated's eastern division agronomy manager, explained the situation:

    If you do your own crop protection spraying, we need your help. In the past Federated was able to keep every grower's pesticide applicator certification license on file, which simplified the process of purchasing crop protection products from Federated.

    However, state regulations have become more stringent, which require the licensed individuals to show their applicator certification license at the point of sale (POS) for every "Restricted Use Pesticide" purchase.

    Gustafson added, "A valid license is also required to mix and apply crop protection products." 

    Customer service is one of Federated's primary goals, and by communicating the importance of these guidelines, Federated hopes to avoid any delays -- for all growers.

    Please remember:

    Bring your applicator certification license when you purchase or pick up crop protection products.

    Got questions? Call your Federated Agronomist.

  • Grower Workshops Wrap Up Successfully

    From the entire Federated Agronomy team, thank you for attending the 2017 Corn and Soybean Workshops. And thank you, too, for all the great reviews and positive feedback.

    Federated is more than just another ag supplier. Federated's ongoing goal is to provide current agronomic knowledge and Best Management Practices that will give growers the best return per acre.

    The agronomy team always welcomes grower input. Craig Gustafson, Federated's eastern agronomy division manager said, "If there are topics you would like us to address at future grower workshops, please send me an email and share your topic of interest."

    (If there's a topic that needs to be addressed sooner than later, we can address it in future editions of this Agronomy Update.)

    And, "thanks again for making our 2017 Grower Workshops a success," Gustafson said.