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  • Last modified 191 days ago (June 7, 2017)

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Ag services abound in county

Staff writer

Agriculture is big business these days. Farmers have many more services available to them than a few decades ago.

Farm co-ops employ agronomists, seed salesmen, feed specialists, and others to assist producers in various ways.

Private companies and individual operators, as well as co-ops, provide custom application of fertilizer and chemicals. Co-ops rent fertilizer equipment.

Agronomists provide advice on crop inputs and crop management, including soil sampling and field scouting for signs of insects or disease.

Some who farm thousands of acres have their own equipment, such as planters, drills, and sprayers.

Equipment often has computer monitors that incorporate precision ag programs, which use GPS to place fertilizer in variable amounts throughout a field, as needed. Cooperative Grain and Supply has a machine that can variably apply three different fertilizers at the same time.

Application is based on what is called “grid sampling,” in which soil in every one or two acres is sampled and analyzed. An electronic map is created and placed in the machine’s computer.

Randy Eitzen of rural Hillsboro has his own equipment. Using a monitor in his combine, he can determine where soil needs extra fertilizer or other nutrients. The equipment records the yield as grain is harvested, so he notes where yield is lower than average. He goes back to those areas later and takes soil samples.

Ag Services analyzes the soil and tells Eitzen what it needs. He then applies more fertilizer in those areas when he plants his next crop.

“I don’t use computerized maps,” he said. “I just remember or write it down.”

When Eitzen suspects a disease or bug problem, he calls on Ag Services personnel to confirm it and advise him on how best to treat it.

Allen and Neal Hett of Marion have their own equipment and rely on services from Cooperative Grain.

A 135-acre field of corn was damaged by hail. Some plants were destroyed, but some are coming back. They called an agronomist from Cooperative Grain to check the field. He discovered that some plants showed signs of disease inside the stalks and recommended they spray the field with a fungicide, which they did.

The Hetts get all their chemicals from the co-op. They rely on the co-op to advise them what spray to use in various situations and what variety of seed to plant.

On some fields, the co-op creates a digital map that can be used with GPS equipment for applying anhydrous ammonia. The co-op uses the same map when it spreads dry fertilizer variably on their fields.

The brothers visit the co-op’s test plots to see which varieties yield the best.

Alan Hett was happy to see drier weather for a few days.

“We’re finally able to get going now,” he said Friday.

Agri Trails Co-op provides all services including custom planting, seeding, and spraying. A precision ag program is available.

Doug Dillon, who coordinates planting, was too busy to talk about it. After a relatively wet spring, the coop was taking advantage of dry weather to get as much done as possible before the next rain.

Last modified June 7, 2017

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