Agtegra’s Innovation FieldFest Offers Educational Opportunities

Agtegra growers learned about agronomic concepts and featured precision technology from the cooperative at the 2018 Innovation FieldFest on September 6 near the Bath terminal.
“The Innovation Fieldfest is Agtegra’s opportunity to show our growers things we can do to integrate production economy with precision agriculture to help set their crops up for success during the 2019 growing season,” says Brad Ruden, Agtegra Manager of Agronomy Tech Service.
The FieldFest kicked off with a 30-minute panel discussion by Agtegra leadership, including:

  • Chris Pearson, CEO
  • Mike Nickolas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Grain Division
  • Tracy Linbo, Senior Vice President of Agronomy, Communications & Marketing
  • Jon Husk, COO

“The leaders of Agtegra talked about the state of the business in the cooperative and how things look for 2019,” Ruden says. A big point of discussion was looking at the upcoming harvest, and the cooperative’s efforts to position our facilities to serve our customer’s needs this season.
After the panel discussion, growers chose from one of five, 30-minute sessions, led by Agtegra sales agronomists:
Root pit—A chunk of the field was taken out so growers could look down under the crop and see how the settings on their planter impact the crop.
“This session has been very popular in the past,” Ruden says. “From a precision agriculture perspective, we like to show the effect that down force from the planter has and how speed settings can influence crop growth.”  Investing in improved downforce control on a planter can have a significant impact on root development and, ultimately, crop performance.
Planting speed—One of the sessions featured a demo with the newest planting equipment to help growers identify the optimal speed for planting while setting up their planter in the spring.
“As you increase speed, you increase productivity, but you reach a point where you cause seeds to not be placed properly,” Ruden says. “Avoiding skips and doubles is critical for optimizing maximum yield potential, especially with corn.”
Planting date study—This session discussed how planting date influences crop development and what happens if planting must happen later or even replanting is required.
“The study looked at corn and soybeans at three different planting dates, one early, one normal and one later in the season, and we found striking differences,” Ruden says. “We have a lot of flexibility to allow corn crops to mature adequately, even if we have to plant later, and still use a high yielding hybrid. There’s not a need to switch to a shorter season hybrid with a shorter maturity length, given short to moderate delays in planting date.”  The most interesting response was with soybeans”, Ruden notes.  Early planting, provided the soils allowed, showed marked gains in productivity compared to delayed plant dates.”
Starter fertilizers—Getting crops off to a good start requires adequate crop nutrition, which often includes  a starter fertilizer that’s placed across the entire field, so the fertilizer is applied directly under, beside or occasionally on top of the seed in the furrow.
“We looked at different starter fertilizers and featured some of the newer products,” says Ruden. “Agtegra is partnering with a manufacturer to produce our own fertilizer in the near future, so we wanted to show growers what’s coming from the cooperative to help crops get off to a good start.”
Nitrogen Management- The session covered managing agronomics to get the most efficient use of nutrients, including nitrogen. Agronomists discussed the method of splitting nitrogen application into multiple applications and how to do that most efficiently while considering environmental conditions and rates.  Agronomists also discussed protecting the nitrogen investment throughout the season.
Feed the bean—Soybeans are a critical crop for many growers, but often, growers tend not to provide adequate crop nutrition when growing beans compared to corn.
“Because soybeans are a legume, they fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere,” Ruden says. “However, university research has shown that there’s a gap between how much nitrogen the crop can produce and how much nitrogen is required for maximum yield.”
This session discussed ways for growers to meet that gap and provide soybeans with enough nutrition to gain maximum yield. Sulfur is also important for maximum soybean yield, and meeting the demand for this nutrient with available fertilizer was  also an important topic discussed.
Ruden adds that growers had time to participate in three of the five sessions offered, as well as time to visit with vendors whose products Agtegra offers to their farmer-members.