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Volume 17 Issue 3 May 2007


The soaring price of corn aptly illustrates what generations of farmers have faced daily in dealing with the vagaries of weather, soil conditions, topography, drainage, seed supply, fertilizer, insurance and the marketplace. While ethanol might be an intriguing hedge for some major operations, most farmers confront the singular task of getting the most out of every acre with every crop. Crop Quests Precision Ag Services is designed to help growers take the guesswork out of their farming efforts and maximize their productivity and profit. Crop Quest launched its Precision Ag Services in 1992 with Nathan Woydziak joining the team in 2000. We used a suite of software that back then had nice functionality and allowed us to talk with the controllers the field computers on the tractors, stated Woydziak, Precision Ag Specialist. In the last 15 years, technology has evolved tremendously, he points out, and that has allowed his group to provide farmers with a comprehensive analysis package. Precision Ag Services uses yield mapping, grid sampling, GPS (global positioning system) surveys and data collected from the controllers on the tractors, and integrates all the information into a complete analysis of the farms potential to get the most out of every acre as well as the most for every dollar spent on seed and fertilizer. Among the technology advances Woydziak refers to, GPS is one of the key developments. We can mark off areas that would be limiting overall yield, he says of the GPS that distinguishes terrain like hilltops and mud holes where productivity is likely to be lower. Additionally, Crop Quest recently broadened its capacity to provide greater levels of detail in its field imagery by teaming with John Deere Agri Services, utilizing its network of aerial photography and mobile camera equipment.
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efforts to apply new technologies available that make their farms even more productive. When things are going well, Woydziak notes, it is easier for them to say no or walk away from initiating practical, scientific techniques that will improve their yields and their margins. For example, with fertilizer prices going up, Precision Ag Services helps growers use fertilizer efficiently, placing it where its most effective instead of uniformly spreading it. On the flip side of the coin, however, when times are tough, many farmers do the same thing routinely cut back on services they should be taking advantage of. However, one grower in Stevens County, Kan., views such behavior as shortsighted. It is paramount that you use the kind of service Crop Quest offers to minimize expenses, Joel McClure emphasizes. The fourth-generation farmer raises sunflowers, corn, milo, soybeans (and has tried canola) on the land his great-grandfather homesteaded about 14 miles northwest of Hugoton, Kan. McClure, however, doesnt minimize the commitment required to get involved with such a strategy of analysis, planning and implementation. It is a big step, he says of the investment of time and money, as well as the intellectual exercise involved, and you need to understand the computer equipment, especially in this digital age. However, his experience with Precision Ag Services earned dividends, so to speak, within a year. McClure points out that Nathan and his team will work within his farms budget. My goal was to maximize the net dollars per acre from a lot of hilly, sandy, flood-irrigated land that had some potential, McClure explains.
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ision Ag









Farmers, in general, are enjoying a fair share of prosperity as the agricultural economy continues its upswing. Moreover, thats often when some tend to relax their
Crop Quest Perspectives 1






By: Dwight Koops Regional Vice President Ulysses, Kan. Late season weed pressure has become a major concern in corn fields across our territory. Palmer Amaranth, crabgrass, nightshade and velvetleaf are some of the main culprits that can cause yield loss and long-term weed pressure in our fields. The nightshade species is spreading rapidly west. For those who graze corn stalks after harvest, it is important to control this species since the plants berries can be toxic. Nightshade typically germinates later in the growing season, so most pre-plant and pre-emerge herbicide treatments have run their course before the nightshade emerges. Palmer Amaranth seems to germinate from early in the growing season until the day before harvest. Crop shading doesnt seem to stop this weed from growing rapidly throughout the growing season. Even the latest emerging plants will put on a seed head and produce viable seed. We can rely on our pre-emerge herbicides to be effective for the first three to six weeks of the season. After that, we may follow-up with a contact or very short residual post-emerge herbicide. In some

Layby Herbicides Pay Dividends

cases, this is an adequate herbicide program. For many fields, it is important to extend the weed control from the time the crop forms its canopy through grain fill. This is where a solid residual layby herbicide is necessary. Most of the layby treatments used have the same active ingredients as the pre-emerge products some are one in the same. Your Crop Quest agronomist will be able to help you choose the proper herbicide and rate for your situation. A good overall herbicide plan should include the layby application. Regardless if you are planting conventional corn hybrids or herbicide tolerant varieties, you should build a sound pre-emerge application and a layby application into the program. This planning will make your herbicide dollars go farther and allow you to manage overall weed control, instead of just addressing weed pressure when it occurs. Knowing the history of weed pressure in fields is also a key to the success of an overall weed control program. For the majority of the fields we manage, your agronomist has a good handle on the variety of weeds and pressure that each field has. This knowledge helps you, and your agronomist, build the best program for each of your fields. Weeds cause major yield loss if not managed properly. Make sure your fields stay weed-free later in the growing season with a layby treatment.

Precision Ag Services ... Continued from Page 1

As for Precision Ag Services, Woydziak stresses, Our goal is to customize a precise agriculture fit for the farm, preferably over several years. However, we can work with a years worth of yield data, and can start showing results within a year of implementing a program. If the farm can supply multiple years of data, Woydziak says Precision Ag Services can prepare a customized program for the grower in a matter of weeks.


According to Woydziak, how successful a program is for a particular farm also hinges on the character traits of the producer himself. Is he curious; does he like to look at information? Woydziak asks. Producers dont necessarily have to be hands-on in the collection and processing of the data, but the prosperous ones are concerned with the details. In 2005, after initially talking with Precision Ag Services, McClure recalls, my mind started formulating! Woydziak and McClure were in constant communication. We were either on the phone or sending e-mails or talking in the field, exchanging yield information, collecting zone samples, discussing the analyses and getting recommendations for program implementation and putting that information on the data cards we insert into the tractor controller. As a result, McClure has saved a lot of money in fertilizer and seed by rationing specific amounts of fertilizer in an area depending on its potential for high or low yields. There is no need to put in a heavy population of seed in an area of low potential, McClure says.
2 Crop Quest Perspectives

While McClure fits the profile of the inquisitive, engaged producer that Precision Ag Services likes to work with, he in turn appreciates the approach Woydziak takes in working with him. Besides explaining everything thoroughly, Nathan is good about planning, states McClure, and he has made me plan ahead. However, McClures bottom-line hasnt just benefited from developing the judicious purchasing and application patterns that Precision Ag Services designed for him. By becoming a better planner, McClure has made his entire operation more efficient. Once we get the whole plan together from Nathan, for example, McClure explains, I can give my fertilizer dealer a call and let him know whats going on in terms of time, place, crop and fertilizer. If he knows Im in one section at 5 a.m., then he knows I need to have the ammonia tanks filled in section 14 when I get there at noon. Thats one of the bonuses of working with Crop Quests Precision Ag Services: Everyone is in the loop, says McClure, not only my staff and the Crop Quest team, but my suppliers and dealers as well if I want them to be. When everyone is working on my plan, things just seem to work out better. In addition, this type of service is going to allow me to optimize inputs which should allow me to pull more money from my crops. In a year where corn is going to yield some excellent returns, I plan on taking full advantage of my yield potential.
Nathan Woydziak

Decision-Making And Planning

The first week of April brought all of us back to the reality and risks of farming as we saw low temperatures drop to levels that were capable of causing damage to many different crops across the nation, from flowers to fruit trees to small grains and forage crops. It is too early to know the full economic impact of the damage or if the crops will outgrow the effects of the injury. Most of us associated with farming have been on a real economic high as we have seen the price of grains and forages reach or maintain price levels that once again make farming an economically viable opportunity without having to depend on government payments as the primary source of economic stability. However, with the shock back to reality, it is important once again for farmers to recognize the necessity of using the services of others who can assist in helping make deciBy: Ron OHanlon, sions about President alternatives to Member, National Alliance a cropping plan of Independent Crop that is no longer Consultants, CPCC-I Certified functional. This may include Crop Quest agronomists, crop insurance agents, FSA people, lenders, landlords and others. The important thing is to get input and options from people who are not as emotionally involved when quick decisions involving a farmers livelihood must be made. When it comes to Mother Nature, farming is a high-risk venture. A producer needs a whole team of qualified individuals to increase the odds of achieving success.

More Crop Residue Brings More Rodents

As we continue to move toward less tillage and more crop residue left on the soil surface, we are seeing an increase in rodent populations. Rodents can increase dramatically in the absence of tillage. Without multiple tillage passes per season to disrupt their habitat, the number of rodents and other crop-destroying wildlife has really flourished, and this is causing a large problem in some fields. Although they have always been a problem in alfalfa fields, rodents are now becoming a problem in grain production fields as well. Rodents can destroy the crop stand with their feeding and burrowing activity, which is why their control is an important management issue. The first step to control rodent populations is to determine if you have a problem and identify what is causing it. There are two major groups of four-legged rodents: herbivores and carnivores. Mice, rats and gophers are mainly herbivores since they feed on seeds and plants. They will do most of their feeding above ground or by digging up newly planted seeds. Most of the damage they cause will be located close to the growing plants. To control these rodent pests, it will take a multi-faceted approach. Natural predators, like owls and hawks, can be very effective in controlling these animals. Providing places for these birds to perch

By: Jim Gleason Regional Vice President St. John, Kan.

is a good way to encourage them to visit your field. The rodents can hide from the birds of prey under the crop residue, so moving more of this residue away from the row at planting will allow the predators to have a better chance of seeing the mice and rats. This practice will enable predator birds to better protect your fields from rodent damage. Another approach is to put poison grain around the burrows or towns of the rats or gophers. A machine injects the grain, in small piles, into a tunnel that is created by the subsoiler. This technique has been used in alfalfa fields for a long time. If a machine is not available, a bait station could be placed by the tunnels as an alternative; however, this type of product needs to be covered to prevent desirable wildlife from ingesting it. If you discover digging damage and notice the damage is more random, the cause may be from skunks, moles or armadillos. These rodents are carnivores with their main food source being insects. They will dig for grubs, worms and other insects which may destroy the crops indirectly with their digging activity. If the varmints are attracted by insects, measures will need to be taken to eliminate the food source. Insecticides could be applied at planting time to control the soil-dwelling insects and to protect the young seedling plants. The field may need to be sprayed in the middle of the summer, as well, to prevent a continued buildup of insects. A strategy to manage or eliminate the food source would discourage the moles, skunks and armadillos from digging up the crops. The increased crop residue that is left on the soil surface in no-till and strip-till fields has proven advantages for crop production. It has also created an ideal environment for the wildlife which can wreck a crop stand. There have always been challenges in farming. This is just another challenge that will need to be managed.

Crop Quest Perspectives

Adds Specialists To Bolster Services

The challenge farmers face every day hasnt changed much from one generation to the next: Getting the most out of every acre no matter what the weather, land conditions or marketplace throws at them. The tools growers can use to get around these obstacles, however, have improved and the agronomic services available have become more sophisticated and precise. Crop Quests mission is to provide farmers not only with the most advanced agriculture technology, but also with the experts to help them implement the programs. In the last couple of months, Crop Quest has brought several agronomists on board to help farmers grow their crops and their businesses efficiently and more profitably. In March, Robert Gillespie joined Crop Quest as a specialist to further develop Precision Ag Services proprietary Paramount Reporting software system (the 2006 Agri-Business Product of the Year Runnerup), in addition to bolstering the companys tech support activities. Gillespie, a graduate of Texas Tech with an M.S. in agriculture economics, spent the last three years with the USDAs Agricultural Research Services in Texas. Among his new responsibilities with Crop Quest, Gillespie will oversee marketing and sales of the Paramount Reporting software. My experience in electronics and my knowledge of GIS (geographic information systems) should be a big help in mapping cropland potential, says Gillespie, referring to the detailed field imagery that GPS and aerial photography provide for analysis and planning. Gillespie will work out of the Crop Quest Dodge City headquarters.

Early in his career as a golf course superintendent, Brian Blide says he spent a lot of time trying to grow grass on the fairways and greens. Now as an agronomist covering the central Kansas territory for Crop Quest, Blide is trying to kill the grass and weeds that might be limiting the potential of farms to raise larger cash crops. He graduated from Fort Hays State in Kansas in 1993 and, after his stint in golf course development and maintenance, spent the last 9 years working on a farm. From that experience in farm operations, Blide knows the value agronomic services bring to farm production. Moreover, he says, Having worked on a production farm, I am not afraid of working long hours. When Matt Russell finishes a days work consulting on farms as a Crop Quest agronomist in eastern Kansas, he heads back to the farm his own where he raises a cow/calf herd of 45 head. Russell, who has an animal science degree from Kansas State, is actually rejoining Crop Quest after working there from 1998 to 2001. With his return, Russell brings additional agriculture experience from managing the row crops on a large cow/calf feedlot and farming operation in Berryton, Kan., and running a custom crop spraying service. His general understanding of row crops along with the overall experience he has acquired from his custom spraying and farming background will add value to the specialized agronomic services Crop Quest provides. Josh Sauer officially became part of the Crop Quest team at the beginning of the year after serving an internship in 2006 as he finished school at Colorado State. He is putting his soil and crop sciences degree to work in eastern Colorado as a consulting agronomist. Im soaking up everything I can, he stresses, indicating there is a lot to learn, as well, from the veteran farmers he visits. I come from a farm background, Sauer adds, so it is enjoyable to be able to apply the science I picked up in school and the technology Crop Quest has developed to help farms improve their yields and their business.

Robert Gillespie

Brian Blide

Matt Russell

Josh Sauer

Crop Quest is an employee-owned company dedicated to providing the highest quality agricultural services for each customer. The quest of our network of professionals is to practice integrity and innovation to ensure our services are economically and environmentally sound.

Mission Statement

Crop Quest Agronomic Services, Inc. Main Office: Phone 620.225.2233 Fax 620.225.3199 Internet:

Employee-Owned & Customer Driven


Crop Quest Board of Directors

President: Director: Director: Director: Director: Director: Ron OHanlon Jim Gleason Dwight Koops Cort Minor Chris McInteer Rob Benyshek