Vice President of Agronomy Update

Dec 01, 2021

Vice President of Agronomy Update
Gaining efficiency to do more with less labor.
Supply chain issues continue to make doing business more eventful than the past, but we have been blessed with a good crop year overall for our area.  On July 27 and 28th, Paul Roemer from Fond du Lac, and Ryan Dubois from Wrightstown came with me to South Dakota to look at DOT.  This is Ravens autonomous sprayer.  The driver ran it from a control box like he was playing with his X-Box (I’m an Atari person). As we watched this demo, the field next to us had a combine, and the driver was perfecting getting the grain cart to come to him on demand.   Things we always dreamed about are starting to become reality.

On the way home, I received an email alert from our insurance company, warning us to put equipment away, and prepare for potentially damaging winds.  This was at 3 pm.  Those storms did not hit our area until 10 pm.  Our Ripon area received heavy damage.  Record crops were lost in a matter of minutes for some of our growers.  Today, we are just about finished repairing most of the damage to the roofs, siding and seed tanks. 
Country Visions Cooperative has been able to make good investments into your facilities in order to better serve you.  In 2021, we replaced the aging tower in Chilton with a new 150-ton tower.  The three ton HIM mixer with Kahler automation, allows us to select the batch and mix it in less than two minutes.  A process that used to take us 20 minutes, now can be done in 10. 

In Rockwood we are updating some of the liquid tanks, and increasing the liquid mixing capacity.  Speed with accuracy is required to meet the demands of today’s planting equipment. 

We are replacing two sprayers (Valders and Fond du Lac) for the upcoming spring and had replaced units in Wrightstown (Trident) and Rockwood (Patriot) last year.  We are replacing 90-foot booms with 120-foot booms, and adding technologies to improve our efficiency.  The 2021 weather cooperated with us like never before, allowing us to stay caught up for most of the year and it showed! In 2019, our best machines and applicators did 16,000 acres and 5 machine did over 14,000 acres of spraying.  In 2020, 15 sprayers did over 10,000 acres and 4 did over 15K along with 5 dry machines doing over 15,000 acres.  In 2021, 17 of our sprayers did over 10,000 acres, 5 did 15 k, and 2 did over 20K.  Eight of our dry machines did over 15 K, and 2 did over 20K.  In 3 years, we’ve been able to increase productivity, while also reducing our misapplication mistakes. 

In 2022, we plan to make more improvements.  We are going to add VSN Cameras to some of our row crop compatible units.  This will allow the machine to follow the row and reduce applicator fatigue, while being able to go 10% faster.  We are adding RTK auto shutoff to another 4 machines.  Imagine being able to drive through the grass waterways, and not having to make another headland.  Spraying into corners, and each nozzle shuts off, not just a 15-foot section.  These improvements come at a cost, but for your fields, and our employees, that investment is worth it.

In 2022, we will also be replacing the Ripon tower.  That will allow us to then support the Readfield area, as we look to replace the aging dry facilities and improve our speed of service in 2023 and beyond.  Towers and receiving equipment last 20 years, plants 40.  We know we still have needs to address, but we feel fortunate to have a loyal customer base, supporting us to help support you in growing your crop.
Looming retirements

As any business, we retired some very good people this past year, and have more coming in the near future.  Dennis Halbach and Curt Mayer were able to retire on their terms.  Soon, Jerry Schmitz, Sue Miller, Barb Freund, Jon (Jr.) Gumm, and Donald Dirkman will all retire from agronomy.  Their knowledge and experience will be missed.  I know we have great people stepping up to fill these roles, and will continue to take care of your needs.

Brian Madigan- VP of Agronomy 

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