Managing nitrogen is an important part of maximizing corn yields. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
BOONE, IA. - The agriculture industry could soon see innovations in nutrient management products similar to those that have occurred in genetics and crop protection.
"We really feel like it's an exciting time for us. We've got a great portfolio of current products, and we feel like there is a lot of education we can do out there on getting on more untreated acres and teaching people about nitrogen management, but then also excited about really building a pretty robust R&D and agronomy function that's going to lead us to the next innovations in nutrient management," said Tom Snipes, vice president of commercial operations with Koch Agronomic Services, who was at this year's Farm Progress Show.
The company is a relatively new business within the industry. It began about two years ago and has focused on bringing together pieces including Georgia Pacific Plant Nutrition and the assets of Agrotain, International.
"We want to build a portfolio of products that really, whatever the nitrogen source or really even nutrient source, potentially, or application type, that we're going to be able to have a tool that's really going to allow that grower to keep that nitrogen in place and really maximize that investment," said Snipes.
Snipes recognized that a significant part of a producer's over all budget is nitrogen, and it is a key investment. The company is working on new enhancements like a dry formulation nitrogen stabilizer, and also looking at stabilizer technology and bringing new enhancements to the market. With the trend towards larger operations, Snipes said the industry needs to offer tools that will allow growers to cover more acres and get a higher degree of efficiency with nitrogen application. He encouraged producers to understand the science behind the product and look at university research in addition to talking with company representatives.
"Make sure you know what you're buying. Understand the mode of action," said Snipes. "This is actually kind of some complex science, in a way, and so people need to understand the specifics of that and get comfortable and go to that trusted, independent source," said Snipes.
The best known product right now from the company is Agrotain, which is a nitrogen stabilizer. It helps to offset some of the variations in weather and keeps the nitrogen in a usable form and in a usable place longer. Corn plants need 60 percent of the nitrogen starting at tassel.
"Technology like ours helps keep a lot more nitrogen at the root zone longer so it's available when the corn plant is calling for it," said Martin Case, regional sales manager for Koch Agronomic Services in Bloomington, Ill.
Case said farmers have seen a yield advantage as they offset some of the weather variations and fluctuations that they see every year in Illinois. A typical response is an 8-12 bushel per acre increase in corn production, although that probably wasn't the case in 2012 because of the severe drought in most areas.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at email@example.com.