Skip to content

Heartland Spotlight: John McGrath, Amana Farms Manager

Imagine a single farm that supplied an entire community with food…

From 1855 until 1932, a farm of that scope existed in Amana, Iowa. Today, that farm still stands, but the Amana Society’s way of life has changed such that it no longer relies on a single, communal farm for its food. For nearly eighty years, the German settlers of the Amana Society maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy, and at the same time the level of physical comfort, housing, possessions, and education were comparable to that enjoyed by the average middle-class American office workers, factory workers, and tradesmen of the time. Workers in the Amanas used hand, horse, wind, and water power, and they lived a sustainable community life. They produced everything they felt they needed for a good, honest life  there in Amana and its surrounding villages and farms. Today, Amana is  a major tourist attraction known mainly for its restaurants and craft shops. Amana Farms has also become a tourist attraction and works to help educate both agricultural and non-agricultural tourist groups that visit the area. A lot has changed at Amana Farms since its start in 1855, but the operation is just as unique today as it was more than 100 years ago.

John McGrath has been farming for 25 years.

Amana Farms Manager, John McGrath, has been working at Amana Farms for the past 20 years and has been the manager for five of those years. He started out working primarily with cattle and now enjoys a great deal of diversification in his job. For John, every day is different. With as diverse of an operation as Amana Farms is, it is easy to see why. The operation consists of 4,000 acres of corn, 2,500 acres of soybeans, 250 acres of wheat, a 2,400-head cow/calf herd, a 4,000-head cattle feed lot, a 7,000-acre forest (which is the largest privately held forest in Iowa), and an anaerobic digester that is set up at the cattle feedlot to generate electricity. The anaerobic digester produces methane gas which in turn is burned to generate electricity that is sold on the Amana grid to power the Amana colonies.

Part of the Amana Farms' operation is an anaerobic digester that produces methane gas. Pictured above is one of the bio-gas generators that burns methane to generate electricity.

John uses a variety of management strategies to keep the operation running efficiently. The area has a lot of poorly drained soil and Amana Farms plants some corn-on-corn, so a full tillage system is used on their ground. Deep ripping, soil finishing, and as much fall tillage as possible timed with fall manure application are key factors in the operation’s soil management system. Amana Farms has been a member of Heartland Co-op since the Co-op in Conroy became Heartland, and John has taken advantage of a variety of services the Co-op has to offer. Amana Farms uses Heartland for all of its fuel needs, as well as some crop inputs, seed, chemical, fertilizer, and anhydrous. According to John, Heartland has been very helpful in managing input costs.

Amana Farms is making good use of tissue samples they collect and send to Midwest Labs on their own. Plant health is a priority for them and they are currently using fungicide. They also use a hired crop scout to monitor plant health on 50% of their ground, and the other 50% is monitored by Amana Farms employees (Amana Farms currently employs 25 people). John is also aware of micronutrient importance in crops and is using a starter that contains essential micronutrients and foliar applications.

Amana Farms is an important and unique piece of agricultural history in Iowa, and more importantly, Amana Farms is looking at how it can make an impact in agriculture in the future. John is doing his part for the future by using green electricity to recycle manure (home-produced nutrients) as well as providing electricity to the Amana Colonies.  John McGrath believes that the next generation of agriculturalists will be able to meet the world’s increased food demand by 2050, and is focused on the question, “How do we take crop (and all agricultural)  production to the next level?”

Background information on Amana colonies:

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist and Communications Intern


Wind Damage in Central Iowa: What’s Next for Our Farmers?

Flattened corn field south of Laurel, Iowa

On Sunday, July 10th, severe winds tore through central Iowa and left a heap of destruction in their wake. Located in the central part of Iowa, Heartland Co-op members’ fields took a hit. Many growers’ fields will recover, but some will not. Early in the week I traveled around parts of the affected area and captured video and some photos of the agricultural destruction. A common question this week that I’m sure was asked of many agronomists was, “What now?” The corn crop had been looking wonderful in most parts of the state, and now…

If you are a grower wondering what to do next with a field of leaning corn, Heartland Co-op agronomist, Mike Brandau has a few words of advice for you:

“The wind storm did the most damage on a line from Cambridge through Collins, Rhodes, Melbourne and beyond. Highway 30 is roughly the northern edge of the worst damage. I estimate that 1/3 of my corn acres are severely root lodged, 1/3 is slightly root lodged, and 1/3 is normal. The worst damage is in the Melbourne area. I have seen corn fields that are essentially 100% flat on the ground. I would say that the green snapped corn plants are less than 5%. Today I looked at some soybean fields and found significant soybean root lodging and even a significant amount of soybean green snap! I had some experience with a similar wind event about 6 years ago. One of the lessons learned from that was the fact that the fields where a fungicide was still applied were easier to harvest, versus those that were not. The treated fields had stalks that were healthier, better intact, and helped to keep the plant anchored to the ground as the combines went in and attempted to pull in the downed corn, with or without corn reels. Also, if any Co-op members are on the fence about getting a reel or not, do it! I am pushing the plant health message still. I think the same message applies: healthy plants are easier to harvest, even if they are lodged. “
 – Mike Brandau, Heartland Co-op agronomist in Colo

Check out more photos of wind-damaged fields around Heartland Co-op locations:

Flattened corn west of our Pickering location

Cornfield near Laurel, Iowa

Wind-damage in Laurel

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist and Communications Intern

Heartland Spotlight: Dave Carlson, Jewell Grower

Dave Carlson is a Hamilton county farmer from Jewell, Iowa. Dave has been married to his wife, Lea Ann for almost 28 years, and together, they have raised 3 daughters: Molly, Rebecca, and Kendra. Along with farming, Dave is very active in his community. For nine years, he served as a board member for the South Hamilton Community School District and was school board President for five of the nine years that he served on the board. He is also serving as Vice President of Jewell Farm & Home and has been President of the church board at Stanhope Perish several times. In Dave’s free time, he enjoys boating, attending family events, and supporting the Iowa State Cyclones in football and both men’s and women’s basketball. 

Change is an inevitable consequence of passing time, and in his 30 years of farming, Dave Carlson has seen his fair share of change in agriculture. Dave grew up on a farm outside of Stanhope, Iowa (west of Jewell) and has been farming since his senior year of high school. He is a sixth-generation Hamilton county farmer, and some of the land he still farms today has been owned by his family for 146 years. Dave farms 600 acres of corn and 400 acres of soybeans. He also custom raises 1,250 head of hogs and rents out two other 600-head barns.

Dave Carlson is a sixth-generation Hamilton county farmer.

When asked if there was anything he would have done differently in his years of farming, this is what he had to say: “In the early ‘90s, I probably should have put up more hog finishers, because it turned out to be very profitable. If you own buildings, hogs, feed…that’s a lot of money tied up for a long time. You decrease your risk if you finish hogs for someone else. We used to farrow-to-finish 100 sows; now, we raise five times that amount annually. What I gave up in ownership, I make up in volume.”

Dave did not enjoy farrowing, and his decision to get out of the farrowing business was, in his opinion, “…a good, quick decision.” His decision was actually made one night when he was out bowling with his friend, Marv Ness. That night, Marv made the comment that he was thinking about getting out of the farrowing business. Dave thought that sounded like a pretty good idea and loaded out his sows the next morning! Dave wasn’t sure if Marv loaded his sows out the next day or not (Marv had been thinking about it for a few years, as opposed to Dave’s overnight decision), but Dave has never once regretted his decision. “You can make a good decision or a bad decision whether you think about it for a few years or overnight…things change quick.”

Making his own decisions, setting his own schedule, and being independent are what Dave enjoys most about farming. In fact, Dave’s story is one that is probably a little different than a typical farmer’s story, simply because of decisions he has made over the years. Dave’s farming operation is a part of what is generally referred to as “The Conglomerate” in the Jewell area. During his senior year of high school, Dave and his friend, Ron Shumaker farmed 650 acres together. Dave also farmed with his brother, Steve. Ron planted early soybeans and Dave and Steve planted late soybeans; because they planted at opposite times, they shared equipment and would do it all together.  When they would get done with one field, they would move on to the next. Ron, Steve, and Dave also started custom combining for Marv Ness about 3 years ago. This is the interesting part about this arrangement: it has all been formed  on a hand-shake. There is a lot of trust built up within the group…they’ve never once had a disagreement or argument. Dave is a firm believer that you can work well with someone who you share values and work ethic with, and his theory has definitely been proven right in his shared farming operation.

"The Conglomerate:" (From left to right) Steve Carlson, Ron Shumaker, and Dave Carlson farm their operation in Hamilton county as one entity.

Dave, Steve, and Ron farm their operation as one entity (with the exception of fuel being separate), split up in thirds. Dave makes most of the grain marketing decisions, and all of them discuss major machinery purchases. All of their equipment is owned together now, and as Dave pointed out, they can buy a lot nicer equipment together that they would not have bought if they were farming alone. As far as farm management practices are concerned, Dave uses minimum tillage and disk rips corn stalks. He doesn’t touch bean ground in the fall and field cultivates in the spring. Dave is plant-health conscious and uses the services of “Mr. Ness (Marv Ness’ oldest son, Carlton, who is the Jewell/Stanhope/Randall intern for Heartland Co-op) and the fine agronomist staff” for tissue sampling. He also depends on Carlton to monitor plant health in his fields.  Dave tries to sell grain ahead of time. 30% of his harvested grain goes right to market out of the field, and the rest of it is stored on-farm. He also grows seed beans for Syngenta.

In terms of risk management, Dave forward contracts a lot of bushels, uses crop revenue insurance, and spreads out sales. He also uses other resources for market information. “It’s kind of fun sitting in a room full of farmers at 10 o’clock in the morning and the morning text message comes: all of our phones come out at the same time, because we’re all signed up to get the same information. That’s a CHANGE! Before texts was DTN, before that, it was radio.”

Change was a common theme throughout my conversation with Dave, which logically, led us to talking about Heartland Co-op. Dave has been a Co-op member for 39 years (he was with CIC before it became Heartland). He was happy when CIC sold out to Heartland Co-op and hasn’t had any complaints about his relationship with Heartland. “Heartland has more opportunities because it’s larger. I’m a big believer in consolidation, whether that be schools or co-ops.” Heartland has provided a variety of services for him including lining him up with a hog producer, access to all of their “top-notch” agronomists (in particular, intern, Carlton Ness and Jewell agronomist Duane Hendricksen-Dave has worked with Duane since 1982), the Co-op’s online weather radar service, fertilizer, chemical, and nitrogen application.

Something that hasn’t changed over the years for Dave is his passion for people. About six times throughout the winter, he and the rest of “The Conglomerate” throw some meat in a smoker at his brother’s shop and sit and catch up with friends in the area. They invite whoever they run into that day and just wait and see who shows up…they’ve had around 35 people in the shop at one time before! “It’s just one of those things you gotta take time to do because people don’t take the time to sit and catch up with neighbors anymore.”

Dave’s outlook for the future of agriculture is positive, and he and others in the agricultural industry will do what it takes to feed our world’s growing population. He knows that some things will (and should) never change but also knows that some change is inevitable and has learned to grow with it and take advantage of the opportunities that change presents.

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist and Communications Intern

Forecast for Our Future: Bright and Promising

In all of the buzz and chatter going on in the agricultural community about meeting the food demand for our growing population, many have mused concern over whether or not the younger generation on the farm will be able to feed nine billion hungry people 40 years from now. In the coming years, today’s young farmer will be faced with challenges revolving around water, land use, yield increases, environmental regulations, government policy, and many other issues. Passion, dedication, technology, and hard work are going to be key in achieving our projected goal, but of all of those things, passion, will truly be the most prevalent.

Last week, I was privileged to serve as a counselor at the 31st annual  Iowa Agricultural Youth Institute (IAYI) and was surrounded by a young group of young agriculturalists who were positively thriving with passion. The group was comprised of approximately eighty 10th-12th grade high school students  from all across the state of Iowa, and the rest of my counselor team could all attest to the delegates’ energy, enthusiasm, and absolute hunger to be a voice for agriculture. Although the delegates’ energy may have taken a toll on the energy level of my counselor team (they wore us out!), I am  grateful for this year’s fun and engaged group. This past week was so encouraging that I felt compelled to share with our readers just how bright the future of agriculture really is.

The IAYI was established in 1980 by the Iowa Department of Agriculture to increase young people’s knowledge of current agricultural issues, to inform them about agricultural career opportunities, and to instill a commitment to agriculture. Delegates were selected through an application process to attend the Institute, which was held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames. Speakers, tours, workshops, and small group discussions were used to present information on public policy development, research and education, product promotion, market development, social issues, career opportunities, leadership, and communication. The reoccurring theme, “Where is Agriculture Taking You? IAYI…The Journey Begins,” challenged delegates to explore the vast opportunities available in agriculture. Delegates had the opportunity to research hot topics in agriculture and discuss them in an open forum.

One of the IAYI delegates making a statement during the rural school consolidation debate in the Iowa House of Representatives

At the beginning of the week, representatives from both the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Department of Education presented on their respective issues, E10 vs. E15 ethanol and rural school consolidation. Delegates spent time throughout the remainder of the week researching the topic that they were assigned to and formed a debate. On the final day of the conference, the counselors and delegate group made the trip down to Des Moines for a tour of the state capitol, where the delegates also got to debate their assigned issues in the House of Representatives under the moderation of Representative Jack Drake.

Delegates being given a tour of Jack Trice Stadium and the surrounding athletic facilities

Delegates were officially welcomed to campus by Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean, Wendy Wintersteen on the first night of the conference. The next day, delegates were given a tour of Jack Trice Stadium and its surrounding athletic facilities and learned about what kind of care and maintenance goes into keeping Iowa State’s football field in shape. Later that afternoon, delegates made their way through the commodity round table sessions and had opportunities to interact with representatives from the Iowa Pork Producers, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, and World Food Prize.

Mike Gaul, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Services Director, presenting interview tips to the delegates in preparation for an interview contest

On Wednesday, delegates went through a “professional makeover.” Early in the day, junior counselors (returning delegates selected to assist each of the counselors throughout the week) put on a professional dress skit that showed delegates what to wear in a professional setting, as well as what NOT to wear. Mike Gaul, Director of Career Services for Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, put on a workshop that focused on interviewing tips and provided excellent insight for the delegates as they prepared for a job interview contest later that afternoon. For lunch, delegates attended an etiquette luncheon and learned the ins and outs of proper etiquette at the dinner table. This professional training proved to be useful Wednesday evening as the delegates attended the IAYI banquet. The keynote address was given by PR manager from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Laurie Johns. Following dinner, delegates and counselors spent what was left of their energy on the dance floor.

Throughout the conference, members of my counselor team presented a variety of workshops. Some workshops focused on opportunities in the agriculture industry, while others focused on communication and its importance in the agriculture industry. Monday’s counselor workshop theme was communication styles, and it showed the delegates that everyone has a different style of communication. It also showed delegates how to communicate with someone who has a different communication style than their own. Tuesday’s counselor workshop was focused on the concept of why agriculture needs our voice.There are hundreds of misconceptions about agriculture, and this workshop showed everyone how important it is that they share their message for agriculture. Wednesday’s counselor workshop (this is the workshop I helped to present with a couple of the other counselors) was entitled “How to Engage in a Constructive Conversation.” Our workshop tied Monday and Tuesday together and allowed delegates to practice engaging in a constructive conversation with a non-agriculturalist by allowing the delegates to participate in a role-play activity. Delegates also formed their own positive messages for agriculture that they were encouraged to take home and share on their personal Facebook pages. The main point that the counselor team wanted to get across was that everyone has values (some similar, some different) , and the more able we are to identify with people using our common values, the better chance we have of conveying agriculture in the most positive way possible. Who better to tell the story of agriculture than the agriculturalists themselves? The 2011 IAYI delegates left Ames last week with a fire burning in their hearts to be a voice for agriculture.

By far, this past week as a counselor for IAYI has been one of the best weeks of my two years of college. I, too, left Ames with a fire rekindled in my heart to be a voice for agriculture, and I came away with a lot of new memories and friends as a bonus. It’s a new week now, and I’m back to work for Heartland Co-op. I challenged all of my delegates to share their positive message of agriculture with the rest of the world, and I would like to challenge our readers, as well. Consumers want to hear about where their food comes from, and there is no better person to hear it from than the farmer. Be a voice for agriculture. Share your story.

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist & Communications Intern

Napier Answer Plot Session #1 a Success!

Although it was a bit on the windy side on Thursday, June 2, Heartland Co-op kicked off the 2011 Answer Plot season with excellent attendance at Napier’s first session of the summer. In general, topics that were discussed included plant growth and development and spray application. I wanted to share my experience with you, and hopefully you will get to attend the next session and experience an Answer Plot for yourself!

To start the day, Steve Barnhart (Land O’ Lakes) gave the weather report, as is tradition. Currently, conditions are wetter than normal in much of the eastern Corn Belt, and farmers are well behind on getting the crop in the ground in that area because of it. Progress in that part of the country is being closely monitored. Throughout the rest of the day, those in attendance observed the various plots and received relevant and current agronomic information that they will be able to implement  in their farming operation.

Growers and agronomists used their "detective" skills to identify differences between two unknown corn hybrids in a mock farm call scenario.

Before heading out into the plot, Winfield Solutions Regional Product Manager, Dan Bjorklund  began the tour by educating the group on what he believes are the top three most important processes for an agronomist to continually practice: Observation (and one’s ability to remember from field to field, year to year, what things should look like), interpretation (understanding what the real problem is), and application (using what you know to solve an agronomic issue). His comment was an excellent way for the group to start out into the plot. At one of the first observation stops, Dan facilitated a mock farm call scenario in which growers and agronomists had the opportunity to exercise their agronomic “detective” abilities and identify differences between two different corn hybrids in the plot. Most found that one hybrid had healthier-looking plants with more consistent stands while the other hybrid’s plants were shorter and had skips and doubles in the rows.

At another stop, Steve stated that “Potential is determined early…” and showed the group the difference between corn plants that had a starter applied and plants that did not have a starter applied. All of the plants were the exact same hybrid, but those that had starter applied early on looked healthier and grew faster. At the same plot, Steve also touched on tissue sampling… “Nothing in agriculture is an exact science!” He reminded agronomists involved in tissue sampling that at V5, the top leaf is collected, but A LOT of leaves are needed for a good sample. Yield potential is determined early, and a tissue sample tells the story of what the plant looked like on the particular day the sample was taken. Tissue samples need to be taken EARLY because nothing can be done about nutrient deficiencies at tassel time.

Farther down the plot, Steve talked about chemical application. He stressed the importance of TIME for applicators. It is crucial that applicators take their time to insure chemical is applied correctly and evenly, and it is also important that at the end of the day, applicators take the time to clean out their machine, whether they are spraying the same chemical the next day or not. Flushing the nozzles at the end of each day will eliminate build-up and reduce the chance for an uneven spray the next day.

Steve Barnhart discussing soybeans at the soybean management stop, with Syngenta representatives Jim Frederick and Brent Jennings in the background. Jim and Brent spoke with the group about Syngenta's AMS.

At the soybean management observation stop, Steve touched on the current bean leaf beetle situation. He reminded the group that with the current high price of soybeans ($12-$13/bu), economic thresholds are a lot lower than before. At VC, ET is only one bug per plant and at V1, ET is three bugs per plant. Iowa State University Department of Agronomy indicates that if a field has a history of bean pod mottle virus, thresholds are to be ignored because the disease will spread when the insect comes into contact with the leaf. At this stop, Syngenta representatives Jim Frederick and Brent Jennings also took some time to go over Syngenta’s AMS (Aphid Management System) with the group.

At the corn management observation stop, Steve and Dan both talked about a yield study that was conducted at the University of Illinois in which one trial (the “Gold Program”) yielded 274 bu/acre and the other trial (the “Silver Program”) yielded only 208 bu/acre. Both trials had fields planted with the same hybrid at the exact same populations, but different nutrition programs were implemented. The point: if you’re going to add plants to your field’s population, you have to have a system in place to support that high of a population! (Check out Fred E. Below’s article, “Seven Wonders-A Ranking of the Top Seven Wonders That Determine Corn Yield”) People need to understand the hybrids they are planting and implement the right practices for the system they use. There are a lot of hungry people in the world and we need to feed them (or teach them how to grow their food more efficiently).

Towards the end of the session, the Syngenta representatives, Jim and Brent, went over several agronomic technologies Syngenta has to offer, including the corn trait AgrisureViptera, Quilt Xcel (fungicide), and Avicta Complete (nematicide for corn).

Dan Bjorklund testing someone's agronomic and observation skills.

Closing the session with food for hungry farmers is always a good way to end an event like this…it was definitely icing on the cake for this hungry intern! Also, for those of you who like opportunities for “freebies,” I paid attention, turned in a sheet with some plant observations and won something for my efforts. The three hours spent at the Answer Plot was definitely time well-invested.  I am confident those who attended Napier Answer Plot’s first session had a good experience and came away with some useful information. I am sure I will see them out there again for the next session on Thursday, July 7th from 9 a.m. to Noon. Hope to see you there as well!

Dates for Upcoming Answer Plots:

Grundy Center: Session 1 – Tuesday, June 14th; Session 2 – Tuesday, July 19th; Session 3 – Thursday, August 25th

Napier: Session 2 – Thursday, July 7th; Session 3 – Wednesday, August 10th

Pella: Session 2 – Wednesday, July 13th Session 3 – Tuesday, August 23rd

**All sessions are from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.**

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist & Communications Intern

Heartland Spotlight: Nyle Godwin, Redfield Grower

Have you ever caught yourself wondering, “Man, is there a better way to do this?” Innovation is the key to agricultural success around the world, and members of Heartland Co-op are always looking for more efficient ways of doing things. What better way to find out if there is a more efficient way of doing something than to see what other farmers are doing? One of the perks of being an intern (yes, the current author of this blog is an intern!) for Heartland Co-op is having dozens of opportunities to meet and interact with new people in new places every day. It is absolutely fascinating to me how people can be similar in so many ways, but at the same time, completely different individuals. Every couple of weeks, watch for a “Heartland Spotlight” article on one of the Co-op’s members…it could be your next door neighbor or someone you’ve never heard of in your life. When I go out into the country to meet Co-op members, I find out everything I can about their background, their hobbies and interests, their family, and their farming practices. Then I bring it right back here to you, so you can read about just how similar or different your interests and farming practices are from other  farmers in Central Iowa. Please feel free to comment on anything you read!

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a little time in the beautiful countryside of Redfield, Iowa talking with 10-year Heartland Co-op member, Nyle Godwin. Nyle grew up on a farm about a mile away from his grandfather Myron’s farm, and eventually, Nyle purchased Myron’s farm and has been farming for 20 years. Currently, he farms 1,600 acres of land, half of it corn, half of it soybeans, and he manages a cow/calf herd as well. For all 20 years that he has been farming, he has been married to his wife, Tina. Together, they have raised two daughters: Bailey (19) and Hunter (7). Along with being a farmer, Nyle also plays a role in his community as a school board member at West Central Valley High School. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, and hobby stock car racing. On any given Friday night, members of the community can find him at the race track in Stuart, and in February, Nyle especially enjoys taking his family down to Texas for a 3-day racing event…a vacation the entire family enjoys as a break from the bitter cold temperatures of Iowa!

It is widely known that you have to love what you’re doing if you’re going to make a career out of it, and for Nyle, his favorite part of farming is the occupation’s independence: he loves to make his own decisions for his operation. For 15 years, Nyle has been a custom applicator for Heartland Co-op (and Farmer’s Co-op, before Heartland). “The spraying I have done has sort of been like my internship…it’s allowed me to see what other growers use for their farming practices. I’ve seen first-hand what works best and what doesn’t work so well.” Nyle has used his knowledge of agronomics as well as things he has learned working in other growers’ fields to make decisions for his own operation. Nyle practices conservation tillage (minimum till) on his farmland, and has found that to be the best for his land. As far as farm management is concerned, he encourages other farmers to grow their operation as much as possible, without overreaching, of course. For his inputs, Nyle searches for price bargains, and he strongly recommends that other farmers use Heartland Co-op’s marketing and purchasing programs. Nyle uses Heartland Co-op for grain storage but also stores 40-50% of his grain on-farm. In terms of marketing strategies, Nyle forward contracts a portion of his grain and partially markets corn through the local ethanol plant. He says that the majority of his fall corn goes to Heartland Co-op.

A hot topic in agriculture right now is the question of whether or not the next generation of agriculturalists will be able to meet the increased food demand by the year 2050. Nyle is confident that the next  generation of agriculturalists will get it done, and he knows that in order for that food demand to be met, there need to be significant changes to seed and feed genetics. Currently, Nyle is purchasing the newest generation of corn and soybean genetics. From his experiences, the newest generations seem to have the best growth. Nyle is also very conscious of plant health and uses fungicides and takes tissue samples to insure crop protection. He regularly monitors his own fields because he knows the importance of the health of the crop and how much that impacts yields.

I would classify Nyle as a “progressive farmer”…a grower who is constantly working at producing food in the most safe, economical, and efficient way possible. Profits are always important to a grower, but for Nyle, it is evident that he sees the big picture. There is a great big world out there that needs to be fed, and Nyle Godwin sees his responsibility in aiding the agricultural effort.

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist & Communications Intern

Time to Scout for Bean Leaf Beetle

A little less than a week ago, reports of bean leaf beetle in soybeans came in from around Blencoe, Iowa (western Iowa). According to agronomist Steve Barnhart, with the current high price of soybeans, the threshold for VC and V1 soybeans is not the 5-7 beetles per plant that growers were accustomed to when soybeans were $6 per bushel. When soybeans are $12 per bushel, the economic threshold would be 2 beetles per plant at VC and 3 beetles per plant at V1. The higher the soybean price at a constant insecticide cost, the lower the economic threshold becomes. As suggested by data, early loss of both cotyledons can result in a 5 percent yield loss. As soybeans get into the V2 and later stages of growth, it can take 30-50 percent defoliation to reach the economic threshold. If there are concerns about Bean Pod Mottle Virus for which bean leaf beetle can be a vector of, infected beetles will have infected the plants by the time those thresholds are achieved.

It is crucial to get out into the bean fields to scout for over-wintering bean leaf beetle populations. According to an Iowa State University Extension scouting publication (Rice, and Pilcher 15), soybean emergence is the best time to scout the first time around, and the second round of scouting should be done in the early part of July. Specifically, start 100 feet in from the field edge and scout at 5 locations across the field. Bean leaf beetles are similar in size to lady beetles and have a black triangle immediately behind the “neck” region. Be careful: lady beetles are similar to bean leaf beetle, but lady beetles differ in that they usually have round spots on wing covers and they do not have a black triangle. Wing covers usually have 4 rectangular spots, but the spots are sometimes missing on bean leaf beetle. The body color is mostly tan, but occasionally red or dark yellow. Count the beetles on seedling soybeans. On larger soybeans, place a 3-foot wide strip of cloth on the ground between the rows. Bend the plants over the cloth and shake the beetles off of the plants, on to the cloth. Count the number of beetles on the cloth to determine the number of beetles per 3-feet of row.

Bethany Olson

Heartland Co-op, Proprietary Product Specialist & Communications Intern

Works Cited:

Rice, Marlin E., and Carol L. Pilcher. “2009 Field Scouting Manual for Insects in Corn, Soybean, and Alfalfa.” Field Manual. (2009): 15. Print. (Rice, and Pilcher 15)