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Chaffee MFA Agri Services helps farmers get the most from their land

Folks outside Missouri’s Bootheel sometimes need reminded what a power house of agriculture sits between Crowley’s Ridge and the Mississippi River. The fertile land there is one of the top crop regions in the country. In the midst of it is Chaffee MFA Agri Services helping producers get top returns from that land.

Bruce Jansen, manager at Chaffee, said the location focuses on the kind of service that keeps customers coming back, including a high priority on precision agriculture and the benefits it brings producers and the environment.

Employees at Chaffee Agri Services turn in about 29,000 acres of custom application per year. Of that, about 11,000 acres are crop protection spraying; 11,000 acres are broadcast fertilizer spreading; and 7,300 acres are variable-rate fertilizer application.

“Precision acres are up,” said Jansen. “And we’re selling a lot of guidance equipment. What I think is good to note is that since we started with precision agriculture in 1996, we’ve kept all the customers that have participated. And, we’re picking up more.”

What makes precision agriculture popular around Chaffee? For one, like most of the nearby Delta, the land has high-end yield potential. Getting the right amount of nutrients in the right place pays for itself.

“For us, it’s a service,” said Jansen. “And in that sense, it’s more labor intensive. As far as sales go, the amount of fertilizer volume stays the same. But, for the farmer and the environment, it’s a benefit, because the right amount of product gets to the field and gets applied in the place it will most benefit the crops.”

Jansen said a customer enrolling in the precision agriculture program at Chaffee will typically start with grid soil sampling.

“After we take those, you can see the variability in the field for soil nutrients,” he said. “The next step is to correct that variability. Usually, you’ll do that as quickly as it can be done, beginning with lime to adjust pH.

Then you move to adjusting P and K. Normally the savings and return for getting the right amount of lime in the right place pays for the fees to be in the program.” Jansen said.

Jansen pointed out that this fall is a situation in which intensive soil sampling will pay off. Due to the drought, there were significantly different levels of P and K removal. Precision maps and precision application will help take advantage of the remaining P and K without sacrificing yield in areas that need more P and K.

Chaffee MFA Agri Services is grouped in what MFA Incorporated refers to as the SEMO group, which includes Agri Services locations at Chaffee, Advance and Benton, Mo.

As is typical among neighboring MFA locations, Jansen said there is a get-it-done cooperative attitude, especially during the seasons most critical to the locations’ customers.

“If someone has a big job we can help each other,” said Jansen. “If someone is busy and we have a day’s notice, normally we can get them taken care of. We can move a VRT truck, tenders and 10-wheelers to get what we need where we need it.”

Some of those jobs might be getting crop protection in the right place at the right time in the future. Jansen said one of the challenges in the Chaffee area is increasing pressure from herbicide-tolerant weeds.

“We’re getting more resistance down here,” he said. There is resistant waterhemp, marestail, giant ragweed and amaranth. That’s a challenge for everyone. From our perspective, it’s best to get a preemergence product in the field during early spring. That allows you to start off clean. Once you have crops planted, follow up with another application of preemmergent. There are options that allow you to spray on 3- or 4-inch beans (third trifoliate) that will put you in control of weeds through the season,” he said.

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