Filling the gap

MFA precision technology, customer partnering help Davis Farms cover more acres with less worry

When it comes to spraying, planting, fertilizing or scouting his crops, Ross Davis has no room for error. The Martinsburg, Mo., producer farms in several counties and manages multiple acres of corn, soybeans and winter wheat. There’s no way he can be in each location every day.

That’s why Davis relies on Cory Clermont, MFA precision agronomy specialist, and other MFA team members for input recommendations, grid soil sampling, application timing and scheduling, and crop scouting through Crop-Trak Complete.

The program combines MFA’s Nutri-Track nutrient management services along with detailed planning and scouting service for an equation that gives growers an extra edge. After being enrolled in the program and working with Clermont for more than three years, Davis said he has seen yields increase and he knows he is taking better care of his land and crops.

“Cory is really there for me,” he said. “He is able to help me with decisions about my crops and what is needed as far as nutrients and other chemicals. He helps with scheduling and the timing of things so I’m not showing up late to the party. Cory fills that gap for us. I can think about things that need to get done, but he helps me make sure that each task gets to the right people. I just called him today to make sure someone could top-dress our corn tomorrow, and I know that it will get it done.” 

Having reliable partners makes his farming operation run a bit smoother and maximizes his resources, Davis said, plus lessens his worry in an industry where so many factors are outside his control.

“We stay in contact with the crop scouts and our agronomy KAM (key account manager), Justin Talley, to help provide the best services and products for Ross and his operation,” said David Bertels, manager of MFA Agri Services in Martinsburg. “If a problem pops up, we are able to take care of it in a timely matter. Ross knows he can call me anytime.”

With farms from Centralia to Louisiana, figuring out logistics for each crop in different fields is a complex task.

“Between the row crops, hay, pastures and cattle, you just need someone to pick up all the loose ends, follow through and just make sure stuff gets done,” Clermont said. “I coordinate the traffic between all the MFAs that provide custom applications for his acres. Ross relies on me every day for his operation, and I think that’s how his trust and our partnership have grown.”  

Through the comprehensive Crop-Trak Complete program, Davis receives fertility recommendations, 2.5-acre grid sampling, yield monitor nutrient-removal analysis and variable-rate phosphorus, potassium, lime and micronutrient prescriptions—plus advanced nitrogen modeling and additional MFA Precision Advantage offerings.  

“I would say that Ross follows our recommendations 99% of the time,” Clermont said with a grin. “With the data we collect from sampling, we are able to make the appropriate recommendations for each of Ross’ crops and how to prep his fields.”   

Providing inputs and services to each field is only part of Clermont’s responsibilities with Davis Farms. The other half is to effectively implement variable-rate technology (VRT) recommendations, which help maintain soil health, reduce waste and enhance land and crop efficiency. VRT decisions and parameters are based on various data gathered from GPS, in-field sensors and maps of each operation. The data collected is used to direct the automated and precise application of seed, fertilizers and crop protection products to Davis’ cropland.  

“I make VRT seeding recs for all of their corn acres based on multiyear analysis zones,” Clermont explained. “We talked about possibly doing VRT anhydrous ammonia recs within the next season or two as well.” 

By using variable-rate technology rather than uniform applications and seeding rates, Davis said he’s been able to lower his input and service costs while increasing yields and being a more responsible steward of the land. Being a good steward is important to Davis because there’s another generation involved in the operation. His son, Grant, helps with planting and harvesting and is now farming on his own land. Davis’ daughter, Rachel, is also interested farming as is his 3-year-old grandson, Owen. 

“I was a freshman in high school when I started farming about 100 acres,” Davis said. “My dad said to figure out what I’d do for free every day for the rest of my life and then figure out a way to make money at it. I always wanted to farm, but the making money part was little tougher.”

“I told Ross to go to town and watch the guys who were doing it right and learn from them,” added his father, Alan Davis.
Working with MFA is one way Davis tries to “do things right” and swing the balance in his favor.

“We do a very good job of creating a plan,” Clermont said. “We also try to follow the reports to a T where we can, but sometimes we have to change things on the fly. Mother Nature can really throw you some curveballs.”

Preparation is key, he added. Cropping plans start well before the growing season begins.

“It all starts with the combine, trying to get good, accurate yield data and then making sure that we have record of everything. From there we create fertilizer recommendations, usually in the fall,” Clermont said. “That gives us until spring to make tweaks, such as figuring out rotation differences. We try to get all that squared away.”

For this type of customer partnership to be successful, Clermont emphasizes that two-way communication is critical throughout the entire season.
“Ross makes all the final decisions, but he usually calls me to get my opinion,” Clermont said. “We have really good conversations to make sure we’re all on board, which is key when we have so many different fields to cover. It really is a team effort. I couldn’t do my job effectively if I didn’t have the expertise and support from people like David and Justin.”  

Davis agreed, adding, “It’s nice to have someone you trust to bounce ideas off of. We’ve increased yields, and we’re using less fertilizer in some places, more in others. But we are putting things where they’re supposed to be. Throughout the growing season they are scouting our fields once every seven to 10 days, and that sure makes a big difference. It’s been a great partnership.”   

To discover how MFA’s whole-farm solutions can help you increase profit, production and stewardship on your farm, visit with your Agri Services or AGChoice location or key account manager for more information.

CLICK HERE to read more articles from this August/September 2023 issue of Today's Farmer Magazine.

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2023 MFA Foundation Scholarship Program

IShieldTassnvesting in youth education is truly an investment in agriculture. The MFA Foundation Scholarship Program is a prime example of that commitment. Established in 1958, the Foundation is a nonprofit, philanthropic organization with the primary purpose of advancing educational opportunities for high school seniors in MFA’s trade territory. Since 1965, the Foundation’s principal mission has been awarding MFA Foundation scholarships, giving financial assistance to more than 15,000 students, totaling more than $17 million. 

In an increasingly complex world, education and technical training become important tools for today’s young people to flourish. The MFA Foundation scholarships are intended to help students pursue studies and develop careers that enhance the future of rural America. These scholarships are offered to high school seniors who are children or grandchildren (including step-children or step-grandchildren) of member-level customers of MFA Agri Services Centers, MFA Oil Company bulk plants or propane plants, or qualified customers of other MFA affiliate locations. The scholarships are $2,000 each and may be used at any college or university. Eligible high school seniors are encouraged to apply online at www.mfafoundation.com.

This year, 274 high school seniors received scholarships worth a total of $548,000, co-sponsored by the MFA Foundation and MFA locations.
Throughout its history, MFA has continually endeavored to make a difference in our communities. One of the best ways to positively impact the future is to cultivate the next crop of agricultural leaders, and these scholarships are one way MFA is fulfilling that mission.

Here are this year's winners of the 2023 MFA Foundation Scholarships:

Noelle Marie Abend, Rich Hill
Lacee Nicole Abner, Hamilton
Lacey R. Allen, Reeds
Derek Wyatt Alms, Gainesville
Rachel Kathleen Ancell, Macon
Emily Anderson, Warrensburg
Chelsey Nicole Andrus, Ash Grove
Cali Alexis Arnold, Humeston, IA
Dylan J. Aufdenberg, Burfordville
Abigail May Bachura, Alta Vista, KS
Emma J. Baepler, Jamestown
Aislynn Denise Baker, Atlanta
MacKenzie Dawn Baker, Kirksville
Riley M. Baker, Parma
1Carson L. Ball, Bruner
Ethan Charles Ball, Lamar
Rachel Marie Baretich, Bland
Jonathan M. Bax, Eldon
Ryce Caden Bennett, Clarendon, AR
Kahl Justice Berry, Bolivar
Isaac Robert Bird, Gallatin
Tate Levi Boles, Marshfield
Jacob Louis Boone, King City
Braden William Booth, Fair Grove
Hunter James Boots, Moberly
Tyler Robert Borgmeyer, Fulton
Lily G. Boschert, O'Fallon
Trey Brakensiek, Wright City
Garrett Mason Bray, Maysville
Bailey Nicole Brewer, Oak Ridge
Wyatt Tony Bridgeman, Owensville
Maggie Jo Brockmeier, Hale
Blaine Xander Brodersen, Florence
Darcy Lee Broglin, Holcomb
Ali Marie Brown, Grant City
Makenna Lynn Broyles, Olpe, KS
Breckyn RaeAnn Brummett, Lockwood
Ella D. Bruno, Macon
Kirstin Kimberly Buck, Nevada
Cole William Burch, Walker
Brady Beau Burgess, Richmond
Rafe Jeffery Byassee, East Prairie
Lindsay Byrd, Sikeston Claire
Jane Carpenter, Millerton, IA
Sarah Jo Chesnut, Stark
Madelyn Chiarottino, Bevier
Erin Lee Clouse, Ava
Samuel Allen Coin, Pattonsburg
Destiny Collins, Novinger
Clay Allen Cook, Shelbyville
Tucker James Cox, Martinsburg
Alex Brayden Criswell, Hartsburg
Elizabeth Nicole Crocker, Ashland
Lily Grace Crosson, Eolia
Ryan Allen Cruse, Salisbury
Peter Garrett Dampf, California
Emma Daniels, Hornersville
Cameron James Davis, Appleton City
Ryan Matthew Davis, Lamar
Weston Shawn Deering, King City
Harper Starr DeMoss, Columbia
Samuel Joel Derks, King City
Mikayla Dawn Dibben, Junction City, KS
Gracie Jo Dickson, Milan
Martin Gregory Dieckmann, Sibley
Jackson Edward Dill, Marshfield
Hayden Joseph Dixon, Caotsville
Logan M. Dove, Green Ridge
Emmalee Ann Drebes, Palmyra
Gentry Duncan, Centertown
Allison Kaye Dunwoody, Moberly
Lydia Kay Eaton, Harrisburg
Kyle Dale Eckhoff, Lincoln
Gracyn Lyn Eifert, Cole Camp
Daci Re’Ann Elbrader, Frontenac, KS
Sidney L. Engelmeyer, Iberia
Lily Rae Falconer, Linneus
Hannah E. Fehring, Neosho
MaKenzie Marie Felten, Fayette
Gavin Cooper Ferguson, Willow Springs
Erin Christine Fick, Freeburg
Jocelyn Marie Finley, Gardner, KS
Cash C. Fisher, Dunnegan
Brooklyn Foreman, Walker
Lance Gregory Fort, Martinsburg
Harrison Benjamin Fowler, Hallsville
Mauriana Elizabeth Frame, New Hampton
Lillianne Grace Franklin, Perryville
John Clayton Frazier, Lebanon
Ian Blaise Freiburger, Verona
Collin Joseph Fritsch, Sainte Genevieve
Abigail Rose Fry, Mountain Grove
Tori Dawn Fuemmeler, Armstrong
Braeden William Fuller, La Plata
Billi Jacqueline Galliher, California
Samantha Michelle Gallivan, Half Way
Mason W. Gibson, Reading, KS
Jenny Hope Glueck, Chaffee
Madison Michelle Haley, Queen City
Ryan Michael Hall, Novelty
River L. Hamaker, Leon, IA
Parker Evan Hammond, Meadville Clay
Alan Hanson, Graham
Marissa Harkey, Sedalia
Kyla Breanne Harms, Mora
Jaxon Andrew Harper, Tina
Kayley Anne Hauber, Grant City
Alli Jo Mae Hayes, Monett
Brayden C. Headrick, Salem
Natalie Elizabeth Hedlund, Fairfax
Marissa Ann Heins, Concordia
Clayton Heinze, Kahoka
Maggie Elaine Hickman, Princeton
Audrey Katherine Higgins, Deepwater
Kade Newton Hodge, New Hampton
Harleigh Jane Hodges, Taneyville
Samuel Peyton Hodges, New Madrid
Larissa Hoelmer, Hermann
Konnor Neil Hoerrmann, Browning
Trey Austin Hoffman, Archie
Gracie Renae Holcomb, Albany
Wendell Louis Hoskins, Steele
Anisten Evelyn Houghton, Hamilton
Garrett Edward Hundley, Boonville
Taryn Elizabeth Hunter, King City
Benjamin Dean Ipock, Winona
Lane Charles Irwin, St. Elizabeth
Gavin Lee Isch, Gridley, KS
Owen Thomas Ives, Cole Camp
Kaycie Lynn Jackson, New Boston
Mara Jensen, Vandalia
Matthew Paul Jermain, Conception Jct.
Levi Johnson, Trenton
McClane D. Johnson, Savannah
Breanna Charli Jo Kellum, Grovespring
Ava Deann Kemper, Hawk Point
Elsie Elaine Kigar, Greentop
Kaden Kinsler, Elsberry
Lane C. Klein, Versailles
Mason John Kliethermes, Loose Creek
Dylan Joseph Koenigsfeld, Morrison
Andrea Suzanne Korte, Bowling Green
Emma Kraenzle, Ste. Genevieve
Jewley Annette Kraus, Memphis
Brooks Dean Kreisel, Concordia
Marci Marie Lammers, Pilot Grove
Mason Wayne Lampkin, Hermann
Lindsey Faith Lancaster, Malden
Brody Langfitt, Gilman City
Ben Robert Lause, Washingtom
Truman Lee Ledbetter, El Dorado Springs
Austin Scott Lee, Lee's Summit
Daniel Dean Lesher, Tarkio
Braden Lee Lichtenberg, Brookfield
Jacob William Licklider, St. Clair
Peter Joseph Littlefield, Exeter
Caleb David Lucas, Rock Port
Bailee Jo Luttrell, Ellington
Shayla Kay Lynn, Cross
Timbers Rhease Danyelle Manier, Houston
Justus Blaine Martin, Fulton
Skylur Emil Mashek, Richards
Harlee Maxwell, Walnut Grove
Lauren Elizabeth McIntyre, Ravenwood
Aliciah Marie Mefford, Moberly
Joslynn Mae Mefford, Clarence
Oliver Midyett, Salem
Shane Charles Minor, Pleasant Hill
Ellie Rian Mitchell, Dadeville
Reid Monsees, Alma
Macie Jean Morris, Butler
Ryleigh Rae Morris, Walnut Grove
Hailey Elizabeth Morton, Macomb
Mallory Morton, Ash Grove
Owen Abraham Neely, South Greenfield
Avery Lynn Neidholdt, Keytesville
Kiera R. Neighbors, Troy
Allison Marie Newman, Slater
Jeret Nichols, Pleasanton, KS
Trey Matthew Noakes, Lowry
Corbin Odle, Pomona
Keaton Odle, Pleasant Hill
Olivia DeLora Oerly, Jamestown
Austin Marcus Orth, Centralia
Cameron Lee Oswald, Fairfax
Noah Ryan Oswald, Mound City
Abigail Leigh Overshon, Dixon
Taylor Jax Palenske, Strong City, KS
Adelynn Grace Palmer, Center
Hunter Parris, Kingsville
Mia Elizabeth Pemberton, Parsons, KS
Audrey Mae Peterson, Elkland
Chloe Ann Petree, Bunceton
Griffin Mark Phillps, Farmington
Tanner Hall Pierce, Kennett
Ashlynn Danielle Presley, Malden
Zoe Jane Priggel, Portageville
Ashley Louise Rankin, Bedford, IA
Ayren Mariah Rapp, Schell City
Ryan Rauh, Perryville
Olivia Dawn Reed, Washington
Andrew Ross Rhoades, Princeton
Hannah Nicole Rice, Brunswick
Danielle Marie Riedel, Pickering
Rebekah Reagan Riffle, Garden City
Dylan Robertson, Platte City
Tucker Cahill Robnett, Laddonia
Taylor Willows Rode, Fair Grove
Benjamin Nathan Roehrig, Washington
Gabrielle Ruth Rohrbach, California
Aliyah Renee Rojas, Gideon
Audrey Marie Ross, Center
Kadie Lynn Rounkles, Tina
Grayden Ely Rowbotham, Gainesville
Molly Rushing, Sparta
Helen Addyson Salmon, Franklin
Ruby Schmidt, Carrollton
Brooklyn Riley Schrag, Farmington
Makena Ray Scott, Marlow, OK
Molly Elizabeth Scott, Wellsville
Kylie D. Scrivner, Ava
Abigail Nicole Shaffer, Moscow Mills
Jenna Shanks, Centerview
Libby R. Shaver, Grovespring
Bradley Allen Shaw, Stoutland
Ebanie Ann Shaw, Windsor
Blake D. Shelton, Conway
Chase Simmons, Unionville
Ahna Sinclair, Montgomery
City Ashley Renee Sjostrand, Hartsburg
Cali Jo Smith, Success
Lillian Frances Smith, Bolckow
Rylan Cooper Snodgrass, Beaufort
Ashley Lauren Spry, Edwards
Katelyn Michelle Stoll, Stanberry
Carsyn Elizabeth Swain, Cape Girardeau
Avery Edson Tallman, Glenwood
Hailee Jo Tarpening, Marceline
Brunson Tenholder, Adrian
Drake A. Thompson, Lexington
Emma Carmen Thompson, Laredo
Brecca Claire Thornill, Clark
Zoe Renae Thornton, Noel
Frank Todaro, Holden
Gabriel Richard Todd, Mountain Grove
Jori Leigh Todd, Seneca
Kennedy Nicole Travis, Saint Clair
James Jathan Ungles, Skidmore
Aidan Lee Vaught, Crane
Ainsley Nicole Viets, Girard, KS
DeLana Brooke Vogelsmeier, Sweet Springs
Kylin Elaine Wagner, Sarcoxie
Lily Opal Wagner, Vienna
Ava Marie Walker, Kirksville
Mary Grace Warden, Bolivar
Eli L. Warren, Ludlow
Gracie Marie Waterman, Lebanon
Rylee Paige Watson, Monroe City
James Brendan Weaver, Marshall
Madeline Rose Weber, Saint Charles
Abby Dayle Welch, Bolivar
Presley A. Wells, Jamesport
Bryson John Wessing, Boonville
Alaina Whittington, Diagonal, IA
Kiser Kelc Wiatrak, Saint Paul, KS
Emily Paige Willman, St. Clair
Joshua Caleb Wilson, Bunch, OK
Caden D. Winters, Sioux City, IA
Jaidyn Renee Wood, Independence
Olivia Wooden, Dawn
Cooper David Wright, Ozark
Autumn Lynn Young, Koshkonong
Hannah G. Youngblood, Berryville, AR
Corbin Dale Zimmerschied, Sweet Springs

All towns are Missouri unless otherwise noted.

Visit the flip book of this issue to view the issue as printed with photos of winners, Click Here.

CLICK HERE to read more articles from this August/September 2023 issue of Today's Farmer Magazine.

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Creating a buzz about pollinators

Workshop educates farmers, landowners on native habitat management

Gathering farmers and landowners together to create a buzz about the benefits of pollinator plots was the goal of a recent field day sponsored by the Missouri Soybean Association in Columbia.

Emily Beck, MFA’s natural resources conservation specialist, was among presenters at the Pollinator Workshop, held June 20 at the Bay Research Farm, a nearly 300-acre operation that facilitates research, business and market development and educational programs for the Soybean Association. Other speakers at the event represented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Prairie Foundation. Sessions covered topics such as converting unproductive farmland, grazing native grasses, maximizing pollinator benefits in cover crops and taking advantage of cost-share opportunities.

“Here at Bay Farm, we prioritize any sort of research that is going to benefit the Missouri soybean farmer,” said Brady Lichtenberg, Missouri Soybean conservation programs manager, as he welcomed workshop attendees. “We enjoy doing events like this as well as habitat management to make the farm a little bit more wildlife friendly in areas that can’t be used for research.”

Native habitat management is an important topic as the numbers of critical pollinators such as bees, bats and butterflies decline to alarming lows. According to the USDA, more than 150 food crops in the U.S., including nearly all fruit and grain, depend on pollinators. To reverse the negative trend, government and businesses are relying heavily on farmers and landowners to embrace conservation practices such as planting pollinator plots, which consist of a diverse mix of native grasses and wildflowers.

During the pollinator workshop, Lichtenberg teamed up with MFA’s Beck to show attendees an example of an “edge-of-field” plot, a practice in which the borders of crop fields are intentionally managed to increase plant diversity.

“We’re not going to say take all of your best land and plant it to natives. That would not be a good business decision,” Lichtenberg said. “But we can take some of the less-profitable areas—the odds and ends, waterways and places that are hard to access with larger equipment—and turn those portions of the property into native areas that are going to be wildlife friendly, and specifically pollinator friendly. Pollinator plots offer other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, nutrient management and erosion prevention. There are countless benefits to the environment with something as simple as pollinator plots.”

For her part of the presentation, Beck emphasized that, in addition to these benefits, using lower-yielding areas for pollinator plots can positively impact the farmer’s bottom line. She illustrated her point with a precision yield map generated through MFA’s Nutri-Track program.

“We are the Show-Me State. So, this map shows you how these practices can be applied on the farm and where they should be applied,” Beck explained. “When I think of low-yielding areas, I think of input costs. How many times are you using your equipment on that field? How much money are you using for fertilizers, herbicides, different things like that? With these maps, we can see where plots would be best utilized. We aren’t just doing this for the butterflies. You’re taking ground that is not making you a whole lot of money and turning it around to benefit your farm.”

Monetary benefits can come in the form of state and federal cost-share assistance, incentives and technical help to implement habitat improvement projects, said Ryan Lueckenhoff, Missouri Department of Conservation private land conservationist. Choosing the best program to pursue, however, is based on many different factors.

“It depends on the landowner. It depends on the land use. It depends on your goals and objectives. It depends on how many acres we’re dealing with and the time frame that you want to get this completed,” he said. “The best thing is to work with somebody who can help you make those decisions, whether that’s the Missouri Department of Conservation, MFA, the Soybean Association, or our partners with NRCS, Quail Forever and Ducks Unlimited. There are people out there who will provide the information and technical assistance you need.”

For more information on these opportunities and how MFA can assist farmers and landowners in increasing pollinator plots, contact Emily Beck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CLICK HERE to read more articles from this August/September 2023 issue of Today's Farmer Magazine.

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