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Carlson is Cattleman of the Year

Teresa carlsonTeresa Carlson, who retired from her full-time role as MFA livestock specialist in September, was recently honored as “Cattleman of the Year” by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association for her contributions to the organization and the industry. Here she helps a producer tag calves for MFA’s Health-Track program.The 2022 Missouri Cattleman of the Year is actually a cattle-woman—MFA’s own Teresa Carlson.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association presented Carlson with the award at the 55th Annual Missouri Cattle Industry Conven­tion on Jan. 7. Her longtime service to the association includes chairing the Missouri Cattlemen’s Foundation, overseeing scholarships, farm safety training, leadership development and endowments.

“The beef industry is a passion for me,” Carlson said. “If you don’t think producers have a passion for what they’re doing, go out on some farms and see. We raise beef. We are providing a wholesome product that helps feed the world.”

Raised on a farm near Boonville, Mo., Carlson graduated from the University of Missouri in 1983 with a degree in animal sci­ence. When her brother returned to the farm full time, that left Carlson looking for a job “in town.”

A few months after graduation, she was hired by MFA Incorporated as the company’s first female in a sales role. She initially served in the position of “livestock and agronomy ag professional” for Vandalia and Louisiana, then moved into the role of area sales manager for Northeast Missouri and finally to her position as Region 2 livestock specialist.

“There wasn’t a place for me to come back home to farm, so MFA gave me an opportunity to work with farmers, which I guess you’d say is the next best thing,” Carlson said. “In the beginning, I wouldn’t say it was easy. It took some adjusting to get used to a female being out in the field. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? To me, my MFA career was everything, and I hope I made a difference for the cattle pro­ducers I worked with through the years.”

During her long MFA career, Carlson worked with countless farming operations across Missouri and positively impacted the industry through her involvement with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. She has also served on the Missouri Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee and as a volunteer for 4-H and FFA, among many other activities in the ag industry and her community.

“I do like to volunteer,” Carlson said. “And MFA was always a major supporter of my involvement with the cattlemen’s associ­ation and other organizations. I appreciate that.”

After more than 39 years, Carlson retired from full-time work at MFA on Sept. 9, 2022, to spend more time with her young grandsons, J.R. and Emmett. She continues to work part time at MFA Agri Services in Mexico, where she resides. Her son, Andrew Cauthorn, raises row crops and beef cattle on her farm. She and her daughter, Kaitie Thomas, also do catering and run the Carlson House in Mexico, a guest house and event center.

“I didn’t quite make it to 40 years with MFA, but I wanted the chance to be there for my grandbabies,” Carlson said. “I think I do more work now than before I retired, but I have more free­dom to do things I want to do.”

See the video produced by the Cattlemen’s Association to honor Carlson here: mfa.ag/carlson.

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Digging deeper into soil health

Soil Health Test CoryMFA Precision Agronomy Specialist Cory Clermont pulls soil samples in a field in Martinsburg, Mo. Soil health testing is now available as a service through MFA’s Crop-Trak Complete and Nutri-Track precision ag programs. The sampling process is the same as traditional soil tests, but the soil health samples are sent to a different lab for analysis that includes such factors as microbial activity, soil respiration, aggregate stability and nutrient availability.MFA Precision Agronomy Specialist Cory Clermont pulls soil samples in a field in Martinsburg, Mo. Soil health testing is now available as a service through MFA’s Crop-Trak Complete and Nutri-Track precision ag programs. The sampling process is the same as traditional soil tests, but the soil health samples are sent to a different lab for analysis that includes such factors as microbial activity, soil respiration, aggregate stability and nutrient availability.Soil testing is nothing new to farmers. Agricultural scientists have been measuring key plant nutrients in soils since the late 1800s, as farms began to transition from subsistence to production systems. The first public soil-testing lab­oratories opened in the 1940s and ’50s, giving farmers an important tool to make better-informed crop fertility decisions.

Today, however, many farmers are interested in digging deeper into soil health, which can’t be measured by standard soil tests alone. Soil health goes beyond fertility and physical properties to focus on biology, which has been overlooked or ignored in common soil-testing procedures. To meet those needs, MFA is now offering a new soil health testing service through its Crop-Trak Complete and Nutri-Track precision agriculture programs.

“There’s been a big push over the past few years to promote regenerative agricul­ture and climate-smart programs, and farmers need to measure the health of their soils in order to see the impact of those practices,” said Landry Jones, MFA conser­vation grazing specialist. “Typical soil tests can’t give us that type of measurement. Growers already trust MFA for soil-testing services and fertility recommendations, and offering soil health testing is a logical next step in our customer partnering.”

A soil health test is much like a wellness exam in human health. It identifies areas that are doing well along with those that need some attention. MFA’s soil health reports will provide details such as microbial activity, soil respiration, nu­trient availability, and water-extractable carbon and nitrogen, which measures the portion of organic matter that dissolves in water and, therefore, is more accessible to soil microbes. Also measured is aggregate stability, or the ability of a soil to reg­ulate the movement and storage of air and water throughout the soil profile. The more stable the soil’s aggregates, the more productive the soil.

Growers who request soil health tests will also receive standard measurements of macro- and micronutrients and key factors such as pH and organic matter. Ultimately, an overall soil health score is calculated based on a combination of these different indicators.

“Most traditional soil tests rely almost entirely on soil chem­istry and are tied to the nutritional needs of the plant,” Jones ex­plained. “But most of the nutrients that ultimately end up in the crop are transferred by soil microbiology. What’s different about a soil health test is that it not only shows what is available to the plant and but also the potential of what’s available in the soil to be released through microbial activity.”

The sampling procedures are conducted like a regular soil test, Jones said, but MFA precision specialists and agronomists will package soil health samples separately and send them to Ward Laboratories in Kearney, Neb. Here, the soil is subjected to the “Haney Test,” which is designed to mimic nature in deter­mining what quantity of soil nutrients are available to the crop and accessible to the microbes. This test, which the USDA has adopted as its official Soil Health Nutrient Tool, was developed by Rick Haney, a researcher at the Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas.

“The heat and chemicals used in standard soil testing aren’t conducive to measure microbial life,” Jones said. “The Haney Test uses water and natural extracts, more like what soil would encounter in Mother Nature.”

Once the results are available, Jones and MFA’s new natural resources conservation specialist, Emily Beck, will work with the grower’s Crop-Trak or Nutri-Track specialist to interpret the data and provide recommendations. If needed, practices that can improve the soil health profile include using minimum till­age or no-till, planting cover crops, increasing crop biodiversity or implementing different crop rotations.

“Improving soil health doesn’t happen overnight,” Jones said. “The value of a soil health analysis is to provide a way to gauge benefits of conservation cropping practices or other manage­ment changes. The soil health movement is still pretty new and evolving, and there’s some uncertainty on how to truly quantify things. Our goal is to equip farmers with good, solid informa­tion now that will still be good, solid information down the road, whether that’s next year or five years from now.”

For more information on MFA’s new soil health service, talk with the precision specialists, agronomists or key account man­agers at your MFA Agri Services or AGChoice location.

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Claim to fame

Nichols MICFormer MFA Board Chairman Wayne Nichols is surrounded by family to celebrate his Missouri Cooperative Hall of Fame induction on March 16. To his left is wife Karen. In back, from left, are their daughter, Carrie Luttrell; Wayne’s brother, Duane Nichols; and daughters Sharon Nichols and Nora Buckley.THE NEWEST CLASS INDUCTED into the Missouri In­stitute of Cooperatives Hall of Fame includes former MFA Incorporated Chairman Wayne Nichols, who recently com­pleted his term limit on the board of directors. Nichols was honored March 16 at the MIC annual meeting in Camdenton.

The cattleman from Pomona, Mo., was recognized for his 50-plus-year career devoted to cooperatives, with service that began in 1970 at as a loan officer at the Hannibal Production Credit Association (PCA). From that first-job introduction to cooperatives, Nichols went on to hold leadership positions as CEO of Ozark PCA, vice president of loan examination at the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank in St. Louis, and president of Farm Credit Midsouth at Jonesboro, Ark.

He has also actively participated in coop­eratives as a member. Nichols was involved with Dairy Farmers of America for nine years and was elected to serve on the MFA Incorporated Board of Directors in 2011. He served as chairman of the MFA board from 2018 until 2023.

In his leadership role for MFA, Nichols had a hand in hiring the current CEO, Ernie Verslues, and helped navigate the co­operative through both financially difficult years and near-record successful years.

“I am privileged and humbled to receive this honor,” Nichols said. “The success of a co-op is predicated on the quality of people in management and in the boardroom, and we have some pretty savvy men and women leading our state’s cooperatives. I leave the cooperative system after 53 years knowing it is a long way down the road from where we were when I started, and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

In remarks before the induction, MFA’s new board chairman, Don Schlesselman, said that Nichols believes in the power of working together and the benefits of coop­eration for the greater good. Schlesselman noted that his predecessor’s time as chair­man resulted in a better-informed board, a stronger member-driven approach and an organization empowered to succeed.

“Over the past three years, I’ve had the honor of serving as vice chairman of the board, which allowed me to work closely with Wayne and get to know him better,” Schlesselman said. “When Wayne speaks, you pay attention because it is going to be insightful and thoughtful. As chairman, he has done an excellent job of leading meetings, keeping people on task and making sure that all board members were heard. He’s left me some big shoes to fill but served as an excellent example, and I feel blessed to step into this role.”

Joining Nichols in the Hall of Fame for 2023 are Brad Lee of St. Louis, a 40-plus-year employee of CoBank and Farm Credit; Phillip Ragsdale of Marshfield, who had a 50-year career with Webster Electric Cooperative; John Schuster of Tipton, a Co-Mo Electric Cooperative member who served as the first chairman of its fiber subsidiary, Co-Mo Comm, Inc.; and Dave Janish of Columbia, who retired in 2022 as president and CEO of FCS Financial after a 43-year career.

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In this March 2023 Today's Farmer magazine


More than a show - cover story
Todd family learns life lessons in and out of the ring

by Jessica Ekern

Laying the groundwork
Successful forage production takes planning, management and patience with Mother Nature

by Jessica Ekern

Five ways to drought proof your forage.
Adapted from a 2023 MFA Winter Agronomy Meeting by David Moore, MFA range and pasture specialist,

by David Moore

Q&A with MFA
Learn more about your cooperative leaders
Interview with Frank Schieber

Fields of study
MFA’s agronomy research persists through challenging growing season

by Garrett Imhoff

Conservation conversations
Communication is key when it comes to implementing soil health, fertility management practices on rented acres

by Allison Jenkins

Planter prep is first step to crop success
Proper equipment maintenance helps ensure seeds get the best start

by Kevin Moore

Base grazing decisions on these five principles
Proper pasture management helps protect forage productivity, yield

by Dr. Jim White


Country Corner
Technology is transforming ag. Are you ready?

by Allison Jenkins

UpFront / Blog
Discard old pesticides at free collection events
Ag Day turns 50
MFA Foundation gift supports rural mental health resources

Markets (as printed via flipbook)
Corn: Drought concerns continue to affect markets
Soybeans: Lower Argentina yields may boost U.S. demand
Cattle: Smallest cattle herd since 2015
Wheat: Crop conditions questionable in Great Plains

Carb optional

BUY, sell, trade


Spring forward with optimism

by Ernie Verslues

Closing Thought
Poem by Walter Bargen
Photo by Cassidy Pellham, Ozark MFA Agri Services store manager

Click HERE or the image below to see the issue as published via a flipbook

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