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Filling the gap

MFA Precision Specialist Cory Clermont, left, and producer Ross Davis discuss which corn fields need top-dressing. With farms in several counties, Davis relies on the services and technology of MFA’s Crop-Trak Complete program to help his operation thrive.

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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