You might say Ken Jahnke was raised on farming. The sales manager for Premier Cooperative in Fennimore, Wisconsin, has worked in agriculture for more than 38 years.
Ken Jahnke's Fennimore, Wisconsin, office is located in a scenic part of the state, known for rolling hills and beautiful terrain. Those views are personal to Jahnke and his customers, so they work together to utilize the 4Rs - right source, right rate, right time and right place - to preserve this landscape.
Jahnke feels farmers and cooperatives have a responsibility to preserve their land for generations to come, so he takes the time to build solid relationships with his customers, and encourages his staff to do the same with their growers.
"The 4Rs are important not only to the environment, but also to the public," Jahnke says. "As cooperatives and farmers, we need to practice good stewardship procedures and have policies that help preserve the existing landscape. We need to worry about erosion, nutrient management and crop protection products, because it is important to be leaders in the 4Rs to preserve our environment."
At Premier Cooperative, they often distribute educational information, such as newsletters and pamphlets, to their customers. Grower meetings are also held for their customers to foster further conversations about stewardship.
"I believe that picking the right product is the first step," Jahnke says. "After picking the right product, you decide when is the right time, the right rate and, finally, the right place to apply the product. When it comes to picking the right source for us, we like the innovation of Mosaic products because we have strong beliefs that the right source should have uniform application and the right nutrients all in one package.
"I would say that the general knowledge of the 4Rs in our area is developing," Jahnke says. "We want to get the 4Rs into conversations with our growers, and we really act on that opportunity at our grower meetings."
According to Jahnke, there are select growers he would consider innovative leaders from each location that his p cooperative serves. These growers have taken their advice and are leaders to other growers in the area.
"Along with the 4Rs, these growers also utilize nitrogen inhibitors to be innovative leaders for their area," Jahnke says. "Nitrogen management is another practice that helps our customers achieve high yields. If they are not using nitrogen inhibitors in a timely manner or at the right rate, the results are not as great as they could be. A practice that we have seen a couple of our growers utilize, to help them apply the right rate of nitrogen, is a 360-degree application."
Nitrogen (N) inhibitors slow soil conversion of ammonium-nitrogen held by clay and organic matter to leachable nitrate-nitrogen. Nitrogen inhibitors are especially useful on coarse-textured soils, where leaching is likely, and on fine-textured soils, where excess water can cause denitrification losses of nitrate-nitrogen. The use of N inhibitors can be helpful with both preplant and side-dressed N applications, to improve nitrogen use efficiency and provide crop benefits by extending ammonium-nitrogen availability and uptake.
The advancement of new technology and equipment in Jahnke's 38 years of experience has also made a significant impact. From when he started to today, there have been unbelievable changes in the agricultural industry. Jahnke reminisces of growers putting on as many pounds of nutrients as they wanted - with the mind-set of the more the better. Now those practices of the past have been restricted and regulated, and for a good reason.
"We are seeing more growers looking at nitrogen a lot more now than they did five years ago," Jahnke says. "Especially with all the new equipment and technology that are available today that can help us effectively manage the right rate of nitrogen and any other nutrients to achieve those high yields.
"Beyond higher yields, today's equipment makes it easier to improve management practices and record keeping. Training and the ability to sort information have increased dramatically over time. Now everything is easily and quickly accessible."
New technology and tools make it easier for today's growers and retailers to manage the 4Rs and preserve the land. Jahnke uses the WinField R7® system, which expands on the 4Rs. His cooperative uses this system for mapping, soil testing, satellite imagery, seed selection and variable-rate application of nitrogen.
Soil testing is a critical tool to help manage what nutrients are needed in the soil. It can help determine what Jahnke considers the most important R - the right source that should be applied to your soil.
"Soil tests are only as good as the sample that is taken," Jahnke explains. "It is critical that my staff and I are taking quality samples in order to gain valuable knowledge to make a judgment on what needs to be done for our customers. We suggest using grid sampling when it comes to taking samples because it is a more reliable way to obtain consistent, quality samples."
Even though there are many innovative tools and technologies to help growers achieve the 4Rs, there is still confusion. Jahnke's growers are still unsure if they are getting the right rate on at the right time.
"When I see growers struggling to achieve the 4Rs, it is usually a result of not using the right technology to maximize profit," he says. "If you follow the 4Rs, you are using the product economically and getting more out of your investments, and there should not be any big challenges.
"If you are having challenges achieving the 4Rs, work with your local agronomist, because they should lead you through the 4Rs to help you be more profitable and sustainable," Jahnke says. "Everyone should be using strong stewardship practices to protect our environment, whether that be through the newest technologies or simple recommendations from your local agronomist to better your land."
To achieve Jahnke's most important R (the right source), MicroEssentials® provides the plants with season-long sulfur, uniform nutrient distribution and helps increase nutrient uptake. The uniform balance of each MicroEssentials granule ensures that nutrients will be delivered evenly across the field, providing crops with an adequate supply of nutrients for season-long nutrition. The use of MicroEssentials can help growers maximize yields and increase profitability.
MicroEssentials is a proprietary fertilizer specially formulated for use on most crops. Through Mosaic's proprietary Fusion® technology process, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S) and zinc (Zn) are fused into a nutritionally balanced granule, creating a single source for balanced crop nutrition.