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  1. I don’t care anymore…

    February 28, 2014 by Peter

    I’ve been doing some thinking, and have decided to adopt a new attitude about some aspects of work and life.  It’s called the “I don’t care anymore” philosophy.  Some, or most of you are probably bristling at the hearing the words “I don’t care” but hear me out before you make a final decision.  That’s a nice way of saying please read through the end of the article before making assumptions about what it is that “I don’t care about” anymore.

    I do a mix of work between IT consulting for Cargill and seed sales for our family business.  It’s a mixed bag that approaches the agriculture industry on many different levels, and I love the opportunities I have to work with feed manufacturers, animal integrators, farm owners, and everyone else in the mix.

    Without further adieu, here are a few things I don’t care about any more…

    I don’t care if something is outside my area of control.  If I see a problem, or a way we can help solve it, I’m going to get involved.  I might not personally be responsible for the problem (or potential problem), but if I see a solution or partnership I’m going to be proactive and try to intervene.

    I don’t care if it seems risky to try a new approach.  There are many ways to solve a problem or fix something before it becomes one.  Just because you’ve been operating a certain way for 5-30 years doesn’t mean it’s going to work in the future.  In fact, if you’re operating in that same way and not thinking about changing or improving, then change will definitely come your way.  My guess is you won’t like the changes that “just happen”.

    I don’t care if it’s “outside my job description,” coming to me at an inconvenient time, or I’m just “too busy” – I will respond quickly, delegate appropriately and see how I can help.  Sometimes the best help is saying no, but letting them know who can help or following up to make sure a solution was delivered.

    These are all things that I have striven to maintain in my career/life, and at varying degrees I have succeeded and failed in all the areas above from time to time.  I’m not saying that it’s appropriate to say yes all the time, or never stop working.  Sometimes “I don’t care” means I need to not work as much so I have time to balance out the other areas of my life:  physical, mental, spiritual, etc.

    What about you?  What are some of the things you should stop caring about?


  2. Faith in the workplace

    January 17, 2014 by Peter

    Some of you know that I spent a portion of my life working on the mission field.  In that place, faith and Christian community were central to life.  People prayed for each other, they were called there with a sense of purpose, and walked together in faith.  When I moved back to the United States, I was presented with several choices for the next steps in my career.  An important part of that decision-making process for me was how my faith and personal ministry would be impacted by the decision.  Do I go work for a major corporation in IT work?  Do I continue working in youth ministry?  Is there another path that I’m not considering?

    As I spent time thinking and praying about this next step, a realization came to me.  No matter what type of work you do, the people around you are a mission field.  You may be a farmer sitting on a tractor, or a high-ranking industry executive, but each of us has a circle of influence among the people that are around us.  We all have friends, family, vendors and sometimes customers that we interact with on a day-to-day basis.

    I considered my options and went into the IT world.  Through continued thought and reflection, I decided to get involved with the farm again via the seed business.  Both areas have been a blessing and challenge for me.  Each day I challenge myself with these thoughts:  Is my integrity intact?  Am I acting on opportunities to pray for my co-workers and customers?  What type of legacy am I leaving behind?

    Is my integrity intact?

    There are many ways a person can damage or jeopardize his or her integrity.  I have chosen to surround myself with godly men and women who will challenge me if I’m veering in the wrong direction or provide wisdom and discernment when asked.  I also try to remain anchored in the truth of God through prayer and spending time in His word…some days are better than others on that point but it’s what I go back to when I’m seeking the truth.

    Am I acting on opportunities to pray for my co-workers and customers?

    I have a customer list and prospect list that I pray for.  Farming is difficult business with many risks and things outside of one’s control that can impact the success or failure of the year.  I pray for my customers and prospects from time to time so that they might be encouraged and hold fast to their faith (or come to faith if they aren’t there yet).  Same goes for co-workers.  We all come to our job with different “stuff” that is affecting our lives for better or worse.

    What type of legacy am I leaving behind?

    It’s inevitable that I will at some point leave my job and/or business behind.  It may be for a new challenge, retirement, or the final retirement in the sky…but at that point, what will have been accomplished?  I hope more than growing a business to $XX volume or achieving a certain “rung” of success on a corporate ladder.  One article that I have printed out, and go back to often in my life was written in 2010 by Clayton M. Christensen for the Harvard Business Review.  The title of the article is “How will you measure your life?”  This is a fair and valid question.  Is it a question that you’re asking and planning?  What are some of the ways you try to incorporate the above into your life?


  3. GM Crops, Trait Approvals and LLPs, Oh My!

    January 9, 2014 by Peter

    I read an interesting article this morning (read it here:  http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/22430/) about Syngenta waiting for China to approve a certain GM trait, and wanted to share it with a few thoughts about the process.

    Photo courtesy of the LA Times article and (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg)

    One of the interesting things about GM crops is the approval process traits go through before they are released to the market.  One of the more interesting (or some might say frustrating) aspects of this process is the approval for export to other countries.  Because grain varieties become intermingled from the time of harvest to export, companies have to be very careful about which traits are released so they don’t cause loads of an export to be rejected at a country’s border.

    Recently China rejected two loads of corn (546,000 tons!) (see the article here:  http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-china-rejects-shipment-of-gmo-corn-20131227,0,2126813.story#axzz2puYBqI33) because it contained genetically modified corn that wasn’t approved by them.  So you can imagine that there is much at stake when developing traits and putting them into the market for production.

    Oftentimes countries will establish an agreement of Low-Level Presence of GM traits because the reality is, with the grain market and infrastructure the way it is, there is bound to be an intermingling of GM and conventional commodities.  Croplife.org has a great article describing the process and some of the issues faced by different groups and countries involved in commodity trading.  http://www.croplife.org/low_level_presence

     

     


  4. Thinking about a UAS system for your farm?

    January 3, 2014 by Peter

    This past year has been a fun adventure for me as an ag retailer! One of the additions to our team has been very valuable. Words I would use to describe this addition would be: dependable, useful, able to provide a new perspective, and fun to be around!

    In case you’re wondering, I’m not talking about a new employee. I am referring to a UAS system that we purchased for use on the farm. You may be wondering what a UAS system is. I’ve received many questions from growers, ag retailers and others about what they are, how they can be used, and where you can purchase them. Hopefully this post will be a good compilation of that knowledge and answer some basic questions.  I’ll put them here in no particular order.

    1.  What does UAS mean?  

    UAS refers to a “Unmanned Aerial System”.  These have also been referred to as “drones” but I try to avoid that word, as it misleads people and can lead to misunderstandings.

    2. What type of UAS systems are there on the market?

    There are many systems available, depending on your needs and budget.  I’d like to focus on one particular brand and model, as I think it’s a great starter package that will be applicable to most people who read this article.

    3.  Which system are you going to talk about?  

    Great question!  The model that I purchased and use is the DJI Phantom.  This is a great starter system with powerful  features for beginners and experts alike.

    4.  What are some ways you use this on your operation?

    I’ve used this on a trial basis for aerial scouting and imagery.  You can quickly get an aerial view of a field with both pictures and video to identify all sorts of issues:  stand, weeds, etc.

     5.  What type of accessories should I buy with it?

    I highly recommend buying the following accessories with the Phantom initially:  extra batteries (at least 3), a travel case, GoPro camera (silver or black), a good charger, a battery checker (so you can see what charge the battery has before starting flight!), extra batteries for your camera, and an SD card for the camera.

    6.  How much does it cost?  

    The system I bought cost about $1000.  The Phantom was about $450, case was $225, camera was about $200, batteries cost $100, then taxes/shipping.

    7.  How long do the batteries last?  What type of range does it have?

    The batteries last 8-13 minutes, depending on what you’re carrying (camera, gimbal, etc) and also depending on how much you maneuver or the wind conditions.  The controller has a 1000m range, but I don’t fly that far away because it becomes difficult to see it!  The unit is really fun to fly at dusk, there are LED lights on the bottom that make it easy to see and tell which direction is facing front.

    For some example pictures of flights I have done, please check out the gallery on www.schottfarms.com.  Also check out a video I put on youtube of soybean harvest:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-ooXpmy2PM

      

    More to come including:  first flight tips/tricks, maintaining your Phantom, features/other considerations, and more!

    Questions?  Comments?  Send me an e-mail or talk to me on twitter – @peetnd.


  5. Our Values

    December 24, 2013 by Peter

    The 2014 growing season will be my 4th year as a seed seller.  Having grown up on a family farm, I’m no stranger to agriculture or farming.  As I continue to work in this business, I continually seek to clarify and define the values that I (and ultimately my business) stand upon.

    Recently I printed updated business cards and put a tagline on them which, I believe, reflects who I am and how I try to approach agriculture.

    Serving growers with integrity, value, and quality in mind.

    It’s a simple statement, but a powerful reminder for me of the purpose and approach I take to business.

    Integrity

    To borrow a phrase from Cargill, integrity means to “Do the right thing, regardless of the consequences.”  It is of utmost importance to me that my character remains intact no matter what stands in front of me.  I will (and have!) happily lost sales because I am upfront with people.  There are many practical ways that I try to live this out:  If a variety isn’t a good fit, I don’t have supply of seed, there are quality issues with what has been produced, what treatment or other products I recommend, etc.  My biggest customer is my own family – I refuse to treat other customers any differently than I would expect or how I would treat them.

    Value

    When a person thinks about value, cheap isn’t usually a word to describe it.  You can buy cheap pants at Wal-Mart, but are they a good value?  Now, to be clear, we strive to offer fair and competitive pricing for our products and services.  Value for us means providing the right services, recommendations, and products to help growers with higher yield.  I will write more about how we plan on delivering this value in another post.

    Quality

    We carefully select the companies and vendors to work with based on quality.  How reputable is the product?  Is the vendor honest?  Do they follow up on commitments?  What are their standards for quality?  I believe wholeheartedly that our brands fit this profile.  Come with me to Peterson Farms Seed headquarters, and learn about the quality checks they run several times per hour on soybeans during conditioning.  Sit down with me and Bruce Due (our area agronomist for Mycogen) and watch this teacher turned agronomist (with more than 25 years field experience) tell you about the research he does for growers.

    Serving growers with integrity, value, and quality in mind.  It’s the approach I take with my family and customers, and ultimately why I am in the seed business.


  6. Lunch at the field

    November 3, 2013 by Peter

     

    Emma with some corn

    Emma inspecting the corn, another tough day at the office!

    One of my fondest memories growing up was when we would make a trip out into the field to have lunch with my dad.  Mom and Grandma Esther would work to prepare the day’s meal and pack everything for the long trip out to the field then load it and us kids into the car for the drive.  I remember enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face as we would drive.  Mom and Esther would talk in the front seat while we would explore the back seat of the car.  This was in the days before booster seats, side airbags and the like…it’s a wonder we all survived!

    I would enjoy staring out the window, admiring the brilliant colors outside.  The sky always seemed a bit brighter, and the grass greener when we were making a trip out to “the field.”  My mom tells me that when I was younger I would get really excited to see the tractor in the distance and yell “There’s Daddy!” only to start sobbing when it disappeared behind the next hill.

    It was always exciting to jump out of the car and wait for the tractor or implement to pull up to the car, big clouds of smoke and dust trailing behind.  Dad would jump off the tractor and come give us a hug, smile, and sit on a blanket with us while we ate.  It was (in my mind) like having a picnic every day.  Grandma Esther would go for long walks along the section lines; sometimes I would follow her and hold her hand while she told stories.  Other times I would stay on the blanket and listen while the workers talked about the day’s activities.

    Since we moved back to Kulm, I have tried to make those opportunities available to my girls as well.  Depending on the weather, some days are better than others to bring them out.  Not every day is an idyllic picnic (as I’m sure we can all understand).  There are times when the weather doesn’t cooperate.  No one wants a picnic in

    IMAG0654

    Our new “Crop Inspectors”

    high winds combined with cloudy skies and cold temps.  Other times the time doesn’t cooperate.  Many days “lunch” or “supper” are handed out and people eat while on the combine/truck/tractor.  But Saturday was a great day for a picnic, and we enjoyed spending time at the field!

    Lara and Emma were reluctant to go initially.  Lara more so because she “was bored” and Emma was happy with whatever was occupying her at the house.  I even drug Julie along despite her complaints about “chores”.  We proceeded to drive out to the field and park along the edge, waiting for “Grandpa” to pull up with the combine.  It was a wonderful day with a nice warm sun, slight breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky.  Emma and Lara busied themselves  by walking through the corn, examining the cobs and bits of dirt.

    After a brief, but pleasant meal of chili it was time to get back to work.  Grandpa took Lara back into the combine to ride for a few rounds.  We had the opportunity to see a beautiful buck jump out of the corn.  Julie and I both admired it, but for different reasons.  I wished I had a gun with, Julie a camera.

    In all it was a great day and a good chance to make a few memories.  I enjoy small moments like this when I have a chance to remember my childhood, and give my kids the opportunity to remain connected to the land and our history.


  7. What a year!

    November 2, 2013 by Peter

    Lara loves the farm!As I was writing the remaining thank you cards for my customers today, I spent some time reflecting on the year we have had here in our area. Last winter we were worried about a drought – there was little snow on the ground, and the crops had used much of the ground moisture in 2012. Then the dry winter changed as we received a large amount of snow later on. This brought a new concern of when growers would get into the field to plant! Fortunately we were able to get the crops in the ground, only to find that the weather had plans to withhold rain for more than one month. Things were drying up fast and not looking to improve.

    In addition we had major wind storms and heat to put more stress on the crops…the fields needed rain. Ironically we did receive rain, right about when everyone wanted to start harvesting. At that point the rain became a blessing for next year, and a curse for trying to get this year’s crops off the fields. Growers alternated between beans and corn, wishing they had planted more wheat. Then a brief snow came, followed by more rain…

    DCIM161GOPROI’ve heard growers say they just want a “normal” year. To which I respond, “What would that look like?” Each year is a new adventure faced with many challenges, trials, moments of joy, and filled with many hours of hard work.

    As I seed seller, I look at my role with great joy and a heavy burden. Growers partner with me and entrust their livelihood on the recommendations I make and the products I bring to the market. I in turn trust the producers I work with to provide quality products so we can all be successful. It’s a great circle of trust, communication, and (at times!) frustration when things don’t go as planned.  But I remain grateful for my customers – for the trust they give each time they work with us to plan another year.

    Here’s to a wonderful 2014! As we close the chapter on this year, we look forward to a new crop season with anticipation.


  8. Announcing our first annual Corn Production Seminar!

    January 3, 2013 by Peter

    Planting season will quickly be upon us!  It is important to begin with the end in mind, and have a plan for getting the best yield from this year’s crop.  With all the variables that can impact yield, and bottom line, wouldn’t you like a jump start on a successful year?

    Please join us for our first annual Corn Production Seminar in Kulm.  This event will be hosted by experienced field agronomist Bruce Due.  Bruce has extensive experience with small grains in our area and will be covering a wide range of topics that will help your corn crop be successful.

    This event has been well-attended in other areas, and we are pleased to bring it this year to Kulm.  It is not a sales seminar, but focused on how you can get the most out of your crop.  During the meeting, we will examine and dissect live corn plants through the various growth stages.

    • RSVP Required
    • CCA credits available
    • Lunch Provided
    • Limited Seating – RSVP Today!

    Sponsored by Mycogen Seeds.