Featured In This Episode

Channel Seedsman Kevin Peterson

Guest | Channel Seedsman, Indiana

Kevin Peterson

Seth Smoot

Guest | Business Manager for The Climate Corporation

Seth Smoot

Andrew Hughes, Channel Farmer in Indiana

Guest | Indiana farmer

Andrew Hughes

Amity Shedd

Host

Amity Shedd

Resources In This Episode

The service and expertise you get from your Channel Seedsman is now backed by real-time data insights provided by the Climate FieldView™ digital farming platform. FieldView™ offers you and your Seedsman a more connected experience — helping you work together to get the most out of every unique acre.

Amity Shedd:
Hi there. Welcome back to Channel Chat, Season 2. I'm your host, Amity Shedd. And for this episode, we are in Williamsport, Indiana, with Channel Seedsman Kevin Peterson, Climate Business Manager Seth Smoot and Indiana grower Andrew Hughes. Seth and Kevin both team up to help Andrew make the best decisions to keep his farm operation successful. In this episode, we learned how the Climate FieldView™ platform and Channel® Seed work together for the betterment of farmers like Andrew. So let's get started.

Hi there, welcome back to Channel Chat, Season 2 here in Williamsport, Indiana. I have three guests joining us today. Welcome guys.

Seth Smoot:
Hello.

Kevin Peterson:
Hello.

Amity Shedd:
Hi. Do you want to go ahead and introduce yourselves a little bit and talk about your history with Channel, Climate and as a grower?

Seth Smoot:
Yeah, so Seth Smoot, climate business manager with Climate FieldView. Currently cover most of the state of Ohio and northern Indiana, working with our dealers and our customers. Been with Climate for a little over five years, working in the FieldView role. And so yeah, it's just exciting being able to work with folks like Kevin and seeing the value that we're able to bring both to the dealer and the farmer, and enhance that trusted advisor relationship, and being able to make sure we're getting the right products in the right place at the right rate. So it's just exciting to be able to be in this sector of the industry as it continues to grow and become more important, and work with folks like Kevin and Andrew, and see how we can enhance that relationship on the farm.

Amity Shedd:
Kevin, anything you want to add about that relationship?

Kevin Peterson:
We started with Channel a year and a half ago, and we've been working with them, trying to get everything situated. And we utilize Climate for not only scouting but just being able to do yield data and analyses with the customers.

Amity Shedd:
So Kevin, you've been with Channel for a year and a half selling seed?

Kevin Peterson:
Yup.

Amity Shedd:
Awesome. And Andrew, how long have you been in the area, and what's your history of with Channel and Climate?

Andrew Hughes:
Oh, well here in the area my entire life. Three years farming on my own. With Climate, this is going on the fourth year of being involved with Climate and FieldView. First-year customer with Channel.

Amity Shedd:
Awesome.

Andrew Hughes:
Excited. I've seen what they've brought to the table and excited to hopefully reap some of those benefits. So just anxious to get in the fields. And like I said, we're two-and-a-half, three weeks behind schedule and hoping for the best.

Amity Shedd:
Yeah. Can I ask, Kevin, why did you switch to selling Channel Seed? And Andrew, why did you switch to buying Channel seed?

Kevin Peterson:
Well we had been a previous Pioneer agent for 18 years and were looking for different ways that we can bring new products to our customers. It was nice to have a team concept that we were working with from my agronomist, my account manager, our area business manager, working all the way through to get down to our customer. Because at the end of the day, we want our customers to be successful. And so if you have a team going forward, it makes it a lot easier to work with that customer and let them have the advantages of a full package of not only corn but soybeans as well.

Amity Shedd:
Kevin, if you want to talk a little bit about how your customers reacted to the big switch from Pioneer to Channel, how was that taken?

Kevin Peterson:
OK. The transition for our customers, I think they were all in shock a little bit to begin with. I think several of them had seen Channel, or had done some research on Channel in the past, and seen how it was performing. The transition for us has been absolutely outstanding. We're in a position that we never thought we would be in year one with a new company, selling a larger volume than we had ever sold in the past. So it's been a great transition for us. It's really helped us expand our outreach to the extent we've got another guy who’s joining us full time on Monday. He just graduated from Purdue, and Cole's going to be a great asset for us as we start reaching out a little bit farther away from our geography that we're in right now, just because we have room for expansion.

Amity Shedd:
And Andrew, why did you make the switch to Channel? Was it the relationship with Channel or Climate FieldView or how they work together? What was the ultimate decision-maker for that change?

Andrew Hughes:
The change, with Kevin, serviceability. What he brings to the table. With the last grower I was with, same thing he was dealing with, a phone call away. With Kevin, he's a phone call away, then look around, you guys are all here. It's amazing. So that growth there and the support that he has with his business and what is behind him is the big thing that we went after in our organization. So that's where we are going ahead and looking in the future for.

Amity Shedd:
Seth, can you and Kevin talk a little bit about the Channel and Climate FieldView relationship?

Seth Smoot:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah so, the Channel and Climate FieldView relationship has been an evolving one. And so obviously I've been with Climate for a little over five years, and just to watch the growth of the FieldView platform on one hand, and then as we partner with the Channel brand, and the Field Check Up Series, and the Seedsman 360 app that Kevin's using in-season for scouting and some of those things, it's been neat to watch that evolution. So Climate is ... some of our main focuses are helping customers get as much of their data into one place as possible.

So whether that's their agronomic data, from planting data to yield data. And then also that trusted advisor data. So as Kevin is out scouting fields for Andrew or his other customers, how do we give them an avenue to be able to utilize that planting data or their end season’s field health imagery to make sure, hey, where do we need to be scouting? And when we're scouting, how do we document with pictures and text of, hey, what we're seeing, how do I easily share that back to Andrew so then we can communicate if an action plan is necessary. And so FieldView is kind of built around that data in one place, making it easy to analyze and make decisions off of.

And then you have the Seedsman 360 app and the Field Check Up Series that were doing similar things. And so for a while, they were two disconnected systems. Over the last two-and-a-half, three years, it's been neat as we've brought those two together. And so now, rather than Kevin having to dual entry and make those decisions and those entries in both Climate and Seedsman 360, FieldView enables the ability to do that scouting for the Field Check Up Series process. And so now when Kevin's out scouting for Andrew and his other customers, he's got the ability to access the customer’s information, their FieldView account, because they've chosen to share that information with him as a trusted advisor. So he knows where their fields are, what is planted where. And so when he saves that information in FieldView, there's a seamless flow of that data over to the Seedsman 360 app. So then he can execute the Field Check Up Series and really exemplify that Seedmanship at Work® process that the Channel brand experience is all about.

And then be able to provide that Custom Crop Report to Andrew and those other customers at the end of the season to document, hey, here's all of the things that we're working with you on as that trusted advisor, and here's what we're bringing to your operation.

Amity Shedd:
Kevin, anything you want to add about that relationship?

Kevin Peterson:
Yeah, I'm pretty excited about being able to utilize Climate FieldView for our growers because Cole and I do a lot of scouting throughout the year, and this'll be a seamless way for us to transfer that data that we use. This being our first year of Seedsman 360 and being able to utilize Climate for our notes, and sending that information over to our grower. That's one of the biggest problems that you have is, growers are busy now. And so, they don't have time to go walk all their fields with you. And they pay us through the seed units that they buy to go out and scout their fields. And so when we go out and scout their fields, they don't have to be with us if they don't want to. But they know that we've been in their fields by the notes that we might share with them. And so it gives us that just easy transition to send them a couple of pictures, or to jot down a little note of a disease or a weed problem that we might see throughout their field.

And then one other easy fact, it's just simple for FieldView, for us is we deliver a lot of our seed right to the field. And so if a customer tells us which field they're in, we can pull it up on FieldView, and we know exactly what field we're going to. And it's not necessarily related strictly to the production of it, but it makes our job easier, getting to that field and having that same field that the customer tells us where we need to be. We can more timely get there. So not necessarily production-related, but it's just another easy way to use Climate FieldView.

Amity Shedd:
Right. And circling back to Andrew, how does that impact your operation, the relationship with Channel and Climate FieldView? How does that help you get the most out of your acres?

Andrew Hughes:
Oh that's huge. Trusting these advisors here for anything, and him going to scout and whether there's disease pressure or insect pressure, and making that fungicide application. We can sit there and look at that data and send a note to me and say, "Hey, we need to check this spot on the East 40." And we can go back there and look at that. And that transition and that flow of data is seamless, and we like it.

Amity Shedd:
Andrew, how long did it take you to get your operation into that data-first mentality? Was sharing your data on these platforms ever a concern? How did you get over that hump into really embracing it and using it?

Andrew Hughes:
There was really no hump for our organization, for myself. In my generation, 33 years old, technology is where it's at. And if I want to grow and be successful and profitable, I have to use technology. And the data sharing, it's where we're at today, and I truly believe that. So there are trusted sources out there, and Kevin is one of those and the Seedmanship that he brings to the table. So the data sharing, and ... there was never a hump there. It's just, it's where technology is today, and we've got to roll with that if we need to succeed in the business.

Amity Shedd:
Can you guys give an example of, in the region, specifically soil moisture now, how are the partnerships and relationships between all three of you guys working together to figure out a good plan for growers moving forward when we have excessively wet fields? How do you guys work with that?

Kevin Peterson:
We started addressing it a little bit with our seeding recommendations that we're doing for the growers, and prescriptive treat our seeding rates. So we've been trying, on the growers who are utilizing that technology, to have a script already written for the hybrids that are in their shed waiting to be planted so that when they pull into that field, although we might have a plan for a different hybrid to go there, that field wasn't ready yet. So they're going to go.

So they can choose which hybrid, and that script changes based on which hybrid they have in the planter at the time. Because we're going to be doing a lot of jumping around, trying to find fields that are dry. And bulk fill planters, the guy wants to dump a mini bulk in and go plant corn. And so if he's ready to make that transition and change from, say, a 20915 prescription to a 21319 prescription, all he has to do through Climate is choose that prescription, and it's loaded in his planter, and he's ready to go. So we've been doing a lot of, I guess you would say, prework on that, making sure that we have the fields ready to go, and the prescriptions ready for each one of their hybrids in each one of their fields.

Amity Shedd:
Seth, do you want to add a little bit to that?

Seth Smoot:
Yeah. I mean, I think from Kevin's perspective, that's a great example. Because yeah, I mean, the thing with ... farmers are ... when it's time to plant, they're going to plant. And you sit down, and you use these winter months and this time to develop a plan. But the plan doesn't always come to fruition like you have it too. So you've got to be ready to adjust based off of that. And so I think Kevin's example was great in terms of that.

And I think something, as we talked about it, the evolution of the Climate FieldView and the Channel relationship. I think you'll see some products come to market, and we have them in some geographies this year, that we call Seed Advisor. And what Seed Advisor is really developed around is, it takes our advanced seed prescriptions to the next level in terms of giving Seedsmen like Kevin the ability to look and say, "OK, hey, for Andrew's fields, so let's pick a specific field. Here are the top five hybrids that would potentially fit this environment. And so here's one, two and three." So if Andrew goes to a field and he doesn't have number one in his planter, well maybe he's got two or three. So then he knows, hey, these can also work here.

But what it also does is maybe Andrew has a product like 20915. Well 20915 may work excellent in these other five fields, but this one he's about to pull in, it does not fit that environment. So he should ... even if that's the one he's going to plant, either we need to look at getting a different hybrid in there or find a different field. So it really helps keep the grower out of the ditch in terms of, hey, this is not a fit on this acre.

Amity Shedd: Andrew, can you talk about a time when you used the help from Kevin and Seth to help your operation keep moving forward with the technology, and the Seedsmanship that they bring to the table?

Andrew Hughes:
Yeah. Three weeks ago I was working some ground, and I called Kevin, and I said, "Hey, Kevin, if we miss this rain tonight I'm going to plant beans." And he said, "We'll get on the script right now." And a few hours later we were ready to rock and roll. We did not miss that rain. So again, going back to the serviceability and trusting your Seedsman and the technology side of it, it's right there at your fingertips.

Looking to what Seth was saying and piggybacking off Kevin, going to these fields now with the saturated soils, looking at a 209 going in this particular field. Well now I may have a spot that's wet, and I want to throw a better defensive hybrid there. And with these scripts that Kevin has put together for me, I can go through there with confidence and select. I have this variety and this bulk over here, and then select this variety and plant those in that field compared to the ideal situation we were going into a few weeks ago. So that's where I believe this technology is crucial to us moving forward.

Amity Shedd:
Kevin, what do you define good service as? What does Seedsmanship mean to you?

Kevin Peterson:
Oh, we really take pride in our business and we take pride in making sure that our customers are happy at the end of the day, with what they're paying for. They're paying for a bag of seed. But with that bag of seed, they get our service that comes along with it. And so, we really make sure that when our customer is done planning, they feel secure enough that they have the right hybrid in the right location. That they have the product when they need it, where they need it. And they know that if they have an agronomic question or concern, that they can give us a call, and they're going to get an honest opinion. Not a trying to sell you something opinion, but an honest, unbiased opinion of what we really feel like should happen.

We're farmers at heart. We don't farm, but that's what our pride is, is making sure that our farm is ... our customers’ farms are treated like our farm. And so, we really make sure that, at the end of the day, that our customers understand that while they might be having a tough time, we're there with them trying to figure out a way that we can help them through these situations and make sure that we're doing the best we can for them.

Amity Shedd:
And Andrew, why is that so important? Not just to you, but to the other farmers in the area?

Andrew Hughes:
Kevin's operation, he talked about being able to listen to your farmer, your grower. There may be an area here where he's not trying to sell you something. You're telling him, "No, this is what needs to go here." And you compromise, and you guys figure out something that works very well. And that's huge with him and his organization.

Amity Shedd:
Seth, anything you want to add?

Seth Smoot:
Yeah. I think it's all about giving Kevin the options and the ability to give him the tools necessary to help service his customers. So we talked about the Channel brand experience, the Seedsmanship at Work, the ability to generate those Custom Crop Reports. And I think, as you think about the ability to arm Kevin with those tools and those tailored solutions, it's all right. How do we arm him with the ability to use this data, right? So whether it's hybrid placement, variety placement, or whether it's looking at seed treatments. So hey, if I'm looking at some Acceleron® seed treatments, am I looking at fungicide/insecticide? Or as we bring products like NemaStrike™ [Technology] to market, how are we introducing those to our customers and saying, "Hey, here is a value-added service."

And so we can use FieldView to document and show the value of those products in side by sides. And so then when we come back and we harvest that data, there are tools in FieldView around field region reports and yield analyses that allow us to easily analyze that data. So then Kevin has the information, along with Andrew, to say, "Hey, as we move forward next year, here's what we learned from this year." To be able to say, "Hey, here's what we're doing," and using that data to make decisions.

Kevin Peterson:
I might add to that a little bit, just some real-world things that we did last year. FieldView's easy for a grower. You won't find a platform that's easier for a grower to get used to using, or plug and play compatibility to be able to map things. But we do a lot of testing. We've got five different seed treatment tests that we're doing this year, and every one of those is going to be documented with a grower that utilizes Climate FieldView because we know that we'll get the data. And it's seamless, the grower doesn't have to do anything other than label it at the beginning of the season. Last year, we did some trials on some corn, on some over treatment on some corn, and we had over 500 acres with eight different growers. And every bit of it got documented through FieldView, and we were able to find out that this product wasn't necessarily something that was worth spending the extra money on. Because we had 500 acres with eight different growers of documented strips showing that there was not necessarily an advantage to using this product.

So we're not just throwing everything at it blindly. We're trying to make sure that we are documenting things and getting things taken care of. And Climate FieldView makes it easy.

Amity Shedd:
I just wanted to say how awesome it is to hear Seth and Kevin giving all this information. And how Andrew, it's really like you have an honest team behind you, all working together, really with your best interests in mind. That's what it really seems like.

Andrew Hughes:
Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Amity Shedd:
Very informed people helping you out.

Andrew Hughes:
Yes, yes.

Amity Shedd:
So I just have one more question for you guys. I like to end on something a little lighter. I would just like to know why each of you do what you do. Why do you sell Channel seed? Why do you farm, Andrew? And Seth, why do you work with Climate FieldView? What do you love about it? Why are you in this? Why are you in the agriculture industry?

Kevin Peterson:
So my grandparents both farmed, and I've always kind of had a passion for farming. My in-laws farm. And I just really enjoy being in agriculture. I mean, what better industry can you be in that you have the opportunity to be out here every day in the wide open, and see a seed start from nothing to a big, robust plant that's going to produce millions and millions of bushels. But our main reason behind it is we don't farm personally, but we get to farm on thousands of acres because we have a lot of growers who we deal with. And so we basically get to partnership with these guys and work with them directly to make sure that they're profitable so that we both can go on the next year. And so, at the end of the day, the relationship that we have with the grower today, and the relationship we have with the grower this time next year is what's important. Is making sure that they're here from year to year so that we can both do what we love.

Amity Shedd:
Right. Seth?

Seth Smoot:
Yeah. From my perspective, yeah, agriculture is a deep passion of mine. So I grew up on a family farm over in East Central Indiana in a little town called Eaton, just north of Muncie. My family still farms there today. And then I currently live in Greensburg, Indiana, which is kind of south, southeastern Indiana. My father-in-law farms there and I help him in my spare time when I'm not doing podcasts and things like that. But yeah, no. So it runs deep.

My time with Climate, it's been exciting. The data science space, as we look to be able to ... farmers are collecting this data, and so they're looking, they're hungry for people to help give them solutions. OK, I've got this information, how can I use it? What can I learn from it to make better decisions off of? And so, it's an exciting time. If you find a job you like, you never work a day in your life. And so, yeah, I get up and I go to work every day, but it doesn't feel like that because I get to spend time with folks like Kevin and farmers like Andrew. And it's exciting to see them ... like Kevin said, it's easy. So being able to take this information easily, make decisions off of, and what that brings to their operation. And helping them be sustainable and use the information, it's very rewarding.

Amity Shedd:
Living the dream. Andrew?

Andrew Hughes:
Yeah, living the dream. Seth said it, when you find a job you love, you're not going to a job. My grandparents a couple generations ago farmed. Then that went away from the Hughes side. A couple years ago, I got a chance to bring that back to my family, and was blessed with the opportunity to do that. And it's always been there as a passion in my blood. I love it. I'm blessed that I have a chance to go out every single day and do something. There are always obstacles. It's not easy. That's one of the things I love about it.

The risks are there, and you've got to take the risks. You've got to leap and jump and take the faith and know that you have a community behind you like Kevin and Seth, and the family to look forward to, and just to help. We're out here doing everything, not just for ourselves, for everybody, and making an impact, no matter how big or small it is. And it's really fulfilling when you go home at night knowing that you're doing something. And to take that and ... kids to grow up and have that. The faith, and the family, and to know that they're going to go out and work and be there with you, and you watch them grow and watch your business grow. It's just a phenomenal feeling every single day.

Amity Shedd:
Wow. What a great answer. OK, that's all I have.

Kevin, Seth and Andrew are all definitely experts at what they do, and it's really interesting to see how they work together to make farming a little easier and, hopefully, weather-willing, a lot more profitable. Now we're going to hear from grain marketing consultant Matt Bennett, who's going to give us some advice on bin management.

Matt Bennett: This is Matt Bennett, the grain marketing consultant for Channel Seed, and coming to you to talk about markets again in our series. I want to talk a little bit about bin management. So we're actually going to do probably three or four episodes here because it's an extremely important topic. I know some people don't have bins at home, but we have built a ton of storage here in the last few years, here in the U.S.

A lot of reasons that folks are doing so, one of the main ones that we've witnessed guys doing so, and I don't have anything against it, but it was simply to speed up the harvest process. Because of course, as we've had these huge yields, elevators simply haven't been able to handle all the producers being able to deliver grain as quickly as what they've been able to. So that's a big reason why a lot of people have built bins. But coming from a family that had grain elevators as a kid, I know that you can actually use those bins to make some money for yourself simply by doing the same types of things that the elevator system does to turn those bins into money-making machines.

And so first of all, we've got to ask ourselves, how is it that we make money whenever it comes to our bins? Whenever we come into harvest, I always try to encourage folks, we need to think long and hard about what kind of financial needs we're going to need going into harvest. Of course we want to fill our bins, especially when there's full carry in the market. At the same time, if it's an inverted market, maybe we deliver quite a bit of our grain. But if we've got bins, we're all used to using them. And so if there's full carry in the market, basically what the market is trying to tell us is that our grain is going to be worth more in the future than what it is today. The market's saying, "We have plenty of grain right now, we really don't want it, and we'll pay you to keep it on your farm." Or, essentially, if you store it at the elevator, obviously you're going to have storage costs. But the corn is going to be worth more later, so it might be worth it to go ahead and store that corn.

And so the way that the market structure is set up is certainly one in which it kind of tells us what it is that we need to do. It tells us essentially what the market is asking for at the present time. And so by having bins, we can actually give ourselves quite a bit more flexibility as far as the timing of when we might make our sales first of all. And second of all, being able to capitalize when some of these processors and end users might need the grain more than what they do, for instance, at harvest time.

We all know that basis is going to be widest whenever we have harvest, and basis is typically going to get better as the year goes on, especially whenever you have a fairly large-sized harvest. So whenever you have bins, if you're going to fill them every year, we certainly can make money on them.

Even in years with an inverted market there are opportunities. For one thing, when there's an inverted market, usually you have very tight supplies. And so whenever you have tight supplies, that means someone is really going to be wanting the grain later on in the year.

So in the next couple of topics what we're going to end up doing as we go through this, is we're going to talk about specifically what you might be looking for whenever it comes to basis, what might you be looking for whenever it comes to marketing, and how is it that you're going to be able to make your bins turn into money making machines once again.

So this has been Matt Bennett, the grain marketing consultant with Channel Seed, and we'll come back to you with part two of our bin management series, and we'll go further into this.

Amity Shedd:
Thanks for listening, and don't forget to subscribe to this podcast to hear more from Season 2 of Channel Chat. Learn more ChannelPodcasting.com.

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