Left, Kyle Hoppes and Toby Ripberger and prepare to sow Ohio's Practical Farm Research plots back in 2013.

In defense of ag retail…

By Richard Strow, CCA, Ridgeville Elevator

In the June issue of OCJ, an article by H. Watters and G. LeBarge used a broad brush to paint Ag Retail as “just trying to sell something.” I take offense to the notion that unless an idea or product is endorsed by “university research” it is unworthy or a waste of money.

While “university research” was valuable in the 50s and 60s to promote and discover new ideas and innovation, today I believe it is the ag Industry that is driving innovation. It has been the ag industry that brought us Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, Extend, Enlist beans, double- and triple-stack corn, and genetic resistance to diseases in wheat.

I am a proud Beck’s Hybrids dealer and I have come to put much more faith and value in the ideas and products highlighted in their annual PFR Book. Ideas and products are tested on real world and real farm conditions, not your typical 10’ x 30’ plots used by universities. The products and ideas are tested for return on investment and those results are published — good or bad — for all to see. Thanks to the research published in the PFR book our business has come to depend on and promote ideas such as closing wheel upgrades, adjusting seeding rates and timing, as well as products that have become PFR “Proven.”

In the summer of 2018 we started promoting and selling products that have passed the test into the “Proven’” status, and have many happy customers. This past fall, one of my customers made a special trip into town to my office to thank me for encouraging him to use one of these products, as he was able to see the significant difference thanks to his combine yield monitor. Another customer after viewing his yield map check strips over the past 3 years, told me that he would applying one of our protocols on all of his acres in the future.

Fungicide treatments are a widely accepted practice today, yet these treatments are constantly being discouraged by university staff in the absence of significant disease pressure. How can this be? Instead of trying to disprove something, why can’t they embrace the idea and instead work to fine tune and improve the protocols.

Over my nearly 40-year career I have seen the Roundup Ready revolution, and the rise of the modern “trait movement.” Now as we look to the future, many see the next revolution, the “biological generation,” already here in its infancy. Therefore, I would suggest to Harold and Greg to step outside the Ivory Tower of their 10 by 30 plots and take a step into whole field studies. Let’s look at new ideas and products as worthy and start working to help Ohio’s farmers to learn how to best utilize these new technologies. The Ag industry has been the driving force for innovation over the past 30 years. Let’s embrace and encourage them in that innovation instead of ridiculing and questioning their motives.


  1. It’s a sad day when OSU Extension recommendations are essentially labeled as “fake” by an Ohio CCA. I doubt there is a better Certified Professional Agronomist and CCA than Harold Watters anywhere in the United States. The Ohio CCA Board, the American Society of Agronomy and the Ohio AgriBusiness Association need to show some leadership and not remain silent on this matter.

    Mark Wilson, B.S. & M.S. Agronomy, The Ohio State University

  2. Problem with OSU is it doesn’t reflect different areas very well, a lot of the practices they recommend do not work for us. Use it as a guideline to test yourself but it shouldn’t be the gospel.

  3. “Fungicide treatments are a widely accepted practice today, yet these treatments are constantly being discouraged by university staff in the absence of significant disease pressure. How can this be?”

    And this ladies and gentlemen is how resistance develops.

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