AgVenture D & M
Seed breeding and planting is not a one-size-fits-all business. Today’s producers need and expect more when it comes to crop planning, planting and protection. AgVenture D & M, a locally-owned seed company based in Kentland, Indiana, understands this need. As part of the nation’s largest network of 32 independent regional seed companies, AgVenture D & M has access to top performing genetics, world-leading crop technology and yield specialists who work with customers to create a customized approach.
AgVenture D & M leverages these resources to select optimal combinations of high-yield genetics and traits that best suit specific growing conditions. “Through our Maximum Profit System, which begins with the underlying base of genetics and top seed quality, we map a plan to get the most out of corn, soybean and alfalfa products,” explains Mike Davis, owner and co-founder of AgVenture D & M. “Every year we try to figure out how we can raise the bar in production per bushel without increasing input costs.”
A different kind of seed company
AgVenture’s customized approach has set the seed company apart since inception. “Our story is really two stories weaved into one, beginning with the AgVenture brand,” explains Davis, who established the company with his partner John Cassidy in 1983.
“After I finished grad school at the University of Arkansas, I wasn’t sure what industry I wanted to go into,” recounts Davis. “I ran into a group of guys that were excited about what they were doing in the seed business. I worked for another seed company for about seven years and in 1983, John and I, along with two other partners started AgVenture.”
Since Day One, Davis says the company’s mission has revolved around three focal points: selecting the best genetics, having the highest quality seed possible and giving farmers the information they need to get the most out of seed products. “The final point is standing behind these products,” says Davis. “We didn’t start out as an integrated seed company; we were always based in retail.”
“We found our strength was really in selection of the right products for each geographic location and then taking it a step further by bringing the specific variety to the farm to get the most out of it,” explains Davis. “Our larger competition really only offered a one-size-fits-all kind of seed breeding and planting.”
For the first few years, AgVenture maintained a strong retail business, but before long, Davis and his partners had worked out a contract with salesmen in Minnesota and Iowa to develop a regional seed company concept. “They wanted the right to market the seed in protected territories and the ability to select varieties and quantities,” says Davis. “On our end, we controlled the brand and the production under AgVenture.”
In 1989, two new partners joined the company, Dan and Phil Kerkhoff, and AgVenture continued to develop regional contracts. “We grew the original AgVenture from a group of three seed companies to 38 regional seed companies in 2010,” says Davis. “In 1994, I named one of these regional companies AgVenture D & M, which now serves northwest Indiana, central Illinois and western Kentucky and Tennessee.”
In the late 2000s, AgVenture D & M and its regional cohorts had grown considerably, but the four of us knew it was time to take the next step for AgVenture as a whole. “At this point, we took the company as far as we could without deeper research pockets,” he says. “We needed more capacity to get to the next level so we contracted an arrangement with Pioneer and AgVenture was the first ever seed company acquired by Pioneer.”
Driving maximum returns
As a member of the AgVenture network, AgVenture D & M remains based in Kentland with a 20-person staff. The company leverages its relationship with major genetics suppliers and world-leading technology to create a customized plan for area producers. “We call this our Maximum Profit System,” notes Davis.
The foundation of this system starts with diverse genetics and traits. This list includes products that protect from above-and-below-ground pests, provide herbicide resistance and include seed-applied fungicides and biological growth stimulants sourced from virtually every major supplier in the seed industry. But even with superior traits, 75 percent of all varieties never yield to their potential because they are planted on the wrong piece of ground, or don’t employ the most effective cultural practices “Our crop planning system greatly reduces this risk,” explains Davis.
Step 1: Crop planning
To increase yields, the first step is to establish a good crop plan. Through the summer, AgVenture D & M helps producers prepare for increased yields through an exclusive planning process, including fall tillage practices, matching the right hybrid seed to the right soil and proper fertilizer applications for the next growing season. AgVenture D & M offers hundreds of high-performing hybrids engineered to work for specific field conditions and planting practices.
Step 2: Planting
AgVenture D & M’s yield specialists help growers understand industry best practices in planting techniques. “We help farmers stay on top of current trends and work with them to employ new strategies that will work to boost their overall yield performance,” says Davis. “In fact, many of our AgVenture D & M yield specialists are in the fields with you while you plant, making sure your row spacing, planting depth and other factors are on course for record-breaking yields.”
Step 3: In-season protection
To protect what has just been placed in the ground, AgVenture D & M’s yield professionals work with producers through the growing stages to monitor fields and ensure pests and diseases are not threatening crops. “We stay on top of what is happening in the region with other growers and let our customers know if there are any red flags to be aware of,” adds Davis. “We’re working with a new Bayer soybean treatment product called Ilevo; this is one of the most recent fungicide treatments. We’re very aggressive in adopting and incorporating new treatments into our product portfolio.”
Also on the horizon in crop monitoring is a drone program, adds Davis. “The technology is improving so rapidly,” he says. “We’re getting ready to introduce this technology once we can make sure it will be profitable for us and for our customers. But one thing is for certain, it’s more efficient. A drone can cover an 80-footwide section of field and through stitching technology; incorporate all of the 80-foot passes into one overlay of the field, allowing you to see the big picture, rather than just a chunk at a time.”
Davis says AgVenture D & M is always looking for advances in technology that make sense for the company and its customers as a win-win. While growers can’t control environmental conditions, they can leverage technology, top seed genetics and treatments coupled with precise planning to drive maximum yields and AgVenture D & M is the guiding partner in this process.