The Final Chapter of the GMO Argument?

GMOs have been in the news lately, and for once, it’s been positive press.

For nearly twenty years, genetically modified organisms have attracted negative attention brought on by poorly informed non-experts with access to the masses. Ah, the power of modern day social media.

But as of late, a series of articles have supported the benefits, safety and value of genetically modified organisms. It is thought that this public breakthrough could finally put to bed the argument of the safety of GMOs to human health. Additionally, a well-known, brilliant billionaire has weighed in, giving GMOs a boost in the right direction in public eye.

The Breakthrough:

A recent meta-analyses, which sorted through hundreds or thousands of studies (how would you like to have that job?) to separate the fact from the noise and draw surer conclusions from scientific data, compared GMO corn with conventional varieties.

The analysis of over 6,000 peer-reviewed studies covering 21 years of data found that GMO corn increased yields up to 25 percent and dramatically decreased dangerous food contaminants. The study analyzed field data from 1996, when the first GMO corn was planted, through 2016 in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.


Key findings:

  • GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 percent relative to their non-GMO equivalents
  • GMO corn crops had lower percentages of mycotoxins (-28.8 percent), which can lead to economic losses and harm human and animal health. What exactly are mycotoxins?:
    • Mycotoxins, chemicals produced by fungi, are both toxic and carcinogenic to humans and animals. A significant percentage of non-GM and organic corn contain small amounts of mycotoxins. These chemicals are often removed by cleaning in developing countries, but the risk still exists.Genetically modified  corn has substantially fewer mycotoxins because the plants are modified to experience less crop damage from insects. Insects weaken a plant’s immune system and make it more susceptible to developing the fungi that produce mycotoxins.
  • The study also reaffirmed the scientific consensus that genetically modified corn does not pose risks to human health.

Let’s review that last point again:

advice 2016

For years the misinformed have argued that GMOs in the U.S. and Canada haven’t increased crop yields and could threaten human health; this meta analysis proved just the opposite.


The Billionaire

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates recently participated in an “Ask Me Anything” online forum and remarked that not only does he view genetically modified foods as “perfectly healthy,” but that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger.

advice 2016

“GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”

gatesHis strong and public opinion of GMOs is getting press because it seems to be the opposite of others’ who aren’t necessarily educated on the topic, but are quite passionate (and maybe vocal?) about it. It appears that for once, someone with a mighty microphone did their homework and has made a personal decision for the benefit of progress and health.

When speaking of the argument regarding the safety and value of GMOs?
As far as we’re concerned, the book is closed.



Information came from these sources:

After Two Decades of GMOs, Scientists Find They Live up to Their Promise

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ — and scientists say he’s right

Does GMO corn increase crop yields? 21 years of data confirm it does—and provides substantial health benefits




Winter Agronomic Insights: A Note from Dlugosz

This winter agronomy note is contributed by Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz. He offers a few things to consider during these cold winter months. 

Maintaining yields while managing input costs is a real challenge this year. In basketball, the fundamentals like good defense, taking care of the ball and making free throws are essential to winning consistently on the court. Growers’ crops need to follow the same philosophy: Try to match the hybrids and varieties to your specific field conditions.

Nitrogen loss is a big deal for many growers nearly every year. Choosing the optimum nitrogen rate for your soils and the use of nitrogen management tools like N-Serve®/Instinct® and Agrotain can help supply nitrogen all season long. Splitting your nitrogen into several applications increases overall efficiency and uptake.

Leaf diseases in both corn and soybeans can be a big yield robber. Plant hybrids and varieties with good disease packages, especially if you don’t want to spray fungicides. This is especially true in reduced-tillage situations or where soybeans will be grown back-to-back.

Last year, weed control was very difficult due to so much rain. Remember that a good weed control program always utilizes a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small. In corn, weeds that get over 4 inches in height before they are killed will silently rob yield.Dlugosz

Finally, a quick reminder to watch for weed resistance. Problems are usually first seen as patches of a particular weed species across a field that won’t die. Repeated applications also have little effect.

If you have any concerns, be sure to contact your local ag center and we can come out and take a look.


Steve Dlugosz received a BS in Agronomy from Purdue University in 1980, and a MS in Entomology from Purdue University in 1991.  He started his career as an Area IPM Extension specialist for Purdue, and worked an eleven county area of southwest Indiana.  In 1985, he went to work for Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative Inc.  He has held various agronomic positions within the Cooperative system over the years of industry consolidation, and is currently the Lead Agronomist for Harvest Land Co-op.

Steve has been heavily involved in the CCA program since its inception, and has served in a number of leadership roles including Chairman of the International CCA Board in 2006.  Steve has also served on a number of agricultural and industry boards and committees over the years.  In 1997 he was appointed by the Governor of Indiana to serve on the Indiana Pesticide Review Board and currently serves today.  He testified before two different Congressional Committees on Agriculture in 2005 and again in 2010.



Be Still

After 27 inches of rain in the last 31 days for some parts of our trade territory, there is nothing like waking up to this forecast earlier this week:


As we recover from another shower, we wanted to share with you a video from one of our customers, Alan Bays.

Four generations of Bays have used Harvest Land’s service and products, forming a business relationship that spans fifty years. Excellent reliability with fuels, competitive pricing, available purchasing options and a knowledgeable team are all qualities on which the Bays family relies on Harvest Land.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Bays were the cover family of our 2012 Annual Report.

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 8.09.49 AM
Justin Bays, Brian Bays,  Elle Contos, Bennett Contos and Sarah Contos

Brian Bays once said of the family’s history with Harvest Land:

“With Harvest Land we’ve sustained a very long-term, business relationship that has provided quality supplies and price-competitive opportunities. We’ve consistently had good relationships with Harvest Land employees, and they always strive to provide solutions for our operation.”  -Brian Bays

The Lapel area, where the Bays farm, has gotten the brunt of the 2017 torrential rains. It seems that if a shower hits Indiana, it’s sure to hit their farm.

But, there is still hope.

We invite you to take a look at this inspiring video from Alan, brother of Brian:

We are so proud to be a small part of Bays’ family operation.









Save The Date: August 16


What are you doing on August 16?

Hopefully spending the morning with us!

We invite you to save the date for our 2017 Answer Plot to be held at our Winfield plot in Pershing, Indiana.


2017 Answer Plot topics include:
  • Nitrogen Management: Lessons Learned in 2017 for Success in 2018
  • Corn & Beans: Finish Strong in 2017, Start Strong in 2018
  • Why Can’t I Kill Weeds Anymore?: Managing with Resistance
  • Are Traits Still Relevant?: Seed Trait Technology
  • Does YieldPro Still Pay?
  • Keynote Presenter: King of Corn, Dr. Bob Nielson
Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz

Our expert agronomy team and Winfield’s top resources will be available all day to ensure you leave in the afternoon with great ways to preserve the potential of every acre you farm.


Stick around and we’ll buy your lunch!


Mark you calendar now: August 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM in Pershing.





Ye of Little Praise


There are a lot of variables in businesses such as our’s. We have many different divisions, span hundreds of miles, employ 300+ people, each with different skill sets and responsibilities, and work daily among thousands of moving parts. Oh, and we’re usually running short on time, too.

In our nearly 100 years of business we’ve learned from time to time that if you’re not careful and attentive to details, things can go awry quickly. It is usually in those rare instances that we hear from our farmer-members, as we should. We appreciate the feedback; it makes us better.

Farmers may be considered “ye of little praise” (not to be confused with ye of little faith; there is no greater demonstration of faith than a man planting seeds in a field; but perhaps that is a blog for another week) because they just weren’t brought up that way. In agriculture there are very few pats on the back, few words of encouragement and absolutely no participation trophies. Often the “praise” received comes in the form of a grain check or a milk check, and it’s only then that you know that you’re doing something right.

Though every once in a great while, farmers send written words of encouragement or praise. And those are the ones that you hang onto.

Our CEO received a personally addressed letter on this desk back in February. Of course, though he might be considered one of those ye of little praise, he appreciated the words tremendously and hung on to the note of praise. Fast forward more than two months later and he thought it appropriate to share.

Dear Scott, 

We intended to send you this note at the end of harvest last fall, and here it is the middle of February. 

We were very pleased with the fertilizer application and custom spraying that the College Corner branch provided during the 2016 growing season. It was obvious that Dave Norris and the operators of the sprayers and spreaders were focused on doing a good job instead of covering the most acres in the least amount of time. Bill Curry (who did most of the harvesting) said, “You can tell they took extra care to spray the perimeters of all the fields and were careful of the waterways, too.”

So, we just wanted to let yo know we appreciated their good work and we look forward to their help in the fast approaching growing season. 


It was signed by the land owner and the farmer. 


Despite what the evening news, price at the pump or markets tell you, there is a lot of good going on around us. There are people doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

sprayer sunrise

Photo by applicator Dave Barbee at our Lena Ag Center

This week we encourage you to refrain from being “ye of little praise” and offer encouragement or sincere thanks to someone around you who deserves it.

Your words may be brief but their impact could be enduring.


Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?


What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

rock in field

We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.

Harvest Land Farmer-Member Yields A Win

Can we dote a bit on one of our customers?

Harvest Land farmer-member Bill Mort of Pendleton recently won big with his AG 3334 Asgrow soybeans harvested in 2016. But he isn’t taking all of the credit.

“It was nothing magical we did. Mother Nature was right in there,” said Mort, who has been farming for more than four decades and is the third generation in his family, with the fourth generation on the farm.

Mort raised 85.2 bushels an acre. He was one of two winners from Indiana in the Asgrow national soybean yield contest.mort

“We had the right bean and the right fertility and it just clicked,” Mort said.

Mort purchased all of his beans from Harvest Land in 2016 and went on to do the same for 2017. He also worked with Harvest Land on more than half of his corn acres.

He also utilizes the co-op for his direct fertilizer needs.

He said the weather in his area was almost custom-made for big soybean yields in 2016. While the area saw plentiful rains, the timing made the difference.

“There were farms here that didn’t get planted in 2015 because we had five to six inches of rain. Last year, we had a lot of rain, but it was spaced out and in smaller amounts. It was a perfect storm, and it kicked up the yields in beans. We had average yields in corn, but the beans were exceptional,” Mort said.

Late summer dryness and heat had Mort out checking fields.
“It got dry and hot, and I was concerned. I could see there were a lot of pods, but we didn’t realize what we had. We did a pod count, and we knew they were going to be strong 60s,” he said.
soybean-leavesMort does regular soil testing and advocates for seed treatments.

“I think when you’re planting early you want to do that to keep them safe, especially if it’s cool weather. I think it’s worth it,” he said.

“We started about the middle of April. We bought a vertical tillage tool and ran over some of the ground with that and dried it out to get in there and
plant,” he said.

As to the ability of the Asgrow brand to produce, Mort said he’s a repeat customer.

“I’m going to be planting Asgrow again this year,” he said.

“We enjoy working with Bill out of our Lapel Ag Center,” says Dave Vansickle, Harvest Land YieldPro Specialist. “He is a smart operator and that’s why he remains successful. We’re always glad to see good things happen to Harvest Land customers. This contest is no exception.”

Early planting. Seed treatment. And always, the weather.

Those are the keys to the record-yield Asgrow beans that winners of the 2016 Asgrow national yield contest raised, with yields in the 100-bushel and 80-bushel-an-acre range.

Congratulations, Bill!

We look forward to working with you

towards a successful growing season again this year . 




Much of this information originally appeared in an  Agri-News article. 

Confused Winter = Opportunity

Have you seen the weather forecast for the week ahead?


A year ago we wondered if a snow storm might prohibit farmers from making their way to the Winter Innovation Forum (it didn’t, but the way; 700 growers showed up) and this year we wonder if potential attendees may be planting corn.



Mother Nature is sure playing an interesting card and keeping temperatures above freezing for the next 15 days. The problem with abnormally warm temperatures in February is that people begin to get a little too aggressive on their spring planning and a (very likely still to happen) cold snap could really mess up the best laid plans.

For instance:

crocuses-wallpaper-1343-1474-hd-wallpapersGrandma’s crocuses are coming up and she’s already looking for a reason to begin searching for perennials to plant. Crocuses are beautiful, but seeing them in February means their pretty buds may not make it through the month of March when the cold, true winter weather returns. Additionally, she’s already filled the north end of the dining room table with her garden starts, anxious to get seed in the ground. Now her dining room table only seats 3 instead of six; that’s why you’ll have to eat in shifts.

Seed starts

Mom already washed and stored all of the coveralls in a wishful-thinking kind of way. She is hoping that Mother Nature is, in fact, a Mother and no mom in her right mind would want to bring out the worn out Carhartts once they’ve been double washed and stored.



While the warm winter weather may seem like a good time to celebrate spring, the truth is that this is an ideal time to get fertilizer spread on your fields. Take advantage of the sunshine and dry days and prepare now for spring’s work load. Spreading fertilizer in February reduces future work load in the extremely busy spring days. Contact your YieldPro Specialist now to take advantage of this window in February to get some of April’s work done.

That way you have more time for other things, such as helping Grandma plant those tomatoes or lugging that 50 lb. tote of clean Carhartts up to the shop loft for your mother.


LAST CHANCE!! Register for the 2017 Winter Innovation Forum here


The WinField Crop Adventure

Growing up there was one phrase, comprised of only two words, which if spoken was sure to land you in a bad place.

“I’m bored.”

This brief declaration was usually followed by this powerful response: “Oh, I can fix that.”

Mom and Dad were always good for their word.

Picking up sticks or nails, hauling manure via wheelbarrow, sorting the recycling and smashing aluminum cans with a homemade steel tamper, stacking wood, pushing rocks up hills. The list of boredom-prevention exercises goes on and on. One summer morning I recall the hay tedder broke down and we actually tedded an entire hayfield by pitchfork. That was a fun day. A hot one, too.

I never looked at boredom the same way again.

Summer is in full swing and soon – believe it or not – the county fairs will be over and families will have a bit more free time to do some traveling. Ten days at Disney World livestock free, you ask?

Not likely.

However, there is a place that just opened that might feel a little like Disney World to a kid involved in agriculture.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 6.57.46 PM

The Winfield Crop Adventure has officially opened at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. This hands-on exhibit is designed to fully engage participants in understanding exactly what it takes to grow food for a population growing quickly to 9 billion people. It’s very likely that the kids in your family “get it”, but this state-of-the-art exhibit is sure to educate and impress even the most seasoned agriculturalists. Yourself, included.

hands on

What can you experience?

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food.
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmer use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Take your picture with your favorite bugs.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.
  • Find the right ag career for you.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 6.57.32 PM

So pack up the kids, or grandkids, or the annoying neighbor kids who have absolutely no idea about food production, and head to Fair Oaks Farms to visit the new Winfield Crop Adventure. Teach everyone a thing or five while getting out of your home area and combatting the “I’m bored” scenario.

tech  roots

Check out all Fair Oaks Adventures

Oh, and might we suggest a place for dinner on your way home? Culver’s has a fantastic partnership with America’s farmers and they’re actively working to help us tell our story. I highly recommend the double butter burger with fries and a vanilla snickers concrete mixer for dessert, but that may just be the boredom talking.