Scott Hart’s 25 years in the seed industry have taken him to Pioneer, Garst, Monsanto, and now to his current duties with AgVenture. Through his experience in product management, sales agronomy, sales management and business development, Scott directs AgVenture’s Product and Technical Marketing efforts.
We interviewed Scott about how AgVenture’s superior products and business model help farmers succeed.
What does your role at AgVenture entail?
I’m part of the team that is heavily involved with our five crops — corn, soybeans, sorghum, sunflower and alfalfa. Our responsibilities are mostly for the training and advancement of the product portfolio of those five crops. We work with our technology partners doing a lot with reporting on traits and seed treatments. We also coordinate a monthly agronomy update to our Regional Seed Companies (RSCs) and AgVenture Yield Specialists (AYSs).
What are some of the testing procedures you do, both locally and nationally?
At the national level, we use DuPont Pioneer IMPACT™ trials, which is an excellent testing procedure that gives us a lot of insight. What’s really nice about that, is that it gives us coverage from the front range of the Rockies to the Atlantic, where we market our seed. We also use a strip test system, which allows for our RSCs and AYSs to look at our products in the environment where their customers live. In addition to that, we have another plot test within AgVenture that we call the Profit Plot, which is really more of a training observation. So as opposed to taking data on that plot, we do a lot more observation, hands-on training, and proof of concept — everything from product ID and evaluation to some agronomic practices like planter speed, planter depth, and herbicide and fertilizer interactions. So those are really helpful from a testing and training perspective.
After testing, how do you make sure the right seed gets placed on the right ground?
One thing that’s unique about AgVenture is that the crop production plan for a Regional Seed Company is really their decision. The RSC owners will take all the data, all the training, and the product options for that year, and they’ll decide what they want to produce and sell, then we support that. We might offer data from Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, but ultimately the RSC might only care about the product in three counties. That’s where this is really special, because they can choose that product, and we’ll produce it for their customers. It really does bring a lot of value to the customer, because when we say the decisions are made locally, they truly are.
So aside from providing local selection, how else does AgVenture’s product team serve the farmer?
We also try to identify key products coming down the pipeline. There are a lot of traits coming through, but it all starts with genetics. If you look at our MPS program, we look at seed quality and agronomic practices, but the key thing is that it starts with product. Good products have to start with good genetics. If you’re putting traits into average genetics, I don’t care how good they are, you’re still starting with an average product. So my team helps identify what we consider new, exciting products coming through.
From your perspective, what else is unique about the AgVenture product model?
Our focus on seed quality. RSCs have the ability to look at the seed quality testing and decide whether to accept it or not, so that alone is really, really unique. At other companies, there would be a minimum quality standard, and they would sell the seed that meets it. We give the Regional Seed Companies the choice. We truly feel with our MPS system that seed quality is absolutely crucial to getting that crop off to the right start. Our team is in contact weekly with the RSCs, so they’re working together year-round. I think that team relationship is really beneficial.
What new technology is on the horizon for AgVenture?
We’re starting to see some soybean resistance technology that’s losing its effectiveness and that’s a concern when you look at states where this technology is relied on for cyst-resistant soybeans. So we’re pretty excited about the potential of a new seed treatment that we’re adding to our lineup this year in AgVenture Security Squad. It contains a new compound called Ilevo, which is manufactured by Bayer, and not only does it have pretty good activity on soybean cyst nematode, as well as other nematodes, but it’s also got some tremendous efficacy on sudden death syndrome. So we’re really excited about the potential in that and bringing it into our soybean program for 2016.