“It’s in our blood,” said Leonard. “If you’re born and raised around it, it’s just natural that you love it. And you love the earth. You love growing crops.”
After graduating from Iowa State University with his ag business degree, that love of the land and call to agriculture led him to become a fertilizer salesman. Now as the assistant location manager for Key Cooperative in Nevada, Iowa, he shares his practical and learned knowledge with growers in his area.
A single word keeps him up at night
He likes his work, but there’s a word that keeps him up at night: change.
“There's a lot of growers, myself included, that don't like change,” he said. “But agriculture changes constantly every day. We’ve got to go with the punches and keep changing technologies, getting better in the fields.”
Four years ago, when he began selling fertilizer, none of his growers were using nitrogen stabilizers. Common misconceptions about how nitrogen works and how best to protect it were a problem.
“When I would try to have the stabilizer conversation with them, I had several growers say, ‘Well, we're just going to put 10 or 20 more pounds of nitrogen on, it's better bang for our buck.’ But agronomically, that's just not correct,” Leonard recalled. “That's still going to leach out if we get a bunch of rain, versus if you have the stabilizer on there, it’s protected.”
With higher fertilizer prices in the marketplace, growers can take advantage of the benefits nitrogen stabilizers have to offer. By protecting applied nitrogen with a stabilizer, growers have an opportunity to spend less to put down fewer pounds of fertilizer.
A stabilizer product changing minds
A few years ago, Leonard was introduced to a stabilizer on the market. That product has helped him change the minds of many of his growers.
CENTURO® nitrogen stabilizer from Koch Agronomic Services was the change Leonard and his growers needed. The nitrification inhibitor for anhydrous ammonia and UAN helps to keep more nitrogen available for plant uptake. So instead of putting down more nitrogen to reach higher potential yields, Leonard now helps growers understand how to protect what they’ve already applied.
“The agronomic benefits that made me make the switch to CENTURO was the technology,” he said. “The other things that made me really want to switch to CENTURO was the economics of it, the costs and also the ease of handling. Those were the three big things that made me switch.”
With CENTURO, Leonard’s growers are putting down less, making it the cost-effective choice. CENTURO was the economical choice for him as well. From a retail perspective, the other nitrification inhibitor product they used before CENTURO was expensive to use.
“We were having to spend a sizeable amount of money on equipment to put on the toolbars, to inject the stabilizers in,” he said. “And if you didn't get them winterized after the season's done, then the next year you're spending all sorts of money to fix it back up. So, just the ease of handling with CENTURO has made my life a lot easier because we're putting it direct in the tank. It's non-corrosive and it doesn't stink. It's so much nicer to deal with that product than the other we used before.”
Leonard says CENTURO has improved the process for his whole team. From the storage options of not requiring stainless steel tanks to the product’s subzero freezing point, CENTURO has been a positive change for everyone.
“In the next five years, I hope that everybody's stabilizing,” he said. “It will be good to make that change.”