Agronomy Rx: Expert advice
Agronomy Rx offers independent perspective
WEBSTER CITY — When Larry Eekhoff, founder of Agronomy Rx, became a Certified Crop Advisor in 1994, it was merely a stepping stone in the pursuit of his life-long passion for agriculture and the people caring for the land.
This month, the Iowa Certified Crop Advisors recognized Eekhoff and 41 of his peers for 25 years of service at the Ag Industry Crop Management Conference during the Iowa Agribusiness Showcase & Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
After a long and successful career in the grain cooperative business, he retired and shifted gears. Still, the fire in his belly remained for crop production and the technological revolution driving the quest for the perfect digital acre. He maintained his CCA and soon headed back to the field.
What began as a phone call for seed advice here, and a ride in a combine there, swiftly became a consulting business. In the beginning, he found himself offering advice to lifelong friends and neighbors seeking the very best combination of crop inputs to render the greatest yield on their row crop acres.
“He really didn’t approach the growers, they came to him,” Dede Eekhoff said of the early days of Agronomy Rx, when consulting sessions took place at the dining room table.
Free from association with any retail organization, it was clear that growers were hungry for information untainted by the obligatory sales pitch–simply put, “how can I get the most from the acres that I farm?” The phone didn’t stop ringing. Armed with a laptop, his cell phone, a Dodge pickup, and a depth of practical agronomic experience, Eekhoff quickly became a roving resource for independent knowledge on soil health, variable rate fertilizer application, hybrid performance, strategic planting populations and electronic data analysis.
In 2015, the Eekhoffs purchased the former Moose Lodge building on the west end of Webster City. With a great deal of support and elbow grease from his family, the building was transformed from a dark, smoky, well-used bar and restaurant to a bright, welcoming office space, meeting venue, kitchen, and shop area. With the new space, Eekhoff was readily able to offer professional service to his ever-growing client base; today supporting more than 70,000 acres in north central Iowa, ranging from small, relatively conventional operators to large, highly technical operations adopting cutting-edge farming practices and equipment.
The foundation of the Agronomy Rx success story is built upon his solid experience in the field and ability to wholly listen to the needs and goals of each individual grower. All decisions are rooted in these candid confidential conversations.
A baseline fertility picture is drawn from either historical soil sampling data, or new data collected by Agronomy Rx contractor, Soilview, LLC, assuring quality data is collected in an efficient manner. Once the fertility maps are available, Eekhoff sets about, mixing art with science. A multitude of agronomic software is available to digest the numbers,
“It takes an agronomist to interpret the data and create the recommendation that matches the actual acre,” he said.
Variable rate fertilizer recommendations are drafted, populations and hybrids are assigned to specific acres, in-season nitrogen application plans are formulated, and ultimately harvest maps are created in the Agronomy Rx office. Eekhoff serves as a Climate Fieldview dealer and coaches growers of all digital comfort levels on the use of the mobile application as a tool for their operation, regardless of size and budget.
The www.agronomyrx.com website was launched in the spring of 2017, and the Agronomy Rx office began hosting grower meetings highlighting seasonal successes and challenges in an open format with information exchange among speakers and viewers alike. Eekhoff networks with other Certified Crop Advisors and funnels key information digitally through his website and facebook page or at events hosted in his office.
“Without healthy soil, there are no healthy plants,” he said.
Eekhoff focuses much of his agronomic advice on maintaining healthy flora both above and below the ground. He encourages his clients to consider a whole-system approach to crop production, concentrating on maintaining a rootzone with a diverse spectrum of microorganisms through a variety of means: alternative tillage practices, seed inoculants or biostimulants.