2014 Regional Winner

Centennial Ag Supply - Yuma, CO

Being selected a Regional Dupont Environmental Respect (ERA) Award winner takes a top-notch facility designed to protect the fragile countryside surrounding it. But that's just the beginning. The staff at Centennial Ag Supply Company of Yuma, CO, a 2014 ERA Regional winner, knows it goes much deeper. "For me environmental respect means sustainability," says Jake Adler, regional manager for Centennial.

"Sustainability for our growers, employees, suppliers and the people who live in this community — that's what this is all about," he says. Adler works closely with Operations Manager Eric Johnson to assure that the business will serve the high plains of Colorado for generations to come.

"We think our customer's profitability and sustainability is increased by our high standards here at Centennial," explains Johnson. "When we saw our plant in Kersey, CO win the national ERA award last year, it raised the bar here in Yuma," says Adler. "We knew we were doing a good job, but it forced us to take a closer look at the operation. We discovered that we could do even better. This award has helped us improve and build pride within our organization."

Centennial customers are a seasoned lot who face the challenges of the high plains every day in their farming and ranching operations. That dedication pays, Yuma County has the third highest corn production of any county in the United States. That's a lot of corn and it stays right in the high plains to nourish the hundreds of thousands of cattle and hogs fed every year.

"Irrigated high yielding corn production has been a way of life here since the early 1970s," says Johnson. That success is being challenged as continued drought and limiting water supplies keep the Centennial staff and its customers searching out new ways to maintain production. "Farmers often grumble that with decreasing water supplies we are not going to make this work," says Adler. "However in my lifetime I've seen water rates reduced by half and at the same time yields are still increasing."

The job of helping these big progressive operators move forward falls on the capable shoulders of a relatively young staff. "Their handwork and dedication has earned them the respect of a growing customer base," says Jim Fargo, last year's ERA national winner from Centennial Ag. "They are willing to pitch in and do whatever it takes to make the location successful."

The young sales force includes Sales Agronomists Brad Benson and Miranda Sims. Benson stepped into the position from similar work in the rice fields of Louisiana. "I've had a lot to learn about Colorado agriculture," he says. "No two years are the same here in the high plains."

Miranda Sims is the locations other sales agronomist and she admits that being a female agronomist assisting local farmers is a bit unique. It doesn't take a very long visit with Miranda for one to realize that her strong ag background and local roots in the high plains help support her sales successes.

"Farmers in the area are increasingly doing more of their own spraying," says Johnson. "Out facility is set up to support this growing segment of the business. We developed a very efficient way to load mini-bulk containers from our indoor chemical storage tanks. The system liits the amount of product handled by our customers."

The Yuma facility sells only liquid fertilizer and the load out area is set on concrete. Separate lines from each fertilizer mixture eliminates cross contamination. A color and number coded valve system keeps the field staff moving product in and out efficiently.

Other members of the staff include Hannah Taylor taking care of the day-to-day orders and paperwork while Joe Scobee, Derrick Shelton and Rodger Kuntz handle the trucking and application duties in the field. "I'm a fairly new employee here," says Kuntz who once owned his own applicator business. "I was attracted here by the company's reputation and clean appearance. I'm impressed with everyone's commitment to doing things the right way."

"Farmers in the area are using the latest precision agriculture equipment," notes Adler. "The job of servicing an increasing demand for precision farming has pretty well fallen on my shoulders in this area. "We are mapping fields using a zone-management approach and growers are asking for information about both variable fertilizer and seeding." Alder says this area of the high plains has been slower to adopt the concept of using the data from yield mapping to make farming decisions.

"But that is changing rapidly here," he says. "The demand for knowledge about precision irrigation is really heating up. This is a great opportunity for Centennial Ag to further service their customers in this area."

Along with the training that goes with getting up to speed in precision agriculture, the staff at Centennial is constantly upgrading their emergency response knowledge. "Last fall a grower had a semi-trailer tip over in a road ditch," says Johnson. "He didn't know who to call, and thought of Centennial Ag.

"I assembled a crew of my guys and we took our spill kits and assisted in the clean up. We also instructed the grower on how to safely land apply the spilled fertilizer. Our efforts helped to prevent 750 gallons of crop protection product from spilling into the roadside," says Johnson.

"Our people are always going the extra mile to assist in community activities," says Adler. That activity has included assisting the local junior college develop a new Agricultural Program. Centennial Ag even donated the large overhead scoreboard above the high school basketball court.

"It's good to get the community participating with us," says Fargo. "In 2005 the Centennial Ag Yuma site was a vacant building in the community. Today, we hope we are helping to provide a model of success for other business opportunities in this area."