Prairieland FS - La Belle, Missouri
Driving along Highway 6 in Missouri from the Illinois border, visitors will eventually come across the small town of La Belle, population 660. Surrounded by numerous farm fields filled with corn and soybeans, La Belle has long been known as the site of the longest running annual rodeo in the Show-Me State, now celebrating its 70th year of operation.
Since 2015 La Belle has also been home to the La Belle Prairieland FS facility. Located just outside of town to the east, this outlet has made a name for itself by not only catering to the needs of the area’s grower-customers but also by offering such features as a 24-hour gas station. Now, Prairieland FS has been recognized as a regional winner in the annual Environmental Respect Awards competition, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience in partnership with CropLife® and AgriBusiness Global™ magazines.
“Winning this award is really special and a great honor,” Location Manager Ryan Houghton says. “It’s a wonderful recognition of all the hard work our employees have done to help protect the environment where we all live, here in La Belle.”
According to Houghton, the Prairieland FS facility offers numerous services for its grower-customers, including dry and liquid fertilizer, crop protection product sales, custom application services, and seeds. Among the many environmentally mindful features at the outlet are a batch of dedicated loading lines to keep crop protection products from mixing with one another, heated floors in the dry fertilizer building to prevent crop nutrients from creating a potentially slippery surface to work on, and a water retention pond on the outskirts of the facility to contain water run-off.
Speaking of water, this has been one of the key areas of stewardship conducted by Prairieland FS over the past four years. According to ERS Manager Keith Fricke, the outlet does business in an Atrazine Ecological Monitoring Program watershed, and atrazine use over the years has been a concern in the area. “Atrazine has been the dominate corn herbicide that many have had to think ‘outside the box,’” Fricke says. “We have worked closely with our customers in this area to determine alternative chemistry that can still meet their needs.”
In addition, Houghton says, Prairieland FS has also seen environmental benefits using variable-rate technology (VRT) applications and cover crops. “With VRT, we are able to use the agronomic rate of fertilizer specific to that soil,” he says. “This keeps us from overapplying, which is not cost effective to the customer. And it keeps us from underapplying, which can also be an economic loss to the customer.”
For many years, Houghton says, Prairieland FS employees have made it a point to be active in the local community, with two workers even serving as volunteer firemen. Now that the outlet has won an Environmental Respect Award, he expects the outlet will do more to promote good stewardship. “We are always willing to speak about our industry and agriculture and the positive environmentally sound practices that we practice on a day-to-day basis,” Houghton says.