Anez Consulting: Focus On Fertility

Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
At left, Co-Owner Paul Anez with Precision Agronomy Manager Michael Dunn.

Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic matter to hilly fields that jolt from sand to clay and everything in between. It’s a consultant’s dream — at least for a consultant with ambition and a desire to solve complex, soil-infused puzzles for grower-customers.

Anez Consulting, based a two-hour drive northwest from Minneapolis in the town of Little Falls, has worked to prove itself up to the challenge for 27 years with a keen focus on soil health to drive yield. Its use of imagery in non-traditional ways is shedding light on field-limiting factors and bringing solid value to customers.

“We’re growing the consulting business each year by focusing on fertility as base and foundation for everything,” says Paul Anez, who owns and operates the consulting business with his brother Vince. “We try to balance our clients’ soils so they can take on more and be more efficient with inputs, in particular nitrogen.”

Embracing Zones

Anez Consulting has been on a slow and steady build from the beginning, when Vince Anez took over a handful of clients from another consultant in 1990. After a decade of work to build the business, Vince brought in brother Paul and sister Renee to get the business on a faster growth path.

Precision agriculture came later to central Minnesota than the flat, rich corn growing areas in the southern part of the state. But by 2008, grower-customers were beginning to outfit themselves with the base tools of precision agriculture, so Anez started with doing grid sampling. However, it was clear that traditional grid sampling was not meshing with the company’s overall approach to fertility.

“We wanted to look at ways to approach fertility that meshed more with our philosophy, which was focusing on identifying differences in soil properties,” says Paul Anez. Enter Michael Dunn in 2010, who worked with the company on a system that would divide fields into management zones according to differences in soil properties.

Why the emphasis on zones? While there is a healthy portion of the service area featuring the traditional “flat and black” field, a significant portion features extreme in-field soil variability, says Dunn. “Relative to the rest of the area around us, I would say we have about the most variability as far as topography and soil organic matter and CAC,” says Dunn. “It is not uncommon to have sand, clay and silt all in the same 40-acre field — much more extreme than the typical Midwest soil and it can change relatively fast. That’s why the 2.5 acre-grids approach was not doing a good job representing spatial variability.”

Consultative Selling

With a wide range of soils and topography comes a wide range of farming practice, which makes taking a consultative approach to developing agronomic programs a necessity. “We’re really trying to fit programs to growers,” says Paul Anez. “On top of the natural variability here, we have a wide range of grower practices to deal with. There’s a fair amount of no-till and conventional till practices that can make field mapping challenging.”

There is also a long continuum of experience and comfort level with new agronomic practices among the grower-clients that will also need to be recognized and taken into consideration. “What we do to get started and move through the process is to start by asking a lot of questions,” says Anez. “We want to understand what their goals are, what their plans are five and 10 years down the road, and try to tailor our program around their need and wants.”

After these initial discovery sessions, the agronomy team works to build recommendations for the farmer, which may or may not be the most advanced options. “We have a lot of resources at our disposal, but after we’ve gone through meeting with the client it might be that precision is not the fit for them right away,” says Anez.

As stated before, soil health and fertility are at the core. “Ultimately the program is dependent on what the grower is looking to manage, but for most of our clients it’s about soil pH and fertility. It’s an area where we can emphasize the potential for savings on inputs, including phosphorus and potassium.”

Managing seed population to create savings on seed in low performing areas, while targeting higher yield potential with higher seed population in better performing zones is also an emphasis, says Anez.

Menu of Services

The zone approach requires valid, ground-truthed maps that Anez develops from a combination of imagery sources and a two-year sampling regimen. Imagery sources include data pulled from Sentinel 2 satellite images, Veris EC maps, USGS historical imagery, and if needed, aerial or UAV-derived imagery. The object is to establish the tightest possible zone boundaries, and a clear picture of the characteristics of the transitional areas between the zones. This includes a practice of taking bare soil imagery that has been championed by Dunn that he asserts significantly improves the correlation of zone to soil properties.

The base fertility program includes some high-touch services, such as weekly scouting and nitrogen management. Pictured: Michael Dunn, Anez Consulting

The base fertility program available to farmers includes some high-touch services, such as weekly scouting and nitrogen management. For those on the plan, “we have all the grower’s nitrogen input data, including information on manure application, pre-plant and starter use, and plans for sidedress,” says Anez.

Nitrogen recommendations and maintenance are aided by the employment of Adapt-N, which is used to predict in-season nitrogen requirements for split applications at the beginning of the season. Then, scouts will use either the SoilScan 360 instant nitrogen test in the field, or send samples to a lab to test for nitrogen, re-run the actual numbers through the Adapt-N model and get an even more accurate recommendation for the in-season nitrogen application.

“Adapt-N provides us a nice way to recalibrate based on most recent soil test nitrate so we can get a more precise readout when we run new data through the model,” says Dunn. “It helps to provide another layer of data to observe in field, and allows us to have a better handle on soil nitrogen availability.

Integrated pest management is another valued service Anez Consultants provides. “Many growers take IPM to mean insurance pest management and plan on spraying a field for insects just as a regular part of the crop production cycle; we work with growers to identify thresholds and decide whether they will actually gain an economic benefit from that application in-season,” says Dunn. It is part of the base program, but the grower may line up for scouting service in addition to the base plan to get specific timing for taking control measures against a specific pest. Two recent examples of popular services were glyphosate-resistant waterhemp on the weed control side which recently broke into the area, and caterpillars on the insect side.

Anez and Dunn admit it can be difficult at times to get growers to perceive a clear return on investment.

“We have a lot of variability in pH and calcium, so that has been low-hanging fruit for us when we create management zones that recommend variable treatments rather than entire field, which saves money and increases profit,” says Dunn. “In tougher years like it’s been recently, farmers have realized the importance of having a strong fertility program so they can make better budget decisions about where to allocate dollars to best help their operation.”

“When commodity prices are tougher, it seems like we gain more business because we have to watch their dollars,” adds Anez. “We help them manage where to place inputs, and we build client confidence.”

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Anez Consulting: Focus On Fertility

  1. Congratulations! It is a real example of how the agronomy service must be nowadays and for the future. Using precision ag tools to better apply agronomy fundamentals

Service Providers Stories
AmericasPrecision Farming Companies to Watch in 2018 (OPINION)
January 17, 2018
My friends, as many of you told me repeatedly throughout the last 12 months, 2017 was an interesting year in Read More
Corn-Planter
Grower Services & SolutionsCorn Planter: The Train of Consequences
January 11, 2018
It’s always planter season in our shop but now that harvest is done the corn planter is the next piece Read More
Agrible
Grower Services & SolutionsAgrible to Launch Retailer Services in 2018
January 9, 2018
It’s a new year, which means new market challenges. Full service retailers are searching for ways to differentiate themselves and Read More
jeremy-speaking
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower and Precision Ag Services: Opportunities Lost
January 9, 2018
I often spend time with growers, talking about their operations, and the processes they go through each season to do Read More
Trending Articles
John-Deere-Cab-GPS
Data ManagementPrecision Ag Hardware and Software: A Little Off-Season Maintenance Goes A Long Way
January 11, 2018
All service technicians have heard this line. Most often when spring makes its anticipated return to our lives. It is Read More
Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
Service ProvidersAnez Consulting: Focus On Fertility
January 9, 2018
Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic Read More
Agrishow2017
Americas5 Best Ag Tech Shows in Brazil
January 8, 2018
Brazil continues to demonstrate its potential in agriculture. Several international companies are investing in our country because we have a Read More
Farmer and computer
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team in 2018
December 10, 2017
About The Opportunity: PrecisionAg.com is looking for people to join our team in 2018 and submit original content to our Read More
Harvested-Corn-Field-Clouds
Data ManagementWeather Services Advance Precision Agriculture
December 4, 2017
Some estimates suggest over half of growers’ activities are impacted by weather conditions, from field workability to fertility management to harvest Read More
Wheat-an-oats-Daniel-X-ONeil
Data ManagementWill Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?
November 28, 2017
To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of Read More
Latest News
Lee_Brittany
Specialty CropsFlorida Blue Farms Digging Data for Savings and Profit
January 17, 2018
Brittany Lee is no stranger to land management, writes Frank Giles on GrowingProduce.com. She grew up around it, observing her parents Read More
AmericasPrecision Farming Companies to Watch in 2018 (OPINION)
January 17, 2018
My friends, as many of you told me repeatedly throughout the last 12 months, 2017 was an interesting year in Read More
farmer-tractor-ipad
Data ManagementThe Era of Digital Agriculture: Opportunities and Chall…
January 17, 2018
The digital revolution is changing the way agriculture is done. Rapid population growth, changes in market demands, depleting agricultural land, Read More
Data ManagementBlockchain: Making Data Cleaner, More Secure
January 16, 2018
Probably most professionals who deal with business data have at least heard the term “blockchain” bantered about as potentially the Read More
Soybean-field-clouds-Photo-courtesy-of-Earl-R-Shumaker
Data ManagementBetting on Rain? The Accuracy and Reliability of Precip…
January 16, 2018
For you sports junkies out there, if I could prove to you that I can correctly predict winners and losers Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Precision IrrigationFinding Your Precision Ag Mindset
January 15, 2018
A precision mindset is the most important requirement for successful precision ag technology adoption. One of my first VRI (variable Read More
Drone-and-operator-Photo-courtesy-of-Kray-Technologies
DronesCrop Protection Application by Drone: A Q&A with Kr…
January 15, 2018
January is a busy month for agricultural companies. It’s a month that strong sales can set the mood for the Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Traceability Proof-of-Concept Seeks Ind…
January 15, 2018
AgGateway’s Precision Agriculture and Grain & Feed councils have issued a call for participation for a proof-of-concept initiative in AgGateway’s Read More
John-Deere-Cab-GPS
Data ManagementPrecision Ag Hardware and Software: A Little Off-Season…
January 11, 2018
All service technicians have heard this line. Most often when spring makes its anticipated return to our lives. It is Read More
Corn-Planter
Grower Services & SolutionsCorn Planter: The Train of Consequences
January 11, 2018
It’s always planter season in our shop but now that harvest is done the corn planter is the next piece Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversSmart Ag Announces Driverless Tractor Automation Platfo…
January 11, 2018
An Iowa technology company has unlocked the tremendous potential for automation in agriculture by developing the first cloud-based platform for Read More
Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
Service ProvidersAnez Consulting: Focus On Fertility
January 9, 2018
Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic Read More
Agrible
Grower Services & SolutionsAgrible to Launch Retailer Services in 2018
January 9, 2018
It’s a new year, which means new market challenges. Full service retailers are searching for ways to differentiate themselves and Read More
jeremy-speaking
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower and Precision Ag Services: Opportunities Lost
January 9, 2018
I often spend time with growers, talking about their operations, and the processes they go through each season to do Read More
Winters-Farming-farm-manager-Alex-Bergwerff-and-Ranch-Systems-marketing-and-business-development-manager-Hylon-Kaufmann
Precision IrrigationInside California Irrigation: Winters Farming
January 9, 2018
As many of us already know, almonds tend to get a bad rap for their water-use efficiency — or some Read More
Sentera software
DronesSentera Offering Elevation Data Mapping Via AgVault
January 9, 2018
Sentera announces the availability of elevation maps within the Sentera AgVault platform, offering agronomists, crop consultants, and growers additional field Read More
Industry NewsRaven, South Dakota State University Link Up: What You …
January 9, 2018
On Tuesday afternoon Raven and South Dakota State University (SDSU) held a press conference on the SDSU campus in Sioux Read More
Agrishow2017
Americas5 Best Ag Tech Shows in Brazil
January 8, 2018
Brazil continues to demonstrate its potential in agriculture. Several international companies are investing in our country because we have a Read More