Over the past 115+ episodes of the Agriculture Technology Podcast, host Tony Kramer has interviewed guests to discuss the latest in precision ag. This Q&A format has worked well for some time - but just as technology advances, so does our podcast format!
We're excited to announce a new format to the podcast and introduce a Co-Host of sorts, RDO Equipment Co. team member, Jacob Maurer. Jacob serves as an Agronomist in the Midwest Ag region at RDO, helping growers make the decisions that are best for their operation.
With this new format, Tony and Jacob will be dissecting topics, products, and all things precision ag to keep listeners in the know when it comes to in the field.
Listen in and let us know what you think of the episode and this new structure - follow us on any social media platform.
Check out past episodes and guests – visit the Episode Archive.
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Have a story idea or a precision ag topic we should highlight? Connect with us on social media: Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter and connect with podcast host, Tony Kramer on Twitter at: @RDOTonyK.
Read the full transcript here:
Tony: Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 118. Today, we've got something special to share with you about the podcast so stay tuned and listen in. Before we dive into the show, please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast if you haven't already. You can subscribe to the show on the many different podcasting apps that we're streaming this out to such as Apple's podcast app, we've got it on Stitcher, Overcast, SoundCloud as well as many others.
While you're out there, drop us a review. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Lastly, make sure to follow RDO Equipment Company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and catch our latest videos on YouTube. You can also follow me on twitter, @RDOTonyK. With that, let's get back to the show.
Like I said just a few moments ago, we've got something special to share with you, all of you listeners. We have been at this podcast for-- this is actually the fifth production year. So 2020 is the fifth production year of the show. What we are doing over the past four and a half years I guess you could say, the structure of our show has been kind of an interview structure where we bring in industry experts, we bring in product experts, and I the host, Tony Kramer, I interview them.
We thought now would be a cool time to try to change or mix up our structure a little bit. I was talking with one of my co-workers, I threw this idea out to him. He said, "Well, let's try it. Let's see what happens and see where it goes." So I am excited to welcome the new co-host of the podcast, Mr. Jake Maurer himself. Welcome aboard, Jake.
Jake Maurer: Thanks. It's good to be here.
Tony: What we're going to do with this show going forward is going to be, and I shouldn't say that. We are still going to have the traditional interview-type episodes where I again will sit down with industry experts. I will sit down with product specialist, I will sit down with people in the industry and talk and interview them just like we have in the past. What we're going to do is we're going to add this new structure, this new platform of podcast where Jake and I sit down and maybe do a little deeper dive on some of the products that we've just very briefly touched on in the past.
Maybe it's something on planters, something specific about planters. Or maybe it's answering your questions or maybe some of the commonly asked questions throughout different stages of the growing season. That's kind of what we're looking at. I'm really excited to try this out. Please, you guys as listeners, let us know what you think. Do you like the new format? Would you rather we just go back to the old interview style? Again, that's not going anywhere, we're going to keep that. We're just going to add in this new style.
What I want to do now is I want to hand it over to Jake. Jake, I know you've been on the podcast before. You're a veteran at this, you're not a rookie. What we can do is, let's just talk about your background and how you've been involved in the Ag industry and where you are today with RDO as the Midwest Ag region agronomist.
Jake: Before we get started though, we've got to come up with a name for something like this.
Tony: That is very good point. That is a good point, we need a name.
Jake: It can't just be, "Well, this is where Jake's going to come in so we're going to skip that one." We've got to make this like people are going to look forward to something like this.
Tony: All right. I tell you what, Jake, what if we let the listeners decide?
Jake: I love it. Absolutely.
Tony: You guys as listeners, what can we call this segment? Let us know. Reach out to us on Twitter, leave comments. If you're on YouTube listening to this, leave some comments. Reach out to us on Twitter, my handle is @RDOTonyK.
Jake: I'm @RDOJacobM.
Tony: Let us know what should we call this segment of our podcast or this structure of our podcast?
Jake: That's where we start, we start with that.
Tony: All right, I like it.
Jake: Now we can dive into the content. The meat and potatoes of what we're going to talk about today. A little bit about myself. Like Tony said, I've been on a couple of times probably you learned more about me than you wanted to know. This is either going to be, "Cool. We get to hear more from this guy," or it's going to be a, "Well, let's hope that Tony figures out really quick that this isn't going anywhere." Regardless, let's try this out. A little bit about me. I come from Central Kansas. That's where I grew up. I didn't grow up on a farm, I grew up in town.
My grandpa farmed in Southwest Iowa, and I tell you, that was the greatest thing ever, getting to go out there. He ran all kinds of different types of machinery. He ran sidehill combines, he had four-row planters, four-row combines. It was a small fleet. In that little corner of America if you had 500 acres you were doing pretty good. He was a mixed operation. He had some livestock, some pasture ground, and then he also had the row crop. He only planted corn and soybeans. He dabbled in oats every now and then, wheat maybe a crop or two, but that's where my passion came from. I was just all kinds of excited about that.
Of course, living in town there's not a lot of crops you can grow. I carpet farmed and I farmed the back half of the backyard as much as anyone and my sandbox farming would have put just about anybody to shame, don't get me wrong. Really a lot of my excitement and passion didn't come until I got to college. I started in school at Kansas State in engineering, of all things, and then dabbled in construction science. If I were to tell you I majored in construction science at any given point and you saw my handiwork with a hammer, you would say, "Well, that was--" it was truly one of those, don't quit your day job, but certainly don't make that your day job because that was never going to work for you.
It wasn't until really late in my college career where I had one of those-- everyone kind of has one of those really personal intimate conversations with someone that they truly trust, and mine was with my grandma. I said, "Grandma, I want to get into farming. I absolutely want to get into agriculture." At that point, we had sold off the farm. The acreage was being rented out. My opportunity to go and do the traditional style of farming that was never going to be a choice of mine to make, but the opportunity came to get into agribusiness and to learn about agronomics.
You're talking about 2008 where there were so many dynamics. I mean, that's when you saw the price of farmland in Iowa going over $5,000 an acre, you saw commodities getting just off the charts. We were starting to see ethanol really grow, and here we are this kid wanting to get into ag. I tell you what, I learned a ton of stuff. I started from really ground zero working in the dairy, working in the feedlot business and just trying to learn every single thing I could to the point where people would look at me and say, "Oh God, this kid won't last two weeks." Then here he is, he's been here three years, four years.
I got out of college. I did graduate, finally after many changes along the way and got into agribusiness and started as a traditional sales agronomist for a co-op in Northeast Kansas, and really learned a lot about what I really don't know. [chuckles] My most favorite term was, "You don't know what you don't know," and I lived and I died by that term. It wasn't until I started figuring out I got to learn it for myself, I got to go get my feet wet and go get that green layer off of me and get in there and start just digging in. It wasn't until you come to terms with yourself and figure out who you are that you start really becoming a part of the industry and the industry starts becoming a part of you.
The journey took off. I went back to school for my master's degree and learned a lot about ag-tech, a lot about data, a lot about code, and really started getting into this precision ag thing that was just starting to take off. Along the way, I had a number of different stops in education and extension work and now here I am at RDO Equipment Company, and I tell you, it's the greatest job ever. I get to do literally all the things I could have ever dreamed of. I get to work with guys like Tony, doing everything from talking about farming and talking about ag-tech. To going out and working with the growers on field trials and projects and getting to write about it through a list of columns and notes that I get to write.
Now here we are today talking about this journey that we're starting on, this new journey. Tony, I tell you, it's going to be a lot of fun as we start getting back and forth and we start sharing some of those experiences. Our paths are finally going to cross and we're going to start showing what our different sides of our story and kind of how they relate.
Tony: That's one thing that I wanted to mention and bring up, and you guys will understand it once I talk a little bit about my background, but before we do that-- so as an agronomist, Jake, the RDO agronomist for the Midwest Ag region, what is it that you do on the day-to-day? Why does an equipment company have an agronomist on staff?
Jake: I get that question every day. It wasn't until, I want to say it was last year, there was a certain point in time where we were out in the field and we were looking at this crop. Usually, we're talking about settings on a piece of equipment, we work for an equipment dealer, we work for a John Deere dealer. Of course, it's pretty easy to start looking at these settings, but it wasn't until we started seeing some real agronomic issues.
The impacts we were having from whether it'd be beating the soil to death by running a piece of tillage equipment over and over and over again. To we were just trying to bring some of that moisture to the surface, start drying things out. We had basically started seeing our soil, basically, our entire soil layer collapse on itself. The seeds weren't going in the ground, we were getting no seed to soil contact, we had planting dates all kinds are screwed up.
It wasn't until we started really looking at the calendar and we started thinking about, why are we having the issues we're having, that I started realizing that I'm speaking agronomic terms. We spend so much time talking about iron and talking about features and benefits that rarely do we talk about the true agronomic impact, rarely do we truly tie the agronomics to the equipment. I want to say that if I were to ever explain what my role is, it's truly bringing that agronomic background, that agronomic storyline to the pieces of equipment that we're all so very familiar with.
Tony: That explains it completely and that's really what it is from my understanding. It's that education side of things. Is tying the equipment that we use to the agronomics and how they tie together. That's a little bit on Jake and his background. I will do the same now and explain a little bit about where I came from and then talk about this unique perspective of having both Jake and I on the show.
I come from a small town, Southcentral Minnesota. I grew up in Hector, Minnesota. I got a laugh. You say that you were a town kid, technically I was a town kid too, but my dad always farmed with his brothers so I got to claim either side. If I wanted to claim being a town kid I can say, "Well, I live in town guys." If I wanted to say that I was a farm kid I could because I was working on the farm since I was old enough to walk. I laugh when you say that "Well, I was a town kid." I kind of was too.
Anyways, I grew up in Hector, Minnesota. My father's still farms with four of his brothers down there. I came to the Fargo-Moorhead area for college. Obviously, agriculture. Dad farming, ag is in my blood. It's always been a part of my life. It's what I grew up knowing and doing. I never had-- I take that back, I did have one other job. I was a lifeguard, in my teenage years I was a lifeguard. Beyond that majority of what I did was agriculture-related. Whether it be working on the family farm, I worked for Seneca Foods, Green Giant picking green peas and sweet corn. I did that for a little while once I was old enough to do that.
I came to Fargo-Moorhead for college, and a lot of people would not believe me when I say this but when I came to college, Jake, I wanted nothing to do with the ag industry. Everybody's like, "How is that even possible? You grew up with ag, you know about ag?" What I said to myself was, "I always have the farm to fall back on to. If I want to be in ag all I got to do is move home and farm." I went to school much like many other people, my major changed 3, 4, 5, 6 times, whatever it may be. Because I didn't know where I wanted to go I landed on just a general business degree. Sales, marketing, and management were kind of the three focuses of that general business degree.
Well, coming into my last year of school I said to myself, "Well, I don't--" When I came up here to school, I worked for a farmer. Again, agriculture. All my jobs are ag-related. I said, if I'm going to graduate with a business degree I should probably have some business background. Lo and behold, RDO had a sales internship posted and I said, "I know ag. I'm comfortable with ag and I'm learning to be a salesman so why not apply?" Here we are 10 years later.
I did some time as a salesman. I did some time, it makes it sound like I was in jail.
Tony: I did a little bit of time in a sales role at our Lisbon, North Dakota location. About a year and a half into that I got the opportunity to join the product specialist team. That's my background in ag. What I'd asked you, what you do and your responsibilities with RDO, I'll explain the same with mine. I spent some time as a product specialist covering our Breckenridge in Fergus Falls, Minnesota locations. To explain product specialists, a lot of people say, what is a product specialist or what product do you specialize in? At RDO we refer to ourselves or our team as product specialists.
Other John Deere dealerships out there may refer to them as integrated solutions consultants or intelligent solutions consultants, AMS consultants. Our products specialist team is no different than the neighboring John Deere dealers IS team. Just to clear that up so everybody understands product specialist, we deal with any of the technology, the ISG type stuff, or intelligent solutions group type components. Now I sit in as a supervisor, product specialist supervisor here in the Red River Valley. Myself and four product specialists, we support the eight stores within the Red River Valley. Jake, you in your agronomist role, you cover all of Midwest ag, which is what region?
Jake: We'd have the eight stores that Tony, would be the product specialist supervisor and have his four product specialists work. Then also the stores of Washburn, Hazon, and Bismarck where you have Brent Horner and his team. Then also down in the South Dakota group, which would be our Webster, Aberdeen, and Redfield stores that would be led by Terry Locker as the product specialist supervisor.
Tony: So Jake covers that. That's referred to as our Midwest Ag region. I am here in the Red River Valley with my team of four product specialists covering the eight stores here. As the product specialist team, again people say, what product do you specialize in? We do just about everything you could imagine. Of course, it all starts out with the typical AMS components. You got GPS receivers, you got the GreenStarTM displays, rate controllers, all of that stuff, but then it comes into we also specialize in equipment knowledge.
It's not one piece of equipment, it's essentially the entire John Deere portfolio but we work with customers on optimizing their machines. Making sure that they're running to their fullest potential. Whether it be a planter, a sprayer, a combine, even a tillage tool, we optimize tillage tools. Tillage is not just a piece of iron that you pull through the ground. That is a very important piece of the entire growing puzzle. Right, Mr. agronomist?
Jake: Yes. Unless you're no-till. [chuckles].
Tony: Unless you're no-till, sorry. Sorry, I don't want to offend any no-tillers or minimum-till growers out there. Very good point.
Jake: [crosstalk] That's why you have me.
Tony: Exactly. That just gives you guys a little idea about Jake and his background, as well as myself and my background. One of the unique perspectives that is going to come to this podcast segment is through Jake's background and his history of work he definitely brings a lot more. He, I talk about it like you're not sitting next to me.
Jake: I'm right here.
Tony: You, I got to get used to that, cohost. You bring a lot more of the agronomics to the table. The agronomic understanding and the education and things like that. Whereas myself and my background I have a lot more experience and knowledge when it comes to the equipment itself.
That's going to bring a very unique perspective to these podcast segments going forward. Is Jake and I bouncing things back and forth. Him bringing more of that agronomic end of things to the table, me bringing more of the equipment itself and the knowledge on the equipment to the table. I think it's going to be really fun. I'm really excited to see how this goes. Again, you as listeners, let us know what you think. If you really like these new segments or if you would just rather not listen to Jake and you just want--
Jake: You just hit skip and you'll go to the next one, and then you'll figure it out.
Tony: In all honesty, let us know what you think. Shoot us ideas for names out there. We're really excited to see what some of you think we should call this podcast or this segment of the podcast, this different structure. That wraps it up for this first episode. I'm really excited to see where this goes.
Jake: We're going to have a good time with this. We are.
Tony: All right. Tony Kramer.
Jake: Jake Maurer.
Tony: Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the next episode.