May 15, 2018

TPM Trenton Stanger encourages growers to get out of their comfort zone

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A recent shot of WB1376CLP Soft White Winter near Grace, Idaho, from Trenton Stanger.

As a technical product manager for WestBred® wheat, Trenton Stanger hears from skeptics all the time. 

Trenton noted that while the farming industry in general can be slow to change, it doesn't have to be. "Sometimes when a farmer hears about a new way of doing things, they might hesitate," Trenton said in an interview with The Tiller. But more often than not, Trenton says, farmers are impressed by the results and are eager to adapt. 

Trenton said that while every farmer wants to have a productive operation, he's encouraging them to push the envelope to be even better. Improvements, he advises, can come with a number of traditional and innovative agronomic techniques. These techniques range from utilizing an optimal seeding rate to aggressive preharvest scouting, to ensure that a farmer is getting the most out of their yield this season. 

Trenton grew up on a farm that raised wheat near Twin Falls, Idaho. While he dabbled in studying wheat while in graduate school, Trenton has embraced the world of wheat in his two years covering Idaho and Montana for WestBred wheat. 

"One of my favorite things about the farming community is the friendly nature of the farmers I meet," Trenton said. "When I'm out in the field with these guys, they're outgoing. They just want to be profitable."

Tried and True Techniques

Stanger says scouting is crucial, noting the late freezes and snow of the spring of 2018. "When winter's going long, we're always looking for winterkill. Snow mold can be a big disease too, so we try to communicate when we hear about someone having it, where they're having it and to keep an eye out.

"We also encourage people to get nitrogen down to meet protein demands as well."

Leveraging Innovation

But less traditional techniques are also on the top of people's minds, which is encouraging to Trenton as he tries to get people to think outside the box to get more out of their population. 

"I get a lot of questions about optimal seeding rate," Trenton explained. "I end up explaining seed size and how just planting 120 pounds isn't necessarily going to give you what you're expecting. After these conversations, growers recalibrate their drills to get that rate they're aiming for."

Stanger also pointed to new innovations like Climate FieldView™ as opportunities for growers to use hard data to plan their next steps on their farms.

“I’m always encouraging people to try new things, new varieties,” Trenton said. ”Climate FieldView gives growers an opportunity to try something and then look at the data and analyze it to see if what they tried really worked or not.”

Seeing the Results 

Strip trials, Trenton explained, have also been a great way to get a feel for new varieties and how they’ll work and adapt to a grower’s specific field.

“Last year I had 30 strip trials, 28 of which we were able to harvest,” Trenton recalled. “This year I’ve got 35 across Idaho and Montana, with five different classes of wheat (Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Soft White Winter, Hard White Spring and Soft White Spring).”

“A lot of times if someone’s skeptical, I’ll recommend they split a field with their old variety and maybe something new they haven’t used before,” Trenton explained. “It gets farmers out of their comfort zone and pushes the envelope a little bit, but shows that they will have a good experience with it.

“If they have that good experience, it can help them take that next step.”

Have questions of your own about taking the next step on your own field? Get in touch with your local WestBred representative or local seed supplier. For more tips and insights, check out our robust agronomy library.

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