Intentional Grounding

Apr 06, 2020


In the NFL, the playbook is a sacred, hardbound binder of trust. It’s an accumulation of decades worth of formations and plays, tweaked and perfected, all with the strategy to move the ball down the field. Every playbook is different, but the key for each coach is to sort through the options and utilize his team’s talent to ultimately find success. 

Just like a professional sports team, MKC has a repertoire of industry advancements available to its member-owners, precisely recommended by trusted advisors. The MKC team is challenged to stay on the forefront of the quickly changing agricultural industry and provide guidance to help producers be intentional in the products and practices they implement in their fields.

“As the game of farming has changed, MKC is able to have different coaching staff come in, such as TMA with insurance, and other experts in marketing, precision ag and sales,” says Jon Schmidt, agronomy operations manager at Walton. “We bring different playbooks to our producer’s farms and help them pick the ‘play’ they want to do.”

The Fundamentals
Schmidt uses his industry expertise to assist Newton-area farmer and producer Edward Busenitz. Busenitz manages a 70-pair cow-calf operation and 200-head feeder pig hog operation, as well as growing wheat and corn. 

After feeling like just an order at other companies, Busenitz says he reached out to the Walton MKC location to find a genuine, working relationship. 

“Communication is a huge deal,” Busenitz says. “I felt at ease when first talking with Jon, and we communicate
very well. He’s someone I can visit with and rely on.”

Intentional-Grounding2.jpgReliability is also fundamental for Walton-area farmer Derek Klingenberg. Most recognizable as YouTube’s Farmer Derek and the star of the infamous “White Pick-Up Truck” parody video, Klingenberg depends on strategic account manager Brandon Schrag to help him stay up to date on new and innovative technologies.

“Brandon is on top of things,” Klingenberg says. “He brings me donuts and a plan, and I give him the thumbs-up. We would probably have to hire two extra people if we didn’t have MKC and Brandon helping us.”

Klingenberg, along with his father and two brothers, raises corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle and cats. He also partners with the Iowa-based coffee company Ross Street Roastery.

Throughout the year following Busenitz’s switch to MKC, he and Schmidt built the trust necessary for a valuable business partnership. During that time, the duo also dealt with the hardships of transferring control of the farm after the passing of Busenitz’s father. 

With an understanding of the farm and Busenitz’s business style in mind, Schmidt was able to recommend products and technology applicable to the operation to continue its success. 

“Each farm is independent, and you learn how each owner wants to develop and lead their farm,” Schmidt says. “Some growers want to be no-till all the time, while others are conventional. You learn their style and introduce opportunities with what MKC can provide as far as new technology or with their field’s fertility.”

Likewise, Schrag learned about Klingenberg’s operation and goals by spending time on the farm and asking questions. 

“I can ask him a question today and probably already know the answer, whereas I didn’t used to be able to do that,” Schrag says. “We’ve evolved to where we work as a team. We’re on the same page, and I know what he is looking for.”

Picking the Play

Intentional-Grounding3.jpgWhen he’s not meeting with producers, Schrag spends time studying herbicide programs and scouting fields so he is able to recommend the best product with an economical return for Klingenberg’s operation.

“MKC takes a proactive approach,” Klingenberg says. “Since their territory expands so far south, they’re able to see what is coming and Brandon will make me aware. We’ve had years where my friends will make fun of me for doing things but then come over and ask how my fields are clean and crops look so good.”

Schmidt also uses data when choosing which product or technology to advise to Busenitz. Schmidt started by testing the nitrogen availability on Busenitz’s fields and from that data, was able to form fertilizer recommendations and suggest herbicide rates and timing.

Finding Success
Busenitz uses profitability as a measure of success on his operation, and says the tools and technology implemented through Schmidt’s recommendations have helped him achieve just that. 

“Jon is very down to earth and has helped make my operation more profitable through the technology that we have implemented,” Busenitz says. “I appreciate him being a coach to me. A lot of things are affected by weather and we have to make adjustments as the year goes along. I appreciate that he can come and make that adjustment. If Jon wasn’t here, I really don’t know what I’d do.” 

Klingenberg describes success as being efficient and utilizes MKC’s team to help make it so on his operation. 

“MKC can bring two rigs and spray a lot more in a day than we could,” Klingenberg says. “I would just be grumpy the whole time. Efficiency means I can spend more time with my family.”

Outside of the typical measures of farm success, Busenitz and Klingenberg trust in MKC to be a Intentional-Grounding4.jpgpartner they can count on and find value in the personal relationships with their trusted advisor. 

A major University of Kansas fan, Busenitz gives Schmidt a hard time about Kansas State University sports. 

“Every time we meet, KU and K-State is brought up,” Busenitz says. 

Donuts are the common theme of Schrag and Klingenberg’s meetings. 

“I’ve gained some extra weight since I’ve started working with Brandon,” Klingenberg says. “Donuts represent all the sweetness MKC brings to our farm. It feels like a party every time.”

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