California-based Trace Genomics has put down Midwestern roots with its new, state-of-the-art laboratory in Ames, Iowa. John Jansen, Vice President of Commercial Operations, shares his insights on the significance of the innovative technology, top-notch team and the lab’s central location. Having been involved in new agriculture technologies for the past two decades, Jansen is excited about what the Ames lab means for the future of farming.
There are lots of soil labs. What’s different about this one?
We call it the Ames advantage. It begins with quality control to deliver the most accurate results. Best-in-class quality has been achieved through a significant investment in lab automation to ensure highly repeatable results and a high priority on quality assurance.
What sets the Ames lab apart are four things: One, the WET-K test that enables reporting of plant-available K levels for improved rate maps. Two, being centrally located logistically positions the Ames lab as a trusted source of soil diagnostics for farmers and agronomists across the lower 48. Three, our fully established lab automation delivers fast turnaround at a competitive price. We have a dedicated team focused on delivering the results customers need into their farm management software systems so the information is easily accessible. And finally, our pipeline. The Ames team is working on a pipeline of soil DNA indicators for improved disease and nutrient management to help farmers be more productive and profitable.
What level of expertise is required?
Together, our team at Ames has just under 200 years of experience. The combination of experienced lab technicians, soil science, agronomy, computer science and engineering, as well as data science and statistics expertise, means our customers can count on a high-touch experience to help solve the most challenging problems in their fields.
Tell us about investments in new equipment and techniques? Why is that important?
This winter we installed the Trace Genomics process for sequencing soil DNA to indicate disease threats and nutrient deficiencies. It helps farmers and agronomists target specific seed, soil and crop treatments to improve crop productivity and health.
What are the types of problems you’re solving for growers?
Recently we helped a team of agronomists identify Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome in fields where the disease was not previously diagnosed. The diagnosis resulted in a change in seed treatments to protect the crop. Also common is targeted diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies caused by the soil biology where traditional chemical analysis was indicating no issue. By providing this new spectrum of indicators related to the living soil, farmers and agronomists have a new view of what can improve yield potential.
Why is this type of technology so important today?
Today, farmers and agronomists are faced with an ever expanding list of crop protection alternatives and Trace Genomics offers the technology and team to help them target which products are best suited for their farms and precisely where those products should be placed for the best results. It’s a win-win – improving yields while reducing inputs.
What inspires you to come to work each day?
I enjoy being part of team of people who enjoy working on new cutting-edge technology to help farmers and agronomists be more productive. We have tremendous potential to improve farm productivity with Trace Genomics technology. At the same time we are discovering new indicators related to the soil microbiome every day. It’s really fun to be part of such a highly evolving field.
What would customers say about the Ames Lab?
Problems solved. This is an incredible team of people who truly have a passion for solving agriculture’s toughest problems. And the field of soil science is one of the most challenging areas to properly diagnose. I regularly hear from our customers that they are impressed with how the dedication to helping solve productivity problems resonates across this team.
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