When agronomist Jared Jessen told his customers there was a better way to soil sample, he got some strange reactions.
“They looked at me a little cross-eyed,” admitted Jessen, CHS agronomy sales manager for the Wausa and Dixon, Neb., offices. CHS is the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperative. “Their response was, ‘How can there be anything new to soil sampling? Nothing has changed in 30 years.’”
But then he told them about the CHS partnership with Trace Genomics, a company that developed the first and only soil microbiome test to help farmers predict soil disease, soil health and crop quality using DNA sequencing and machine learning. They were awestruck, said Jessen.
“I pulled up my laptop and showed them what we could do,” he said. “We can pull out all pathogen levels in your soil type to see what’s been hurting you. I can tell you the odds of your phosphorus being released to the plant and what is getting tied up. The other piece is nitrogen. We can start dictating whether we need nitrogen stabilizers or not.”
Typically, agronomists do the best they can with basic chemistry soil sample results, he said, but with Trace Genomics “we now have hard facts so we can better manage products and farmer success.”
When Jessen was introduced to Trace Genomics earlier this year, his interest was piqued.
“It’s a whole new way to look at soil samples and manage operations in each field – knowing the pathogen side, the nutrient cycling, the full chemistry layout, the total organic carbon measurement,” he said. “Trace takes the guessing game out of the equation.”
The technology will not only help him manage customer operations to improve yield, but in some cases, decrease expenses at the same time and “that’s music to a lot of farmers’ ears,” he said.
It’s already making a difference.
This spring, Jessen pulled soil samples for a corn grower in northeast Nebraska who has struggled with the southern half of his farm and sent them off to Trace Genomics for analysis.
“The pathogen results showed that part of his field was very high in two forms of Pythium root rot so we ended up using a fungicide to help remedy the situation,” said Jessen. “We won’t know the outcome until this fall, but we’ve already implemented Trace Genomics’ results into a solution.”
Jessen is also sampling for some large area growers who are interested in total organic carbon measurement.
“We don’t want growers to get left behind in this space,” he said. “We want a base to start from – to measure it now in case the carbon market does takes off.”
Jessen sees Trace Genomics technology as a benchmarking tool as well, “so we can look at our really good fields and start measuring them against fields that aren’t quite there yet to see the correlations and make improvements. We’re building a foundation.”
His ultimate goal is to put his customers in a position to succeed.
“Whether that’s adding a product to the lineup or recommending a different practice like going from tilling to no-till or vice versa,” said Jessen. “From a pure management standpoint Trace Genomics gives us so much more information to create better solutions that provide ROI. Having that tool in the CHS toolbox is a game changer.”
To learn more about Trace Genomics technology, including TraceCHEM, TraceBIO and TraceCARBON, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.