2013-04-25 / Ag News

The Record’s Ag Report

By Terri Lang

April 22, 2013

By this time last year, spreading fertilizer on much of the cropland was complete, and most farmers were nearly finished with seeding spring wheat. With the cold spring and the snowfall received last week, the fertilizer spreaders will be in the shed awhile longer.

Mark Voller of Strasburg had been in the fertilizer spreading and crop spraying business for nine years, performing those services for several local farmers, elevators and cooperatives. In the fall of 2012, he sold the fertilizer spreading business to Michael and Joey Baumgartner.

“The business was good, but it was just getting to be too big of a workload,” Voller said. “Michael was an employee of mine and he did 80 percent of the spreading for me.”


Mark Voller and Missouri Valley Ag Agronomist Susan Ziegler of Zeeland said the prices of fertilizer were much lower nine years ago when Voller first started his fertilizer spreading business. Mark Voller and Missouri Valley Ag Agronomist Susan Ziegler of Zeeland said the prices of fertilizer were much lower nine years ago when Voller first started his fertilizer spreading business. When Voller first started his business, he did approximately 5,000 acres of fertilizer spreading. In 2012, he did 35,000 acres.

Nine years ago, the prices of fertilizer were much lower than today. Urea was at $250 a ton, and last year it was as high as $650 to $700 a ton. Presently, it is at about $560 a ton. The price of application nine years ago was $4.50 per acre, and now it runs about $6 to $6.50 per acre.

In the past few years, the amount of fertilizer being applied, the different varieties of fertilizer and the techniques of applying them have changed and increased.

Missouri Valley Ag Agronomist Susan Ziegler of Zeeland said farmers now spread more blends of fertilizer.


Mark Voller recently sold his fertilizing spreading business to Joey, left, and Michael Baumgartner. The Baumgartners are hoping they will be out on the fields soon with the three floaters they purchased from Voller. They operate as Baumgartner’s Spreading. Mark Voller recently sold his fertilizing spreading business to Joey, left, and Michael Baumgartner. The Baumgartners are hoping they will be out on the fields soon with the three floaters they purchased from Voller. They operate as Baumgartner’s Spreading. “Now, farmers can get their nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur and micronutrients all in one application,” Ziegler said.

Voller and Ziegler said most farmers have their soil tested and after they have those results, they are able to determine how much and what type of fertilizer to apply.

“Farmers indicate what their goal is for bushels per acre, and that is basically what we use to come up with their application needs,” Voller said.

Some farmers have the proper equipment to apply their own fertilizer, but depending on the soil tests, there may be a recommended placement to apply a certain type of fertilizer.

“Afarmer can band a small amount of fertilizer with the seed but can broadcast for any additional needs,” Ziegler said. “That is when the floater comes in.”

That is also when the busy season will be for new owners, Michael and Joey Baumgartner of Baumgartner’s Spreading.

The Baumgartners purchased the business and three floaters from Mark Voller and will run their fertilizer business as Voller did with local cooperatives, elevators and producers.

Michael has been working for Voller for the past five years. Michael and Joey also farm together three miles north of Strasburg.

“I like the work, and the additional income on the farm sure helps out,” Michael said.

Voller, who thinks the fertilizing business is a nice fit for the Baumgartners and their farming operation, has some good advice for them.

“You can’t do it all when all the farmers call in right before a predicted rainfall, and they all want it done now,” Voller said. “You can only do so much in a day.”

Voller has confidence Baumgartners will learn very quickly as he said Michael has always done such a great job for him and the producers. Voller will continue to run his spraying business, Voller’s Spraying.

Missouri Valley Ag’s home office is in Sterling, and they have offices in Hazelton and Zeeland. Michael Baumgartner can be reached at (701) 321-2794 and (701) Joey at 321-2500.

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