Check for underground utilities before digging

Whether your spring to-do list includes building a fence or planting trees – breaking ground should always be done with caution. April is National Safe Digging Month so remember, your best line of defense before digging is to call 811, a free service that marks underground utilities and pipelines. Many of these are less than a foot underground. 

The process is simple: Call 811 or visit three days before a digging project, wait for underground utilities to be marked and don’t dig within two feet of those markers.  


It’s best to call 811 any time you break ground, even if you think you know where a utility line is located. “In the U.S., an underground utility is hit every nine minutes, causing dangerous consequences,” says Tina Beach, public awareness specialist for CHS. “It takes a lifetime to build a farm, and it takes just one free call to keep it safe.”  

3 equipment tips to get the most out of a short planting season

Planting Equipment Tips

By Mimi Falkman, senior marketing specialist, CHS Lubricants

Planting season is always a busy time of year on the farm, but it can be especially tight when winter overstays its welcome. A short spring means there’s even less time than usual for farmers to complete some of the most important work of the year.

During a condensed planting season, equipment is under added stress because it needs to work overtime to meet demands. To keep machines protected and operating at peak performance during a shorter spring, farmers can set themselves up for success by preparing their equipment and fluids while the fields are still wet.


Nailing down nitrogen

Application timing and stabilizer use help maximize crop nutrient investments. 

Choosing the right genetics and seed trait package is often perceived as the most significant crop decision impacting yield. But unintended nitrogen loss can have an even greater effect on bushels harvested.

“Weather has the greatest influence on crop yield, but providing adequate nitrogen throughout the season is a close second,” says Andrew Usher, production management specialist, CHS Agronomy. “You can’t control the weather, but you can guard against nitrogen loss with good application practices and sound product decisions.”

Loss Leaders

Nitrogen loss through denitrification, leaching or volatilization can add up under common Midwestern growing conditions. In field trials conducted at Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska, researchers recorded the following sobering effects:

  • Up to 5 percent of nitrate was lost per day through nitrification in wet soils with V1 to V3 corn.
  • Nitrogen losses were as great as 70 pounds per acre due to denitrification on heavy ground when saturated soils received a simulated three-day rain event.
  • On light-textured soils, nearly all applied nitrogen was lost under extremely wet conditions.
  • Around 25 percent nitrate loss occurred when soil temperatures were 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and fields were saturated for up to 10 days. Losses increased as soil temperature increased.

The 2018 growing season presented many of these challenges with damp, cold conditions, says Usher. “The extremely wet spring weather in some areas delayed planting and increased nitrogen losses in many fields. Where fertilizer was surface-applied before planting without a stabilizer, nitrogen losses due to volatilization may have been up to 30 percent.”

Without adequate levels of available nitrogen, crops tend to emerge slowly and unevenly, he says, “and that could cost five to 10 bushels per acre. It means the plant has to work twice as hard from the V4 stage and beyond, which is harder when temperatures get really warm.”

Andrew Usher takes a closer look at nitrogen application patterns.

Increasing N Availability

Nitrogen efficiency products are an effective tool for protecting a grower’s nitrogen investment. “Denitrification inhibitors and urease inhibitors help reduce nutrient losses to the environment and increase nitrogen availability to the crop,” notes Usher.

This season CHS Agronomy has added N-Edge® 2 nitrogen stabilizer to its line of nitrogen efficiency products. With the same proven urease inhibitor (NBPT) as the original N-Edge, the new formulation contains more active ingredients, making it more cost-effective per ton while providing a wider window of protection.

“The new formulation also contains a superior solvent system to reduce blending and drying times,” says Usher. Both N-Edge products can be used to treat urea or UAN and provide up to 21 days of protection from volatilization.

“With today’s tight crop margins, growers are scrutinizing every input dollar. A $2- to $3-per-acre investment in a nitrogen stabilizer will protect against nitrogen losses of up to 30 percent, like we saw last season,” he says. “That makes it worthwhile to use on every nitrogen ton.”




  • Applied nitrogen is lost as ammonia (NH3)
  • Air temp is high
  • Soil is moist
  • Urease activity increases

Volatilization depends on time and method of application. Surface applications of urea and UAN are prone to volatilization.


  • Loss of nitrate as it moves with water past the root zone
  • Higher frequency of loss in soils with low holding capacity

Leaching is greatest in humid environments, in highly permeable soils and in soils with tile drainage.


  • Loss of nitrogen sources due to runoff
  • Often negated by application, incorporation and field work processes


  • Tie-up due to slow decomposition processes, microbe nitrate use and ammonia forms

Immobilization is greater (about 20–40 percent) in high-residue environments, but less in conventional tillage and corn-soybean rotation systems (about 10 percent).


  • Loss of nitrate when soils are saturated
  • Soils are warm
  • Nitrosomonas are actively oxidizing ammonia into nitrate

Denitrification is greatest in poorly drained soils, but only when soils are warm.

Farm Bill Supports Nutrient Stewardship

Some state organizations have proposed restrictions on crop nutrient use. Leadership efforts within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state departments of agriculture, combined with advocacy activities by industry groups including The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), have encouraged farmers to implement voluntary changes to crop management strategies and nutrient use.

“We’re seeing the needle move from early adopters to more broad-scale use of conservation practices and TFI’s 4R program,” says Jake Hamlin, director of state government affairs, CHS Government Affairs. “Many growers are implementing farm-specific practices like conservation tillage, cover crops and water retention to preserve air and water quality. Nutrient stewardship has become an integral part of conservation programs.”

He says those shifts are evident in the 2018 Farm Bill, which supports them in several key ways:

Priority on research — The bill increases support for university research and extension education surrounding 4R nutrient management promoted by TFI: using the right fertilizer
source, applied at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

Technical assistance — The new bill outlines a framework for providing technical assistance to help farmers adopt 4R practices to fit their operations, as well as third-party certification that involves cooperatives, other ag retailers and nonprofit organizations.

Innovation grants — The new bill provides $25 million in funding for conservation innovation grants, plus support of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which
includes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Follow-up data — Collecting information on the results of these activities will help identify best practices and guide future programs and funding.

Check out the full C magazine with this article and more.

Area producers share in local CHS SunBasin Growers patronage distribution

Eligible farmer-owners of CHS SunBasin Growers, based out of Quincy, Washington, shared in the recent distribution of cash patronage and equity based on business done with CHS.

“We’re extremely proud to share this important cooperative membership benefit with our customers,” said Tyson Chick, general manager. “Delivering an economic return to them on the business they do with CHS is one more way we help our owners grow.”

This locally based retail division of CHS Inc. allocated a total of $3,869,475.30 in patronage dividends to its eligible members based on business done Sept. 1, 2017 – Aug. 31, 2018, of which $683,735.73 is being paid out in cash.

Overall, CHS Inc. will return $150 million in cash patronage and equity redemption to its farmer-owners in 2019, part of the cooperative’s commitment to sharing profits with our owners and returning money to rural America where it can be reinvested in the community. More than 840 local cooperatives and 25,000 farmers share in this distribution of cash patronage and equity redemptions.

The percentage returned to owners is determined annually by the CHS Board of Directors and based on performance, financial strength and long-term growth opportunities.

“Returning cash to our owners enables farmers, ranchers and cooperatives to invest in their own futures,” said Dan Schurr, chairman of the CHS Board.

In the past 12 years, CHS has returned about $3.5 billion to its owners in the form of cash patronage.

CHS reports $596.3 million of net income for first six months of fiscal 2019

CHS Income

CHS Inc. reported net income of $248.8 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 and $596.3 million for the first six months of fiscal 2019.

“Our strong performance in the second quarter reflects our hard work at serving our owners and other customers better. We’ve refocused on serving our customers and improving our operations, and that has shown positive results in our financials for the first half of fiscal 2019,” said Jay Debertin, CHS president and chief executive officer. “Our performance also reflects the benefit of a diverse platform across business units that serves our cooperative and farmer-owners.”


Recognize, respect risks associated with grain handling

Grain powers American agriculture. During Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week, March 25 through 29, we want to remind everyone working on farms and in grain-handling facilities to respect and understand the risks associated with working with grain.

“It’s important to continue to work with the industry, our employees and our farmer-owners on the hazards in the grain industry, while stressing safe practices and controls to ensure their safety,” says Matt Surdick, manager, Country Operations Environment, Health and Safety, CHS.

Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week was organized by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, the American Feed Industry Association and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition.

The groups remind us to remember five steps to grain safety:

  • Never walk down grain
  • Guard elevated work surfaces
  • Watch for moving equipment
  • Safeguard moving equipment
  • Lock out equipment

Moving or flowing grain acts like quicksand and can bury a person in seconds. From the time an auger starts, a person has two to three seconds to react. In four to five seconds, a person is trapped. In 22 seconds or less, the person is completely covered by grain. Grain bin incidents often result in multiple fatalities because coworkers improperly attempt rescue procedures and become engulfed themselves.

“Following procedures, evaluating your surroundings, using proper equipment and ensuring constant communication are keys to entering and exiting a grain bin or silo safely,” Surdick says. “Do it the right way, every time.”

Be aware of bridging grain, which occurs when grain clumps together due to moisture or mold. These conditions can create an empty space beneath the grain as it is unloaded, which means it can collapse unexpectedly or under a person’s weight. Do not enter a bin when there is a bridging condition, or if grain is built up on the side of the bin.

Always monitor the atmosphere inside bins for dangerous changes. Make sure there two people are always present when working in bins and maintain communications between the attendant outside the bin and the person inside the bin.

Never move grain into or out of a bin while someone is inside. Lockout/tagout all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic equipment that presents a danger, particularly grain-moving equipment.

A bin of grain may seem harmless, but in just seconds, that harmless grain can claim a life. Please be safe and share these messages with anyone working with grain.

Join the fight against rural hunger

People in rural communities live surrounded by growing food, but they experience hunger too. That’s why CHS is once again teaming up with local farmers to fight hunger in rural America. The CHS Harvest for Hunger food, grain and fund drive begins March 1 and continues through March 20 at your nearest CHS location.

“We might never know that the neighbor across the road or down the drive struggles to put food on the table, but through our efforts this month, we can make sure those local food shelves can anonymously help those who need it most,” says Rick Dusek, executive vice president, CHS Country Operations. “For nine years now, our CHS employees and farmer-owners have stepped up during this annual campaign to help local and regional food shelves feed those in need.”

Since 2011, CHS has raised more than $5.6 million and 3.6 million pounds of food through its Country Operations business units. CHS locations across the United States have organized ways to get farmer, ranchers, employees and community members involved in fun and interactive ways to raise food and funds to fight hunger.

Financial donations are encouraged as they give food banks additional buying power to provide nutritious food at deeply discounted rates; $1 equals 6 pounds of food for area food banks. But food and grain donations are also accepted. Every donation counts.

“All the food, money and grain raised by CHS Harvest for Hunger goes directly back to local and regional food banks to help fill their shelves,” Dusek says. “This way, we can help those in need by ensuring those organizations dedicated to fighting rural hunger have the resources they need to make a real difference in people’s lives.”  

Stop by or contact your nearest CHS location to learn how you can support CHS Harvest for Hunger.

It Takes Talent to Feed the World

By Nanci Lilja, President, CHS Foundation

When most people think of agriculture, they wonder how we are going to feed the growing population of 9.6 billion by 2050. And while that’s an important question to consider, I find myself thinking more often about the individuals needed to fill the talent pipeline to feed that growing population.

With nearly 4 in 10 agriculture jobs going unfilled each year and the average-age of farmers ever increasing, it’s going to take a pragmatic, creative approach to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture.


CHS adds crop protection distribution with acquisition of West Central

West Central Distribution

CHS has completed the acquisition of West Central Distribution, LLC, a full-service wholesale distributor of agronomy products headquartered in Willmar, Minnesota.

“Completing the acquisition of West Central demonstrates our commitment to provide more of the products, services and technologies cooperatives, retailers and our farmer-owners need to compete,” said Gary Halvorson, senior vice president, CHS Agronomy. “Ownership of West Central expands our agronomy platform, positions CHS as a leading supply partner to cooperatives and retailers serving growers throughout the United States and adds value for CHS owners.”


© 2020 CHS Inc.