May 1, 2012 -- Winfield Solutions, LLC, the crop and seed division of Land O’Lakes, Inc. produces some of the most widely used crop treatments, and the Mann Valley Farm at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) has had a vital role in the development of some of these products.
Winfield rents 20 acres of land from UWRF and has actively conducted research on the farm since 1989. On those 20 acres, Winfield tests approximately 60 potential new products each year. The research cycle involves planting a crop, waiting for weeds to sprout, spraying with one of the products in development, and then rating the efficacy of that product. If no effect is noted that land is plowed, and the next potential product is tested. Through this intensive experimental cycle, Winfield is able to gain three summer’s worth of data in one. Potential products that demonstrate effectiveness undergo another two to three years of rigorous testing at various locations across the country.
Four products that started out at the Mann Valley Farm, and proved effective following years of testing, were recently released for sale. The four are: Rugged®, a broadleaf herbicide for a variety of crops, Carnivore™ and Weld®, herbicides for small grains, and Raze™, an herbicide treatment for spring, winter, and durum wheat.
The long-term relationship between UWRF and Winfield Solutions has allowed both to reap benefits. William Connolly, director of the UWRF Farms, attests to this professional and valuable affiliation, “We both feel we can approach each other on those days we could use another hand or another tractor or piece of equipment.” The two independent entities have become a supportive team.
“They do their agronomy research and we do our ‘hands on’ approach to operating an educational laboratory farm,” Connolly says. “There is overlap where the agronomy part of our operation can be helped by them and vice versa.” A prime example of the close working relationship, Winfield crop scouts for insects in the farm’s alfalfa and as the farm cuts its alfalfa, Winfield collects the data.
Winfield also provides educational resources for UWRF students. Crop samples such as soybeans are also frequently provided to crop and soil science classes, to aid in class discussion and evaluation. Students who work on the farm often assist Winfield in their activities and some are even hired as interns for the summer. Calli Anibas, a senior in crop and soil science from Durand and Michael Shultz, a sophomore majoring in agricultural business from Arlington, Minn., have been awarded internships with Winfield Solutions for the summer of 2012.
Laura Henneman, research specialist for Winfield Solutions, described the association as vital to the company. “If we couldn’t be out here in River Falls, it would be much harder financially,” she claims. “We really appreciate being able to work with the university.”
In many ways, the partnership between Winfield Solutions and UWRF is mutually beneficial. UWRF students and staff have opportunities they would not have had without this relationship. The new products in development on the UWRF farm provide solutions to agronomic problems.
Henneman states with gratitude, “We would not be the same company today without UWRF.”