A company that makes custom application equipment would want to highlight the work done by customers, and Agco started that idea 10 years ago with its Operator of the Year program. The aim is to recognize the work done by those folks in the field putting down fertilizer and crop protection products to help you raise a crop.
This year’s honoree is Brian Manolovits, who works with Wilbur Ellis in Mott, N.D. He’s been working with this division for nine years, when he started as a tender truck driver. But for the last seven years he’s been a customer applicator usually covering 24,000 to 25,000 acres per year. But 2015 was a bigger year:
“We just finished two weeks ago and we did 36,000 acres, and I’m the only applicator,” he explains. “We did have a new guy who came on this fall and he probably applied about 2,000 acres of the 36,000.”
He notes that covering that kind of ground does mean missing a few of his kid’s events, but he’s about doing a job right the first time. “Maybe it’s my military service, but that’s what I believe,” he notes. He was a member of the North Dakota National Guard for more than nine years and served 15 months overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
Manolovits isn’t just trapped in the TerraGator cab, he is also a member of the Mott Volunteer Fire Brigade where he serves as a training officer. And he has helped organize at Pee wee football program in the community along with several motorcycle ride benefit events for families going through difficult times.
As a custom operator, he has seen change. His role is broadcasting dry fertilizer and the timing is moving from fall to spring. He notes that most of what he puts on these days goes on in the spring ahead of the planter or drill. “Timing is important there,” he notes.
Also a rising number of his customers are taking yield information and creating variable rate maps, which guide how Manolovits applies fertilizer. “We’re doing more variable rate application which saves customers money and puts the product where it’s supposed to be,” he says.
That VR application also helps in down-times when producers are trying to maximize their investment across the board. Of course, VR application could be the biggest change to the business. When Manolovits started in the business, he didn’t imagine working with customer data files, today it’s commonplace.
And this year, he moved up with a new TerraGator rig that also has auto-steering. It makes a difference in productivity too.
Check out past Agco Operator of the Year honorees.