Grow More Experience Sites Serve as Outdoor Classrooms

The demonstration sites are living, local laboratories, filled with a wide variety of crops, technical experts and product trials.
Grow More Experience Sites Serve as Outdoor Classrooms
From left to right: Syngenta employees Christine May, agronomy service representative; Ben Sacher, state affairs manager; and Mackenzie Ellis, retail sales representative, get ready for visitors to the Hickman, California, Grow More Experience site.
“Unique.” “Educational.” “Relevant.” These are some of the most common words visitors have used to describe Grow More™ Experience sites in recent follow-up surveys. Since 2013, Syngenta has designed the sites to showcase its crop-protection and seed technologies, including NK® corn and soybeans. The sites also provide opportunities for attendees to engage in conversations about local agronomic practices that can help improve crop productivity. This year, Syngenta will continue the momentum by highlighting innovative solutions and practical advice that site visitors can use to secure a more promising future for their farms and businesses.

Local Point of View

With more than 80 locations across the U.S., Syngenta strategically selects Grow More Experience sites in areas based on geographically specific crops, weather, climate and pest patterns.

“We know each customer has a different in-season experience,” says Mike Moss, Ph.D., head of technical development at Syngenta. “Instead of offering one-size-fits-all solutions, our agronomic experts are there to listen and provide the best localized options for our customers.”

The sites’ purpose is to educate visitors on what they can do to continue to help mitigate pest issues and reach maximum yield. This process involves site leads discussing and comparing the top products in the industry, including competitors’.

“I was amazed by the fungicide trials, which compared almost everything on the market,” says Mike Feig, a crop consultant from Illinois, who visited the Grow More Experience site in Rend Lake, Illinois. “When a company normally does something like this, it’s biased. But at Grow More Experience sites, you can see the difference for yourself.”
Grow More Experience sites are living, local labs, filled with various crops and technical experts. #GrowMore

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Syngenta representatives also demonstrate current and new Syngenta products to help increase awareness and comfort levels in the field. “The sites are a good place for us to meet with retailers and growers who are apprehensive about trying a new product,” says Jeff Laufenberg, a Syngenta technical development lead. “Many of them acknowledge that there might be a better product out there but are nervous about trying something new on their dime and in their field. Once they visit and see the product trials, talk to field experts, ask questions and go home with a written plan, they become much more confident in using new products.”

Participants also can engage in conversations about other modern practices geared toward improving productivity and yield. For example, at the Rend Lake site in Illinois, Syngenta agronomist Phil Krieg asked experts at nearby Rend Lake College to share information on using drones on farms.

“Most of the attendees had heard of drone use as a hobby, but hadn’t considered how drones could be used to monitor fields,” Krieg says. “In addition to demos, Rend Lake College reps unpacked the rules and regulations surrounding drones, so attendees would be open to using them as a tool to complement their existing practices. I saw visitors walk away with more than excitement about drones. They also walked away with knowledge on how modern technology can complement their operations.”

Hands-On Experience

Grow More Experience sites allow visitors to step into the field to touch, see, tear, dig and gain a deeper understanding of products and agronomics that can enhance their farms and businesses. Brett Craigmyle, a Syngenta agronomy service representative, uses this hands-on model to lead attendees through an active weed demonstration at the Columbia, Missouri, site. Craigmyle takes weed-density data from the University of Missouri and plants similar plots based on that data. He then asks attendees to walk the plots, counting and identifying weeds to become better acquainted with how the data looks in real life.

“Most people in most circumstances can learn best visually versus just seeing data and numbers on paper,” says Matt Prewitt, a central Missouri crop consultant, who has participated in Craigmyle’s weed-density demonstration. “This demonstration brought the data to life. Brett took the data off the paper and put it into a cornfield.”

Sites are also great places to build relationships. After visiting a Grow More Experience site in Washington state for a few years, Jason Baumberger, a local crop consultant, says, “As a consultant, you think you know a lot about agriculture. But between the agronomists and the growers, you learn to sit back and listen to what they have to say at these events. You listen to their questions, their advice to one another and their issues. I’ve walked away with a greater understanding of the industry and my customers.”

“There’s a camaraderie coming from these visits that seeps into the community … I strive to replicate the model of relationship-building I’ve learned at Grow More Experience sites in my own interactions with people.”

Jason Baumberger
This knowledge and collaboration often spread beyond the borders of the sites, Baumberger adds. “There’s a camaraderie coming from these visits that seeps into the community,” he says. “I’ve been in the business for 20-plus years, and I’ve learned to count on these relationships. In fact, I strive to replicate the model of relationship-building I’ve learned at Grow More Experience sites in my own interactions with people.”

To build on their initial experience, attendees are welcome to return to a site multiple times throughout the year. “Participants often find it beneficial to visit a site more than once, so they can see for themselves various growth stages of crops and the impact weather and pests have had on the trials,” Craigmyle says. “With each visit, they also have the opportunity to interact with different people attending and overseeing the sites.

Local FFA Support

Last year, Syngenta partnered with local chapters of the National FFA Organization (FFA) to help support the next generation of agriculture leaders. For every Grow More Experience site visitor who registered with a valid email address, Syngenta donated $2 to that site’s local FFA chapter. The company doubled this donation for every registered attendee who took the follow-up survey. This effort resulted in a total donation of $13,950.

“Syngenta has a long and proud history of supporting the local ag community,” says Melissa Lord, Syngenta customer event and trade show lead. “Our Grow More Experience and Agronomy in Action site teams give back to their communities by providing agronomic insights to help site visitors improve their operations. We are looking forward to investing into these communities even more in 2019.”

This year, Syngenta will increase its donation amount to $5 per valid email address gathered on-site to continue its support of local agricultural education. For more information about the Grow More Experience sites, contact your Syngenta representative.