Forty years ago, insects in fields were uncontrollable, vehicles did not have air conditioning and there was no way to contact a customer or another crop consultant on the road.
To say that things have changed since Servi-Tech was founded in 1975 is a massive understatement.
Servi-Tech was formed in Dodge City, Kan. by three farmer-owned cooperatives that saw a need to provide technical services for agricultural producers in southwest Kansas. The group expanded into northeast Colorado in 1981, into Nebraska in 1983, and into Iowa in 2000.
Today, Servi-Tech's crop consultants provide independent analysis of crops and put their focus and dedication on the producer.
Servi-Tech started with 13 employees. Now, the company employs more than 170 people in five states, including three laboratories in Dodge City, Kan.; Amarillo, Texas; and Hastings, Neb.
"During the next 40 years, we will continue to add new technologies and enhance our service offering – Servi-Tech will continue to set the bar for agronomy service providers, said Greg Ruehle, Servi-Tech President and CEO.
Jeff Kugler, CEO of Servi-Tech Expanded Premium Services, or STEPS, just celebrated his 39th year with the company. STEPS, LLC, focuses on special projects such as remote moisture sensing and irrigation water management through the use of TheProfiler.
"In 1976, once you left the house you had no communication with growers unless you saw them on the road, Kugler said.
Now, cell phones, text messages and the Internet make communication easier.
Kugler said agriculture has made tremendous strides in technology over the years. Those strides have increased yields and made better use of water available to growers.
Forty years ago, all fields were treated the same way with fertilizer, planting rate and water application. Today, with Servi-Tech's help, they have gone high tech in the areas of variable rate fertilizer, seeding and water.
"We now can identify variations in the field by the square yard and adjust inputs accordingly, Kugler said. "Growers are getting more out of every acre because of the improvement in hybrid characteristics, and higher tech planters and fertilizer applicators.
Corn, soybean and milo yields have improved 20%-40% compared to the yields in the ‘70s. Kugler attributes the increase in yields to better hybrids, biotech traits and other technologies to boost yields.
Center pivots today include high-tech sprinkler packages to more efficiently deliver water to crops. Buried drip tape and calibrated drip hoses help improve the efficiency of delivering water to crops by 15 to 20 percent over traditional nozzles. These efficiencies help growers improve their irrigation practices, even in cases where water restrictions have been implemented.
"Farm equipment today is loaded with features driven by computers, computer software and equipment location monitored with GPS. We can capture and analyze all types of data, Kugler said. "Forty years ago, little data was captured except final yield. It is still all about the final grain yield, but today the grower is more efficient with cropping inputs while increasing the output, the yield.
Working toward its purpose of "Making the Planet More Productive, Servi-Tech continually invests for the future. Utilizing technology such as precision farming and data management, Servi-Tech continues to be on the leading edge of technology, science, and agriculture.
Over the past 40 years, Servi-Tech has set the mark for offering independent agronomic and laboratory services to its customers. "One thing that will never change is our focus on making the customer more efficient and profitable - our contribution to ‘making the planet more productive, Ruehle said.