About “Beyond the Rows”

Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Not Just A Cog in A Machine

Justin G., Summer Intern and Student Ambassador

Justin head shotMy second year interning in the seed production division has come to a close.  The experience has once again been exciting, fulfilling and as you might expect, challenging.  What fun would it be if it wasn’t challenging though, right?

One thing is for sure, Mother Nature has made each day here an adventure. With constant rain in the weeks prior to my arrival in Manito, Illinois, the crew had to plant almost half of the acreage in just two days! Once I arrived, I spent my time going to our contracted growers’ fields and assisting them in planting the parent seed that would grow and produce the hybrid seed Monsanto’s sales force would promote and sell.  I used an iPad equipped with an app called FIDO to keep accurate counts on the bags of seed planted and the field locations.

black soil
Look at that black soil!

This year I was fortunate enough to be able to tackle my first real management role.  I was an inspector supervisor/lead.  Field inspectors are responsible for monitoring the progress of the seed corn from the time it emerges to the time it is ready for harvest. Each area technician has many fields that they manage, and they rely on inspectors to give them accurate information on these fields so they can be managed properly. I had seven inspectors; three veterans and four new people.  It was a different but exciting feeling knowing they looked to me for direction each day, and knowing that if something went wrong in the fields due to inaccurate information, I was responsible. So I knew I had to be on my toes! I created lists of daily tasks that included stand counts, hazard assessments, rogue counts, and daily counts once detassling started, all designed to ensure the quality of the product in the field and safety of the people in those areas. These tasks involve a lot of walking, counting, and note taking. I would double check my new inspector’s counts by walking the fields myself until I could see that they had mastered the technique. This insured quality standards were met. It was very rewarding, building relationships with them. Everyone could rely on our results.

corn earworm moth
Corn earworm moth caught in a pheromone trap

I also had the opportunity to take on many other roles. Remember earlier I stated that we had to plant almost half of our acres in two days? This meant that same acreage would be ready to detassel all at the same time. We had a two day window to detassel half of our corn! All hands had to be on deck. I inspected, drove machines, scouted for corn earworm, and coordinated spray notifications and records.

A seed production facility works like a machine with many moving cogs, and every piece is essential. When a piece stopped working or needed some grease to help it work better, I was there ready and willing to do my part to keep the machine going. Much of the summer was spent in muddy fields where progress was slow and challenging. This adversity must be expected in seed production, and it is the manager’s role to help make the best of the situation at hand. No job is too big or small, and that is the mentality of everyone in a seed production family. This is what makes Monsanto so successful, and I’m grateful to have experienced such teamwork and work ethic.

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