Mike Vallery is a seventh-generation farmer, farming corn and soybeans with his three sons in Sedalia, Ohio. He also carries on the family’s crop insurance business while preserving a piece of his hometown’s history. These dual roles gave Vallery a unique perspective into why change was needed when it came to weed control.
Preserving the Past to Grow the Future
For Mike Vallery, farming is a way of life. As a seventh-generation farmer in Sedalia, Ohio, Vallery works hard to not only honor his family’s legacy and history but also enhance his land and operation.
Vallery farms with his three sons and works hard to preserve his operation and family’s history in the insurance business for the next generation. Since Vallery decided to take over the family crop insurance business, he has been helping fellow farmers when issues arise on their land. And in recent years, he has seen more than his fair share of dicamba-damaged fields and claims in his area.
Vallery has a unique perspective on why change was needed when it came to weed control and how he is preserving the past to grow the future.
Keeping it in the family
When the opportunity arose to take over the family crop insurance business, Vallery jumped as it could provide additional income to help balance the ups and downs of farming and meant keeping it in the family for future generations. Vallery appreciates history and legacy, and it shows in how he does business.
A good example is when the local bank that his family used to own came up for sale; he bought it to house his growing crop insurance business and to keep it in the family.
“I just couldn’t stand driving by the bank and not being able to walk in there and do business,” Vallery says. “So I bought it to have more room and be able to grow the business for when my sons take it over.”
Moving it to the former bank also allowed Vallery to keep tradition and history alive in his community. When customers visit, they are greeted with history going back to the town’s early 1900’s high school class photos and old plat maps. Vallery wants to build a business on relationships, and providing a setting where people can come in and reflect on the community’s history helps him do that.
“I want to build a business that’s about relationships and making sure my customers are satisfied with their crop insurance needs,” Vallery says.
Adjusting dicamba claims and weed control programs
A big part of those relationships is helping farmers navigate issues.
“In the past five years, we’ve had a lot of problems and claims with dicamba drift,” Vallery says. “Now, drift isn’t a part of policies, but I do what I can to make sure an adjuster inspects their damaged field, so it doesn’t hurt their 10-year history report from an insurance perspective.”
In short, Vallery says, farmers in his area are fed up with being drifted on or having to worry about drifting onto their neighbors. And he counts himself as one of them.
“From an insurance agent and farmer perspective, it’s a pain to deal with that — especially when there’s other technologies farmers could be using,” Vallery says. “I was going to plant dicamba-tolerant beans almost as an insurance policy to keep me from getting drifted on, even though I wasn’t going to spray the technology. Ultimately, I didn’t want to rely on Roundup just to protect me from my neighbors, because we’re trying to get away from resistance.”
The combination of drift and resistance concerns pushed Vallery to test out the Enlist® weed control system. The Enlist system gives him more modes of action to control weeds and helps preserve the efficacy of herbicide technologies.
“I was at a field day and noticed how good the Enlist plots looked compared to plots without the Enlist trait right next to it,” Vallery says. “We waited a year and then looked at the results again. The results, yield and genetics were there, which led me to switch to Enlist.”
Vallery used to grow seed fields; and after doing so, it set the bar high to strive for clean fields no matter what.
“We quit raising seed beans in 2006, but I still like my fields to look as clean as seed fields,” Vallery says. “We struggle with giant ragweed and waterhemp, but after switching to Enlist E3 soybeans, we’ve done a good job of keeping our fields clean.”
To help him manage those problem weeds, he works with a local ag services consultant to set up custom applications when he needs them.
“I rely on my custom applicator to make applications on time — at the right rate and right weed height,” Vallery says. “I’m trying to be a good steward of the land for generations to come, and working with a custom applicator helps me manage my weeds and weed resistance.”
Overall, Valley says, since switching to the Enlist® system, his yield has improved, and he and his sons have been satisfied with being able to manage those hard-to-control weeds.
“We had good yields as we’ve ever had last year,” Vallery says. “And as new technologies come to the market, we hope we’ll be able to adapt it quickly to help with future resistance.”
While Vallery sees the value in honoring traditions and history, he looks forward to the future and is excited to see what new technologies will be developed to help preserve the land and weed resistance. But for now, he’s doing his part to be a better steward of his land for the generations that come after him.
™ ® Enlist, Enlist Duo, Enlist E3 and Enlist One are trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. ® Roundup is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. The transgenic soybean event in Enlist E3® soybeans is jointly developed and owned by Corteva Agriscience and M.S. Technologies L.L.C. Enlist Duo® and Enlist One® herbicides are not registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your area. Enlist Duo and Enlist One are the only 2,4-D products authorized for use with Enlist® crops. Consult Enlist herbicide labels for weed species controlled. Always read and follow label directions.