Building relationships builds value on the farm
Andy White, a BASF Agronomist for the Eastern Region of the U.S., and also an amateur beekeeper, was working on an agronomic performance trial (APT) plot in Canton, Mississippi, when he learned Jeremy Sumrall, a local vegetable and cotton grower, was having trouble sourcing beehives to help pollinate his crops. Sumrall’s usual beekeeper of 19 years was unavailable and turned to White for help, knowing how valuable the pollinators were to his operation.
As an agronomist for BASF, White evaluates potential cotton seed varieties for release. Once a cotton seed variety has met certain criteria, an agronomist evaluates them in large on-farm trials. Once the seed variety has gone through a significant amount of trials, the variety will be released for grower’s use.
White set up his on-farm trial through Sumrall, which is how they originally met. Agronomists, such as White, also help solve issues in the field when they arise, such as Sumrall needing extra pollination help.
“We got to talking while I was visiting the APT plot, and Jeremy found out I keep bees,” said White. “He wanted to know if I would bring some hives down to pollinate his vegetables.”
White delivered a couple beehives to the Sumrall farm a few days later.
“It was the least I could do,” said White. “Without farmers like Sumrall to help us with testing, we wouldn’t have on-farm data to analyze and new seed varieties for release each crop year. I value his partnership and helping him out with some beehives was simply returning the favor.”
Agriculture and pollinators go hand in hand. Many growers across the nation rent bees to pollinate their crops in order to produce more yield. According to the USDA, more than one-third of all crop production — 90 crops ranging from nuts to berries to flowering vegetables — requires insect pollination.
Even though White has been in the agriculture industry for some time, he has been beekeeping since the fifth grade. He became so interested in bees at such a young age, it influenced his professional career in agriculture. However, his job doesn’t stop him from enjoying his weekends harvesting honey.
“I have about 50 hives and about 10 businesses locally that purchase honey from me and resell it,” White said. “It’s a weekend hobby that I love doing.”
It was a coincidence White and Sumrall fell onto the topic of beehives, but it was a coincidence that paid off for Sumrall. According to the USDA, managed honeybee colonies are agriculture’s primary pollinators, adding at least $15 billion a year by increasing yields.
“We grow watermelons and cantaloupes, which is the main reason I need the bees,” said Sumrall. “The hives are still out there right now. The bees are doing a great job, and the crops are producing more.”
Whether it’s offering beekeeping advice, teaching stewardship best practices or creating new innovations, we value our customers, as demonstrated by a BASF Agronomist in Canton, Mississippi. We are committed to helping growers use the best practices and products available to them, while supporting initiatives that champion their dedication to stewardship.
To learn more about stewardship best practices, please visit www.agproducts.basf.com.
About BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division
With a rapidly growing population, the world is increasingly dependent on our ability to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture and healthy environments. Working with farmers, agricultural professionals, pest management experts and others, it is our role to help make this possible. That’s why we invest in a strong R&D pipeline and broad portfolio, including seeds and traits, chemical and biological crop protection, soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming. With expert teams in the lab, field, office and in production, we connect innovative thinking and down-to-earth action to create real world ideas that work – for farmers, society and the planet. In 2018, our division generated sales of €6.2 billion. For more information, please visit www.agriculture.basf.com or any of our social media channels.
At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The approximately 122,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of around €63 billion in 2018. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S. Further information at www.basf.com.