Discussing Nitrogen Stabilizers and Sustainability With Retailer Ambassador Don Harberts

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Sustainability is important to Retailer Ambassador Don Harberts. He works closely with his customers on measures that will help improve yield and protect the environment. See how nitrogen stabilizers fit in.

This month, we’re introducing you to retailer ambassador Don Harberts. Don is the Vice President of agronomy at Cooperative Farmers Elevator in Rock Valley, Iowa. He’s worked in the ag retail business for more than 35 years.

Don told us he loves his job, because it’s never boring: “Every day is a different day. Every season is a different season. Every challenge is a different challenge. Basic agronomy never changes, but agriculture changes every day. So, that keeps the job interesting and exciting.”

While the unexpected can keep everyone on their toes, Don said it can be concerning too. “The unanticipated things, like the COVID-19 pandemic, how it can come in and affect the family farm," he mentioned. "That worries me.”

It comes as no surprise: Don’s thoughts are always with farmers and how he can help them succeed. “Most of all, it’s about the profitability of our customers. In the long term, the viability of the locally-owned, family-owned farm,” he explained.

A Focus on Sustainability

One way Don helps his customers find success is through sustainability measures. “We’re spending a lot of time talking to farmers about things like carbon credits, what that looks like. We’re talking about nitrogen loss and nutrient management. This takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. Some of the things that we’re involved in, as a cooperative, our peers are looking at us and asking why we’re putting work into them. The answer is

"we’re looking at the future."

Over the last several years Don has led an initiative with his sales team to increase the market share of nitrogen stabilizer use. He told us that using a proven nitrogen stabilizer is a simple and effective action a farmer can take toward sustainability, “You need to be a good steward of the nitrogen you’re putting in the soil. We believe that, with N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN nitrogen stabilizers, you’re improving your stewardship story. You’re utilizing that nitrogen as best as you possibly can for the corn crop you’re producing.”

Don said it is also important farmers make sustainable choices for themselves versus being told what steps they have to take through regulation. “We started down the road toward sustainability years ago with our farmers, because we didn’t want them to be forced to take these steps in the future. N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN nitrogen stabilizers are just one part of the sustainability journey that we’re on,” he explained.

Good Corn Yield Is Essential

Don told us sustainability measures are important, but they must also provide a good return on investment (ROI) for the farmer.

“If we can do something for our grower repetitively that is profitable, number one, and contributes to better nitrogen utilization, then we all win. If it’s not profitable, they don’t have the extra funds to put into it,” he said. “We have data and information from several years of replicated trials that we’ve done — that’s our own data, not Corteva’s — that show

N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN protect nitrogen and increase yield

Don said cost is the biggest reason his customers give for not wanting to use a nitrogen stabilizer. He advises other retailers to overcome those objections by testing the products, “We do our own, internal trials. We do all our own side-by-sides. We love agronomy. If it’s not agronomically sound, it’s not going to work and we’re not going to bring it to our customers.”

Don told us he recommends N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN to his customers because the data show yield increases. He said they're worth using from both a monetary and an environmental standpoint.

Sustainability and profitability don’t have to be at odds. To see how your customers’ ROI could improve with a proven stabilizer, try out the nitrogen maximizers profit calculator

And be sure to come back to MaxFacts in a month to meet our next retailer ambassador.

 ™ ® Instinct NXTGEN® is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions. 


Meet a Retailer Ambassador

Name: Don Harberts
Retail Name: Cooperative Farmers Elevator
Location: Rock Valley, Iowa
Fun Fact: Don has two grandchildren
Hobbies: Traveling and genealogy


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