do a lot of things , like piping water so that cattle can move to different places in their pastures and utilize those grasslands even more than they normally would .
And then , we ’ re very conscious of the wildlife that live here , and so , understanding that we ’ re providing a home for these wildlife — and on a given day , we can see anything from hawks to fish to bumble bees and everything in between . It truly is a beautiful thing to see . And like I said , the production practices that ranchers already employ on their farms are really worth celebrating and taking a closer look at .
You know , it seems as though we can ’ t talk about anything these days without COVID-19 coming up somehow . And I ’ m wondering : What are some important ways that the pandemic has impacted ranching and beef production ?
You know , 2020 was pretty difficult for animal agriculture . I had friends in the pork industry that had to euthanize their animals because the processing plants had slowed down their lines or shut down entirely . Folks had nowhere to go with their animals . This was a true tragedy , not only from the producers ’ standpoint and the financial loss and the loss of life without , you know , being able to respectfully utilize these animals , but on the other side , it also just was a waste to ( not be able to ) provide that meat for consumers .
We also saw shortages in the grocery store , you know , whether it was toilet paper or meat and dairy products . All of a sudden , consumers were seeing — maybe for the first time — that their favorite products or brands weren ’ t always available , because of , you know , COVID supply chain disruptions .
And so , I truly think , while it was a difficult time and has been and continues to be challenging in a lot of ways , ( it is ) also a unique opportunity for ranchers and farmers to connect with consumers in brand new ways . For example , I ’ ve seen a lot of producers find great success selling their beef direct to consumers and educating them for the first time , you know , ( or people buying ) a quarter or half of beef and buying bulk and filling their freezers to stockpile , you know , for the year so that they ’ re good during an emergency , when the grocery stores might be short .
And so — not only that , but consumers are suddenly wanting to ask more questions , and they ’ re wanting to go directly to the producer to ask those questions . And so , I think , in agriculture , we can continue to be a transparent and authentic resource that ’ s readily available to answer their questions . We can not only grow those relationships , but we can also start earning a premium for our products and start taking control of
WINTER ISSUE – DECEMBER 2021 our markets and our ability to make money , even during difficult times .
( This question is ) not related to the panel discussion that we ’ ve been talking about , but I know that this subject is important to you , Amanda , and that is ag literacy , especially among future generations of producers . Tell us about this concern .
Yeah . You know , ten years ago , I started noticing that there weren ’ t a lot of agriculturally accurate books on the shelves . And what I mean by that is there ’ s plenty of farm books out there , and there ’ s plenty of movies , too , for kids , but they usually characterize the animal and give them the full range of motion and , you know , maybe the farmer or the rancher is the bad guy or the side character . And I really wanted to flip the narrative on that and highlight the farmer and the rancher and the animal caretaker and show their role in , you know , providing the essentials for these animals and taking care of the land and getting food to the table .
And so , ten years ago , I wrote my first children ’ s book , titled “ Levi ’ s Lost Calf ,” and since then , I ’ ve had three more released , and I have two more in the works that will come out in 2021 . And truly , the focus of these books is to counter the misconceptions that are out there and teach kids about where their food comes from and , ultimately , help to empower the next generation of consumers so that they truly understand and know about agriculture when they go to the grocery store to make purchasing decisions .
How can farm moms and dads out there find these books ?
They can visit Amazon ; all my titles are ( available ) there . And they can also check out AmandaRadke . com
— and I ’ d be delighted to work with farm groups or schools to also get books purchased in bulk to try to get to as many young people as we can in elementary schools as well .
So , feel free to reach out to me , and I ’ ll help you connect the right book to the right classroom . One story at a time , we will teach kids about where their food comes from
And Amanda , I have to ask you this . I took a look at your itinerary . I know you ’ re the mother of three kids , I believe , right ?
Yes . Well , more , as foster parents , so , yeah , we have extras all the time on the farm .
And a rancher and a blogger . Do you ever get any sleep ?
[ laughs ] Not much sleep — just a lot of coffee .
strategic partnership that is going to focus on bridging
agronomic or traditional agronomic solutions with the
biological solution platform. Because we think both
technologies offered by both companies have a space
and have a position in the ag space and need to be
utilized collectively together in order to achieve the
genetic potential that Dave was mentioning.
So, we’re very excited about what this is going to offer
our customer base and what it’s going to provide the ag
sector — the agronomic sector.
The Planet of Plenty initiative revolves around
sustainability. How does this new relationship
between Alltech and HELM Agro apply a systems
approach to support sustainable solutions?
D: You know, from our perspective, customers want
options, and they need options to produce a crop that’s
going to feed the world. So, when we look at a systems
approach, there is resistance, in some cases, to some
traditional crop protection products. We think that
using a systems approach of some application of Alltech
Crop Science’s products in rotation or in combination
with some of the traditional products can help farmers
manage some of that resistance and also improve their
I think there is certainly a push from the end consumer to
have less, I’d say — less traditional chemistry is used in the
practice of growing the crop. And I’m excited about the
technology that Alltech Crop Science has developed.
And what we’re going to be able to do, as we start
working with our customers in this portfolio, (is) to help
them with those solutions. And ultimately, I think (this
partnership) is a great opportunity to increase yield
and increase the quality of crops while having less of
herbicide, insecticide or fungicide, from a traditional
standpoint, being used. So, that’s really exciting for us.
And a key part of this partnership — we couldn’t be
happier about the products that they have in the pipeline
and the science behind it. Specifically, the nutrigenomics
is a very cutting-edge technology, a best-in-class
technology that kind of helps really determine what
that crop is going through and how we can get the best
performance on the timing application. It’s really using
science to look into what that crop is doing at a molecular
level during that time of production. We think that that
analysis will help us springboard this into a very science-
driven portfolio. So, we’re very excited about it.
Steve, you have thoughts on this?
S: Yeah. And just to reiterate what Dave was saying, I think
that the Planet of Plenty — and just maybe dovetailing
into it the sustainability aspect of it, sustainability means
longevity and the opportunity to really facilitate your crop
life cycle and to better produce a higher-quality yield.
And so, I think, when we are talking about how
sustainability fits into this partnership, as Dave was
mentioning, tying both of our companies’ strengths
together, from a biological and from a traditional
chemistry approach, is a way for us to be able to provide
a long-term solution or a long-term opportunity for our
crop, as a crop input, and for our customers and our retail
partners that we have around the world — and more
importantly, here, with our domestic partnership here
in the United States. Because everybody in our space
right now — from an agronomic perspective, everybody
is looking for new and innovative ways to combat the
challenges that they’ve been, that have been occurring
for the year-on-year cycle.
So, this is just, again, another way for us to provide more
technologies and more and newer innovation to the
agronomic space and to take a better stab at providing
better biological solutions on-farm.
And so, combining the retail outreach that HELM
has and the sales force and the marketing tools that
HELM has and combining that in with the crop science
innovation technology — and, as Dave mentioned,
the nutrigenomics, of tying a mode of action to these
biological solutions — and providing through that retail
arm is just really, really exciting.
So, do I understand that this systems approach that
you’re talking about, does this more or less optimize
efficiency and sustainability?
S: Yeah. I would say it optimizes efficiency.
But as Dave and I both mentioned, it does provide
opportunities for us to look at different ways to combat
these challenges that we’re seeing. Whether we’re talking
about disease pressure or the challenges with yield and
producing more bushel to the acre, it does provide more
opportunities and more selections for farmers to combat
those challenges, Tom.
Okay. Each partner is bringing to the table its
own ongoing scientific research, as well as the
development of new products. Does the partnership
call for communication and collaboration in those
D: Absolutely. You know, this a partnership, and we look
(forward) to growing the product portfolios together.
We’re going to be collaborating closely on new product
development. I would see our R&D team and marketing
teams working closely together in the upcoming few
months to identify where some of those new products
(and) solutions can be created.
So, you know, there’s a lot of opportunities, I think, in
some of the crops that we’re looking at that we’ll be able
to reach, as well as some potential combinations between
a more traditional synthetic traditional crop protection
product and a biological product.
THE FEEDING TIMES
So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for collaboration and
development and really pairing up the strengths of both
companies to bring a solution that fits the needs of our
Steve, over on your side at Alltech, do you have a bat
phone on your desk for HELM? I mean, are you all
staying in communication?
S: Oh, routinely. It’s a big, bright red phone that Dave has
on his desk, and I have one on mine, that we routinely
pick up. [laughs] Absolutely, Tom.
I would say a lot of the excitement that you hear from this
is, as I mentioned earlier, (rooted in) the similar culture
and the openness that we are both taking going into this
new agreement together, with family-owned companies
(that are) privately held (and that have a) global outreach,
have a strong entrepreneurial mindset to both of them.
I would say it’s been an absolute pleasure — and I have
to say that we, we always are continuing to find new and
innovative ways and opportunities that we haven’t really
thought of, as individual partners, individual companies,
(to collaborate). And back to what Dave was saying there,
from a partnership (perspective), who better to have an
idea of where to fit biological solutions in a traditional
synthetic program than a traditional and synthetic
company? And vice versa: Who better, alternatively,
to think of some ways to put some synthetic and
combination program opportunities or ideas together
than a traditional chemical company and advising a
So, we are both very much looking forward to continuing
the discovery and exploring new ways for us to combine
our footprints to create something very special,
futuristically, for our customers.
Dave, back to you. Tell us about a couple of herbicides
produced by HELM: Reviton and Katagon. I believe I’m
pronouncing that correctly.
D: Yes, Tom. Thanks. So, Reviton and Katagon, these are
two new products that we launched this year. And I’m
very excited about their performance in the marketplace.
Reviton is a new active ingredient that’s registered in the
U.S. (for the) first time ever. So, in crop protection, new
active ingredients have — there hasn’t been a whole lot of
them in the past few years. So, with our partnership with
other providers globally, we’ve been able to introduce
that product. And it is a product that helps growers start
cleaning at the beginning of the year. We call it the “burn-
down market,” where we start cleaning at the beginning
of the year (and doing) broadleaf and grass control. And
(Reviton has a) very good safety profile compared to some
other products in that market. So, we’re really excited
Katagon is a post-herbicide for corn, so (it is applied) after
WINTER ISSUE – DECEMBER 2021
the corn crop is up. And it does not contain glyphosate, so
it could be used for growers that are not planting GMO-
type corn. So, if you don’t have a glyphosate-tolerant
corn, you could use Katagon for your broadleaf and grass
So, we’re really excited about those two markets. The
Reviton, we see big increases in minimum tillage or
no-till (with this product) as growers look to conserve
moisture in the soil and manage soil health as best they
can. Reviton has been a great solution to help them in
that space, to start cleaning in the spring. Or if you have a
weed problem in the fall, you can address it with that.
So, (we are) really excited about those two products
and think these are a great addition to the Alltech Crop
Sciences portfolio, so that we can bring total solutions to
Under this partnership, HELM is marketing, selling
and distributing the Alltech Crop Science line of
products. Steve, I wondered if you could tell us about
that product line.
S: At Alltech, our focus and our expertise is fermentation.
Whether we’re talking about yeast, bacteria, fungi —
I mean, our focus is providing a fermentation-type
technology to the market.
And I would say the opportunity on the line, and the
uniqueness of our line that we’re offering, is that we, as
a biological company — a lot of the challenges that we
ran into, or a lot of our customers would say (that) a lot
of the challenges they ran into, were with the biological
companies, (and those problems) stem from quality, shelf
life and an understanding of mode of action.
And so, our focus, over the past 26 years of existence,
has been to come up with these types of technologies
that are more convenient for the farmer to use (and
that) improve shelf life and stability, and then, ultimately,
with our nutrigenomic and our research arm, (we want
to) provide a mode of action or rationale to how these
technologies work in the space.
And so, our lineup that we are currently offering, our
standard lineup that we have — we have four pillars
that we focus on. (The first is) soil. So, soil health (and)
technologies to deliver to the soil. (The second pillar is)
nutrition, which is (provided via) our micronutrient packs
that we add amino acids to and then incorporate those
technologies to improve overall uptake and efficiency
from a mineral-use program.
(The third pillar is) protection, which is (going to be
featured in) our future lineup that we’re excited about. So,
providing technologies, like some of our research ones
— though some are currently still in research — and that
we’ll be deploying with PTA registration through HELM.
So, biofungicides and biostimulants. And then, (the fourth
pillar is) our performance line, which is our biostimulant