Process improvement – it’s a common, but often overlooked, term in today’s society. As I look back on 20 years in business, I realize we’re still here because of our constant efforts to innovate and improve our processes. As a team, we are always looking at our product lines and doing what we can to improve them. Today, most of our products have evolved from the encapsulation technology Dr. Gary Harman and I patented in 2006. From the invention of that product, called Excalibre, many other proprietary technologies have evolved. This continual innovation as well as seizing any market opportunities to come our way has led to many second- and third-generation products.
One such product came about in 2008. That year, there was a shortage of sterile peat inoculant, which had sold out in March before planting season had really even started. We couldn’t get any more sterile peat, which we used as a carrier for the inoculant, and it would take six to eight weeks for the product to be made and delivered. By that time, planting season would be in full swing and we’d be left with a product we wouldn’t be able to sell.
At that time, we’d been toying around with talc and graphite as a carrier because John Deere, Case IH and Kinze were recommending a talc-graphite combination as a seed lubricant for their planters. We wondered if there was a way to add our inoculant to a talc-graphite carrier.
By 2008, we had perfected our encapsulation technology — we just needed to figure out the correct ratios of rhizobia inoculant, talc and graphite. We didn’t set out to replace 100 percent of the talc and graphite a farmer would need to apply, but we wanted to have a product in the marketplace to differentiate us.
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