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Agriculturalists Who Influence: Gregg Sauder

Agriculturalists Who Influence: Gregg Sauder
Day 29 of 30: He changed the way America plants corn, and started over again. Here's how he's influenced an industry and a community.

Very early in my career, I made a stop at the Tremont, Illinois-based Precision Planting facility. I toured, I met, I wrote a story, probably about Gregg Sauder's latest brilliant corn planting idea.

And so it's been for him, since 1993 or so. That's when Gregg, who can only be described as a relentless farmer-entrepreneur, founded Precision Planting with his wife, Cindy. The goal back then was to get better corn stands, through improving planter meters. They sold Keeton seed firmers and developed MeterMax meter calibration stands. First it was planter meters, then downforce and their 20/20 SeedSense planter monitor to help farmers see what kind of a job their planter was doing with spacing, singulation and downforce. They sold eSet vacuum disks. They set up dealers around the countryside to work with local farmers.

Gregg has been unyielding in his pursuit of better corn stands. He's passionate about growing corn. Picket fence stands, soil pits, root digs, compaction, root health, planter accuracy, row bounce…sit in on any one of his summer or winter meetings at the farm or one of his Farm Progress Show demonstrations, and those are the phrases you'd hear him hammer home.

And excellence. In every last area. Attention to detail. I once did a story on Gregg and the Precision Planting team's participation at the Farm Progress Show, where their booth is one of the most popular on the grounds, with live planting demos, soil pits, scheduled seminars and more. That's due in part to Gregg's desire to always be better, and to let his competitive nature drive a better and more innovative booth than the one next door.

Gregg and Cindy built Precision Planting from the ground up and turned it into a family business. He created jobs for his community, and he kept God at the center of it. I've always heard that when our friend and Precision dealer, Greg Chatterton, was killed in a snowy morning car accident on the way to a Precision Planting winter meeting, Gregg Sauder stopped the meeting and led everyone in prayer for Greg and his family. That's good people.

Along the way, he built a business so innovative and valuable that agribusiness companies came calling. In 2012, he sold Precision Planting to Monsanto and started over. He launched 360 Yield Center this past summer. He's looking – as he always has – for ways to improve corn yields, looking down the road to feeding the 9 billion people estimated to populate the world by 2050. Gregg wants farmers to look beyond goals to potential, and wants to help them take control of limiting factors. He spends a lot of time thinking about water and fertility, and he throws out numbers like 500 bushels per acre. Really. He thinks yield boosts will come not from big data but from facts in each unique field, and he has a team of farmers, engineers and agronomists working together. They've developed a variety of products to combine insights from a farmer's own field tests and precipitation, with sample field analysis and historic weather patterns.

Here's the thing: farmers are interested and they're talking about it, because Gregg Sauder has already changed the way we plant corn in the Midwest. He's proven himself. He's trustworthy.

And he's a big thinker who is, at the very least, relentlessly looking for the next big idea.

It's what makes him an agriculturalist who influences.

Agriculturalists Who Influence: The Series

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