Pat McDonald didn’t grow up on a farm. Yet he always liked being around farming and farm people, even if his ag teacher in high school wasn’t always convinced.
“I don’t think he thought I would stay in agriculture, but here I am, and I really enjoy it,” says McDonald, reflecting back on his days at Whiteland Community High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “I really enjoy working with people.”
McDonald doesn’t farm. Instead, he has carved out a unique niche, working for two businesses at the same time. He sells seed for Steve Long, who farms and operates a Beck’s dealership from his Franklin, Ind., farm. He also sells chemicals for JLC Crop Protection, based in Rushville, Ind., serving east-central Indiana.
Once an employee at a retail fertilizer and chemical dealership, McDonald went his own way a few years ago. Since 2010, he has sold seed for Long’s business and helped Long in other ways when possible, especially when it comes to weed control.
More recently, McDonald found the opportunity to sell chemicals for JLC. He explains that JLC is owned by Chris Nobbe and Josh Petry. Both are former Beck’s seed advisers who left Beck’s as employees to farm on their own, each by himself. Both also are now Beck’s dealers.
“There’s no competition with my work for Long, because we’re in different sales territories,” McDonald says. “Each of them has their Beck’s customers, and I have mine here. The big plus was that they were able to offer me health insurance, which I needed for my family.”
JLC has a warehouse and sells chemicals, but doesn’t offer application services, McDonald says. His dual role allows him to meet the needs of both Long’s Beck’s dealership and JLC Crop Protection.
“The neat thing is that I am always talking to and working with farmers,” he says.
When it comes to weed control, McDonald has helped Long fine-tune his program. “We both believe in starting with a clean field in the spring and relying heavily on residual herbicides,” McDonald says. “Steve primarily uses Liberty for post weed control over LibertyLink beans.”
The secret to making glufosinate, the active ingredient in Liberty, work right is paying attention to the details, McDonald says. Because it’s a contact herbicide, you must use the right nozzles to get good coverage, coupled with the right spray volume — around 20 gallons per acre.
“One thing Steve does is pull water from a pond for his sprayer,” McDonald continues. “It’s the right temperature, and it’s not hard water. He’s used water from other places, and he’s found it definitely makes a difference. He uses AMS, which helps on pH, but pond water is already better balanced for pH too.”
McDonald’s goal is to keep working with farmers, helping them navigate through technology and weather challenges.
“My old ag teacher just might be surprised at what I’m doing today,” he says with a smile.