If you’re into farming, gardening or lawn care, weeds are likely a familiar foe. But for Greg Dahl, a WinField United research manager for product development, weeds are the root of his professional life—in a good way.
“Weed science is so much fun,” says Greg. “I get to be outside in the summertime, work in fields and figure out what works and doesn’t work for weed control.”
Greg joined Land O’Lakes, Inc. in 1997 to train agronomists and co-op dealers as well as produce crop protection guides. In 2000, he joined Joe Gednalske, director of CPP product development, in a new product development position, where he’s been ever since.
During the past 17 years, Greg has conducted numerous experiments in the areas of adjuvants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, seed treatments and micronutrients. His research has helped develop more than 50 new or improved products for WinField United including InterLock® adjuvant and Rugged®, Carnivore® and Weld® herbicides. Others include Ascend, Max-In® products and Warden RTA.
“Joe has been a great leader, thinker and friend. Over the years, we’ve worked to figure out what pesticides do and don’t do,” says Greg. “In that time, we’ve been fortunate to develop new products to make farmers’ lives better and more productive.”
The wizard of weeds at work
Although Greg and his team are based in the new WinField United Innovation Center in River Falls, Wis., during the growing season, they spend a lot of their time in the field.
“As soon as the day starts, my phone rings,” says Greg. “It’s usually an agronomist or our customers who have questions or need help. Most of the time, we’re able to come up with a way to solve their problem.”
During the winter, Greg and his team test products and weed out ones that won’t be used in the spring. And thanks to the new onsite greenhouse at the Innovation Center, indoor testing will be easier than ever.
“We’ve struggled with greenhouse activities because we haven’t had one,” he says. “Now that we have our own greenhouse, we can test an idea on the spot. We’re really excited to see what we can get done.”
Each year, the product development team conducts hundreds of research trials at the River Falls site. Through these and other trials at affiliate locations, Greg creates new formulations that are much better than their predecessors.
“For InterLock® and those types of products, we’re making them in a way that will put more product where we want it to go—and stay there—so there’s less waste and fewer environmental issues,” he says. “And our sales show that farmers use these products and believe in them.”
Greg is quick to point out that his team’s accomplishments are only part of WinField United’s success.
“I’m thankful for people who take the orders, deliver the product and sell it,” he says. “And I get to work with great people—not just here [at the Innovation Center], but at headquarters, service centers and co-ops.”
Investing in technology and people
Greg and his team are putting their research to work on some stubborn weeds throughout the United States.
“Right now, the U.S. is having trouble with pigweeds such as waterhemp or Palmer amaranth,” he says. “Some of our new soil application products do a good job, but we continue developing new technologies and products in a way that’s profitable for Land O’Lakes, our farmer-owners and growers.”
“These weeds are hard to control with glyphosate alone,” says Greg. “Glyphosate interferes with the weed’s metabolism and kills it. Both have become glyphosate-resistant, so we’re trying to overcome that.”
The new 55,000-square-foot WinField® United Innovation Center will enable Greg and the entire team to develop these kinds of products faster, thanks to state-of-the-art technologies. But he’ll be the first to tell you that the best investment Land O’Lakes has made is in our people.
“At Land O’Lakes, we have incredibly capable people—and in WinField® United, we have amazingly talented leadership with great vision,” he says. “I am thankful for the leadership and support of Mike Vande Logt, Brett Bruggeman, Kevin Eye, Joe Gednalske, Eric Spandl and Mark Risley. They have all been great leaders who have made WinField® United the best.
“And in product development, we have great people with the tools to build a better world,” he adds.
Greg’s weed research doesn’t stop when he leaves work. He’s currently serving a one-year term as president of the North Central Weed Science Society, is an active member of many weed societies and speaks at symposiums.
“Land O’Lakes has been great in supporting our participation in these organizations,” says Greg. “I’m proud of the fact that Land O’Lakes has never prevented us from doing things that are good for the farmer."
Problem-solving, testing products, helping farmers—these are the reasons Greg loves his job as a weed scientist.
“My job is a lot of fun. I might have the best job in the company,” he says. “It’s fun to be able to do things that are changing the world—for the better.”