Imagine being responsible for maintaining an adequate supply of plant food for farmers across the United States and Canada, thousands of farmers relying on you to meet their crop’s nutritional needs. Would you be up for the task?
Such is the responsibility of Katie Maxwell, who works for Yara North America, Inc., one of the world’s leading fertilizer companies. Katie, who serves as Market Coordinator for Micronutrients, helps plan and coordinate Yara’s micronutrient fertilizer needs for the United States and Canada based on market requirements. In other words, Katie has to project the micronutrient fertilizer demands of farmers across North America and make sure those needs are met. Without sufficient fertilizer, crops would suffer and human food supply could diminish.
The fertilizer market is based on the growing season of crops. Katie synchronizes micronutrient fertilizers (products) so the farmer has what it needs at the right time and the right place. Without fertilizer, plants cannot get the nutrients they need to grow. A healthier plant produces a higher crop yield, which provides increased food for people. With a growing global population, her role is critical.
On a typical day, Katie says her goal is to assist Yara’s varied customer base and provide them with a complete portfolio of products that will meet their crop’s nutritional needs. To aid in this goal, Katie’s role is to watch the market trends. Everything is very seasonal. She monitors inventory, looks at sales history and trends and tries to keep the inventory to a minimum while still meeting the demands, a task which she credits as the most challenging part of this job. She coordinates the inventory for all of Yara’s products in its warehouses. Their micronutrient manufacturing plant is in the United Kingdom so she has to think about layover time from production to distribution on location.
Katie’s job allows her to focus on the nutritional needs of the end user. “As a company, we help supply the farmer with the nutritional elements for his specific crop in order to nourish the plant, to optimize plant growth and increase his crop yield. This not only increases the farmer’s profit margin but also benefits society by helping feed a growing world population. Yara is contributing innovative fertilizer solutions to growers to produce higher yields without increasing acreage. Our products are making a difference in the agriculture industry through advanced technology formulations.”
Katie found her future at a young age. Katie’s love for the agriculture industry first occurred in the sixth grade when she selected a course in middle school called Agriculture. She learned about the subject in class as well as through participation in numerous career development events. She participated in the organization called Futures Farmers of America (FFA), which has since been changed to The National FFA Organization. Her participation in these activities fed her passion for agriculture and it flourished.
While in high school, Katie took several science courses with an agricultural focus. These included Agriculture Communications, which taught leadership skills when working with customers, growers, supervisors, and other relevant personnel. Another course was Nursery and Landscaping, which taught plant science and in-depth knowledge of plant growth.
Aside from earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, Katie says that a person working in the agriculture field must love and be dedicated to the industry. Real world experience is invaluable and is the best classroom for any position in the industry.
One of the things she finds most interesting about Yara is that it has over 100 years of agricultural knowledge and experience. The products produced are solutions for the growers, and they do it responsibly, in a way that protects the environment. Katie is committed to her profession and believes in what she does. She recommends that young people pursue what they love. “Agriculture has such a big impact on everyone. It is a necessity. It connects everyone. Agriculture impacts so much of our everyday lives,from the food you eat to the fabric you wear.”