Why hire an Agronomist or Crop Advisor?
Crop production systems have become more complex as the global demand for sustainable food sources rises. This has resulted in significant scientific and technological developments in the agriculture industry and a shift to more complex, larger scale farming operations. Producers must navigate many challenges to operate a successful farming operation including crop rotations, crop scouting, pesticide management, fertility management, long-term crop planning, technology advances and grain marketing. More often these days farmers are choosing to retain a consultant to provide insight and help manage the decision making process.
Producers that are considering retaining the services of an Agronomist or Crop Advisor need to evaluate whether an agronomist would benefit their operation. Just like hiring an employee on the farm, a producer should go through an interview type process to determine if a specific Agronomist or advisor would be a good fit for your operation and long-term farm management goals. This is important because there are many Agronomy companies, but service availability and scope may vary between them. Some questions to consider before hiring an Agronomist or Crop Advisor.
- Are you happy with your crop yields and current farm management practices?
- Are you attaining desired crop yields with crop input level?
- Are you confident in your crop management knowledge and the decisions making process?
- Do you scout your fields regularly and can you identify production problems?
If you answered YES to ALL of these questions, you may not personally or financially benefit from retaining an Agronomist or Crop Advisor.
However, if you feel like you are not optimizing your crop production with input levels, you do not have the time to spend out in your fields to assess your crops or there is opportunity to enhance your crop management strategies you could benefit from an independent source of technical expertise.
It is also very beneficial to producers to have UNBIASED advice towards questions you may have on your operation, especially when implementing new technologies, crops and rotations including.
- What crop rotations and varieties are best suited for my soil and climate?
- What is required (equipment, fertility, chemistry) to produce new crops and varieties?
- What technologies are available that can help increase profitability on my farm? (VRT, WEED-IT, Greenseeker)
- Should I be soil testing? How should I collect soil samples? How do I interpret my soil sample test?
- What are the proper fertility management strategies for each crop type? How to I manage my fertility to minimize risk expose and maintain profitability?
- What weeds do I have on my farm? Can you identify, stage, and recommend proper control strategies (chemical, mechanical, biological) for weeds?
- What diseases and insects are present in my crops? What are economic thresholds and how to measure them? What should I do if I reach economic threshold?
- How do I identify and diagnose soil and crop related problems in my fields?
Selecting the right advisor for your operation is critical as the advice you receive will ultimately affect the bottom line of your operation. Finding an Agronomist that will benefit your operation will require a producer to ask some questions to find a company that can provide the services you are looking for. Some question to consider before starting your search for and Agronomist or Crop Advisor.
- What type of knowledge should the Agronomist have to advise on your operation? (soil science, weed science, fertility, grain marketing)
- What services are you looking for? Crop scouting (weeds, insects, disease), chemical recommendations (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides), fertility recommendations (source, rate, time, and placement), soil sampling, grain marketing, manure management (CAFO Applications, CAFO-AR), variable rate application?
- What level of service are you looking for? On-going, or as needed basis?
- What type of reporting do I want to receive? Text-message, email, verbal?
Now that you have identified areas requiring help you can start your search for an advisor that will be able to perform the duties and tasks you require. Some things to consider when determining if an individual is qualified and able to perform the services you require:
- Does the individual possess the appropriate Education and professional credentials to provide the advice you are looking for (Professional Agrologist (P.Ag/CP.Ag) – Requires specific University Degree or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) – No formal education required)
- Does the individual have the local knowledge, expertise, and availability to outside resources to provide advise in your area?
- Does the company offer the services you are looking for and do they have the availability to provide the level of service you require to meet your expectations. Will the agronomist be scouting the fields and making recommendations, or will they be sending recent graduates and summer students?
- Does the crop production philosophy and personality of the potential advisor align with that of the farm? You will likely be, and should be, working with this person on a regular basis.
- What information sources, tools and backup support are utilized by the advisor? It is important to understand and know that your advisor is consistently up to date on new technologies, products and growing methods being implemented to improve crop production practices in the area.
- What are the fees and expenses for the services being provided. Understanding the fee structure allows a producer to determine if there is value in the service being provided. Is the company transparent about pricing, what hidden costs could arise?
- Does the company offer unbiased advice, or will they be constantly trying to sell you products which are beneficial to the retailer but may not be beneficial to your operation?
At Agrological Solutions, we specialize in dryland Agronomy on the Hi-Line in Montana. From boots on the ground scouting to variable rate technology we offer a variety of services to help move your farming operation to the next level of success. We are the only company offering Agronomy services on the Hi-Line with both a Professional Agrologist and Certified Crop Advisor on staff. Just like running a modern-day farming operation, selecting an agronomist can be an overwhelming process. We offer free, no-hassle/no-obligation consultations and to discuss if and how we can fit into your operation and help you meet your goals. Give us a call at 587.434.4803 and book an appointment now!