While you’re evaluating crop inputs, equipment needs and marketing options for the coming season, it’s a good time to consider whether a crop consultant, agronomist or farm management specialist makes sense for your operation. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your options.
Farming grows more complex with each passing season. The demands on your time can seem overwhelming. From fertility to seed selection to field scouting to grain marketing, a crop consultant or adviser can help you be more efficient. Sometimes, simply bringing in an outside perspective can help fine-tune your farm.
Do You Need an Agronomist?
Canada’s Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Ministry suggests asking yourself three questions to help determine if you could benefit from an agronomist or crop adviser:
- Are you satisfied with your crop yields and the crop management on your farm?
- Are you achieving crop yields that reflect your level of inputs?
- Are you comfortable with your crop management knowledge and the decisions you make on most aspects of growing crops on your farm?
Unless you answered “yes” to each question, it’s likely an independent source of technical expertise could bring value to your operation. But finding the right person is critical to a successful partnership.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Ministry provides an excellent resource to help guide you through the hiring process. The publication suggests that an important first step is to think about your expectations:1
- What types of knowledge would the agronomist need to have for assisting with your farm operation?
- What specific services do you want the agronomist to provide, such as soil sampling, fertilizer recommendations, crop scouting for weeds for herbicide recommendations, crop scouting for insect or disease problems, grain storage or crop marketing advice?
- Would you require advice on a regular basis or on an as-needed basis for unusual problems?
- Would you require weekly crop scouting with regular detailed advice and recommendations?
- How would you want your weekly reports: verbally in a one-on-one meeting after field scouting or in written form either dropped off at the farm or in an email?
Once you determine your needs and requirements, tap into all available resources — including other farmers, ag retailers, your banker and industry representatives, including your Case IH dealer — to help identify potential candidates.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Ministry experts recommend you approach the hiring process as seriously as you would select a new planter, tractor or combine. Consider additional resources and guidance from the farm management department at your land grant university. Finding the right fit for your farm will require time, research and investigation. But a successful hire will be well worth the effort.