Get the Best Results for Your Fields: Communicate With Your Agronomist
Some farmers make their fertility and crop protection decisions without input from others, but as the technical expertise required to stay abreast of best management practices climbs, and as a farmer’s operation requires his attention in more and more areas – sometimes your soil is better served by bringing in the advice of an agronomist.
Some coordinate with an independent contractor, some hire an on-staff agronomist (perhaps one with several skills), and others work with expertise supplied by their fertilizer dealer. No matter who you are seeking agronomic input from, you will get the best results when you collaborate with them from a position of knowledge.
Are You Asking the Right Questions?
First, ask your Agronomist these important questions, then move onto more specific questions:
- Is your agronomist motivated to help your operation produce the most bushels per acre?
- Does he bring the skills to do the best job with current technology and understanding?
- What questions can you ask before beginning a new agronomic relationship to make the best choice?
- What questions can you ask the agronomist you are established with to get the best performance year in and year out?
If you are looking to establish a relationship, ask: “What is your soil fertility philosophy?” And “What do you see as the core components of a soil fertility system?” In the answer, look for an understanding of how your candidate’s actions will change the bigger picture.
If you want to gain deeper insight into your candidate’s attitude, potential learning curve struggles, and technical capability, ask “What software are you familiar with using, and what do you see as its strengths and weaknesses?”
Agronomy is only becoming more technology-intensive. Ask your candidate, “What differences do you bring to the table that rise above the standard approach?” You will then get a good sense of your candidate’s views on standard practices, best practices, and whether he will be implementing a process that will achieve your goals.
Maintain the Relationship
If you like the agronomist you are working with already, there are a series of questions you can ask if you simply want to “check the oil level” on the prescriptions he is presenting to you. When you are reviewing his prescriptions, plan ahead and think of two fields—one whose ground you know well yourself, and one that you aren’t very familiar with.
Considering asking, “Were any modifications you made to your standard plan on the familiar field, and on the unfamiliar field?” Ideally, his responses will show consistency, using his best approach both where you have a ‘gut sense’ double-check and where you are less familiar.
If your agronomist has his Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) credentials, ask him what he liked best about the last CCA education session he attended. Ask if there were any new trends that he thought were promising. You might also find out if there were any he thought looked like needed more time at the drawing board.
With a few quick questions, you can understand how your agronomist approaches challenges, and you can use that understanding to improve the profitability of your raw material, your soil.
There’s More to Think About
If you would like more information about communicating properly with your agronomist or advice to get the best results for your fields, look to FamilyFarms Group for more resources. Download our free ebook “How Row Crop Consolidation Could Impact Your Farm“: