Crop consulting: Helping farmers do things right

Farm Forum

While recently conducting sunflower surveys quite a distance from my office, I stopped in a farmyard to ask where I might find sunflower fields in the area. The farmer/rancher was very helpful and asked if I would let him know what I came up with for a yield estimate as he had a good percentage of them contracted.

As we visited, the topic of private crop consultants came up and he highly complimented the agronomist who monitored his fields on a weekly basis and provided recommendations. He made the statement that his wheat yields had doubled since he had hired his crop consultant. He had purchased a newer model row crop planter for that season and was confident that his seed placement and spacing was greatly improved.

He also relayed a couple of recommendations that he had refused to follow during the drought of 2012, because he thought his crop had such low yield potential and he resisted putting any more money into a crop that he had little hopes for.

At harvest time, the weeds he had received the recommendation to spray were in the best area of the field, but the yield in that part of the field was the lowest, and he was sure it was due to the weeds he hadn’t sprayed. In a nutshell, this producer said that without a doubt, the money he pays for crop consulting is well worth it. As his wife said, “if you’re not going to do what they recommend, why did you hire them?”

This is a tremendous testament to the crop consulting firm and the agronomists they have on staff, as well as evidence that following good production practices pays off. This is also a testament to South Dakota State University, where his agronomist received his college education.

Hiring crop consulting services is not for every farmer, but does seem to be becoming more common. As farms become larger, so do the demands on the farm managers’ time and expertise. There seems to be an endless array of weeds, herbicide options, insect pests, diseases, fertilizer products, production practices and other things a farm manager needs to know in order to stay on top of their game.

Some farmers are very good at keeping up with the latest information and feel comfortable scouting fields and making decisions, while others prefer to hire someone to do this for them. Whether you hire your agronomy services or prefer to go on your own, stay informed by attending that chemical, seed or Extension meeting that’s offered. You’ll almost certainly learn something you can use. Even if you hire a crop consultant, being informed helps you ask intelligent questions. The bottom line; doing things right can pay big dividends.