How to get the most out of your crop consultant

As crop production continues to evolve rapidly, growers are under constant pressure to keep up with new products, technologies, and techniques that can help them produce more and increase profits. Weather and other environmental factors often weigh heavily on the decisions you make every week for your business. Therefore, your success is dependent on agronomic insights – often from crop consultants – to assist you in addressing and adapting to changing conditions more than ever before.

What does a crop consultant do?

A crop consultant is a professional agronomist who can offer expertise and recommendations directly to farmers, and allow growers to spend more time focused on increasing production and profitability. Crop consultants can help you make decisions such as which crop varieties to plant, whether or not to test your soil, how to choose an effective fertilizer, and how to identify and treat crop disease. However, their work should go farther than taking samples and walking fields. Crop consultants need to be relied on recommendations that work to your benefit.

How to maximize your investment in a crop consultant

There are three key tips for ensuring that you get the most benefit from hiring a crop consultant. Make sure you hire the right consultant for you and your operation; listen to their advice and make decisions based upon their recommendations; and actively partner with your consultant to provide visibility and result in the best recommendations possible.

  1. Select the right consultant for you.It all starts with the selection process. When searching for a crop consultant or agronomist, he or she should fit in with your farm operations and vision, as well as be certified through a reputable organization, such as the American Society of Agronomy. During the interview process, be sure to ask the consultant about their philosophy about yield goals and on using low, modest or maximum crop inputs. And be clear about your business and the specific services you want the crop consultant to provide; such as soil sampling, fertilizer recommendations, herbicide recommendations, or crop marketing advice. Discuss during the interview process how you will share data and recommendations. Technology may play an important role – when you and your consultant can share information via apps or other tools, information exchange can be seamless and timely.
  2. Listen, heed their advice, and make changes to improve.After hiring your consultant, remember that you have hired them to help improve your business. You need to be willing to make adjustments and changes based upon how the recommendations fit within your operation.
  3. Actively partner with your crop consultant for the best results.Your crop consultant is there to help you build a long-term strategy. He or she will provide data and information that will be useful to you as you make day-to-day decisions based on your strategy. Partner with your crop consultant: walk the fields together, look over data points during your meetings, and be sure to ask questions. Sharing information with your crop consultant will help ensure you are both working from the same understanding and toward the same goals. Building rapport, being approachable and being easily contactable by email or phone allows you and your consultant to build a strategy that will work for your business in the long-term, and introduce ideas that will help you stay ahead of the curve.

By following these three tips, you should be well on your way to building an effective relationship with your new crop consultant.