Clarke McGrath , crop specialist
Southwest Iowa agricultural producers and suppliers place a high value on the up-to-date, easily accessed research information from Iowa State University (ISU), its researchers and field staff. Area agriculture producers and suppliers receive many types of ag information from county directors, field specialists, and most subscribe to the ICM newsletter, but many had also requested an interactive meeting with state and field specialists to cover ag topics in depth, ask questions and possibly even earn Certified Crop Advisor continuing education units (CEUs). In the past, the only way to accomplish all three goals was to attend the Integrated Crop Management Conference in Ames , Iowa each year.
Area crop specialists and state specialists developed and delivered a series of agronomy meetings called the "Crop Advantage Series" in response to client requests. On February 18th, 2002, local county directors and the field specialist held a Crop Advantage meeting in Atlantic , Iowa . State and local specialists presented the latest ISU research information on topics such as soybean cyst nematode, the phosphorus index, managing weather risk for production, the new farm bill, zone sampling, grain marketing and drift management. Invitations were sent to suppliers and producers in southwest Iowa , and local newspapers and radio stations also assisted in sharing details about the upcoming conference.
More than 80 producers and suppliers attended the conference, interacting with specialists, gathering information and earning Certified Crop Advisor CEU's. Every attendee gave the seminar a good or excellent rating on evaluation completed after the event. Everyone filling out an evaluation indicated that the conference was worth the small fee charged to help cover costs, and that we should continue to offer the conference on an annual basis. In communications with those individuals who placed an economic impact on their operation from the information shared from ISU, an average value of $3.50 per acre was placed on the information and its impact. When correlated to the indicated acres impacted from the producers and suppliers in attendance, the economic value of the information to southwest Iowa farmers and suppliers was over $860,000.Agronomists at dealerships, seed dealers, ag chem reps and others make recommendations to farmers about a vast array of issues during the entire growing season. Sometimes these advisors have good, sound backgrounds for these recommendations, sometimes inexperience in advising - particularly in some subject matter areas - becomes a shortfall for them. If agronomists are making recommendations, it has been my hope that they can use the best research-based information available to them to help producers. However, it is sometimes difficult to give direct timely information when these advisors have the specific questions, so a wider access, more pro-active method of getting this information in their hands in a timely manner was needed.
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July 11, 2006
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