In September of 2014, the North American Certified Crop Adviser board unanimously approved a plan to develop a specialty certification for Certified Crop Advisers who wanted and needed to demonstrate a higher level of expertise in the area of nutrient management. This specialty certification utilizes the 4Rs as the foundation to nutrient management and protecting soil and water.

The exams were held for the first time in August 2015 and February 2016. There are currently 100 certified 4R Nutrient Management Specialists and the next 4R NMS exam will be offered in August 2016.

Individuals who have attained certification as a CCA 4R Nutrient Management Specialist have taken special training and passed an additional exam to ensure they are promoting the most environmentally friendly and economically sustainable use of crop nutrients.  o become 4R NMS Certified, individuals must be a CCA first. By achieving the CCA 4R NMS, crop advisers are taking a significant step to demonstrate their competence in specialized nutrient and soil and water management and will share this knowledge with their farmer clientele and other stakeholders.  

The Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) certification was established by the American Society of Agronomy in 1992 to provide a benchmark for practicing agronomy professionals in the United States and Canada.  Professionals acquiring their certification do so voluntarily, and the CCA program is the largest agriculturally oriented certification program in North America with nearly 13,000 individuals certified.

“Farmers and employers prefer to work with CCAs because they have demonstrated that they have the commitment, education, expertise, and experience to make a difference in their business,” said Andy Knepp, International CCA Board Chairman.

In order to become CCA certified, individuals must pass two rigorous exams and demonstrate relevant experience advising farmers on crop production practices.  Once an individual has become certified, they must adhere to a code of ethics and complete 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years.   The CCA program’s professional standards are widely respected by industry, academia, and government and have been referenced in statutes.  

In keeping with the original intent of the CCA program, the 4R NMS certification is also voluntary. It is currently offered to CCAs in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Ontario and Wisconsin.  It is anticipated that more local CCA boards will elect to offer the exam to their CCAs in upcoming years.