As I help my clients plan for 2017, I make sure to have a discussion about cover crops. I have learned we need to plan for planting cover crops just in the same way we plan for our cash crops. A good plan helps to ensure that we achieve our goals.
This brings me to the main point of this article. Only a few years ago, the concepts of cover crops and soil health were not considerations for me. As I drove in my trade area last fall, I was amazed at how many fields had a cover crop. Cover crops and the concept of soil health have obviously struck a chord with farmers and agronomists across the U.S. How did this happen?
I believe this happened because a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist identified a problem and shared his passion for soil biology. He obviously shared his knowledge and vision with fellow NRCS employees because the NRCS has taken the lead in promoting cover crop use and providing information about soil health.
It's also my belief that cover crops and soil health will have as big of an impact on soil conservation as the original mission that founded the Soil Conservation Service in 1935. A sincere thank you to Mr. Ray Archuleta for sharing his vision, and kudos to the NRCS for recognizing that cover crops and soil health need to be a focal point for soil conservation and water quality protection.
A SIMPLE STEP WITH BIG IMPACT
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could solve some of the challenges facing agriculture today by simply sharing our passion and knowledge with a team of people who have the same focus? I contend that this is indeed possible, and at the same time, it is our obligation to fix what we know to be problems–especially when we possess a major piece of the solution.
One of the keys to solving problems is putting the right people on your team. My team consists of other agronomists, several university specialists, NRCS conservationists, local county conservationists and of course–my clients. At the top of my list are fellow NAICC members. When I spend time with them, I feel that we could solve almost any problem. Long-time member and past president Mr. Ray Young of Louisiana put it to me this way as we talked about our members in Washington, D.C., last March, “This group of people–if they put their heads together, could move mountains.” Truer words have never been spoken.
THE POWER OF MANY
If you have a desire to solve some of the problems facing agriculture, then I invite you to get to know the membership of the NAICC. We are 700-plus independent crop consultants, contract researchers and quality assurance professionals who come together for an annual meeting every January.
Our independent crop consultant members could put you in a field of any crop in North America and facilitate a conversation with the grower. If there is a new insect, disease or weed problem you want to see, then we can tell you where to find it. Our contract researcher members understand how to properly design and conduct efficacy and residue studies on virtually any crop. They are playing a major role in today’s top issues, such as discovering how pesticides might affect pollinators. Our quality assurance members help to ensure that the data from these studies are rock-solid and defensible.
Add the unique perspective that our international members bring and the tremendous potential for innovation that industry members hold, and it becomes clear that the membership of NAICC could truly move mountains.
The National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants is the society of agricultural professionals who provide research and advisory services to clients for a fee. Steve Hoffman is president and managing agronomist of InDepth Agronomy in Manitowoc, WI. For more information, go to www.naicc.org.