I have been called a crop scout, field scout, consultant, consulting agronomist, agronomist, soils agronomist, “dirt doctor”, just “doc”, problem solver, a GPS electrician, precision ag expert and farm advisor by my clients. Those are the names they have called me to my face anyway! But I do what most people call “consulting”. I call it educating. (BTW I am not a Ph. D or MD or DVM or what ever. I am not a Dr. nor have or do I claim to be! I want to make that clear up front.)
I started out in 1989 as a field scout, scouting alfalfa and corn in a place where if anything could go wrong it would… a reclaimed strip mine. From there I began pulling soil tests and mapping fields. Then a few years later was making soil fertilizer recommendations for customers.
In 1994 I got my first yield monitor and installed it in my combine. I was the first one in this area to have a yield monitor and a GPS unit to map yields. I remember my very first call for tech support that fall. After about an hour on the phone the guy on the other end said “Hey buddy, we just sell the stuff. It’s your job to make it work.” And with that he hung up the phone. We learned a lot of stuff the next few years that has helped us to avoid traps in Precision Ag.
While tech support has gotten a lot better since then, a lot of precision ag equipment is still sold with the philosophy that “we just sell the stuff” attitude and farmers are looking for someone who can make it all work. So I spend a significant amount of time educating farmers on how to use their equipment.
Over the next ten years I did GPS soil testing on grids and zones, VRT recommendations for just about every type of controller out there, worked on every yield monitor made and played with just about every GPS unit there was for farming. I continue to do this work now. I have also spent a significant amount of time in the last three years with RTK network establishment and auto steer.
Starting in 2004 I began to incorporate farm management into what I was doing with the agronomics and electronics. Hey, if it doesn’t make you money, why do it? So that is where I find myself today, working not only with farmers who just want soil testing or yield monitor help, but also with those who want to incorporate the economic side into their decision making.
I work with farms as small as a few acres like grape vineyards and truck farms to farms that reach up to and over 10,000 acres providing a variety of services to the operators and owners from soil testing, recommendations, PA assistance and farm management.
I am a Certified Crop Advisor and a Certified Professional Agronomist. I have a BS in Ag Education and Mechanization and an MS in Plant and Soil Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I taught Computers in Agriculture, Soil and Fertilizers and Reconditioning of Ag Machinery at Rend Lake College for 8 years before deciding to farm and consult full time.