I’m often asked why a grower should hire an agronomy consultant. I personally enjoy fishing so I like to compare it to a fishing guide. As an avid angler I enjoy spending the day on the water trying to figure out how to catch fish. I may spend most of the day altering tactics and trying different locations in order to have a successful outing. However, if I don’t have that kind of time I could easily hire a fishing guide. A fishing guide is on the water every day and already knows the correct tactics and locations for catching fish. The same comparison can be drawn to a grower and a consultant. The consultant is in the field every day, has seen many different tactics, and has often seen many different tactics tried at various locations. The biggest difference between the grower and the fisherman however is the expense being made by the grower who is also altering his techniques, trying different things, and learning from his experience.
I’ve heard it said that a grower only has 40 opportunities to plant on their farm and obviously learning something new and different from each opportunity. Most agronomy consultants work with a decent number of growers. While a grower may only have one opportunity per season an agronomy consultant has the benefit of seeing this opportunity multiplied across their client base. Understandably when you begin to compound this over several years you can begin to draw a lot of information out of a consultants experience.
A consultant should also be able to generate additional income for you by being a valuable source of information. If a consultant merely wants to trim rates on pesticide applications, recommend low rates of fertilizer, and only tell you what you want to hear then you should consider not hiring that person. Most companies when hiring a sales person plan on that sales person generating three times their salary in additional revenue and when hiring a consultant it should be no different. A good consultant will have the information and data to back up their recommendations and then be able to come back to you at the end of the year to review the outcomes of the recommendations being made. In today’s agriculture we have what most would consider information overload. With data being created from grid soil test, as applied planting, as applied fertilizer applications, and hybrid information it can get overwhelming. A good consultant should have the proper tools to use this data, turn it into information, and then make good decisions from it.