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Expert Crop Advisors Assist Farm Decisions
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some farmers still receive advice from their neighbors, but many are turning to certified crop advisors for help in making decisions that will impact their pocketbooks and protect the environment.
"Certified crop advisors take field management decisions up to a whole new level," said Dr. Larry Oldham, extension soils specialist at Mississippi State University. "CCA advice results from research-based training."
The American Society of Agronomy began the Certified Crop Adviser program in 1992. The goal continues to be improved advice and a more professional advisor for farmers to rely upon.
Many Mississippi county extension agents, farm supply dealers and agricultural chemical company personnel have been certified through the program. Mississippi has 223 certified advisors out of the 10,000 nationwide -- more than any other southern state.
"Mississippians' great responses to the program reflects their positive attitudes toward agriculture in general and their support of agribusiness in particular," Oldham said.
"Farmers benefit from the continuing education experience of these certified crop advisors," Oldham said. "Each CCA is trained in making appropriate seed selections, herbicide and fertility decisions and soil management choices."
CCA "payments" include an improved reputation as a reliable information source and in some cases, a bonus payment by the organization that employs the CCA.
The requirements include passing a comprehensive international exam and a Mississippi-based exam on soil fertility, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production. Each applicant must document their educational and work experience and agree to a code of ethics.
Julian Crawford of Terra Industries in Yazoo City was one of Mississippi's first certified crop advisors.
"This is a voluntary program. We do it for the team -- the industry as a whole," Crawford said. "We want to protect the ag industry's reputation as good stewards of the environment."
Crawford said agriculture has been under a microscope concerning chemical use. Government regulatory agencies appreciate programs like the CCA.
Decision makers in Washington, D.C. have used the CCA program in drafting Farm Bill issues such as nutrient management planning.
"This governmental acceptance reflects an appreciation in Washington of the program not always enjoyed by other agricultural initiatives," Oldham said.
More information is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.agronomy .org/cca/index.html or by contacting a local county agricultural agent.