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Field Day

Recently, my boss and I took a day off and traveled to Penn State’s Agronomy Research Farm for a field day.  These field days serve as opportunities for crop consultants to get CCA (certified crop advisor) hours.  According to my boss, to obtain your CCA you have to pass a standard test and attend 40 hours of CCA training every 2 years.  I decided to go along because it seemed like a good learning opportunity.  That, and it got me out of work for a day…

The research farm at Penn State.

The research farm at Penn State.

The day consisted of five one hour presentations.  The presentations were as follows:  Crop characteristics and high yields, Vertical tillage in PA, Sprayer nozzles, Stink bugs and other insect pests in crop production, and exploring herbicide differences.  The presentations were interesting but a lot of the presentations were a bit above my head as most of the crop consultants attending the field day possessed a great deal of background knowledge that I lacked.

In the first presentation, crop characteristics and high yields, we were taken to a corn test plot and asked to examine the different trials.  The purpose of this presentation was to address some of the challenges farmers in Pennsylvania face as they attempt to produce high yielding corn, particularly issues regarding early season management of fertility.  This one was hard to follow for me as there were a lot of figures presented that I didn’t entirely understand.

The next presentation, vertical tillage in Pennsylvania, gave a balanced view on the new trend of vertical tillage.  The instructor gave examples of the pros and cons of the practice and then showed us three different pieces of equipment from different manufacturers.  This presentation was interesting as I had a very limited knowledge of what vertical tillage was and why farmers have started using it.

Vertical tillage demonstration.

Vertical tillage demonstration.

The sprayer nozzle presentation was fascinating in the sense that I had no idea how complicated applying pesticides can be.  We were given a book that contained nothing but pages and pages of different sprayer nozzles.  The instructor, Bob Klein, a pesticide application specialist from the University of Nebraska, gave a short presentation on how to calculate application rate (also more difficult than I would have thought).  He then demonstrated the usage of different nozzles and delved into what he did and didn’t like about each.

The stink bug presentation was by far my favorite.  We were asked to take sweep nets and go through a soybean field and collect whatever bugs we could find.  The instructor then spent the rest of the time explaining what bugs seem to be a problem this year, how they can be spotted, and how weather conditions and other insects effect the severity of particular bug problems.  I found it interesting how the smallest weather changes or bug interactions could have such a large impact on field insect problems.

The herbicide presentation was interesting but it required a much greater understanding of herbicides and their effects than I have.  There were several test plots set up to demonstrate the different effects of common pesticides and then we were asked to go through and identify which pesticide had been used on which plot.  Needless to say, I was completely lost but my boss helped me out.

There was a lot of information presented that day and I can’t say that I retained most of it but it did give me a great appreciation for crop consultants.  It’s really quite impressive how much information a crop consultant must know and understand in order to be an asset to a farmer.


  1. ksu2 says:

    Awesome post Valerie! You’re giving us a great window into the crop consultant career field. Glad to hear it’s been so educational. Looking forward to reading more.

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