Getting agronomic information out to the practitioners
By Top Crop Manager
Crop consultant garners high praise from area producers!
By Top Crop Manager
The agricultural industry has significantly changed over the past two decades
as growers modified their farming operations in response to economic pressures,
the development of new technology and agronomic information. The challenge is
how to effectively get this new information into the hands of farmers and retailers.
A few years ago, Ingrid Kristjanson, a certified crop consultant (CCA) and
a highly regarded agricultural representative located at Morris in Manitoba,
saw a need for the more effective delivery of timely agronomic information to
growers, retailers and fellow colleagues. She envisaged that a timely newsletter
could be an effective means of filling the agronomic knowledge gap. As operating
budgets were limited, she teamed up with a local organization (The Valley Ag
Society). Together, they applied for and successfully secured the external funding
required for distribution of her newsletters.
During the growing season, Kristjanson prepared and distributed the newsletter
on a weekly basis. However, at crucial times during the growing season, the
newsletters were published twice a week. Called The Valley Update, this
newsletter was mailed to almost 800 farm/rural mailboxes. In addition, it was
sent electronically to approximately 90 agribusinesses, agronomists, field representatives
and territory managers located in her district.
The information contained in the newsletter was brief but filled with timely
information that was designed to help producers make the best decisions. Kristjanson
states that "I was able to use this newsletter to react quickly to what
was going on with weather, insects, weeds and other concerns, and to create
a newsletter containing appropriate information within a short period of time."
The feedback to the information provided in her newsletter from producer clients
as well as agribusiness was very positive. For example, Thorsten Stanze, a producer
in the Morris region states: "The Valley Update was a really important
asset for my operation. It was so valuable to have access to information pinpointed
to my area and my farm. Kristjanson has helped me to save money for my farming
operation. She goes a lot further to find solutions or information than any
other agronomist I have encountered."
Art Enns, another producer in the area states: "Kristjanson has been promoting
soil testing and the proper interpretation of the results since she moved into
the area some 10 years ago. She has been especially vigilant with growers of
new crops (like soybeans and edible beans). Like everything she does, she is
meticulous when it comes to soil testing. Although she works in a male dominated
industry, she is head and shoulders above any other agronomist I have dealt
with. She is simply known as the best person to contact when it comes to crop
Dennis Benjamen of Rosenort Agro states that: "The Valley Update
was a very good tool that I used on a day-to-day basis. As location manager/agronomist
of a single retail outlet, I could not afford to hire experts. The Valley
Update was emailed to me directly and I appreciated knowing the information
before the producers started to call. I relied on Kristjanson and her newsletter
and I know that I can trust her advice. As a result of Kristjanson's efforts,
levels of soil testing have increased and producers are now more aware of fertility
and manure management issues."
Kristjanson has a reputation as a very hard worker who, when confronted with
a grower question or problem, thoroughly researches the issue and never gives
a shallow answer. Enns indicates that if she is not sure, she will say: "I
don't know and I will get back to you. But, you better know your stuff because
she will ask the hard questions in order to get the best answer."
Agronomists who are in the business of providing agronomic advice to growers
need the ability to sort through the large volumes of information. The key is
to be able to read through all the reports and to 'sort out the wheat from the
chaff'. As a result of her hard work and dedication, Kristjanson is clearly
blessed with the ability to reduce volumes of information into the type of practical
advice that is appreciated by producers.
Unfortunately, to the dismay of both producer clients and agri-business, Kristjanson's
newsletter service has been terminated. Kristjanson's response to this development
is quite philosophical. She indicates that "Change is always a part of
the workplace, and new procedures required for information dissemination made
it difficult to get information into a newsletter in a timely fashion."
The accomplishments achieved by Kristjanson have not escaped the notice of
her fellow agronomists. The members of the Prairie Certified Crop Advisers named
her the recipient of the 'CCA of the Year' award for 2004. Based on the high
regard she is held in by producers in her district, Kristjanson is more than
deserving of receiving this high honour from her colleagues. -30-