Crop Consultant Crew: FFA chapter partners with ag retailer

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Crop Consultant Crew: FFA chapter partners with ag retailer

Carl Proctor, seed sales specialist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, discusses plant nutrition and ear development.

CERRO GORDO, Ill. — FFA students from Decatur recently visited a Nutrien Ag Solutions facility in Cerro Gordo as the newest members of the “Crop Consultant Crew.”

Nutrien Ag Solutions developed the unique educational program to give students an understanding of how the operation and its professional crop consultants help farmers maximize crop performance and ultimately profitability.

The MacArthur High School FFA Chapter learned about the facility’s products and services and how advances in agriculture and technology help farmers produce a safe, abundant food supply.

“It was really a privilege for our staff to host the Decatur FFA chapter,” said John Watkins, Nutrien Ag Solutions marketing manager for eastern Illinois. “These students are the next generation of farmers, consumers or both. It’s crucial for us in the ag industry that we take opportunities like these to answer questions they have about farming and the future of agriculture.”

Crop Consultant Crew: FFA chapter partners with ag retailer

John Watkins, Nutrien Ag Solutions marketing manager for eastern Illinois, leads the students on the tour.

The program began with a visit to the facility’s precision ag building, where planters are upgraded to provide consistent seed populations, spacing and depth to achieving high yield potential. Advances in planter technologies were also discussed.

Students also:

  • Examined limestone used to raise soil pH levels. Watkins explained that the operation applies about 30,000 tons of lime each season to help growers achieve better yields.
  • Observed seed treatment equipment used to help protect seedlings from early season plant disease and insects. The operation provides enough treated seed to cover about 200,000 acres annually in its service area.
  • Learned about the robust portfolio of 300 different crop protection products Nutrien stocks to help farmers defend their acres against weeds, insects and plant diseases.

“Exposing students to agriculture in a direct way allows them to see the many careers in food and fiber production,” said FFA chapter adviser Andrew Klein, who accompanied his chapter during the program. “My urban students love learning about agriculture, and I’ve found that they really appreciate the chance to go on trips and meet new people.”

Although the student participants did not have farming backgrounds, Watkins noted that should not be a limiting factor. “One of our goals with the Crop Consultant Crew program is to help build awareness about the many career opportunities available in agriculture,” he said. “A kid from the city has just as much of an opportunity to have a successful ag career as someone who grew up on a farm.”

Crop Consultant Crew: FFA chapter partners with ag retailer

Rodney Wildman, Nutrien Ag Solutions Precision Technologies, talks to students about advances in planter technologies.

Also participating in the program was Ross Chastain, who drives the #10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He’s an eighth-generation watermelon farmer from Florida who shared the parallels between farming and racing with the students.

Nutrien Ag Solutions’ support for the FFA began in 2018 with the National FFA Organization. Through a $100,000 gift, grant money has been used to fund FFA student chapter affiliation fees, improve plant science-based educational opportunities, and purchase necessary supplies and materials for local agricultural-education programs.

This support has positively impacted hundreds of lives and will impact hundreds more throughout the country by continuing the $100,000 grant application program for FFA chapters in 2020.

The retailer also is a sponsor at the National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis.

“We look forward to participating in the FFA National Convention and connecting with these potential future farmers and their educators,” said Brent Smith, vice president of marketing and innovation for Nutrien Ag Solutions.

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