Guest Blogger: Former AgCareers.com Campus Ambassador at the University of Saskatchewan & current Crop Production Advisor with Crop Production Services Canada, Shelby LaRose
Coming from a small town in Southern Saskatchewan, agriculture was one of the clear choices I had when deciding on my future career path. I signed a full-time contract during the fall of my senior year at the University of Saskatchewan to be a Crop Production Advisor with Crop Production Services Canada (CPS), back in my hometown. Although I had a full year of school to finish, I was already mentally preparing for my full time career as a Crop Production Advisor, more commonly known as an agronomist.
You learn pretty quick that each day is a bit different when you are an agronomist. Shortly after harvest, farmers are already planning their crops and growing plans for the upcoming year. A good portion of the time I am working in the world of sales, selling the necessary elements that go into growing a crop. This includes seed (canola, corn, soybeans, wheat and forage seeds), chemical and fertilizer to my growers for various chemical and seed companies (including our own CPS/Agrium/Loveland Crop Inputs products). This involves sitting down with the grower and discussing everything from past yields of crop to soil testing results. The rest of the winter months are spent putting on grower meetings and attending various training sessions in order to become a better advisor for my customers.
Once spring finally rolls around I will get various calls including ones to go scout my grower’s fields for weeds before seeding and prior to the first application of herbicide. Being in ag retail in the spring, you also spend lots of time in the fertilizer plant mixing and loading custom fertilizer blends for the growers in the area. Personally, my favourite part of spring is planting demonstration fields with growers. These demos provide an opportunity for growers to see the various canola hybrids I sell in the area and on their own land. Once the crop is in the ground, my job changes daily.
A day could go anywhere from scouting fields, to recommending herbicides, to loading those herbicides into customer’s vehicles and paperwork. You even get those days where growers bring in some random plant and ask you to figure out what this plant is and how they can control it. Those are the days that I enjoy the most, because I always end up learning something new. Once the crop is planted and growing, summer scouting and monitoring starts. Summer scouting includes inspecting fields for many things such as insects, disease, flowering stages for fungicide timing, and pre-harvest scouting.
During the fall season, the majority of the time is spent working with growers preparing for the following crop year; and also putting together seed and chemical plans in order to meet sustainable crop rotations and selling new products that will be available for the following year. Yes, this seems quite early but in order for growers to get the products they want, they need to book early. The rest of the time in the fall is either spent post-harvest scouting, soil testing or blending more fertilizer. Soil testing is a great way to have a conversation with growers on the type of nutrients they need in their field and how much they need in order to be profitable and sustainable.
The most important part of my job is working with growers in order to provide agronomic advice that will help them grow the most sustainable food on their farm. This sustainability will be needed in order to provide healthy and affordable food for the worlds growing population.
A day in the life of a Crop Production Advisor (or Agronomist for simplicity sake) is a hard thing to describe when each day is different and you work in a small office. When you work in a small retail, you tend to play a part in all roles of the business on top of your primary role. This helps expand your entire horizons and gives you a look at other roles that can be played in the world of agribusiness (secretary, operations, sales rep, and management). I am currently in my sixth month working for CPS and I can honestly say it does not feel like work. When you love your job, love the people you work with and love your customers you will never feel like you work a day in your life.
Learn more about what an Agronomist might do, and how their role differs from a Seed Production Agronomist, Crop Advisor, or a Crop Scout. You can also find Agronomic Services and Agronomist jobs like the one Shelby has on AgCareers.com.
Read other blog posts from Shelby: The Benefits of Studying Abroad • Agriculture Internships: Your Path to a New Career