For growers and crop advisors who care about precision ag techniques, Info Ag in St. Louis is a must-attend event. This year the conference delivered with panels, cutting-edge vendors, and awards recognizing the best of the best.
Here are the Awards of Excellence, presented by Info Ag’s Paul Schrimpf.
First up was the Crop Advisor / Entrepreneur Award presented to Nish Majarian, founder of Agrian, seen above.
“Agrian’s been a company that’s managed to persevere for more than 14 years,” Majarian said. “I want to thank our clients. You can’t do anything great unless you have great clients who want to help you grow and see you succeed.”
The farmer award went to Rodney Wright of Wright Farms.
“My love of research and figuring out what’s going on with crops started in 4-H soybean competitions,” Wright said. “All that has been interesting to me for a long time.”
“I’d like to thank Dr. Bill Baker at Arkansas State who taught me a lot about prescription maps and GIS software,” he added. “I want to thank my farming partner and wife Linda, who’s supported me and put up with the long hours. I’d also like to thank God for being in my life and allowing me to work in this field of agriculture.”
Wright said he is convinced that farmers can improve the human condition by using analytics and becoming better stewards of the environment at the same time.
Bruce Erickson of Purdue won the Educator / Researcher award.
“He has a true passion to teach,” Schrimpf said.
Erickson’s work includes growers around the world, with study participants from 39 states and 22 countries. He works each year on the Purdue / Croplife Precision Ag survey.
“This group is just a fun group to work with,” Erickson said. “This is the meeting I don’t miss every year.”
Last but not least came the legacy award winner: Newell Kitchen of University of Missouri, who Schrimpf said was working in precision agriculture “long before anybody called it precision agriculture.”
Kitchen did soil variability work before it was popular, and helped develop the understanding that crop nitrogen needs differ by as much as 89 pounds an acre, he said.
“A lot of these concepts are understood now, but Newell was doing the foundational work.”
Kitchen took the stage to a long round of applause.
“What a great honor this is. I am humbled and as I heard that long spiel Paul just gave, I thought, is this my funeral? This is pretty amazing,” he said.
Kitchen gave perspective on developments in precision ag by reminding those in the industry that there are always new problems to solve.
“When I graduated, people said you don’t want to go to agronomy and soil science, it’s already been discovered,” Kitchen said. “Little did they know that right on the horizon was data, decisions, and the whole concept of what we now call precision agriculture.”