Tone Ag Consulting Ltd.

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With Tone Ag as your Crop Manager the following services will be provided:

  • Regular scouting of each field
  • Pest and weed control recommendations
  • Same day reports and consultations
  • Field records for chemicals and fertilizers
  • Crop Planning Strategies
  • Soil Sampling and Soil Test result interpretations
  • End of year report with a detailed description of our crop scouting activities
  • *Peace of Mind!*

We provide crop scouting for all crops.

Scouting after plant emergence




Higher crop prices provide more opportunities to boost crop yields and profitability. We asked Danny Kepple, executive vice president of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants, to tell us some of the factors that farmers should consider before enlisting the services of a crop consultant. Like any wise consumer, a farmer in the market for advisory services is going to have questions. Heading the list are usually, "How much is it going to cost?" and "What will I get for my money?" The answer to "How much?" should be, "If I can't make you more money than I cost you significantly more you should fire me on the spot." In other words, engaging the services of a professional crop consultant should be regarded as an investment in future profitability. Rates vary widely, depending upon the extent of the service provided and the value of the crop. Fees can range from a low of about $5 per acre for a streamlined service up to around $30 per acre for extensive consultation on a high-value crop. Members of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC) are in the business of providing advisory services to growers and other clients for a fee. Those fees are their primary source of income, and they are not affiliated with the sale of any product. The most successful among them have learned that the best way to stay in business long-term is to make money for their clients. As for what you get for your money-besides more money, an objective set of eyes - the services provided by crop consultants vary by crop and geographic region. In areas where pest infestations are major limiting factors to production, pest management advice is a hot commodity. In other areas, where the primary tool for increasing profits is fertility management, some crop consultants specialize in this area. However, it's important to understand that whatever areas of specialization a professional crop advisor may offer, most are generalists who offer expertise in every phase of production. The best way to get maximum return on your investment is to include your crop consultant in every phase of managing your operation, from planning-what to plant where, to keeping field records.

How to Choose

Once the decision is made that retaining professional advisory services is a good investment, the next logical question becomes, "How do I choose the right source of advice?" There are basically three sources: the Extension Service, someone affiliated with a farm-supply dealer or distributor, and the independent crop consultant. Each has a place, and they are not mutually exclusive. As Extension budgets shrink, the public sector is finding it difficult to advise farmers on an individual basis. Each county may have several thousand growers, and only one or two agents on staff to serve them all. Increasingly, the Extension Service is providing -- information to crop consultants who help transfer the technology to farmer clients. Farm-supply dealers and distributors are also in the information business. Some function like the local pharmacist, who willingly offers advice on headache remedies, but who does not conduct in-depth diagnostic examinations. Others offer full-blown consulting-services for a fee. Sometimes these fees are lower than those charged by independent consultants because they are subsidized by product sales. Some require that all production inputs be purchased from the dealership as a way to support the consulting service. These are all questions the farmer will want to explore. There should be questions for the independent consultants too.

For example:

  1. How long have you been consulting in this area?

  2. Who are some of your other clients?

  3. What type of information do you base your decisions on, i.e., sampling and collecting data or some other method?

  4. How in-depth are your data-collecting techniques?

  5. What qualifies you to be a consultant?

That last question should be probed carefully, and there are some short cuts to finding an answer. For example, if the individual is a member of the NAICC, he or she must have at least a bachelor's degree in an agricultural discipline and a minimum of two years of experience. You should also ask whether your prospective advisor is certified. There are two programs that certify the credentials of agricultural practitioners. The Certified Professional Crop Consultant (CPCC) must have a B.Sc. degree, and a minimum off four years' experience in the field. Successful candidates for this program must also pass an examination, write an essay to demonstrate ability to integrate various types of technology to solve growers' problems, receive pesticide safety training, and acquire 36 continuing education units (CEUs) each year. It is also possible under this program to have independence from product sales certified. That designation is CPCC-I. The other certification program is called the Certified Crop Adviser, or CCA. Holders of this distinction must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have two years' experience, pass an exam, and acquire 20 CEUs each year. Perhaps the most important credential your crop consultant should have is an ability to relate to you and your management style. Be sure to pick a person you trust and feel comfortable with. Talk to other farmers who use the individual's service. And prepare to talk over all decisions with the new member of your management team. Life should be simpler and more profitable as a result.
Doane's Agricultural Report, 5/24 /96

Iowa state survey shows it pays to hire crop consultants - "In 1994 74% of farmers surveyed indicated they received a $2 - $5 per acre return for every $1 invested with a crop consultant"!