Crop-Trak puts expert eyes in your field

Crop scouting is fine-tuned farm management 

Among all the activities a grower needs to complete to make effective crop management decisions perhaps the two most important are planning for the upcoming season, and making adjustments to those plans through frequent and thorough scouting of crops in-season. Unfortunately with all the other tasks growers have on their plate these tasks can easily be overlooked or moved down the list of priorities. A growing number of producers have noticed the need for more attention to good agronomic planning and thorough field surveillance, and have responded by implementing a crop consulting program such as MFAs Crop-Trak. Crop-Trak, a full service crop scouting and consulting service, is a valuable tool to monitor fields and adjust to ever-changing needs as they develop.

An effective crop consulting program must contain standards and protocol to ensure the quality of service growers deserve, and Crop-Trak is no different. 

To start, Crop-Trak scouts are expected to consult with growers far before planting season. Before the upcoming season the consultant and grower will discuss the grower’s expectations, fertility plans, crop protection plans and varietal selection among other topics. 

Consultants will recommend appropriate products and practices based on sound agronomic principles to aid growers’ decisions. 

Consultants are then expected to scout enrolled fields frequently and thoroughly throughout the growing season. Inspections start just before planting and continue every seven to 10 days during periods of crop growth when findings from the field can still impact production decisions. In other words, scouting starts before planting and continues until any further applications or treatments would have no impact on crop performance. The duration of each inspection depends on crop stage, but as a general rule consultants spend the amount of time needed in a field to have confidence of all-important agronomic factors so they can be relayed to the grower.

To relay this information, Crop-Trak consultants provide growers with detailed reports for each inspection. Each report should contain information on crop growth stage, crop health, field conditions, environmental stresses, fertility concerns and pest pressure including weeds, insects and diseases. The severity, distribution and possible implications of any of these agronomic issues should also be noted. Beyond existing issues in the field, the potential of further issues developing in the field should be assessed so preventative measures can be planned if needed. 

Detailed recommendations are also included on the report to aid in implementation of a pre-season plan, or to adjust the plan based on findings in the field. In addition to a written report that is delivered to the grower, consultants are expected to discuss their findings with growers to expand on and clarify any important details contained in the report. At that point the decision remains with the grower on how to proceed with the recommendation.

Beyond all other standards Crop-Trak consultants are expected to put the grower’s interest first. A credible crop consulting program should be unbiased—and Crop-Trak is designed to be just that. Any and all recommendations are based on these five considerations before anything else: agronomic principles, stewardship, grower’s expectations, grower’s logistics and economics. There are other factors to consider of course, but they remain secondary to sound agronomics and the interests of the grower.

Along with the obvious advantages that come with detailed recordkeeping, unbiased consulting and timely scouting, growers often note several other advantages and benefits. They say that time savings and the ability to focus on other important aspects of an operation are important to them. Growers also report that peace of mind from a qualified crop scout inspecting fields and appropriate timing of applications to get the most out of the money spent on crop inputs are important. Other benefits according to producers are: a log of field records to help make future decisions; proper diagnosis of pests and other issues; implementation of a proactive approach to head off problems while they are still manageable. 

Finally, as with any quality service, Crop-Trak hopefully brings growers efficiency and profitability through all its other benefits.

While no one knows their fields better than the growers who tend them, crop scouting and crop consulting from MFAs Crop-Trak can be a valuable tool to increase a producer’s knowledge of these fields and practices. For more information on Crop-Trak contact your nearest MFA location. 

Jason Worthington is a staff agronomist at MFA Incorporated. Send info requests to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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