How many generations has your family been farming?
“My family has been farming for three generations.”
Where are your operations, and within what geography do you operate?
“We manage around 20,000 acres across the state of Virginia.”
What crops do you grow, and how diverse is your operation?
“The operation mostly grows corn, wheat, and soybeans with a little bit of white corn and barley.”
What is agronomy consulting, and how does it differ at the state/local gov. levels?
“Agronomy consulting is about trying to find profitable fits for different farms. Everyone does things a little differently, and operations need to find new ways to create value and bring in revenue, which is less traditional.”
What types of conservation projects do you work on?
“I mostly work on basic changes but on a large scale. This included converting farms to no till using cover crops, soil health, and water quality. My consulting is primarily in the mid-Atlantic, southeast, and surrounding states.”
Why did you decide to get into agronomic consulting?
“It was a good chance to work directly with farmers and add value to their operations. Many farmers don’t always have time to focus on the revenue business parts of farming.”
What is your favorite part of agriculture?
“Agriculture is all fun, but it’s the freedom to go out there and make what you want of it. There aren’t a lot of rules, if you’re going to be a corn farmer or cattle farmer or doing the niche stuff finding local markets, you can. There’s so much flexibility in this industry.”
What tech do you use today to look at the land/do business?
“I use ariel and satellite imagery daily to monitor crops, find trends in farm yields, and get an idea of new pieces of land. There’s a lot of data out there that can tell you a lot about a parcel, so you’re not coming in blind.”
What is the biggest issue facing conservation today?
“Convincing farmers across different parts of the country that conservation works. I’m in Virginia, and this is the longest standing piece of farmland in the country along with the first place they started intensely farming. We are early adopters of tech, and we have Chesapeake bay and attention.”
What kinds of things do you think we should be doing to encourage more people to pursue a career in agriculture?
“Like anything else, we need to avoid pushing the stereotypes of what farmers are. We get the nostalgic view that you can do this job into anything, depending on what your interests are. That freedom attracts a lot of people that view farming as traditional and conventional.”
Why did you decide to join the CIBO Farmer Advisory Network?
“Anytime you can start applying data and modeling to traditional things like farming or raising crops, it’s exciting. You’re mixing the future with something we have done for a few hundred years, and it’s thrilling to see where it could go.”
What are you hoping to get out of the board?
“To help develop a technology that is useful and beneficial to farmers. For the past 15-30 years, we have developed a lot of exciting advances that are not actionable. I’m hoping that we can come up with new technologies that are impactful.”
What type of feedback are you looking forward to contributing to the board?
“Pragmatic and practical feedback on things work and is there a need for them in the market. We can come up with cool stuff but while also ensuring farmers want to use and pay for it.”
What do you hope CIBO can make better?
“One of the bigger changes facing agriculture is not just to increase production, but reliability and consistency. We need to help farmers with better long term decisions. For example, if farmers have a bad crop or are thinking about making investments, it would be helpful for them to make consistent decisions even if the financials are fluctuating year by year.”