PrecisionAg Award of Excellence Winners Announced

The PrecisionAg Institute has announced the recipients of the 2011 PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence. This is the fifth annual presentation of these awards, designed to celebrate the people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production.

This year’s winners are as follows:

Farmer Award

Dan Forgey, Farm Manager, Gettysburg, SD

Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award

Dave Nerpel, Director of Field Technology, Warden, WA

Agriculture Educator/Researcher Award

Scott Beck, Atlanta, IN

Legacy Award

Dr. Nyle Wollenhaupt, Plant Scientist, Minnetonka, MN

The Awards are divided into four categories to ensure that individuals would be judged more closely with their peers in the industry. The four categories were as follows:

Farmer: This award is to recognize an individual who has embraced precision technology and techniques in his/her farming operation with demonstrated impacts on production systems through improved yield, input use efficiency, and/or profitability as well as improvements in land stewardship through resource conservation and environmental enhancement.

Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur: This award is to recognize an individual or team who have established a demonstrable expertise in precision technologies and practices by devising a new tool/concept/procedure, or who have used their expertise to the benefit of their grower-customers. This award recognizes individuals in a position directly advising farmers, such as crop advisers, consultants, retailers, government advisers or local Extension, or an entrepreneur working in developing new technologies or methods for use by farmers.

Educator/Researcher: This award recognizes an individual whose research and/or education program has advanced the principles and/or expanded the practice of precision agriculture. Consideration was given to those individuals who have worked closely with manufacturers, consultants and growers on precision-focused research and outreach.

Legacy: This award recognizes an individual who has a made extensive contributions to precision agriculture over the course of his/her career. The successful nominee must have a minimum of 15 years of involvement in precision agriculture but does not have to be currently active in the profession.

“This year’s winners reveal the enormous positive effect that dedicated individuals can have on an industry,” notes Paul Schrimpf, group editor of “Each has made a significant impact on precision agriculture education and adoption through tireless work and boundless enthusiasm. Their success stories should serve to inspire us all to achieve more in the field of precision agriculture.”

“Encouraging innovation, and helping to educate others on the new ideas out there is an important part of what the PrecisionAg Institute is working to achieve,” says Institute Director K. Elliott Nowels. “It is our privilege to honor these leaders. Their dedication and innovative spirit has helped to shape the course of agricultural technology and encourage education and advocacy throughout the industry.”

Recipient Profiles:

Education/Research Award
Scott Beck
Becks Superior Hybrids
Atlanta, IN
Scott Beck manages and directs the Practical Farm Research facilities that promote agronomic and precision ag technologies and developments. A key goal for Beck and his group is to demonstrate new practices, including precision ag technologies, which allow growers to get a first hand view and understanding on how precision ag technology works. It also helps growers to determine if they will work for their farming operation before any capital investments are made.

Scott’s Practical Farm Research program is currently testing the use of weather stations in conjunction with fungicide applications, particularly with soybeans. The program is trying to build a model to determine when it may be the best agronomic time to spray fungicides to achieve optimum performance and profitability. He has also offered a five state companywide program offering the use of Crop Health Imaging. The Crop Health Imaging offers growers the ability to define areas of crop stress, as well as healthy growing plants in each field with sub-meter accuracy.

When growers can be educated on what is happening on an agronomic level in their fields, questions can be asked and answers may be generated to formulate variable rate applications to resolve problems in the field during the growing season.

“Scott Beck is an individual that truly cares about agriculture and the use of practices that can assist farmers to be more profitable or offer ways to be more efficient,” says Jason Webster. “His Practical Farm Research Program is known throughout the Midwest and farmers know that they can rely on sound non-biased agronomic data and testing.”

Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award
Dave Nerpel
Wilbur-Ellis Company
Warden, WA
Dave Nerpel translates industry innovations into services for the Wilbur-Ellis Company. With his understanding of services, web-based record keeping, and telematics, Dave became the foundation of its AgVerdict program.

Nerpel has a vision for the future which is coming into play as the industry recognizes that the concept of singular tools on one computer is being trumped by web-based systems that can be accessed simultaneously from multiple locations for system-wide program. Wilbur-Ellis’ AgVerdict is driving a new level of integrated solutions to a variety of needs. From proof of concept to commercial adoption, Dave has contributed to the development of multi-product rate control, software, hardware, the proliferation of high-accuracy GPS applications and steering control, moisture sensors, desktop to web-based geo-spatial records, and telematics.

Nerpel is able to distil issues into incremental steps because of his understanding of cropping systems which includes not only soil and crop science, but farm business practices and the companies that serve agribusiness. His program at Wilbur-Ellis grew as Dave built a workable model in the Pacific Northwest, and then built similar programs across Wilbur-Ellis operational units.

Nerpel’s contributions to the advancement of Precision Agricultures predate his time at Wilbur-Ellis. At Cenex, he shared his fresh perspective on the challenges of agronomy, fertility, and crop protection with his clients. He also contributed to the development of SOILECTION multi-product control at Cenex, and furthered this technology at AgChem Equipment. He also worked at Precision Farming Enterprises (PFE, Inc), an entrepreneurial systems integrator and distribution leader.

“Dave has been in the background of every key idea and innovation for the last twenty-five years,”Says Karol Aure Flynn, an industry colleague. “Wilbur-Ellis’byline, Knowledge acquired, intelligence applied fits Dave very well.”

Legacy Award

Dr. Nyle Wollenhaupt
Minnetonka, MN
As a Plant Scientist, Nyle has always led first with the scientific approach to variable rate application: applying only what is needed and when, while determining those amounts based upon proven science. He has worked with farmers and custom applicators from the earliest concepts of statistical-based soil sampling to development of hardware and software tools. This allowed agronomists to add their local knowledge of agronomic practices and techniques in forms that enhanced agronomic value to their customers through practicing variable rate application of fertilizers, soil amendments and plant protection products. As additional support for using these field techniques, Wollenhaupt has worked closely with yield monitors and precision farming tools that assist in quantifying and substantiating the economic value of precision farming.

As a former University Educator, Wollenhaupt has worked to bring not only agronomic science to the farmer, but also a realistic industry practice to university and county Extension agents through collaborative field trails, lectures and numerous assistive efforts with both equipment and field time. He has also been one to patiently answer questions of younger industry members by working to inspire and collaborate on advancing both tools and techniques of precision farming.

“As a true leader, Nyle has worked in the last decade to help foster the next generation’s efforts with industry and academics to product mangers, engineers and agronomists and has striven for agriculture to continually raise the performance bar and improve in all facets of our industry,” said Dr. Joe Tevis of AGCO Corp.

Farmer Award
Dan Forgey
Cronin Farms
Gettysburg, SD
Dan Forgey is the agronomy manager at Cronin Farms, an 8,500 acre crop and cow-calf operation located in central South Dakota. He has been a no-till expert for 19 years growing spring wheat, winter wheat, corn, sunflowers, soybeans, field peas, and lentils as cash crops and numerous cover crops. He manages land for forage production for a 750 beef cow/calf operation and 12 different rotations over the 8,500 acres.

Dan was a founding member of the Upper Midwest Space Consortium at the University of North Dakota. UMAC provides remote sensing (RS) imagery and collaborates with farmers to develop RS agriculture applications. He has been using RS and yield monitor data to create management zones for corn and wheat since 2003.

Recently, Dan added real time kinetic (RTK) technology to map field elevations that now includes elevation to delineate zones. He applies phosphorus and nitrogen to corn and wheat using prescription maps designed to fit at square foot increments in fields. He optimizes fertilizer use efficiency and protects the environment by using variable rate fertilizer applications.

Dan started management zone analysis using data from his farm in 2003. He is now considered an expert at making this work. He will readily help other farmers learn how to use technology and make it work with equipment using many different crop rotations. Dan understands how to make the maps, implement the technology, and vary the rates in the field.

“I have a deep love and respect for this land. I am a firm believer that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you. That’s the philosophy on this farm,” says Forgey.

The PrecisionAg Institute advances precision agriculture technology and its efficiency, stewardship and profitability on farms around the world through advocacy, education and research. PrecisionAg Institute activities include research projects, an online reference library, PrecisionAg e-news, the PrecisionAg Learning Center and the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence. More information on the PrecisionAg Institute can be found on

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