It has taken exceptional individuals doing extraordinary work to bring precision agriculture practices and technology to where we are today, and in July the industry took a moment to honor four of those people who are improving agriculture by making technology work effectively for farmers.
For the fifth year, the PrecisionAg Institute presented its PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence to four worthy recipients who have made significant contributions to their organizations, and ag at large as they have worked to harness technology to improve efficiency, agronomy and stewardship.
All four recipients were on hand for the special awards ceremony at the 2011 InfoAg Conference in July in front of more than 500 attendees.
In accepting the Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award, Dave Nerpel of Wilbur-Ellis urged the crowd to focus on the challenges ahead.
“I don’t need to tell you that I have great respect for this group, and I am honored by the recognition,” said Nerpel. “There’s definitely been a lot of water under the bridge since the mid-1980s, and even since this particular conference started back in 1995. But what we need to do is focus on the future, and this conference really gets at that — what are the opportunities for the future.”
Legacy Award recipient Dr. Nyle Wollenhaupt, plant scientist now working for AGCO Corp., recalled precision agriculture’s humble beginnings.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers,” he said. “I can remember going out with Harold Reetz back in 1986 with a couple of 300-foot tape measure and soil probes to the Bootheel of Missouri to try to figure out if there was variability in the soil, and if so, what we could do to manage it. Now here we are, 25 years later, and look what we have been able to accomplish.”
Scott Beck, vice president of Beck’s Superior Hybrids and the Educator/Researcher Award winner, said that his accomplishments as leader of programs to develop best precision practices for grower-customers was a team effort.
“I especially want to recognize Jason Webster, our central Illinois research farm director who has spearheaded a lot of these research projects. We work as a team to bring the education to our farmer-customers, and I am very appreciative of this award,” he said.
Farmer Award recipient Dan Forgey of Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, SD, thanked Cheryl Reece from South Dakota State University and the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium for working closely with farmers.
“Cheryl Reece has the patience of a saint, and UMAC is a tremendous organization that really helped me get to where I am now.”
In summing up, Forgey said what many precision leaders have experienced over the years: “If you’re working on the cutting edge, you’re going to bleed, and I have done my share of bleeding. But I hope that some of my experiences will help other farmers, and now they won’t have to bleed quite so much. We are farming for the future, not only to raise better crops but to improve best practices. We’re making this a better world.”