PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence Announce 2016 Honorees

For 10 years, the PrecisionAg Institute has recognized outstanding people, programs, and organizations that are making a difference in the precision ag industry through its PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence. Each year’s winners have devoted their careers to the technology that improves crop production stewardship, agronomy, and efficiency. Their passionate contributions are a testament to precision agriculture and the great strides the industry continues to make in these areas.

PrecisionAg Media, administrator of the PrecisionAg Institute,is proud to announce the 2016 winners, who will receive their awards and recognition at the InfoAg Conference, August 2-4, 2016, in St. Louis, MO:

  • Educator/Researcher of the Year – Dr. Brian Arnall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
  • Legacy Award – Dr. Marvin Stone, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK (posthumous award)
  • Crop Advisor/Entrepreneur of the Year – Ag Partners, L.L.C., Albert City, IA
  • Farmer of the Year – Craige Mackenzie, Greenvale Pastures & Three Springs Dairies, Methven, New Zealand

Following is a brief bio on each of this year’s winners:

Educator/Researcher of the Year – Dr. Brian Arnall is Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Oklahoma State University. Brian handles all three components of a Land-grant Institution: extension, teaching, and research. His program focuses on implementing precision ag technologies and nutrient management with emphasis on site-specific techniques.

As an educator, Brian constantly seeks tools and methods to best instruct and convey information. Among his many accomplishments, he has developed several mobile Apps that provide innovative tools to improve nutrient management and agronomic practices. One example is a Nutrient Field Guide and Canola Starter Fertilizer Calculator. Brian truly lives his passion. In the community, he serves as section chair for the Agricultural Leadership Oklahoma, Sorghum Improvement Group, and Vice Leader for ASA Sensor Based Nutrient Management community. In 2015, Brian served on 10 M.S. committees and three Ph.D. committees, reflecting his devotion to the university education and mentoring process.

Legacy Award – Dr. Marvin Stone receives this award posthumously. He was a Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for 24 years, lecturing in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering department. During his time at OSU, he authored nearly 100 papers, received millions of dollars in grants, and taught legions of young, aspiring engineers while mentoring and advising dozens of graduate students across multiple disciplines. Tragically, Marvin and his wife Bonnie died on October 24 last year after being struck by an automobile following the OSU Homecoming Parade.

Stone’s research expertise focused on two major technological areas: International equipment communication and diagnostic protocol standards; and high-speed, selective, point-specific field application of chemicals. He was a key member of the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ interdisciplinary research team that developed the landmark GreenSeeker optical sensor system honored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002.

Adopted worldwide, this groundbreaking technology precisely measures crop needs in real time, allowing a producer to apply only the needed amount of fertilizer or agricultural chemicals, reducing waste of those inputs while potentially improving yields, decreasing nitrogen costs, and promoting improved environmental stewardship.

Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur of the Year – Ag Partners, L.L.C. provides products, services and market access in the areas of grain, agronomy, feed, and petroleum. The company has developed and manages InSiteCDM, a unique crop data management program that helps producers maximize profits and make more efficient inputs. From the information obtained from their fields, InSiteCDM helps producers make their operations more efficient and cost effective. The company’s IntelliCore Nutrient Management System combines intensive and repeatable grid soil sampling by professional crop consultants and soil analysis from a certified laboratory. They believe measuring soil fertility levels is a smart, first step in any crop system and is vital to helping producers maximize yields and nutrient efficiency.

Ag Partners Precision Ag Team is a leader in the precision ag arena, with four Certified Crop Advisers. The team works with the Iowa State University Northwest Iowa Research Center in Calumet, IA where it assists with demonstrations and acts as a resource for the precision ag equipment used at the Center. A leader in the industry, the company started variable rate fertilizer application and crop protection more than 20 years ago, making them some of the first to provide that practice in the area.

Farmer of the Year – Craige Mackenzie is an innovative dairy and crop farmer since 1984 in Methven, New Zealand. His focus is on utilizing precision agriculture systems to maximize nutrient and irrigation efficiency for improved farm sustainability, both environmental and financial. Craige’s farm is a fully irrigated cropping operation, growing a wide number of specialist seed crops including hybrid carrots, hybrid radish, faba beans, plantain, chicory, wheat, and ryegrass. He also runs a high-output dairy farm with 1,200 milking cows. His adoption of precision ag technologies has resulted in improved seed quality and yield with reduced inputs. The utilization of variable rate irrigation has led to annual water savings of 30% and resulted in vastly improved water management on their variable soils. Results: three years of no measured nitrate losses to the groundwater.

In 2010, Craige and daughter, Jemma, established Agri-Optics Ltd., New Zealand’s first precision agriculture service company providing precision ag tools and services to NZ farming systems with a focus on field sensing (crop sensing and Electro Magnetic soil surveying) and spatial data management solutions. Agri-Optics NZ is now recognized as New Zealand’s leading precision agriculture company. Craige is a leading advocate and role model within New Zealand, guiding farmer acceptance and adoption of precision farming techniques along with political approval and endorsement.

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