By Scott Stipetich, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist
As the precision agriculture movement continues to grow in the country, the Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist (PACS) Team remain committed to expanding our role. I’ll quote Bruce Shockman, a North Dakota agricultural producer, as he and I share a similar thought, “The more you use precision ag, the more you realize you need to start treating the land differently in certain areas rather than treating them all the same…it’s an easy sell really; kind of a no-brainer when you look at the numbers objectively.” For a greater understanding of our efforts, I have combined the most frequently asked questions our team gets.
1. How is the Precision Ag initiative going?
Since 2015, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have utilized precision ag to help farmers identify sub-field areas where management change or voluntary conservation programs can improve profitability and support healthy wildlife habitat. Our team has witnessed great farmer interest to implement conservation practices when the data supports their decision.
Our efforts extend beyond the farmer as we have developed working partnerships with leading agriculture companies and conservation organizations with a shared vision like USDA, John Deere, Climate Corporation, Truterra and Granular. With the continued support, we have been able to put boots on the ground in six states and continue to grow our Precision Ag & Conservation team.
2. Can you share some examples of alternative management solutions that you have recommended?
Sitting down in the farm office or riding along in the combine, creativity flows and alternative ideas are drafted for consideration: forage, pasture, the addition of small grains, cover crops & seed crops, wetland restoration, CRP, and the list goes on and on. All suggestions depend on that individual farm, how their operation runs, and what their goals are.
3. What services & tools do you bring to the table for farmers?
Our PACS provide a basic Precision Ag Business Plan to our farmers that includes technical support, solutions, and funding opportunities at no cost. Deferring to those already utilized by the farm, we can work in different software platforms. Additionally, for those who have not yet selected a software, free platforms are available allowing our team the needed tools to deliver a Precision Business Plan. Solutions and funding opportunities are unique and specialized to each farm. Our PACS are well versed in federal conservation programs and local programs that offer incentives for implementing alternative management. One example of a local, exclusive funding opportunity is the Soil Health and Habitat program through a partnership with Purina. Click here to read more about the program.
4. Is public hunting access a requirement for working with PACS?
We get this one all the time! While many states have incentives for those interested in providing this opportunity, and we do present the option, it is completely voluntary to enroll acres for public access.
5. Who are you commissioned by and what’s the catch?
Our team works under partnerships and contribution agreements that allows us to provide the service at no cost and collect no commission for our work. It is through these partnerships that we act in the best interest of the farmer and the wildlife habitat our mission supports. THERE IS NO CATCH!
6. What is the best way for a famer or ag professional to get in contact with our team?
There are lots of ways to connect with us with the simplest to visit our contact page online, then call, email, or tweet the closest PACS to you.