Getting Educated: 3 Key Concepts for Improving Your Specialty Ag Operation

Specialty Agriculture is a diverse field that is crucial to our country’s survival and economic health. It can be difficult to manage the variables to keep an operation profitable, and sustainable (both financially and ecologically). So let’s take some time to explore some key tools a new (or seasoned) Agriculture professional can use to get educated and become more successful.


Staying Current on the 4R’s

The 4R’s of Nutrient Stewardship is a key program to help Agriculture professionals make the highest and best use of additive nutrients to the soil. The 4R’s boil down to these points:

· Right fertilizer source at the

· Right rate, at the

· Right time and in the

· Right place

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) provides training on the 4R principles that can be tailored to your situation and crop needs.


Becoming Involved with Your Local Agricultural Extension

Nearly every state has an institute of higher education with an Agricultural Extension program. Some of the most notable are UF/IFAS (Florida), UGA Extension (Georgia), UC Davis Extension (California), and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (Texas) .

These extensions are a gateway to a myriad of easy-to-access research, testing, and analysis services for soil, water, and crop health. They can also provide an entrance to the world of experimental research and region-specific innovations that you can choose to participate in.


Implementing Efficiency Practices from Low to High Tech

This is a broad topic, that you can decide to implement as far as you are comfortable. Efficiency practices do not need to be particularly high-tech to be effective, they just need to be used in conjunction with one another and applied effectively.

Take water management as an example. On the simple side, you can leverage gutters, rain barrels, and cisterns to supplement irrigation water. If you want to take this to a more complex level, you can install a drip irrigation system to manage the exact amount of water a certain set of crops are receiving; and pair this with soil moisture sensors to verify everything is right where it needs to be.

This spectrum of efficiency practices can be carried over to nearly every aspect of Agriculture operations. The key is to put the efficient practice in place everywhere, no matter the level of technical complexity. Small steps lead to big results.