CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grain and food company, and The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) have signed an agreement to collaborate in creating a dynamic, online learning program focused on improving sustainability practices and standards in production agriculture. The curriculum will be designed for agronomists and agribusiness professionals and will establish a recognized, industry-wide standard of education to help agronomists and other agricultural professionals implement sustainable practices in the field.
The training program will be delivered in the form of webinars, case studies, live, open-format, remote meetings and a virtual farm tour. With a focus on measuring sustainability and continuous improvement in production agriculture, the curriculum will cover topics such as 4R Nutrient Stewardship, resistance management and precision applications.
"CHS is committed to sustainable products and practices where they matter most: on the farm," Gary Halvorson, CHS vice president, retail agronomy, said. "Like most farmers, our owners look to their agronomists to help them increase efficiency of their farming operations alongside best practices in agricultural sustainability. By deploying best-in-class training for our agronomists and sharing that training with others through this program, CHS will help the agricultural industry improve social, economic and environmental aspects of farming."
"ASA was a natural choice to develop this training because it is seen as an unbiased, non-commercial provider of agronomy education. Here, we strive to provide the most current, science-based education not just to certified crop advisers but to the whole agronomy professional community," said Luther Smith, ASA director of professional development and business relations.
After training is completed for the initial cohort of CHS employees, the program will be made available to others through ASA's online learning platform. The release date for open enrollment will be announced later in 2017.
The interactive, on-demand training modules will focus on proven best practices for integrated nutrient management and crop protection as well as sustainable farming practices based on benchmark data and case studies from CHS retailers, like the location based out of Shipman, Ill. This location has collaborated closely with its top growers, two of whom have been recognized as 4R Advocates in recent years.
Halvorson said CHS will continue to develop innovative, sustainable products and practices and will incorporate them into the program. CHS staff will begin courses this summer; the company has set a goal for all of its agronomists to complete the new program. According to Halvorson, among other program benefits, this training initiative will build momentum for the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship in the country.