Tuesday, March 27, 2012


"Mentoring is usually a formal or informal relationship between two people-a senior mentor (usually outside the protégé's chain of supervision) and a junior protégé. Mentoring has been identified as an important influence in professional development in both the public and private sector."

A young man posted this on Crop Talk this morning: "The farmer I work for on weekends and summer breaks offered me a job after college running the sprayer and handling all agronomic side of the farm. Scouting, application, soil tests, recommendations, etc. I am really interested in pursuing this offer but the overwhelming fact of scouting 7000 acres a growing season fresh out of college with no past agronomy scouting is a bit intimidating. Anyone have any ideas on how to approach this and be able to manage all the acres in 2 or so years after college?

I have thought about maybe start scouting a few fields this summer and compare my findings with our current agronomist or something like that. Just a huge responsibility and alot to understand and know to be as good as a full time agronomist. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!"

This is how I replied: "I feel your fear, Zach. Let's look at the bright side, it is a great opportunity for you to build your skill list. Many your age is chomping at the bit for your opportunity. It is good you ask but remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.

The main thing is to learn how to spray first, study and get your commercial license if possible. That alone is a big task. At least do the study for it even if you don't have to take the test. Learning how to spray and what to spray is two entirely different things.

You need mentors. Could you apprentice with a young spray guy a little older than you somewhere? Spend at least a day or two with him and just get a feel for what he does to take the spray order, mix it, and apply it?

Identifying pests and correlating that with a spray order is a whole different set of thoughts and skills. Here you need someone to teach you how to scout enough to get a feel of what pests you are up against so you can come up with a spray mixture to apply. If you were close, I could put you through a quick course and be there for your questions but there are guys like me scattered all over the country if you find one to work with.

So to me you really need two mentors so you won't feel lost and confused. You have a big opportunity with a big undertaking but you can do it!

My email is open if I can help any. I started scouting for a fee in 85 and it took a couple of seasons to understand the pest side to understand the spray side.

Take each lesson in stride but don't be hard on yourself."

Mentoring and apprenticing are great opportunites to fill the information and skill gaps between young and old today.



  1. Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be subscribing to your blog.

  2. You are welcome! Post questions or email me.