Illinois Ag Retailer Named ICCA Of The Year

Mike Wilson (right) and Illinois farmer John Haase make decisions on drought damaged corn. Southern Illinois is experiencing its worst drought in 76 years.
Mike Wilson (right) and Illinois farmer John Haase make decisions on drought damaged corn. Southern Illinois is experiencing its worst drought in 76 years.

 

In the spring of 1994, Mike Wilson nervously sat down between two Ph.D.s in an Indianapolis convention center.  “These two geniuses are sitting on each side of me, and I finished the exam 30 minutes before they did,” remembers Wilson of his CCA certification exam. “I remember sitting out in the hallway waiting for everyone else to get done, and thinking, ‘I must have screwed this up so bad!’”

He passed.

And 18 years later, Wilson has been named the International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year, an accomplishment that validates his 32 years of crop advising experience and far-reaching contributions to the CCA program.

Wilson grew up on a family farm in Owensville, IN, a small town nestled in the Hoosier State’s southwest corner. Agriculture has always been a natural part of life for Wilson, who learned the basics of seed production at a young age.

After finishing high school, the Indiana native attended Purdue short courses on plant and soil science before returning to the family farm. For the next 13 years, he would continue to help manage the farm while working for the company his family raised seed for.

“I worked in all areas of seed production, from tillage, planting, herbicide and pesticide applications, conditioning, harvesting, grading, bagging, seed size. All of that,” says Wilson. “There’s not too much in the seed business I haven’t done.”

Specifically valuable was his experience in hybrid fields. “Dealing with inbred plants in hybrid fields was pretty extreme,” he says. “When something goes wrong, man, it goes wrong.” Working in that environment has helped Wilson learn how different plants react to different environments, a skill that would prove useful later as a crop advisor.

After leaving the family farm more than 20 years ago, Wilson found himself in ag retail as a crop salesman in Orange County, Indiana before ending up at Wabash Valley Service Co., Grayville, IL, where he’s been ever since.

Wilson is the specialty products coordinator for the agricultural cooperative, which serves more than 5,000 customers from 10 counties in Southern Illinois. “My primary job function is to look at how we can affect crop yield using what some would call unconventional means,” says Wilson. These include the use of foliar fertilizers, micronutrients, and variable rate planting techniques. He’s also working on developing a micronutrient plan designed specifically for Southern Illinois that would be the first of its kind.

One of the clients Wilson serves is Tom Marks, who operates a 2,200-acre corn and soybean farm with his father in Edwards County, Illinois. Marks says that their farm’s soil isn’t highly productive, and compensating with fertilizers can be a costly alternative. Wilson has helped him apply fertilizer more efficiently using grid mapping technology, which allows farmers to vary nutrient application to specific parts of their farm using GPS technology.

“By helping me, the grower, apply only the plant nutrients that are needed, I can continue to reduce the use of extra nutrients and save money that can be used on other areas of my farming operation,” says Marks.

Allen Rusk, Assistant General Manager at Wabash Valley Service Co., feels Wilson has found the right balance of applying newer technologies to existing farming methods, enhancing the more traditional practices instead of replacing them. “Mike is looking at things that are still sound agronomically, but are maybe a little bit more out of the mainstream,” he says.

Wilson credits his colleagues and company for supporting his research of more advanced agricultural practices. “They want to be on the cutting edge. They want us to be out there doing nonconventional things,” says Wilson.

As agriculture evolves and Wilson continues to experiment with new technologies in the field, he hasn’t forgotten about the role education will play in the industry’s future. “We start out with Agriculture in the Classroom through the Farm Bureau here in Illinois focusing on first through fifth graders,” says Wilson. “We bring important topics down to a level they can understand.”

Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) programs are implemented in every state, creating a network of individuals at the local level that seek to improve agricultural literacy among both teachers and students. Instead of introducing complicated farming concepts to the children, Wilson and other AITC coordinators apply agriculture to common, everyday things in the lives of students.

One aspect of their program involves sending coordinators into Chicago to educate children about where their food comes from. “We had the kids make a pizza, and explained how all of the different ingredients come from agriculture,” says Marks, who works with Wilson in the Illinois AITC program.

Wilson’s passion for education may have been a result from his own youth. The Illinois CCA never got a bachelor’s degree, instead opting to take short courses and continue working on his family farm. He’s now on the advisory council for the agriculture department at a local community college in Wabash County, where he encourages graduating students to continue their education at a four year college.

“We want these students to get their bachelor’s degree in ag business, plant and soil science, or whatever they want,” Wilson says. “But they need that degree, because not everyone is going to be as lucky as I’ve been.”

He certainly has set the bar high. Prior to being selected as the 2012 ICCA of the Year, Wilson was named the 2011 Illinois CCA of the Year. Receiving that award allowed him to reflect on the relationships he has built over the years, and how the CCA program has given back to him.

“There are 350 or 400 people in this room, and they’re all CCAs. They’re people I’ve known for 20 years and have an awful lot of respect for,” says Wilson of the Illinois CCA convention last December. “And they were recognizing me as a CCA of the Year. It was all very humbling.”

Wilson, who is a father of three and has been married to his wife Christine for 32 years, has been with the CCA program since its inception, and believes credibility has remained the program’s greatest strength after all these years. “Even though we’re working in an industry that is so profit driven, it’s important we maintain that integrity,” he says.

But while the values of the program have remained constant, the technological aspects of agriculture continue to evolve. “We have to continue looking at nonconventional ways to help improve crop yield,” Wilson says. “Because they are viable, and they will work.”

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified In 4R Nutrient Stewardship
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s challenges
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More