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

ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
ManagementNews from InfoAg 2016 and Weed Wands
August 11, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review what happened at last week’s big Precision Ag event and a possible solution Read More
Crop InputsFBN: We’re ‘Here To Stay’
August 11, 2016
PERSPECTIVE — If you’ve been following this site for a while you might remember a certain editorial we published on Read More
Diversified Agri-Services
StewardshipDiversified Agri-Services Certified In 4R Nutrient Stewardship
August 11, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Diversified Agri-Services Inc. in McCutchenville, OH, has been added to its growing Read More
Trending Articles
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Latest News
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More