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Cotton Consultant's Corner

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Click here to ask Ronnie Phillips a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

  
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Ronnie Phillips
Phillips Ag Consulting and Research
Franklin, Texas
Brazos and Trinity River Bottom Lands  

• BS & MS in Entomology – Texas A&M University
• Contract researcher for 32 years, completing over 700 trials
• Independent consultant for 39 years; farmed for 10 years
• Received the Award of Recognition for Research in Science,
Texas A&M University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific
Research Society, 1988
• My soul mate and wife, Helen, and I fish, travel, camp and
hunt together. Grandkids often accompany us. We know
there are Guardian Angels.


In this Q&A interview, Phillips talks about a consultant’s challenges and rewards in today’s ag environment.

What services do you offer and how do they contribute to your farmer client’s profitability?

My title used to be economic entomologist but has
changed over the years to economic ag consultant.
The growers and I discuss all facets of their farming practices. Together we make decisions that have the highest probability of being the most successful economically. We consider expected return for investment. We discuss the positive and negative impacts of inputs.
All factors influencing the crop’s development are identified and discussed. The grower and I analyze the options for correcting problems.

What have you found to be the best approach to processing information/ technology and sharing it with your farmer clients?

As a contract researcher, I conduct small plot research trials on most of my client’s crops, which include cotton, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat, Bermuda, alfalfa and vegetables. I test new products: foliar nutrients, plant health, chemicals, plant growth hormones, plant growth regulators, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, genetically modified crops, etc. The efficacy, environmental impact, positives and negatives of products are determined if possible. From this research and the work of other investigators, promising products are used by my growers on a larger scale such as split field or large strip tests replicated several times to gain more valid information.

In the Brazos and Trinity River bottoms in Texas, cotton and corn are over 99 percent genetically modified for Roundup use. The growers and I monitor the effects of glyphosate and other herbicides very closely. We try to determine inputs that help the crop resist or counteract the herbicide’s effects.

How would you describe the future role of the cotton consultant?

The ag consultant of the future will need to be educated in all sciences. We might be called “Ag Forensic and Diagnostic Consultants.” Great strides have occurred in the past 10-15 years for better communication between consultant and farmer. Cell phones, computers, copy machines and fax machines are devices we can’t do without. I’m not yet sold on the variable rate technology. Plant needs may change before application occurs. Crop needs in fields are often too variable and in uniform fields, VRT is probably not needed. The economics of using the technology on a large scale basis is in question to me.

What has been the most rewarding part of your profession?

Working at a job that you love has been extremely rewarding. I am excited to get to work every day. Celebrating with farmers when we have had a high return on a crop is a great feeling. We know Who to thank!

- COTTON CONSULTANT'S CORNER ARCHIVES -

Cotton Consultant of the Year Award
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Cotton Consultant of the Year History
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Cotton Consultant of the Year Recipients

 


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