CCA Specialty Certifications
By: Jeff Crissinger, Account Manager/Sales & Marketing Director
The Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) certification program was established in 1992 by the American Society of Agronomy. Serving as a benchmark for agronomy professionals, it is currently the largest and most recognized agriculturally oriented certification program in North America. To become a CCA, Agronomists must pass a State and National Exam, meet experience qualifications relating to a college degree and/or active work experience, supply references and recommendation documents, and agree to uphold the documented CCA Code of Ethics. Once initially certified, CCA’s then need to earn 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years in the categories of Nutrient Management, Soil and Water Management, Pest Management, Crop Management, and Professional Development, in order to maintain their certification status. Currently every member of NuWay Cooperative’s agronomy sales staff is certified as a CCA, because we feel that it is one way for us to show our growers the commitment, education, expertise, and experience that our Account Manager’s hold.
Recently, the American Society of Agronomy has begun to develop and offer Specialty Certifications that can be added on to the standard CCA certification. Two of these new certification offerings directly tie into our SUSTAIN initiative and are relative to the industry wide sustainable ag movement.
4R Nutrient Management Specialist Certification
This certification is for CCA’s who do more detailed nutrient management planning. It is centered on the 4R’s of Nutrient Management – Right Nutrient at the Right Rate in the Right Place at the Right Time – and will align with the USDA-NRCS and state nutrient management standards. Qualifiers will need to meet proficiency standards for Nutrient Management Planning, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Secondary and Micronutrients, as well as Manure Management. 4R Nutrient Management Specialist Certifications consider the integration of agronomic practices, economic analysis, and environmental interaction, as well as social impacts for the community. Upon completion and certification, CCA’s with this specialty will be required to take additional continuing education courses in the categories of Nutrient Management and Soil and Water Management.
Sustainability Specialty Certification
This Specialty Certification is meant to utilize CCA’s to help growers learn about, adopt, enhance, and implement sustainability concepts and best management practices within their operations. In this case, the United Soybean Board is a partner, and they have provided funding to help further develop the Sustainability Specialty Certification. There are three main performance objectives centered on Communicating Sustainability Concepts, Environmental and Resource Stewardship, and Value Chain Assessment. Upon completion and certification, CCA’s will have a new Sustainability continuing education category added to their license and will need to take continuing education courses that qualify for credits in this new category.
Moving forward, because these Specialty Certifications play a role in NuWay’s SUSTAIN initiatives, our Account Managers will be asked to work towards becoming certified in Sustainability, and/or 4R Nutrient Management. This will ensure that our sales staff is well educated in the field of sustainable agriculture, and qualified to make the professional recommendations necessary to help our growers continue to farm sustainably in the future.