Crop adviser earns inaugural conservation award

ebert farm cropsCASCO, Wis. – Nick Guilette is quietly passionate about conservation. He’s not one to “toot his own horn” although he certainly could.

He recently earned the Certified Crop Adviser Conservationist of the Year award. He’s also the inaugural honoree of that national award. The award was established to recognize certified crop advisers who deliver exceptional advice and contribute substantially to the exchange of conservation ideas and knowledge within the agricultural industry.

Guilette was nominated for the recognition by Chris Clark, a certified crop adviser and territory sales representative for AgSource Laboratories in Bonduel, Wisconsin. She’s known Guilette for about eight years. He had worked about 10 years at AgSource, with farmers on nutrient-management plans. He wrote plans encompassing more than 25,000 acres in northeastern Wisconsin. He also sampled soils and was a global-positioning-system technician.

When Clark learned about the national recognition program she said she immediately thought of him. His work at AgSource as well as with the Peninsula Pride producer-led watershed-protection group and the Door-Kewaunee Demonstration Farm Network have helped numerous farmers, she said.

“As I talked with him for more details the application was easy to write,” she said. “His qualifications and service sorted the application to the top.”

Guilette recently took a new job at Ebert Enterprises near Algoma, Wisconsin. But he left on good terms with AgSource Laboratories, he said.

“And I had awesome co-workers there,” he said.

He’ll work on a variety of conservation projects at Ebert Enterprises, which is comprised of a 3,000-cow dairy farm and an 8,000-acre farming business. Randy Ebert, who owns the company with his family, said Guilette will work with Chris Granius, operations manager. Together they’ll be able to test and implement more conservation practices. Prior to Guilette joining the team Granius was spread too thin to take on additional projects, Ebert said.

Ebert noted Guilette’s quiet passion for conservation.

“I’ve encouraged him to be more opinionated,” he said with a smile.

The two had worked together before. Guilette had written nutrient-management plans for Ebert. They’ll continue to work on future nutrient-management plans as well as crop planning, alternative ways to minimize tillage to reduce soil erosion and low-disturbance manure-injection technology. Guilette’s expertise also will help in documenting conservation efforts, Ebert said.

The team will evaluate different cover-crop mixes and plantings, with a focus on increasing root mass.

“Root mass helps keep soil in place and helps minimize problems with soil compaction,” Ebert said.

Career dedicated to conservation

Nick Guilette is a native of Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, where he was raised on a 300-acre farrow-to-finish hog farm. He earned in 2002 a bachelor’s degree in general resource management with a minor in soils at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. There he was exposed to conservation practices, soil taxonomy, and global-positioning and global-information systems.

His first job after graduation was doing custom-fertilizer applications for an agricultural supply company in Arlington, Wisconsin. He also worked for an engineering and environmental-services firm. He earned certified crop adviser accreditation in 2004. In his job at Rio Creek Feed Mill, he wrote nutrient-management plans, scouted crops and provided custom-fertilizer applications.

He later joined AgSource Laboratories where he worked on nutrient-management plans. He also wrote comprehensive nutrient-management plans, which involve larger engineering components, more formal assessments of pest-management planning, and assessments on the condition and storage of manure, he said.

That position enabled him to work with the Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farm Network as well as Peninsula Pride. Both organizations are focused on protecting the soil and water of Kewaunee and Door Counties with the help of new technologies and farming concepts. Guilette said he plans to stay involved with both groups.

The Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farm Network is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Angela Biggs, state conservationist in Wisconsin for the agency, said, “We’re proud to partner with Nick through the demonstration farms. He provides sound advice and resources as an educator to implement leading-edge conservation practices at the local level. He exemplifies excellence in his field.”

Barry Bubolz, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative coordinator, said, “Nick’s soil-health message – through field days, farm tours and workshops – has spread from the demonstration farms to other farms across the Midwest and beyond.”

Guilette said, “I like it when we can gain efficiencies through nutrient-management planning. There are good ways to apply nutrients with less environmental impact as well as getting nutrients to the crops.

“Agriculture is ever-evolving. The systems by which we apply nutrients are improving as are technologies. Cover crops aren’t new but they’re being used in different systems. We’re learning as we go; that requires more watching and scouting. And that’s the value of certified crop advisers being in the field and being more aware of pests. We’re gathering more information and making the best decisions we can with the information we have. “

Guilette was presented the award in November in Washington, D.C., by Matthew Lohr, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Mr. Guilette has contributed substantially to the exchange of conservation ideas within the agriculture industry,” Lohr said. “He is truly a leader in conservation.”

About earning the award Guilette said it was an honor to represent certified crop advisers in Washington, as well as to represent the state of Wisconsin.

“It’s not just about me,” he said. “It’s about the collaboration between different agencies, environmental groups and companies coming together to form solutions. It’s exciting to see conservation taking front and center stage, and to see new technologies and ideas occurring with different collaborators. And the producer-led watershed groups are the wind beneath our wings.”

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