The vast majority of growers make use of agronomy and crop scouting services whether it is provided by a crop inputs retailer, a grain company or an independent consultant. In general, well informed and experienced crop scouts are in high demand during the growing season. This is because growers often find that they themselves are unable to keep up with the time demanded to properly scout and evaluate fields for crop pests, as well as the time needed to become familiar with the constant stream of new products and technologies that become available.
By using crop scouts that are part of the CCA program, you are ensuring that you are getting a person that is competent, experienced and accountable for their actions. Ask your crop scout whether they are a CCA or your retailer about which of their employees are CCA's.
The fact is that many CCA's are Professional Agrologists, as well as, they hold a university degree or diploma in agriculture. Most CCA's view the program as a means to prove their agronomic knowledge to employers and customers, as well as, a formalized system to ensure they are receiving the proper training and updates.
There are several characteristics of the CCA program that make it unique. First of all, the program is based on demonstrated knowledge and work experience, not formal education. All CCA's must have met the stringent knowledge requirements as set out by the local and international exam committees in the areas of crop management, soil and water management, nutrient management and integrated pest management. Currently, approximately only 50% of the candidates who challenge the exam actually pass. Also, depending on their level of formal education, persons may need up to 4 years of crop scouting experience in order to become a CCA. Secondly, unlike other programs, CCA's must participate in a continuing education program aimed specifically at keeping their agronomic skills current, at least 40 hours of approved courses every two years. Finally, and perhaps the most important distinction between CCA's and others who do not belong to any program, is that CCA's must sign and uphold a code of ethics that states he/she must act honestly and in a way that puts the grower's best interests first and foremost.
That all depends, there is no standard charge for services provided by a CCA. What is charged is left entirely up to the CCA or the company the CCA is employed by. The many CCA's that work independently or the crop input retailers that employ CCA's offer a variety of agronomic services from crop scouting to soil sampling and manure management planning. The services offered and rates they charge will vary widely from company to company. Generally speaking, growers who pay for services are usually free to buy their crop inputs wherever they choose. Many other businesses prefer to build in the cost of services provided by CCA's into the products they sell. As a consumer, it is up to you to decide which method you are most comfortable with.
All CCA's are listed in a North American wide database that is searchable by first name, last name, town or province. Click here to link to the database and begin your search. When searching by town or province, please take note that many CCA's are registered by the town they live in, not in the town where they work.
As mentioned, CCA's are bound by a code of ethics that are intended to protect a grower's interests. Essentially a CCA is prohibited from making sensational, false or exaggerated statements or give professional opinions where there is not sufficient knowledge or experience in order to do so competently. For a full disclosure of the code of ethics, please click here.
Growers who feel they have been harmed by the actions of a CCA are encouraged to report the offence to the Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee. Submissions must outline the alleged offence and identify the complainant. If the offence is serious enough, a CCA may be stripped of his/her certification and not be permitted to rejoin.