In the Field with ACS

Since the weather has improved over the last few weeks, ACS and Dairy One field staff members have been a rare siting in the office. Farmers have been out in the field taking advantage of the good weather, which means our ACS staff have been especially busy.

One of the best parts about the staff at Dairy One and ACS is that everyone is always excited to tell people about their job. While I was in the field with one of our ACS Field Technicians, John, getting some updated photos of field staff, he happily walked me through a day in the life of a field technician.

Equipped with an ATV, ACS technicians spend most of their time riding and walking through fields. Currently, ACS has 5 field technicians who do work in NY, VT and Northern PA. Depending on the time of year, the work they’re doing in the field may vary. Right now, in the spring, the focus is on crop scouting. This includes scouting for and identifying pests and weeds. John used a net to sweep the field of alfalfa we were in for insects. After sweeping the field we inspected our findings, which were pretty minimal, and John identify them. Not being much of a fan of insects myself, I was curious as to how our ACS staff is able to so easily identify the creepy crawlers they scoop up. John explained that this is part of the field tech training, and something they keep up with on a regular basis. I can attest to this, as I do recall seeing our field technicians studying a power point of insects for many hours on a rainy day a few weeks ago.

Another thing field technicians spend a lot of time scouting is weeds. As we were walking through a corn field, John was able to point out and identify a number of different weeds. This information gets recorded and sent to the farmer so they know what types of weeds they should be spraying for. While walking the corn field, John was also calculating how many plants there were per acre. This information too was recorded, along with what stage of development the plants were at. Field technicians typically scout about 40-60 fields a day.

Soil sampling is also an important aspect of the field technician role. Field techs will receive a list of fields that need to be sampled from one of the ACS Crop Consultants or Planners. This list is generated from the software used by consultants and planners, pulling the fields that have not yet been sampled and are due to be sampled. Once the samples are collected, they are brought back to Ithaca to be analyzed in our Agro-One laboratory. These soil sample results are critical to proper nutrient management and are an important piece of required nutrient management plans.

ACS Field Technicians are critical members of our ACS team. Not only is the work they do important to our consultants, planners, and farms, but it also prepares them for a future career as a consultant or planner. Does this sound like a job you would enjoying doing? Check out our Job Opportunities!