Federal Agencies Provide Guidance to Researchers in Response to COVID-19
Due to the disruptions arising from the national response to COVID-19, multiple federal agencies are making adjustments to their procedures, including extending deadlines for grant solicitations. USDA NIFA has extended deadlines for several solicitations. NSF has released FAQ documents on grant deadlines, travel, and review panelists. NSF has also released a Dear Colleague letter soliciting proposals to conduct non-medical, non-clinical-care research on the transmission, prevention, and communication of COVID-19. The DOE-Office of Science has issued an extension for grant applications and further instructions on progress reports and travel. The DOE also launched a task force that will coordinate its resources to study coronavirus and other public health issues.
Federal Agencies Respond to COVID-19
The national response to COVID-19 is impacting every aspect of American lives, including the scientific enterprise. Many federal research agencies have issued guidance for researchers with regard to grant submission deadlines, travel, and review panels. View ASA Resource Website.
During the 2020 Commodity Classic and American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Annual Meeting, 2019 Iowa Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) of the Year, Adam Kramer was named the International CCA of the Year.
Adam Kramer is a small business owner in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and Waukon, Iowa farmer, he was awarded the Iowa CCA of the Year during an annual award luncheon at the Agribusiness Showcase & Conference (ASC) on February 12, 2019.
A certified crop adviser utilizes best management practices that protect the environment and lead growers to produce higher yields and increased profitability for their farms. Farmers and employers prefer to work with CCAs because they have demonstrated commitment, education, expertise, and experience to make a difference in a client’s business.
The Iowa Certified Crop Adviser of the Year Award is designed to recognize a CCA who delivers exceptional customer service, is highly innovative, has shown that they are a leader in their field, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agriculture industry. The Iowa CCA program then nominates the annual Iowa CCA of the Year for the ASA award of International CCA of the Year.
It can feel like walking a tight rope as farmers work to improve soil health and yields simultaneously. And on that trajectory, consultant Adam Kramer aims to meet farmers where they are on their journey—be a bit of a stabilizing and encouraging force.
“The first thing I do when starting to work with a farmer is go to their fields, do an assessment, see what their capabilities are, and talk about their goals,” Kramer says. “And it’s important to see through the producer’s eyes what is happening in the field, so we can put together the right practices.”
His commitment to focusing on the farmer-led Kramer to being named the 2020 International Certified Crop Adviser of the Year.
Kramer’s business, Black Sand Granary, offers soil testing, data management, cover crop consulting, and equipment retrofits. He’s been self-employed since graduating with an agronomy degree from Iowa State University, and his consulting is based in southwest Wisconsin, along with some acreage he farmers in northern Iowa and uses as a demonstration farm. His consulting is focused on soil health with an eye on short-term and long-term impacts on profitability.
“You don’t change 1,000 acres at a time, you try things a bit at a time,” he says. “We’ve been on some of the same farms since 2006. On every farm, we soil test, run data for cropping plans, and serve as another set of eyes for production decisions.”
He says the biggest part of being a crop consultant is just the drive to want to help people.
“It’s about helping farmers mitigate risks while raising top-end yields—and doing it in a profitable way,” he says. “And it gets really exciting when they cross one threshold, master a skill, and then they are already looking for the next thing to do better. The farmers do all the work; as an adviser, I’m challenging them to do what they are capable of.”
Kramer has a natural curiosity about challenging assumptions about the status quo, and he has a deep respect for the environment. Intertwined, those have fueled a lot of ideas he’s tried and shared with farmers.
“I’m always trying to get lean, find efficiencies,” he says.
As an example, the equipment part of his consulting includes rebuilding planters and drills for no-till and cover crops.
“We’ve incorporated small grains into our crop rotations for continuous cropping. So we plant early-season soybeans, seed small grains by October, harvest the small grains at the end of the following July, and then plant cover crops which corn is planted into the next year,” he explains.
That system has shown increased water infiltration, improved organic matter, and reduced tillage and horsepower requirements for the farming operation.
When reflecting on his career and this award, Kramer gives credit to his wife Kellie, employees and partners at Black Sand Granary, and all of the academic mentors he had at Iowa State.
As the recipient, Kramer received hotel and travel expenses to the 2020 Commodity Classic and American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, a $2,000 honorarium, a commemorative plaque, and a one-year membership in the American Society of Agronomy.