2020 International CCA of the Year: Heart In Soil Health

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.

Heart In Soil Health

– by FarmJounal AgPro

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.

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.

By |2020-03-03T11:40:06+00:00March 3rd, 2020|Featured, Good Advice, News|

Data Takes Center Stage at 2019 Summer Workshop

Ames, IA – Certified Crop Advisers from around Iowa took advantage of an opportunity to increase their knowledge toolbox this week at the 2019 Summer Workshop – a workshop for CCAs by CCAs. This is an annual opportunity to earn CEUs in the summer and is held in cooperation under the umbrella of the Agribusiness Showcase & Conference.

Featured speaker Dr. Harold van Es, Professor of Soil and Water Management at Cornell University, provided insight on the opportunities and challenges of modeling data for real-world field applications. Dr. van Es also provided some insight into the progress of various applications to help with making data-driven decisions.

Also on the docket was an update on preliminary data from the 2017 crop year nutrient reduction strategy practice implementation assessment, presented by Shawn Richmond of the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council; an overview of how data is currently being used and the future uses for data assessments in crop production by Jamie Brand, AgriVision Equipment Group; hands-on presentations with equipment from Ag Leader, John Deere, and Precision Planting; insight into drones in production agriculture by Kevin Butt, Ellsworth Community College; overviews of data usage in decision making by Andrew Knaack, The Climate Corporation, and a farmer panel to end the day.

The 2019 Summer Workshop learning sessions are sponsored by the Iowa CCA Program and the program is coordinated by the Iowa CCA Education Committee. The luncheon was sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and 4R Plus.

More photos on Facebook.

By |2019-08-28T14:37:40+00:00August 15th, 2019|Education, Featured, Good Advice, News|

5th Annual Crop Scouting Competition


The event was well attended and was composed of 12 teams that came from across the State of Iowa.  Several of the teams were headed up by FFA leaders, local Pioneer dealers and other individuals in the Ag industry serving as the team coach.

The competition was held at the ISU FEEL lab west of Ames.  The students were required to complete questions at 11 stations scattered across the FEEL lab.  Topics included:  weed I.D., calculating yield estimates and disease I.D. to name a few.  I was fortunate enough to lead one of the 11 stations at the event.  I was able to spend 15 minutes with each group and talk with them about the importance of agriculture, what is the CCA program and how the CCA can potentially help them in their future ag careers.

The group consisted of mostly high school sophomores and older.  It was a great opportunity  for the students to start thinking about their future careers in Ag Business will be very rewarding to the CCA program in the long run.

scouting competition 2015 A. Sisson 923

Photos Courtesy of Adam Sisson, ISU

By |2015-08-07T11:18:52+00:00August 7th, 2015|News|