By Stan Maddux
ROSSVILLE, Ind. — Being viewed as best in the world at what he does for living is not a fairytale for an Indiana man living his dream of helping farmers maximize yields while being friendly to the environment.
Rod Miller was named the 2023 International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year by the American Society of Agronomy. Miller is manager of the Crop Fertility Specialist store in his hometown of Rossville.
“It’s a humbling award,” said Miller.
Miller became a certified crop advisor in 1998 and has maintained his license ever since by taking required continuing education programs every two years. He became eligible for worldwide recognition after named CCA of the Year at the state level in 2021.
He gave part of the credit for the honor to working for a company that encourages professional development.
Miller feels another reason for his selection was serving as a board member for the Agribusiness Council of Indiana to further his expertise in agronomy and what he helped achieve during his four years with the organization.
He was directly involved in creating a program designed to achieve the best results for farmers and the environment through his work with the organization. Specifically, he helped develop the 4R Certification Program for ACI. The program encourages ag retailers and independent crop consultants to help ACI member farmers adopt proven best nutrient management practices. The practices outlined under the voluntary program involve using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place.
The program aims to keep Indiana waterways free of the major problems experienced at times in Lake Erie and other bodies of water elsewhere with algae blooms and preventing environmental legislation containing mandates. Miller said the idea is not to over apply nutrients to obtain the best results for crops and limit the amount of nutrients winding up in waterways from storm water running out of the fields.
“Most people are already doing a good job of that. No one wants to over apply nutrients especially since they’re expensive,” he said.
Algae blooms are an overgrowth of algae caused from too much nutrient rich nitrogen and phosphorous in the water. A heavy concentration of algae blooms can leave the water toxic enough to kill fish in large numbers. Animals and humans can also be sickened from exposure to the toxins.
Miller said the program works by helping farmers develop a plan that includes soil testing for estimating more precisely how much fertilizer they need to supply to their crops. The formula also takes into account what farmers will be growing since not all plants require the same amount of nutrients.
“We just wanted to be proactive and really come up with a voluntary program that hopefully dealers would embrace and growers, too,” he said.
Miller grew up helping his father on the family’s 1,500 acre farm outside Rossville and worked part time at a fertilizer plant throughout high school.
Knowing the farm wasn’t large enough to support more than one family, Miller said he decided early to make a career out of agriculture in some other way since he has such a passion for it. He went to Purdue University and majored in agronomy.
Not only has Miller worked in the industry after graduating from college more than 30-years ago, but landing close to home has been another bonus. He can still get behind the wheel of a tractor or combine whenever he has time to help his father on the farm and have a positive impact on farmers he views as neighbors.
His wife, Sharla, and his sons, Nathan, 24, and Keegan, 20, also work at the store. “I kind of feels like a family affair here,” he said.
He and his staff provide services to roughly 50,000 to 60,000 acres within a 15 mile radius of the store.
“I really enjoy it. I get to do my dream job every day. This is just the place I want to be,” he said.