As I was traveling last week to Minnesota for Foss NIR training, I happened to catch an interview with Ray Gaesser, a candidate for the nomination of the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Currently, Gaesser is the president of the American Soybean Association. During the interview Gaesser stated that while he may have held many positions in soybean associations and spent many years farming in Iowa, he does not know all there is to know about agriculture, but he knows someone in each sector of the industry that does know about their area of agriculture. This idea of not knowing yourself, but having someone to consult describes the culture here at Ward Laboratories Inc. We have professional staff to consult on a variety of agricultural topics.
Ray Ward is the founder of Ward Laboratories Inc. He has been consulting with customers since the ’80s and has developed a reputation of providing solid information for the best possible decisions for a farming enterprise. Dr. Ward is very knowledgeable, with a B.S. and M.S. in Soil Science and a Ph.D. in Plant Science. He advises customers as to best fertilization practices, no-till farming, cover crop use, plant health issues, water testing and monitoring, and more. Farmers and ranchers often turn to Dr. Ward’s experience and expertise when they encounter an unusual problem or issue.
Nick Ward is the president of Ward Laboratories Inc., he has earned his Ph.D. in Agronomy and is a trusted resource for many local agronomist, and helps customers make planting decisions and solve plant health issues. Sometimes, people even bring in sick plants and he can help them solve the issue in the login room. In addition to Dr. Nick Ward, Hannah Gaebel and Terry Buettner are support agronomists and they play a huge role by going out and visiting customers. Hannah has a Bachelor’s in Agronomy and Terry has been involved in the agriculture industry for about 34 years.
Emily Shafto has authored a couple blog posts related to soil health. Farmers and ranchers who are dedicated to taking care of their land from a soil health perspective can consult with either Emily, who has a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources or Lance Gunderson, who is currently working on a Ph.D. in Soil Microbial Ecology. Both are great resources for help interpreting Haney or PFLA soil analysis results and generally gaining a better understanding of how various farming practices such as tilling or cover crops affects the soil below.
Another person who is a huge asset to our lab is our lab manager Jeremy Dalland, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and then worked his way through the lab from lab tech to his current position. He is a self-taught resource to all things soil, water, fertilizer, manure, and feed analysis. If you have ever called the lab while I’m out chances are Jeremy helped you with your livestock feeding questions.
If you follow this blog, then you know I am the Animal Scientist and I am available to consult on interpretation of feed and NIR samples. I also help producers solve animal nutrition and health issues. Mineral issues and sub-clinical illnesses potentially brought on by moldy feeds are common situations producers seek my guidance on. Helping with diet formulations and supplementation strategies are also topics I commonly discuss with customers. In addition to earning a Master of Animal Sciences in Ruminant Nutrition and my working experience at the US Meat Animal Research Center, I commonly attend educational meetings and take advantage of extension events.
I am not the only one who attends these events, Dr. Ray Ward, Dr. Nick Ward, Lance, Emily, Hannah, and Terry can often be found staying up to date on current research in their respective field. Through these meetings and events, our team makes expert contacts and when a producer’s questions are not in our realm of expertise, we can reach out to these experts for the best possible information in our consulting.
As you can see, there is a great deal of knowledge about various sectors of the agriculture industry here at Ward Laboratories Inc. From Agronomy to Animal Science, if you have a production question or need help with agricultural testing feel free to contact us. If we don’t know the answer, chances are we know someone who does.