May 16, 2012 -- Like many CCAs in Iowa, Amy Asmus looks to Iowa State University (ISU) for the continuing education credits she needs to stay certified. But Asmus, currently vice chair of the International CCA Board, also maintains much deeper ties to her alma mater in Ames. She has served on several boards for ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including an advisory board to the vice president of extension and outreach. She talks regularly with people in the agronomy department about everything from ideas for research projects to ways to revamp extension. And last year, she and her husband, Harlan, helped establish the department’s “Into the Field” initiative, which seeks to better prepare agronomy students for careers at agribusinesses, such as the couple’s own company, Asmus Farm Supply.
In short, Asmus recognizes the value of the “public–private partnership,” in which businesses and universities work together to train students, assist farmers,or do applied research. Faced with declining funding at both the federal and state levels, ISU and other land grant universities have looked increasingly to companies to help them sustain research, education, and extension programs. Now, a growing number of agribusiness people are calling for industry to embrace these collaborations more fully, as well.
Partnerships between public and private organizations can be tricky to navigate, and both sides have been reluctant at times to collaborate. But for Asmus, today’s farming challenges are simply too great for universities and agribusinesses to continue operating as they have traditionally: “moving toward the same goals along parallel lines,” she says. The emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds, for example, is a gamechanging development that will only be managed through the combined ingenuity and efforts of many, many people. “And it’s not just weed resistance and chemical programs. It’s the same with everything,” Asmus says. “So it’s time to get outside our comfort zone and work together to solve problems.”
Continue reading in the May-June 2012 issue of Crops and Soils magazine.