Next CCA Exam Date:  February 5, 2016 -- Registration period October 5 - December 11, 2015

NEW! Sustainability Specialty Certification
Exam Date:  Postponed until August 5, 2016 -- Registration period May 2 - June 24, 2016

Sustainability - Meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Field to Market)

  • Follow three global (UN) principles
    • Environmental
    • Social
    • Economic (profitability)

The purpose of implementing a Sustainability Specialty is to utilize CCAs to help farmers/producers to become better acquainted with and adopt/enhance/implement sustainability concepts, stewardship, and best management practices within their operations. CCAs are the single best influencers to work with local producers and help them adopt more sustainable crop production practices that will satisfy the future demands of the food industry and address demands from consumers for safe food, while protecting the environment and preserving natural resources.

Sustainability can sometimes be a misunderstood word as many people and organizations use it to describe different versions of agricultural production practices.  Food companies and retail businesses are working towards becoming more sustainable and reinforcing it with publicly stated goals.  These companies have realized that in order for them to achieve their sustainability goals the crop based resources and commodities they purchase also have to use sustainable production practices.  They identified CCAs as the logical partner to help reach their objectives in working with the farmers on their agronomic production practices.

The ICCA Program partnered with and received funding from the United Soybean Board (USB) to develop the CCA – Sustainability Specialty Certification.  A cross section of the agricultural community with sustainability experiences and interests came together to develop the performance standards that are available here.  This specialty is in direct response to the demand by consumers on food companies and retail businesses to implement more sustainable production practices and to ensure to the consumer that the food they purchase is produced sustainably.

This is a great opportunity for CCAs who want to focus their work on sustainable agronomic production practices and help their farmer clients implement those practices.  The specialty centers on advanced knowledge and skills beyond the ICCA performance standards.  The specialty will help build awareness and provide recognition for those CCAs with the knowledge and skills.    An individual must be a CCA before they can register for the sustainability exam.  Once the exam is passed, an annual maintenance fee will be charged in addition to your CCA renewal and a CCA with the specialty will need to earn 5.0 CEUs in Sustainability.  The new CEU category will be added to records, but the total of 40.0 CEUs every two-years will not change.  Please contact your local board contact if you have any questions.

  • Sustainability Exam Registration - Postponed until August 5, 2016. 
  • Sustainability Performance Objectives
  • Launching Sustainability Webinar Series
    Tuesdays, December 1, 8 and 15, 2015 and January 5, 12 and 19, 2016
    Starts at 12:30 pm Eastern/11:30 am Central/10:30 am Mountain/9:30 am Pacific

    Now is the time for the rubber to meet the road. This series will address the three new competency areas and twelve proficiency areas to inform and equip those Certified Crop Advisers interested in the new upcoming CCA Sustainability Specialty.  The series will be moved to the self-paced section after it concludes.

    Each webinar will be worth 1.0 CEU with the category depending on the topic for CCAs/CPAgs and 1.0 CEU in Professional Meetings for CPSS/CPSC.  Cost for each individual webinar is $25.00 for members and certified professionals and $40.00 for non-members.  Cost for the series is $135.00 for members and certified professionals and $216.00 for non-members. Register now!

4R NMS Specialty Certification
Next Exam Date:  February 5, 2016 -- Registration period October 5 - December 11, 2015

The 4R NMS specialty is for CCAs who do nutrient management planning and focus their work in this area.  It allows CCAs to prove their knowledge, advance their skills and draw awareness to their abilities.  It should align with USDA-NRCS and state nutrient management standards.  This exam is being offered in the following states on February 5, 2016:  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.  You must already have a CCA certification within these states to be eligibile to take the 4R NMS exam.  Other states/provinces may be added in the future. There are plans to expand to more states in the near future.  If you would like to see this specialty be available in your state/province, please contact your local board contact or ICCA Representative. Once the 4R exam is passed, an annual maintenance fee will be charged in addition to your CCA renewal, and the minimum CEUs required for Nutrient Management and Soil and Water Management will increase to 7.5 each (from 5.0).

  • 4R NMS Exam Registration
  • 4R NMS Performance Objectives
  • 4Rs Nutrient Management - In and out of Season Webinar Series (under SSSA Self-Paced Learning)

    Everybody is talking about 4Rs, and the importance of policing ourselves before others do. This 6-webinar series reviewed the essentials of Right Source, Right Rate, Right Place, Right Time, and built upon the 4R Nutrient Management Planning (4R NMP) performance objectives to provide practical information the planner can use year-round in nutrient management recommendations.

    4R Nutrient Management considers the integration of agronomic practices with economic analysis and environmental interaction, all considered at the local field level, as well as social impacts for the community, and for downstream stakeholders.

    Each webinar is worth 1.0 CEU in Nutrient Management for CCAs/CPAgs and 1.0 CEU in Professional Meetings for CPSS/CPSC. Cost for the each individual webinar is $25.00 for members and certified professionals and $40.00 for non-members.  Cost for the series is $135.00 for members and certified professionals and $216.00 for non-members.  Register now!

    CCAs:  This series also can be used to prepare for the specialty certification exam (states offering the exam are listed above). The performance objectives for the exam may be found here:

    The CCA is expected to have background knowledge of the Performance Objectives (POs) in the Nutrient Management Competency Areas used in preparation for the ICCA Exam. These POs address soil testing and plant tissue analysis, nutrient sources, nutrient placing and timing, and nutrient management planning. To some degree, the 4Rs are reflected in each of these areas. The POs for the 4R Nutrient Management Specialist go beyond the basics to integrate the knowledge in developing plans that meet the 4R goals as well as comply with appropriate state and national regulations, as appropriate.

    Webinar Series Objectives

    This series provides the CCA with practical examples and basic principles to use in order to

  • Utilize published values to determine the annual, available N and P excreted in manure by a herd.
  • Determine the land base required to utilize the N and P, and adjust fertilizer recommendations according to N and P manure credits.
  • Utilize soil tests, crop selection, soil and weather conditions, environmental considerations, economic factors, and nutrient credits from previous management to determine right N, P, and K application rates.
  • Discuss how application timing affects choices of right nutrient form and potential losses due to weather phenomena and loss mechanisms.
  • Discuss how crop uptake patterns, soil conditions, nutrient source and form, cover crops affect decisions concerning right timing.
  • Discuss the importance of soil, weather, cropping systems and crop characteristics, tillage practices, application timing, fertilizer form, and potential loss factors on determining right placement.
  • Discuss the most common forms of N, P, and K in the appropriate state.
  • Determine the right source of N and discuss the considerations used to determine the right source of P and K based on soil and climate conditions, crop selection, growth stage, cropping systems, environmental concerns, and/or soil or tissues tests.
  • Evaluate N and P management systems using water quality vulnerability assessment tools for site-specific nutrient planning, and evaluate the effect of changing management strategies on risk assessment outcomes and potential N and P loss.
  • Compare soil, topography, geography and watershed characteristics on potential environmental N and P impacts; discuss the role of N and P, and past and present management practices on eutrophication; and discuss the role of N in drinking water standards.
  • Interpret the roles of the various agencies, guiding documents, policies associated with creating a Nutrient Management Plan according to the NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard, and 303(d) TMDL requirements if in an affected watershed;
  • Create a customized 4Rs plan to fit the unique environmental and management features on a client’s farm, and discuss the components such as record-keeping, monitoring, and maintaining correct maps with all involved parties.
  • Identify management changes that might require adjustments to the Nutrient Management Plan and the potential effect of TMDL on the Nutrient Management Plan in affected watersheds.