Trade associate member update

- On Point Ag -

Cathy Atchley has deep roots in agriculture. A Georgia native, she started her career in Florida about six years ago after graduating from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. Atchley first worked as a Temik monitor, a scout and intern for Bayer CropScience. She then became a distributor sales representative and later, agronomy coordinator for Agrium Advanced Technologies (AAT). She returned to the agricultural sales market representing AgXplore, and in September she moved into the service sector founding a business. It’s called On Point Ag, and its purpose is to provide reliable services and data for growers to utilize while making their production management decisions.

Specifically, On Point Ag provides routine field services (such as pest and disease scouting) and can tackle short-term projects as well. Describing citrus scouting services, Atchley says, “Hands down, the most alarming pest is the Asian citrus psyllid,” the vector of HLB (citrus greening disease). “We provide psyllid information (including egg, nymph, and adult stages) to the grower, who may decide to take action or adjust their  management plan. Crop protection chemistries can affect pests differently throughout their life cycle, so it’s important to understand at which stages of pests are present. On Point Ag also scouts for citrus rust mites, spider mites, orange dogs, and observes a wide range of pests.”

Atchley describes her belief regarding the need to scout: “Considering the implications of greening, resistance management, etc., regimented scouting is just as important for juice fruit as it is for fresh. Tree quality and fruit quality can suffer if you don’t have a handle on pests.”

Atchley champions integrated pest management and considers scouting to be the cornerstone. “You need to know what pests are in the field in order to target them, rather than guess and throw money into the tank. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to crop health, pest or disease presence, and business practices,” she said. Atchley encourages growers to become involved in local CHMAs (Citrus Health Management Areas), and consider the 4R (Nutrient Stewardship) approach for crop protection products too. “Use the right amount of the right product, in the right place and at the right time,” she advises.

In addition to scouting, the company offers value added components. “We can pull soil and tissue samples to provide nutrition-related data, for example,” she said.  On Point Ag uses data collected to map groves or fields; in the case of citrus, tree location and age are mapped.  “A lot of citrus groves have had trees removed because of greening. The growers come back in later and reset trees, to make a full block. Those reset trees are young and vulnerable, therefore more susceptible to some pests,” Atchley said. “So it’s nice to have a growth map to know where those trees are. Ten years from now, you may find that your older trees are declining and you need to remove those because they’re not producing the quality or the quantity they should.  Mapping is a key component of precision agriculture, and with this technology, growers can realize substantial economic and efficiency savings.”

On Point Ag is committed to making a positive difference in the Florida agriculture industry. Off the farm, the company works to take advantage of ‘agvocate’ opportunities. By participating in Florida Ag in the Classroom’s Ag Literacy Day and presenting during Florida’s inaugural Farm to School Week, On Point Ag works to represent agriculture in the community.

“I appreciate this chance with On Point Ag to represent our industry and educate those who aren’t as involved or knowledgeable about commercial ag operations. It’s an exciting challenge,” Atchley said.

Atchley also is a member of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program, Class 3, which she feels is a valuable experience.  “It’s an important part of developing the tools in my toolbox so I can better serve our industry” she said.

Atchley’s husband Rob, a member of the ELDP Class 1, is a citrus grower. They live in LaBelle with a Labrador retriever and two German Shorthaired Pointers who inspired the name of the business. “We enjoy training the dogs and going quail hunting,” she said. “Work is a hobby for me too. It’s fun and it’s in the industry I love.”

On Point Ag services Southwest Florida and parts of Central Florida.  To learn more about their services, contact Cathy Atchley via email (onpointag@live.com) or at 863 517-5500.

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