Plant Health Program, Doctor of


First Advisor

Dr. Gary Hein

Document Type

Doctoral Document

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Wright

Date of this Version

Summer 7-2021

Third Advisor

Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziems


Overmyer, L. M. 2021. The Importance of Communication Skills to Independent Crop Consultants. Doctor of Plant Health Doctoral Document. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Plant Health, Major: Plant Health, Under the Supervision of Professor Gary L. Hein, Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Lindsay M. Overmyer


Independent crop consulting companies provide services to farmers by scouting (i.e., collecting field observations of plants and pests) and developing management recommendations for individual fields. In production agriculture, independent crop consultants (ICCs) are professionals who are independent of product sales. They are knowledgeable in many disciplines including plant pathology, entomology, weed science, plant science, economics, water management, and soil science. However, ICCs must also have extensive communication skills to communicate to their audience of field scout(s), farmers, industry professionals, and government officials. The goal of this document is to examine how ICCs use their communication skills and how they can refine and strengthen their communication skills.

Communication is an important life skill, involving knowledge or information transfer to produce an outcome. Communication concepts and models can be applied to interpersonal communication between ICCs and their audience (Chapter 1). Communication between the field scout and ICC primarily occurs during the field training process for the scout. Educational methods of experiential learning and scaffolding can be applied to this field training process (Chapter 2). Interviews with farmers explored the motivations and values of farmers that aid the ICC in communicating management recommendations to farmers (Chapter 3). These interviews emphasized farmers have individual goals, motivations, values, and communication styles, in which an ICC must adapt to develop a trusting relationship. Independent crop consultants are also instrumental in the agricultural social system by bridging knowledge transfer between farmers, industry professionals, and government officials (Chapter 4).

Advisor: Gary L. Hein