Pheasants Forever and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa have expanded the organization’s Precision Agriculture efforts across Iowa with the recent promotion of Josh Divan to Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist.
The new hire will offer precision ag profitability analyses for Iowa producers with the goal of increasing farm income by integrating conservation practices on less profitable crop acres.
Raised on a family farm in Winnebago County, Divan developed a respect for both agriculture and wildlife at an early age. He attended Iowa State University after high school and earned a B.S. in animal ecology. Following graduation, he worked as an upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and then as a wildlife habitat biologist for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Boone and Greene counties. He joined Pheasants Forever in 2009 and served as a Farm Bill wildlife biologist in Iowa’s Winnebago, Hancock and Worth counties. Divan was promoted to monarch coordinating biologist in 2017 before accepting his new post as precision ag and conservation specialist.
“Working on our corn and soybean farm for the last 20 years has provided me valuable insight on how to strategically integrate conservation within a working farm to deliver financial benefits,” stated Josh Divan. “We’ve recently utilized precision ag data from one of our fields to identify areas that were consistently underperforming. After running a profitability analysis, it was clear that we needed to do something different. After looking at several side-by-side comparisons, we decided to enroll the most problematic acres into a conservation program. That decision has improved the economics of the entire field and is a story that I’m looking forward to sharing with others through my work.”
In his main role, Divan will collaborate with ag producers to conduct precision business planning in the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa, working closely with participating ag retailers such as implement dealers, software companies, grain cooperatives, certified crop advisers, ag lenders and others, to help farmers be both profitable and successful in their operations. Divan will utilize precision agriculture technology – focusing on return-of-investment (ROI) at a sub-field scale – to define areas where conservation practices and alternative working lands opportunities are more profitable for producers than traditional row crops, helping to diversify farm income and provide benefits to soil, water and wildlife over the long-term. By focusing on return-of-investment (ROI), acre-by-acre, Pheasants Forever’s specialist will help shift a longtime perception that profitability and environmental performance are competitive.
“Josh brings a wealth of experience in conservation programs and partnership development to our Precision Ag program in Iowa,” stated Jamie Cook, state coordinator for Pheasants Forever in Iowa. “We have no doubt that under his leadership, the Prairie Pothole Region of northern Iowa can be a leader in the adoption of conservation programs on less profitable acres.”
Divan, an avid outdoorsman, will be based in northern Iowa. For more information regarding precision agriculture in Iowa, contact Josh Divan at JDivan@PheasantsForever.Org or by phone at (515) 708-2371.