Meet Caleb Traugh - Georgia Ag Consultant and XA Affiliate
8 Mar 2330 min 59 sec

Caleb Traugh is quite an anomaly. He’s an Agricultural consultant who didn’t grow up on a farm and he doesn’t have a degree in any Agricultural curriculum. Heck, he doesn’t have a college degree at all. This unconventional path to Agriculture affords Caleb latitude to learn without having to re-learn. Caleb runs an Ag consultancy business that he began in 2020, mostly covering farming operations in southwest Georgia, southeast Alabama, and northwest Florida. Caleb discusses peanuts, the power of plant observation, and what he hopes to contribute to as well as learn from XtremeAg.  

Presented by AgXplore.

00:00 Not all of our guys are pure production agriculture. Sometimes they work in air culture in a different capacity. That's what Caleb does why it works excited 00:09 about for him coming to you is the scope and the perspective he can bring he's a younger guy. He's a Georgia guy. He 00:18 covers Acres that are in production of stuff that we don't do a lot of talking about but we're going to now as such welcome to 00:27 extreme mags cutting the curve more than just a podcast. It's the place for insights. You can apply immediately to your farm operation for 00:36 increase success this episode of cutting the curve is brought to you by AG Explorer. With Innovative products that improve fertilizer efficiency protect 00:45 yield and reduce stress. AG explore helps maximize field potential find out how AG Explorer can help you get more out of your crop at Ag 00:54 And now here's your host Damien Mason Walgreens and welcome to another fantastic episode of Extreme as cutting the 01:03 curve today. We're meeting Caleb draw. He is a new extreme AG affiliate. He's also an agricultural consultant. So Caleb draw AG consultant 01:12 new extreme ago affiliate. Give us the lowdown. Who are you? So yeah, I'm Caleb troll. I'm 01:21 an ad consultant here in Southwest Georgia and I work with Growers. I started out with soul fertility that I kind of 01:30 specialized in the soul samples and then now work with a lot of Growers even across the southeast United States of I didn't grow up on a 01:39 farm even though my grandparents farmed in Northeast, Iowa. My parents moved down to Georgia. Well, of course, they weren't Farmers, but even 01:48 just being in a real agricultural area. I kind of knew even from the young age. That's what I wanted to do. 01:55 So whether that would be catching a ride in a tractor behind the house or going and Jenny my own cotton when I was three years old and growing cotton 02:04 from you know leftovers of harvest from the year before so I always kind of had that drive or agriculture but even as as I progressed 02:13 it became more agronomically speaking, so trying to figure out the why into things in agriculture. Yeah, I like it 02:22 because you know Most people that are in the industry come from the industry. Now that's changing. I 02:29 get newsletters from my alma mater Purdue and they tell me that the school of Agriculture now is less than 50% or right at 50% that 02:38 are Farm kids. Well that's changing because we don't have as many farms through consolidation. We have huge Farm families like 02:44 mine was and also there's a lot more stuff, you know agricultural Consulting has grown or you know food processing think 02:53 about that. So you're not a farm kid. Now that's what's interesting is but you do work in the industry. Most people that are farmers still come 03:02 from a farm background, but certainly in the industry. You see yourself kind of splitting the splitting the between the 03:08 farm and the Consulting anyhow, because you you want to be a producer. Yes. Yeah, and well, especially producer but 03:16 also just being able to work with Farmers. I mean, you know, that's what makes me happy if I can take somebody's operation and 03:22 maybe help them get to the next level help them take things from good to great and I feel like you said since I didn't have that background that I came from 03:31 I Didn't Have to relearn things in a different way, you know, sometimes people do things just because that's the way their dad 03:40 or their grandpa did it a previous generation. So now they kind of have to change their mindset why didn't have to be held back by that. I could you know 03:49 learn from people who are way smarter than me. You attend a lot of educational events with people. So I 03:55 always had the same to make sure that I'm not the smartest person in the room. So being able to surround myself with people who are at the top of their game good at what 04:04 they do learning from them, but also being able to be a student of the crop and to learn to listen to what the plants are saying. It really helps me to 04:13 Of you know help Growers to get the most out of their crop. S Caleb you're young guy. How old 04:20 are you? 26 26 graduate from high school went to college at University, Georgia. I did not go to college. So I actually graduated 04:32 early and went right to work. So anyway, whoa, wait a minute. This is kind of a different. I figured you're gonna tell me. Yeah, and I'm 04:41 a Agronomy major or something like that. So give us this background. That's kind of unique. Yeah, so I graduated when I was 17 to an 04:50 early graduation and actually started in the wildlife industry. So by the time I was 18, I was managing a deer quail and Timber 04:59 Plantation here in Southwest Georgia and did that for about eight years and while I was doing that I was also farming with 05:08 the good friend of mine on the side on the all the weekends and the afternoons basically doing two jobs. And so even even with a 05:17 little bit different background even in my early career. I still was building my Agronomy knowledge 05:23 and then basically, you know, I knew what I wanted to do and I was constantly learning and taking things in and trying to take things as I 05:32 could to the next level and then in 2020, that's when I decided to start my own business and then they just 05:41 kind of skyrocketed from there. All right, I like it. So what 18 you're said you're managing a Wildlife property is it for hunting purposes or is it 05:50 for? Okay. So you're and then is that the part of the world like when you read about when you can go on these Quail hunts when 05:59 they drive you around on a horse and wagon, is that one of those kind of places? Oh, yeah. Yeah. We didn't do a whole lot of quail per se it was a lot of deer and 06:08 of course Timber production, of course in Georgia. I think Georgia's number one in the timber industry. So those people most people 06:17 don't know that most people think that you know that there's somehow out west but it's like no there's a 06:23 whole bunch of Pine Forest down where you're from, right? So so they're on the plantation we 06:29 had about 2500 Acres of Planet ponds to where you know, it's basically like agriculture. We went out there. We planted the crowd. We took care of the crop and then we harvested 06:41 a crop now instead of doing that in one year. It might be over 25 to 30 years, but Was that was a neat experience and there's a lot 06:50 of things that do tie into agriculture. So definitely a broad range of topics that I've been able to work with. So right now 06:59 you clear yourself an AG consultant, but is it do you think you specialize on soil and Agronomy or on botany plant? 07:09 My passion is for sold. I mean that's kind of what I started my business around was soil sampling and being able to help Growers to put a fertility 07:18 and crop management plan when it comes to making sure that that crop has what it needs to reach its full potential now since then, of course, 07:27 I've had Growers that say hey, can you work with me throughout the year and you know, you know take a look at my fields and 07:33 see what we need to do. So it has transferred into some scouting and and keeping up with the crop all the way through Harvest but it kind of 07:42 Started With Me from what's Happening below ground because that's always fascinated me. 07:47 Caleb you kind of had to have some balls to start your own business and you're 23 years old 23 24 years old and let's face 07:57 it. You say I'm gonna be an AG consultant. They're like, well, that's great. You've been you've been managing a Timber and Wildlife property. You're gonna help 08:06 me grow peanuts how answer that Yeah, and especially without a college degree, but you know, that's where I've always, you know, 08:15 we've always had ties with agriculture, you know, it went in it with any job that I've had. I've always been farming and working on a farm on 08:24 the side and really trying to take in as much as I could whether that be, you know, attending seminars educational events. And then in the farming 08:33 that I've worked with over the years, we do a lot of Trials a lot of research like last year on our farm we did 08:39 about 200 research trials. Just trying to see you know, what works and what maybe doesn't work on our place and then now being able 08:48 to expand that to other Growers whether it's ones that I Walt their fields here in Southwest Georgia Northwest Florida ones that I work with remotely even 08:57 another States is being kind of cool to learn that a lot of things and you know, that's what a lot of Growers are looking for that knowledge that experience 09:06 and well frankly, that's one of the reasons extreme mag, because you're taking those experiences even from all over the country and putting them together 09:15 for people. He said something and I want to get more into the soil on the botany. But let's you know, this is this is fascinating 09:22 to me you talked about learning it versus relearning and I agree with that and I am a farm kid and I'm away from it. I'm not an actively producing. 09:31 You know, I'm like the guys extreme I can compared to me obviously, but I think there's this thing where you know what, you know from growing up 09:40 and being around it and being out there on the tractor walking the fields or milking the cows or whatever that thing should be, 09:46 but you've got to be Capable and more importantly willing to say yeah, we thought that back then but 09:59 damn you know what we know now and that makes you better and I think the listeners and the viewers of extreme AG are very much of that mentality. 10:08 That's why they're here. Right if they weren't that way. They would be at the coffee shop, you know BSM with the guy down the road about 10:17 the same old Bumpkin talk about, you know, gossiping over who's more successful than them. 10:23 That's a key mental thing. Do you think you're that way? Because you didn't go to school. Do you think your ability to keep learning and then even because you said learn versus 10:33 relearn, but you're probably gonna need to keep doing that. Will you and also do you think you're better at that? Because maybe you didn't get 10:41 I don't know indoctrinated by going to University. You know, there's some things that you can't replace with that kind of education or growing up, you know being fully immersed 10:52 into that kind of thing, but I think regardless of somebody who's been in agriculture industry for a week or for 30 years. 11:01 The important thing is to always be a lifelong learner, you know, everything in agriculture is changing so rapidly, I mean just I thought with 11:10 guys on their operations, how did you do this two years ago? How did you do this five years ago and they're like man things have changed so much. I can't 11:19 even believe that we're doing things the way we did just a couple years ago. And so that's where 11:25 it gets kind of hard for somebody who's on a tractor 40 or 60 hours a week to keep up with everything. So that's where some of them, you know, 11:34 ask for help. You know, what are some of these new things that we should be looking at but being willing to 11:40 constantly improve or operations. It's something key for everyone. When you you said 11:48 I'm gonna start doing this. Did you did you say wait a minute? There's a whole bunch. I don't know because obviously you're 26 11:57 and you you know, you're talking to people that are saying 40 50 years old and 12:05 You're trying to sell yourself as a advice and advisory source to them. What did you what did you come in and say Here's the cut. Here's the three things. I 12:14 really know that I really the three things you can really contribute to our listeners extreme Ag and the few things you're like, and I'm not and I still got a bush to 12:23 learn over here. Yeah, yeah, absolutely and speaking of that when I go to people who are way smarter than me. 12:30 One of the guys always remember when somebody were to ask my question. He said, you know, I'll answer your question as long as I can have the option of saying I 12:39 don't know so, you know, we're all in that process of learning no matter where we're at and that's where you know that it goes back to constantly keep progressing 12:48 with the industry. So, you know, what's really what three. I want three categories or topics or or genres or 12:58 even specific crop things that you can bring to the extreme egg listeners and even the extreme egg Founders that 13:07 maybe the Lee Loopers up and grow yourself. The code is gonna be like, oh I'll be dark. I didn't know that. Yeah, so I'll 13:16 say one of those things of course in this area of the southeast especially, Georgia, Alabama, Florida. We're big and peanut 13:24 And that's not something that's real common even across the Southern United States. They're kind of pockets here and there and certainly one of those largest pockets is right 13:33 in this area. So that is one crop that I definitely have, you know, a lot of experience in if they're 13:39 you know, and let's stick on that because I've spoken at peanut conferences and I've learned a lot and before I hit record you 13:48 noticed I was eating peanuts and tribute to you and that part of the world Four states grow almost every peanut that's 13:56 grown in the United States is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida is my understanding and you 14:03 said yeah that's accurate. So almost all the peanuts are produced right there. They're legume. They're they 14:10 they are under the ground they come out and they come out wet. So like the thing you're eating is dry and salty and 14:19 you love it, but it's actually is wet and under the ground when it's growing and I think there's some people even in Agate are like what I didn't know that. Yeah, that's 14:28 one thing. You know, it always creates me up even even with other people in agriculture. They are surprised learn that peanuts do grow below ground. So 14:37 it's definitely and unique crop while it is it does have somewhere tease with soybeans and dry Edibles and things that are growing above 14:49 ground peanuts are are grown below ground. Is definitely a little bit differently. It's more like a potato for you know, it's it's like a 14:59 potato meets a soybean or something. So what do what do you think that when we talk about this besides the production? What about a peanut? What about a Peanut 15:08 Farm? Do you think that then you can extrapolate some learnings to the person that's in some other agriculture? 15:17 You know, there's a lot of similarities between peanuts and other crops and so being able to see 15:23 at what growth stages things really important in whether we're talking peanuts or another beans that are a lot 15:32 of Growers are familiar with a lot of the same thing is translated back and forth. So making sure that that plant has you know, right balance of growth hormones has the 15:42 right aspects of fertility versus the crop stage a lot of things like that. They can translate back and forth. 15:53 um What about nutrition or the soil? You know, we think about some crops since you're since you're all about the consultant. I see pictures on social 16:03 media view out driving your four wheeler around probing the soil. Do peanuts beat the heck 16:09 out of the soil? Do they take a whole bunch of anything? I mean what and I know that these require a 16:15 certain amount of fungicide treatment because of where they're grown and the type of plant so talk to me about treatments and what do I need to know about soil and 16:24 plant? Yes, so when it comes to the soul peanuts are actually a we call them a really 16:31 good scavenger. Of course, if we want to push the envelope, we're going to have to buy what they need. But sometimes when it comes to fertilizing that's they get 16:40 their redheaded step child thought like soybeans. So we're gonna fertilize our other crops and well the peanuts are just going to get whatever slept over so really trying to change that 16:49 mindset so we can actually fertilize peanuts for peanuts that something that we're always working with and then like you mentioned with the fungicide use, you 16:58 know, peanuts are susceptible to a lot of the the pathogens and diseases in our area here and in the southeast United States with 17:07 our, you know, High rain fall environments, usually a lot of irrigation and and eat of 17:13 course, so we constantly have to be out in our Fields whether that be scouting looking for things or sticking to a good solid fungicides 17:22 spray program. So peanuts require a lot more Hands on than some crops because you know, our man Matt miles says that cotton is a plant 17:31 that looks to the way to die every day our penis that fragile. Not necessarily, you know. 17:39 They are a large seeds so we can stick them in the ground two or three inches and they'll come up and they'll push a rock out of the way to be able to survive. So 17:48 in that in that certain of stance, they really do good in a lot of environments. Of course, we there's a lot of things that we can do to make them better. But yeah, 17:57 they're usually pretty hard for the average. What do you want to learn? I love the fact that you're all about the learning and you talk about going to conferences which 18:07 we have. In fact, we have something coming up February 14th. We're gonna be at the AG Machinery show in Louisville, and our members 18:13 are paying members can be in the audience there for a special Social Hour. We're hosting we're all about learning. 18:21 What can you learn and what do you look to learn by being a part of this group? One thing that I really enjoyed learning as 18:32 you know, as we go through with me being a member and then being able to learn from the other guys with extreme maggots just how to take our crops from 18:41 good to great. I work with you know, in my career. I don't work with any of the top grow the top you'll producers in 18:50 the world. They're all you know, good produces that are just trying to take these to The Next Step. So being able to learn from people who you know, they're being 18:59 able to you know set those field records and and really really fine tune their problem management. That's something that always enjoy and 19:08 look forward to learning more about to be able to not only help The Growers that I work with but the other members we stream like 19:15 Yeah, so what's that difference? I mean you said good to Great which is a book of course and you talked about going to that next thing. I was in Chad 19:24 Henderson's field this summer recording videos and talking about things like tissue sampling or whatnot and Chad said hey, you know, what if we 19:33 just want to be average no offense, I could work less not work as much not not get out here and do as much experimental stuff call the 19:43 Cooper let them come out and spray my Fields not go to the beach. We said I want to be at that next level or even the level above that. 19:53 What what makes you go to that next level or the level above that? Is it just work? Ethic? Is it willingness to experiment? Is it the willingness 20:02 to failure your own your perspective? I know what I think it is. Yes. So I mean, you know, 20:08 we're always trying to do more with less even the economics on the farm the yields that we were going for even five to 20:17 ten years ago with today's economics that makes things really really tight. So a lot of times, you know that extra yield that we make when we 20:26 intensify our crop management, you know, that that's the profit that we can take home. That's what we can use 20:32 food on our tables and so, you know trying to feed a growing population to we're always being demanded of more and more. 20:42 Um put on your AG consultant hat or put on your I came into this business from outside of it hat or put on your I'm 26, and I know everything you 20:51 old bastard had whichever hat you want to put on Caleb. What are we doing wrong? 20:57 Come on. You know a lot of farmers doing wrong. You know, whether it's the one down the road from you or the one in Indiana where I'm from what are farmers doing wrong? 21:11 Not being aware of what's happening in our Fields, you know life you mentioned we can go drive by a field. Oh, it looks good. Oh, you know this is 21:20 we think this is going on. We think we think that's going on. I just talking with one of the Growers. I was working with last night about tissue sampling. He said, you know what when 21:29 I was out in my field every week in corn pulling tissue samples. I saw more on the inside of my Fields this 21:38 year than I ever have. And that I'm now realized a lot more of what's happening in the fields what is happening 21:46 with those plants than I ever had before so, you know just being able to go out there and and put your shadow on the ground. 21:54 That's about the best thing that we can apply to our fields and you know being being a good listener toward our 22:00 plants are saying so that you know, when they need something whether it be better nutrition, whether it be, you know, something to help 22:09 with stress mitigation or even Irrigation in our area that we're alert to those things. So then we don't have to farm by Sarah and Deputy essay. Oh, 22:18 you know, the weather wasn't good for us this year, you know blame something on this and that when we take the accountability and our and our own 22:27 realm then now we have that drive to figure out you know, what lessons can I derive from what I saw this year? 22:37 I agree with that that you're saying and so that goes back to either it's the work ethic to go out in the field. And then oh you're saying I ain't working hard. You just said no, you're 22:46 not spend enough time paying attention to the what's happening in your Fields. What a farmers need when you go and you work with 22:52 your clients. What do they need? I know what they tell you they want you to do. What do they need? What 22:58 you know, you're you're observing kid. What do they need? And I'm talking about anything I'm talking about anything me they need do 23:05 they need to be told that they're wrong. Do they need to be told do they need do they need to look at things from a different perspective? 23:11 I'm thinking of things that I what do they need? They need to see things with their own eyes. I mean as far as information goes there's a 23:22 ton of information whether it comes from a simple Google search or learning from other producers, but a farmers need to see something with their 23:31 own eyes. They need to see something that's happening in their field and so being able to to provide 23:37 that, you know to Help The Help The Growers see something that they can work on and actually having them go out there in their own fields and see you know what 23:46 this actually might work. So instead of doing it in this little block. I'm gonna take things to a broader scale to increase their profitability and on also I 23:55 was thinking too when it comes from the labor ask that a lot of the operations that I work with the amount of Labor that they have available to them is getting 24:04 less and less and I got and you know, I've got to cut my Workforce by 25% but then how 24:13 am I going to do better? And Do more things to my crop for 2023. So trying to figure out what things are 24:21 important what things we need to be focusing on so we can do more with less when it may be comes to inputs within a 24:30 field or whether that be from the labor aspect. I agree with all that and Labor's gonna be ongoing issue. Now the person maybe just grows corner 24:39 of soybeans labor is only an issue when it comes time to maybe you know truck out that this stuff in the fall because you 24:45 know more highly automated than say, you know celery production. Yeah, and that's that's a good point right there because down here 24:55 where we grow a lot of peanuts and cotton we joke about everybody up in the midwest that they plant their crop call somebody 25:01 in the come and spray it and then they go to the beach and come back, you know week before Harvest time or whatever. So we like to poke fun at 25:07 that. But you know, there is something to be said with that because especially with peanuts with cotton tuna. There's 25:13 a lot of produce a couple of The Growers that I work with the officer grow watermelons too and other another various forms 25:19 of produce. So the demands in this area are a lot High Regard, what's the you told me a stat about Dothan, Alabama. Where are you specifically and then 25:29 the stat on Dothan, Alabama? Yes. So I am in the very very corner of Southwest Georgia. So right beside Alabama and Florida in 25:38 that corner and about 40 miles from Dothan, Alabama and give me a town name. Okay, the very the very Sally let's just quarter. They're 25:47 down. Yeah Blakely Georgia is closest town or on that of course that doesn't make a lot of difference to the majority of people with all those ever heard 25:56 of Blakely. Okay? Yeah. No. Vanilla, Alabama. You told me a stat before hit record about peanuts. Yep. So 50% of 26:05 the peanuts that are produced in the US come from within 100 miles of Alabama. So a circle right there in this tri-state area, 26:14 Georgia, Alabama and Florida produce half of the peanuts that UE weather and you know peanut butter roasted peanuts 26:23 like you were enjoying and other products there. Yeah, when I work for the peanut people way back the first time and like the 90s, you know, 26:35 they said something about word opinions. I said, well, I'm assuming that more peanuts are consumed as peanut butter than anything else. So 26:41 I think it's something like bulka peanuts because kind of like you work for the potato people and and of course 26:47 they say, well you probably can guess we're most potatoes go to us. Yeah french fries because that's how we consume most of them but peanut butter 26:53 and then candy obviously both of you used as candy. Hey, well anything else about penis before I ask you your last question. 27:03 Covered it. All is another another big peanut product. So we have the different grades. So, you know, you have your premium grades and then your lower grades and they each go to their different different categories. 27:15 Yeah, which ones go to oil the ones that aren't aren't as good or they have an oil specific peanut. So they do have some highlights, but 27:24 the majority of the oil production comes from those lower quality peanuts that you wouldn't that necessarily want to look at in roasted 27:30 peanuts or something not saying that they're not fit to consume but just a slightly lower grade. So I know some people who actually taking, you know, 27:39 Top Notch peanuts and then turn in into oil and actually really good product. Yeah. Yeah, but they're both. Okay, so you got peanut butter 27:47 peanut and Candy peanuts like I eat with my snacks when I drink my beer and then peanut oil course. to get 27:57 to the next level you got to understand where your weakness is, you know, where where am I vulnerable? Where am I 28:06 weak? Where do you think Caleb draw has a weakness that being a part of extreme AG will make you stronger give me 28:16 a category or a topic that you're going to use extreme AG to make one of your weaknesses a strength. You know the first thing that comes to my 28:26 mind just coming out of the hot dry year that 2022 was for this area learning how to better manage our stress in the 28:35 crop. I know that's something that a lot of the guys with extreme AG have been working with and getting some good programs down 28:41 and and of course here in Southwest Georgia, that's something you know, our crop is stress from the time. We open the bag and pour a seat in 28:50 the planner to the time we get it out of the field. So that is something that I am looking to learn from and be able 28:56 to better mitigate the things that might lower our yield in that regard. Yeah, so you're you're gonna strengthen you're 29:05 gonna you're gonna strengthen yourself up by understanding how to reduce stress on crops by 29:11 being a part of extreme egg. I like it Caleb. We're gonna have you be now that you're not you're an affiliate we're gonna have you on more of these and we're gonna have you on some 29:22 webinars we can talk about Spanish, especially South specific stuff because most of the Acres you cover is an AG 29:28 consultant are where are they within are they within 100? Are they within that peanut the peanut belt? The vast majority of them are here in Southwest, Georgia 29:37 Northwest, Florida and Southeast, Alabama. Yeah, his name's Caleb draw. He's a at consultant. He's a lifelong learner and he's 29:46 a Blakely Georgia resident, but you don't know where Blakely is so that's why he'll just keep calling it down here, you know, Southwest Georgia where it comes together to, Florida, Alabama. 29:57 What's that? Right north of the beach right North the beach. Hey, we look forward to your contribution. Thanks for being a part of this and also dear listener. 30:05 He does a really good job on social media so you can keep up with them where he'll show you some of the stuff he's doing when he's out driving his four wheeler around probe and soils and looking at 30:14 crops and all that. So if you want to keep up with him find him here because he's gonna be contributing stuff. But also you can find him on social media. That's draw 30:20 spell it. T r a u g h names Caleb draw, my name is Damian Mason. Thanks so much for being here for this episode of extreme acts cutting the Curve. 30:30 Thanks for listening to another edition of cutting the curve for more information that you can apply to your farm operation. Visit extreme mag dot Farm 30:39 are your crop stressed out AG explore has you covered with a full line of products to help protect your crop from environmental stressors such as cold and 30:48 wet or heat and drought check out AC and start protecting your yields and profits.