Certified Professional Agronomist Dale Softley serves as an agricultural expert witness in agricultural fraud cases. He describes his forensic agronomist job as being “like ‘CSI’, but for plants.” The Softleys test soil, stems, or anything they can find to solve problems that include why crops are not growing, how plants became diseased or any other conditions farmers and their insurance companies want explained. Softley states:
Forensic agronomy normally is used to investigate issues over damage to crop or soil by a second or third party, such as chemical drift, livestock invasion, range fires, water drainage obstructions, and a host of other events.
Production problems pertaining to the loss of yield, including hail are covered by specific policies, and are adjusted by specialized personal. Once in a while someone can slip things past these adjusters and they need some expertise to help solve problems.
A forensic agronomist knows where to start looking for short cuts producers may have taken, producing a yield subject to federal crop insurance payment. These cases may include the use of improper seed sources, withholding adequate inputs such as fertility,
herbicides, insecticides or irrigation water.