Still Learning…

13 Jan

I know that I have touched on this before, but it’s something that for me I never knew until I become a year round full time farmer.  I truly believed that farmers did what they have always done because they have always done it.  And for some things that is true, the tradition that you have with farming families runs deep.  But I think there is a strong tradition of innovation and learning that comes along with that, one which gets overlooked many times.  As a farmer many times I feel caught between this old fashioned view that people have of the management of our farms, and this forward thinking industry that I’m living and breathing.

Last Friday I wrote about how farmers are always learning and continuing their education.  And yes, as I was called out on Facebook for writing that blog during a meeting, but I only missed 10 seconds of the speech I promise! 🙂

During the winter there are many decisions to make.  Many times planning comes into play, and since we grow more than just corn and soybeans out here (Oregon grows as many as 250 different crops!) it’s not just about planting timing and budgeting for one or two crops.  It’s figuring out rotations that work, ones that don’t work, budgeting for crops and trying to foresee what could come up with each one.  And with all of that, going to meetings this time of year is essential to keeping up with what is happening in our industry.  Helping with everything from business and labor decisions to what crops to plant and how to manage them.

Just last week I attended a meeting hosted by Oregon State University.  They were talking about availability of certain chemistries that we have relied on in year’s past, what our options will be this spring and how to manage those decisions.  They also touched on varieties of spring wheat to plant, pros and cons of each.  And as we are looking at about 130 acres of spring wheat to plant in just a month this was imperative information.  And in many of these meetings we also talk about what are ways to do more with less, what are the timings of applications that make them do the best they can for your crop, etc.

This winter I will also be attending an AgChat convention up in Portland.  This is just another part of moving our farm closer (via social media) to our urban neighbors and learning more about what they want to know about us farmers out here in the country.  Being a farmer only just 30 miles from Portland, it interests me to know what I can do with social media to make my story heard by more people, and let people know what we are doing out here on the farm and that we’re proud of how we take care of our land and soil.

So like any industry, including medicine and computers, we have to be keeping up with the times and moving our business practices and farming practices forward.  Whether it be new tools to help keep our fields growing stronger, new marketing techniques and ways to reach our customers, or new GPS technology that allows us to do more with less.  Anymore it’s not just about putting a piece of straw in your mouth, throwing on a straw hat and working the back 40.  We put the piece of straw in our mouth, put on our straw hat and use GPS to drive our tractor for us now on the back 40…small but significant difference.  And in all aspects, it’s learning constantly and moving forward with all the changes that will keep us viable and farming many more generations to pass on those strong held family traditions of blood, sweat, tears and dirt.

One Response to “Still Learning…”

  1. Jerry Marguth January 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    You have pretty much nailed it. In the last three decades, there has never been a moment that I have felt that I “knew” enough. As long as I farm I expect to be in serious training. To do anything else will only put me out of business, as I have had to witness a few times in my neighborhood with farmers that were not “adaptive” enough. We never really talk about it, but we are in a highly competitive business, and we have some of the brightest talent anywhere to compete against. Very well said.

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