Thursday, January 31, 2013

There Is No Such Thing As A Vegan

Something came across my Twitter account earlier this week.  Since many of you are not on Twitter, I thought I would pass it on.

If you ever have met a totally committed "vegan" you might be left wondering what planet they live on.  Our daughters Terrilyn and Melissa have had many interactions with vegans while attending university.  It tends to be popular with the urban female crowd.  Vegan diets have value as long as they are balanced with sound nutritional knowledge and a little common sense.  
But the real fanatics among the vegan crowd have a very strict interpretation of what it takes to be a true believer and it extends far beyond food.  They have zero tolerance for the use of any product that may have been produced from an animal.  There is not much point in debating with them either because you will never win an argument against a closed mind.  It is very ironic that highly educated individuals can be so closed minded.  Education is meant to open the mind, not close it.   

Regardless, the following graphic was "tweeted" to me and I think it is great.  If you can't make out the graphic I have also posted the link.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winged Effect

Pioneer's 2013 Agronomy Sciences Research Summary is out.  It is a great publication that addresses some pertinent agronomy issues.  Because real winter is here it is a good time to stay inside and review some of the articles.

One study that caught my eye was the reported variability in yield across the width of very large planters.  This study was done on farms in Minnesota using three planter configurations.

  • 36 rows, 22 inch spacing, centre fill
  • 36 rows, 20 inch spacing, centre fill
  • 48 rows, 20 inch spacing, row unit boxes
Corn yield from the outside one-third of the planter was compared against the middle one-third.  It has been well documented that compaction from wheel traffic beside the row has a negative effect on yield.  Heavier planters and the corresponding tractor necessary to pull the planter increases the potential compaction effect, especially if the soils are damp. 

Twelve locations were harvested and the average yield on the outside third of the planter was 11 bu/acre higher than the inside third.  There was significant difference between the outside third and the middle third in 9 out of the 12 locations.

While there is not much a grower can do to change his planter configuration being aware of the compacting effect is useful knowledge.  Keep in mind there is sometimes a trade off between timely planting and less than perfect soil conditions. 
One last consideration is the row effect on hybrid evaluation.  This is something I have been guilty of doing.  As an example, I have taken a 12 row planter and split it into three 4 row plots.  Splitting a planter into more than two equal halves could unfairly bias hybrid performance.  The outside rows would have an automatic advantage. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


At the CCA Annual Conference last week I heard a presentation by Jim Harris, motivational speaker and author of a book entitled The Learning Paradox. What is the learning paradox?  In a nutshell, effective learning comes from failure, failure makes us uncomfortable, the more uncomfortable you feel, the greater potential there is to learn.  The trick is learning to ignore the uncomfortable feeling. No one enjoys feeling uncomfortable.  But we all need to learn.  We can only do that by embracing the learning process.  It takes focus and motivation, but it is possible to enjoy the uncomfortable feeling that comes from finding out what you don't know, especially true when you were convinced you did know it.
Jim's premise is the world is changing from a knowledge based economy to a learning based economy.

For example, the technology we will use 10 years from now has not been invented yet.  How will businesses and customers react?  Who will prosper and survive in this environment?
The original inventor of digital photography was an engineer working for Kodak back in 1975.  At the time Kodak commanded 90% of the camera film and 85% of the camera sales in the US.  Management was reluctant to embrace the new technology.  Kodak was good at what they did and felt comfortable doing it.  Competitors jumped into the digital camera market.  Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012.  They no longer make cameras or camera film.

Agriculture has always been quick to adopt new technology, a well documented paradox of its own. Technology replaces people.  It takes fewer people to produce food.  Some people will stay awake at night worrying about this fact.   Who is going to prosper and survive in this environment?  It will be the quick learners, especially the young quick learners.  I think the future is bright for the young and nimble minded.  They will keep agriculture strong.  As long as the old, slow minded get out of the way.  What about the old and nimble minded?  Maybe a few of us still have a chance.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Morris, You Earned It

This past Wednesday night my good friend Morris Sagriff was presented with the 2012 Certified Crop Advisor Award of Excellence.  There is not a more deserving recipient of this award than Mo.  Everyone in the industry knows Morris.  I am sure everyone would agree if only one word could be used to describe Morris the word would be passionate.  His passion and commitment to agriculture is legendary.  Sometimes his passion will rub people the wrong way, but there is no doubt Morris was only trying to do what he thought was right.  He is a person of integrity and strong faith.  His advice is always based on the best information available and he will dig deeper than most to uncover every possible detail.  He would never pass on false information to gain an advantage or to cause pain. 
He is committed to Pioneer, but he is quick to give competitive products credit when credit is due.

His presentation style to famers is unique to say the least.  One presentation I saw him make in Waterford many years ago sticks.  He was speaking about the effects of tillage.  He literally became a molboard plow and the audience became the soil.  He had customers ducking and diving out of their chairs to avoid being hit by the plow.  He has an amazing ability to paint a picture using words and you can clearly see every detail of the picture when he is finished.  He spoke at a customer meeting in our warehouse a few years ago.  Very few of our customers had ever met Morris and one older customer had this to say after hearing his presentation.  "Well that boy sure does like to talk, but I do believe he knows what he is talking about." 

In one sense this is the second time Morris has won this award because I would not have won this same award two years ago if it were not for his mentorship as an agronomist and a personal friend. 

Well done Morris.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What's New?

It is January 2013 and the calendar cycle starts again.  It is expected that we have something new to work on.  For one thing you will notice a new background to the blog.  I could say it was time for a change which is partially true, but the real reason for the change is explained at the end of this short post.

I am often asked what do I do in January.  The assumption by those asking I think, is that I go into hibernation.  After participating in the great fall migration of seed dealers what possibly could keep me busy in January?
The reality is I strap on my nutrient management hat because spring comes quickly and clients want to be ready to build the project of their choice.  My current list includes a liquid manure tank for a mink ranch, three new dairy barns, two poultry barns and three new swine barn projects.  Yes, swine barns.  Then there is the constant parade of renewals which must be done every 5 years.  The paper pile on my desk never goes away.  From a cash flow point of view this is a good thing.  The added challenge this year is a new software package provided by OMAFRA for submitting projects to the approvals branch of OMAFRA.  The new software is great and it has lots of improved features, but the learning curve is steep and takes time.

And speaking of a steep learning curve, I also changed cell phones for the new year.  I went from a 6 year old Samsung to an iPhone.  It is like comparing a bi-plane to the space shuttle.  Great phone, except figuring out what it can do takes up more time.  A lot more time.  Why iPhone?  The talk and text is the big reason.  I don't have to type as much on the little keypad.  Which brings me full circle to the blog.  While playing with the mobile settings in the blog, so the blog can be read clearly from a mobile phone, I accidentally changed the background settings.  I obviously still have a lot to learn.  The only good news is I love to learn.