Press-Republican

Columns

January 19, 2014

A season for learning

As I write this article, there are 62 days until spring 2014. Almost two months of waiting, planning, wishing and hoping.

I realize that on March 20 the weather will not suddenly turn mild nor thaw the ground, but as we start to see colder weather return this week, I hope the end of winter comes sooner rather than later. Winter is a time of dormancy for the plants we grow, but dairy farmers still have to milk their cows, livestock growers still have to feed and water their stock, apple growers have to prune their trees and all farmers have to plan for next year. 

Because our growing season is so short, farmers need to plan well ahead to ensure timely planting and harvest of next year’s crops. Even while closing the books on 2013, many farmers have already been calculating their future needs, ordering seed and fertilizer and, as always, trying to keep an optimistic view of the future. 

Farmers are, by nature, forward looking. While last year had it’s problems, next year could be even better ... or worse. While you can’t bank on success, you can start planning for it now.

One of the reasons that farmers keep an upbeat outlook is farming is a long-term endeavor. Farmers have a lot of history to look back on for encouragement. Since humans first started cultivating crops and domesticating livestock thousands of years ago, farming methods have continued to improve and production has increased year after year.

In the last 100 years, agricultural production has increased at an unprecedented rate. Farmers are also under ever-increasing pressure to produce more and more food for our growing populations. These recent increases can be attributed in large part to advances in farming methods, machinery and modern technology.

The long winter months are an ideal time for farmers to explore new ideas and learn about new techniques and methods of production. During summer, it is almost impossible to get away from the farm with a steady workload of planting, mowing, harvesting and routine chores filling up almost every hour of the day. Winter offers a chance to get away from the farm for learning opportunities, meetings and workshops.

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