Truly successful farming operations are always the result of good planning, preparation, and execution of a logical progression of practices that bring about positive changes that produce profitability and long-term sustainability. I have used the word “always” which should at most be inserted very sparingly if ever. I feel it is appropriate here since long-term success or sustainability is linked to a high degree of dedication, the use of proven methods, and hard work both physical and mental.
I have seen several examples of this during my career in which farmers start with land that is considered by most of the neighbors as poor, only to bring that land into full productivity rivaling any in the region. And occasionally we see the reverse of this in which land that may be considered some of the best is relegated to the undesirable category by years of neglect and poor management. It works both ways.
This kind of story may relate to almost any activity, whether in education, art, the sciences, literature, or whatever category you can think of. It may pertain to entire civilizations, nations, scientific fields of study, or in our case agriculture, even though it has actually become one of the sciences itself, bringing together many other basic sciences to produce the agriculture of this new age.
We have arrived at an era in which the “science of agriculture” has overtaken much of the “art” of agriculture in which methods of farming were passed down from father to son and neighbor to neighbor through the decades and centuries. This natural transfer of information and ideas will of course continue, but it is now forced steadily forward by the body of new knowledge.
The reason for this background is to serve as a foundation for the premise that we must embrace new ideas if we are to accomplish the task of feeding the ever-expanding population of our planet. We have already seen the benefits of technology in agriculture.
The yields of most crops have increased to levels we could not have imagined a half century ago. Some of the (per acre) yields being achieved here in the U.S. and in other countries are 200-bushel wheat, 400-bushel corn, 160-bushel soybeans, 6-bale cotton, and 400-bushel rice. These still seem extreme and are well above the norm for most farms, but the fact that these levels have been achieved shows that the yields we usually see are only scratching the surface of the potentials.
Some of the technology that has been released in recent years is objectionable to some people. The inherent fear of new ideas is partly at fault for some of this mistrust, while some of it does have aspects about which we are unsure. While we have a right to question we should also have open minds that accept new innovations. The trick is in the discernment between good and bad which is extremely complex.
We must be allowed to make these evaluations in order to be sure that crops provide the nutrition we need for survival and good health. The idea that we must accept them blindly is not realistic.
On the other hand, those who object blindly are risking the delay of progress resulting in shortages of food and fiber in the future as global population approaches the 11 billion mark that is expected by the middle of this century. This is almost a double our present population. It’s beginning to look like we need to find another planet, or at least a bigger one. I understand there are some possibilities, but getting there may be an issue.
I tend to believe that all these things are possible if we follow the right path, but then I’m just one old country boy.