Source: Central Valley Ag

You have a lot of external things vying for your time. Family, civic duties, and many other things ask for a piece of you each and every day. Balancing those with your farm operation is always a juggling act, and there is no easy time of year. But this time of year can be especially challenging with county fairs, sports, irrigation, and more. Then your email and mailbox start filling up with plot invitations, and it can begin to be stifling. How do we prioritize these events, and categorize them, so we get the most out of them? Without giving up too much on the home front.

I believe the key to plots is to have limits. Set those limits and stick to them. For instance, I think that a four plot rule is a good rule. My four plot rule says that I get to go to two plots that are for local hybrid information, one that is educational, and one that is product focused. So you may be saying to yourself, that is easy to say, but I have six neighbors who all invite me to their plots. So let’s break it down a bit further.

Most of us do not choose our hybrids based on what we see when we go to a local plot tour, we choose our hybrids because they were recommended by someone we trust. That local advisor spends time looking at those hybrids from the time they come out of the ground until they go in the truck leaving the field. Sure, we can count rows and kernels at a plot, we can discuss emergence and genetic traits, but the truth of the matter is there is still a lot of story left to write. So if we are honest, we are really at these events to socialize just as much as we are there to learn. There is nothing wrong with that either. It is an important part of the real world social network we still need to be involved in.

Then we have the product focused one. This is a field event that is around a product or a group of products, for instance, the Precision Planting PTI Farm in Illinois in August. These events might require some driving, but they also “scratch an itch.” There are focused on something you think is cool, is new, or could impact your farm. But you often skip these because they might require several hours of driving and a hotel room. I am going to encourage you to go and invite a few neighbors or friends from Facebook or Twitter to go with you or meet you there. These events are fun, and they open your eyes not just too new products, but also new farming practices and you get to see the crops in the field from here to there.

And then in the spirit of saving the best for last, we have the educational events like the ACS Innovation Series. These are local events that are less than a couple of hours away that focus on not the “What,” but instead the “Why,” and the “How.” This sort of event doesn’t focus on what we planted, what we treated with, and so on. Instead, it focuses on why we decided to strip-till different mixes of fertility products, and the effect that it has had on our crops to date vs. untreated checks and top-dress applications. It focuses on why biological additives and soil enhancements could have positive impacts on our soils in this area. We discuss how Nitrogen modeling can help us go from the preseason plan we had, and adapt to the weather we get. It focuses on how technology can go from a cost to an input that drives profit, not just in some of the things that we traditionally focus on with emergence and downforce control, but how multi-hybrid corn and multi-variety soybean prescriptions can drive yield and how drones can be more of a tool than a toy.

And for all of those reasons and more, I want you to make it a priority to get yourself and your neighbor the one of the ACS Innovation Series Events, either July 31st in Cuba KS, August 7th West of Bellwood, NE on Hwy 64, or August 9th North of Norfolk 1 mile on Hwy 81. These events start with Registration at 9:30 AM, and end with a Grain Update during lunch, so you are on the road by 1 PM. This is an opportunity for us to not only focus on the planning aspect but also on the adapting to the challenges that we are dealt during the year. After last year, I can assure you that these events are unique for our area and that growers like you said that they were interesting and thought-provoking. I hope you make time to attend one of the events this year and see how valuable that field events like this still are in this day and age.