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With winter now a fading memory, April brings a sense of urgency and expectation; the time has come for preparations in advance of that long-awaited “planting window”. 


April 3, 2009
By Ralph Pearce

With winter now a fading memory, April brings a sense of urgency and expectation; the time has come for preparations in advance of that long-awaited “planting window”.  

This “new year” comes with several significant changes from a year ago. For one, there is little sign of the food versus fuel debate that was a singular focus of the media for many weeks at the start of 2008. Unfortunately, that soured what had been a previously unseen optimism entering that year. In 2009, that all has been replaced by the continuous coverage of the global economic crisis. Odd that economists are now insisting that agriculture is one of the few sectors in the national economy that is relatively recession-proof. Just as surprising is that the media are falling in line to report these statements loud and proud to readers, listeners and viewers.

In spite of all of these factors, what I find most striking in 2009 is the constant swirl of new thoughts and ideas being offered by growers, and for growers. “Farming is as old as the hills,” is a saying that is almost as old. Yet reading through material for this magazine, the willingness of growers to re-examine current practices or to challenge the conventional never ceases to amaze me. It is not always a case of merely trying to shave a few cents off the price of an acre of inputs or save on fuel. Often times, it is a case of tweaking an existing principle or examining the issue from a different perspective. There is a type of fearlessness in many growers that is encouraging, especially in exploring emerging technologies and new market ideas. It may take a visionary engineer to develop the process and then create the technology. But it is an open mind on the part of the grower that accepts new ideas as a glimpse of the possibilities, seeing opportunity where others see only complications. And the agri-food sector across the country is seeing this trend with greater frequency, and hopefully with fewer barriers.

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The stories in this inaugural April edition of Top Crop Manager mirror that same inquisitive characteristic. It is more than a matter of asking “Why not?” instead of “Why?” It is also a case of asking “How”, and being willing and committed enough to see it through to its productive end, whether that end is an improved yield, a new contract with a buyer or a place in the value chain of a new product.

Emerging trends indicate growers have more opportunity, be it in the control of diseases like anthracnose or pests like aphids, increased contracts for food grade soybeans or participation in alternative land-use programs. These and other story topics show that these are indeed, exciting times for agriculture, and that the future beckons here in the present.

So begins what many consider to be the “new year” for growers, not with a fond look back necessarily, but out across the open fields, with an open mind. It is often an open mind that is accepting of new ideas, challenged conventions, and the drive to improve the bottom line.

Know that Top Crop Manager is with you all the way.


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