I’ve had several conversations with colleagues and through interviews with other people working in agriculture lately, during which some hot topics have come up. You know the ones I mean: those key words – sustainability, technology, and carbon, to name just a few – that might make farmers and ag industry folks squirm a little in their seats, for myriad reasons. Work-related or not, there have always been subjects that make you feel a bit heated, or even uncomfortable to talk about – and there always will be. But avoiding the subject doesn’t make it disappear; nor does it make it any less important to talk about.
The sustainability discussion is not new, or short – I could write pages about it (lucky for you, this column’s word count is limited). The frequency of the word seems to have increased tenfold in recent months, but the conversation has evolved. Farmers have always been stewards of the earth, and have long adapted practices and explore ways to improve their operations in order to keep their fields profitable and healthy. But with growing weed and disease pressure and rising input and fertilizer prices, there’s a greater-than-ever push to make sustainable agronomic decisions. The word has always been used in an environmental context, but it means so much more now than reducing tillage and rotating crops. Issues like herbicide and fungicide resistance are coming to the forefront, and with a natural desire to push yields and profits, it’s not as simple as adding more inputs and ignoring best practices.
At Top Crop Manager our goal is to provide you with information to make better, more progressive choices. This issue highlights winter cereals, with our cover story on page 16 specifically looking at how to break through the stagnant winter wheat yields that have been experienced on the Prairies over the past decade. Throughout the magazine, you’ll see exciting research about nitrogen-use efficiency trials, improving crop productivity using fungi and identifying heat-tolerant traits for spring wheat. As you’ll read in the articles, sustainability is a goal for the research community too.
It’s encouraging to see the need for sustainability is recognized across the sector. Every member of the ag industry plays an important role in global food production. Some are larger roles than other, of course – folks in ag media, like me, are part of the background ensemble. As a producer, you’re a leading cast member, because the decisions you make in your cropping season have a direct impact on the global food chain. There’s an innate responsibility that comes with that: each decision you make has long-term and short-term impacts on food production, the environment, and your bottom line. We wish you the confidence and support needed as you work through your season.