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INTRODUCTION: April beckons with open fields, open minds

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


May 1, 2009
By Ralph Pearce

With winter now a fading memory, the month of April brings a sense of urgency and expectation; the time has come for preparations in advance of that long-awaited “seeding 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 In 2009, that all has been replaced by the pessimistic and continuous coverage of the global economic crisis.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 as I read through the stories from Western Canada, 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 to extract new components out of old byproducts, like triticale straw. 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.

The stories in this issue 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 be willing to see it through to its productive end, be it in the field, at a processor or in a new product.

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Emerging technologies are allowing corn to adapt to western Canadian conditions or delve into the performance of fungicides in the battle against fusarium. We also have another in our series of Machinery Managers, featuring specifications on a wide variety of high clearance sprayers.

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. One that is accepting of new ideas, challenged conventions, and the drive to improve their bottom line.

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


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