One thing

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I have one specific work goal for this year: To increase Canola Watch subscriptions by 50 per cent.

Canola Watch is an email update to address real issues – insects, diseases and more – found in canola fields across the Prairies. It comes out each week during the growing season, and is geared toward agronomists, retailers, extension staff and farmers, of course. I’m the editor, but content is driven by my colleagues – the Canola Council of Canada agronomy specialists – and from various other extension specialists and scientists who contribute. My CCC agronomy colleagues actually set the specific 50 per cent goal and are helping with the cause.

What one thing would you like to improve in your business in 2018? With dozens of potential improvements swirling around in your head this time of year, whittling that down to one thing per year might help get ‘er done. The one thing can become the focus of your attention during farm show season. You can talk to companies who offer solutions, attend presentations on the topic, seek out other farmers who have tried it.

In this issue, Taryn Dickson shares highlights from a Grain World session on technology. At the session, panelists encouraged farmers to try at least one new thing each year. Ideas Taryn included in the article are to straight combine one quarter section of canola, fly a neighbour’s drone, scout every field every week for at least one year, run a variety trial or buy a drop-pan and check for combine losses.

Maybe your one thing is to stop pouring inputs into field zones that provide limited potential for return on investment, or to improve nitrogen use efficiency. Maybe your one thing is to take better care of your mental health first. You can read about soil variability, nitrogen use efficiency and mental health in this issue.

This editor’s note has me thinking back to a conversation I had with Kevin Folta while on a tour bus in Winnipeg last year. The University of Florida prof is a well-known advocate for biotechnology and he was at a Manitoba Canola Growers event presenting on that topic. I asked about his other work interests and research specialities. A lot of his work is on light – photosynthesis, greenhouses, that kind of thing. But when I asked about research efforts to improve plant photosynthesis, he said that work and all other research to improve productivity would be moot if we could just solve the food waste issue. So much of global farm production is lost in storage or thrown out. Real effort toward this one thing would mean less wasted effort and inputs on the farm and overall better use of resources.

Waste is all around. We pay for TV channels we don’t watch. Cell phone minutes we don’t use. Horsepower we don’t need. Hard-earned money used to pay for excess capacity takes away from savings for retirement, kids’ education and travel. Trimming waste is like giving ourselves a raise. Agriculture productivity is similar. What jobs and inputs can be trimmed without changing the bottom line? Maybe answering that question is the one thing for 2018 that could make a big difference to the business.

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Which brings me back to Canola Watch. As I said at the top, my one thing for 2018 is to get Canola Watch and its scouting information and best management practices into the hands of 50 per cent more farmers, agronomists and retailers. I believe Canola Watch will help farmers make better decisions. Some of those decisions may be to trim an input that isn’t needed. If Canola Watch can help each reader do just one thing better, it can provide a big bump in profitability. Sign up at canolawatch.org.