Communication = Success on your Farm

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

Success is all about communication. The FSA’s and I were talking just the other day about how we can improve our communication and team working skills.  So maybe success is about communication and teamwork.  I don’t mean talking about our feelings or what we think the meaning of life is. I mean always communicating with each other about pressing issues in your operations.  Maybe it is the fact that the West 80 has Sudden Death Syndrome, and the yields were down there this year.  Someone needs to remember that the next time we rotate back to beans and remind you what the plan is to mitigate that risk.

I know we are wrapping up harvest and fertilizer season is just around the bend. That means we have been out sampling your fields and the FSA team will be coming back to you with recommendations.  This is a great time to start improving our communication skills.  We want to know what worked for you; we also want to know what didn’t.  We want to understand how we can better serve you and your operation in the future.  Maybe it is that you had some root lodging possibly caused by rootworm, or it’s that SDS spot in your soybeans.  It also could be you are thinking about changing tillage systems, adding drip irrigation, switching some rotational acres, wanting to manage water better, increase fertility efficiency, or have a particularly tough weed population that we need to eliminate.  All these changes get easier with communication.

All this teambuilding work starts with us, asking questions that lead to discovery and discovery that leads to solutions.  Our goal is to improve on being trusted advisors and solution providers instead of order takers.  The foundation of this change starts with the free flow of information both ways.  I want to give you and your FSA’s something to talk about, just in case you find yourselves kicking rocks on the shop floor.


So in the past year, we have revamped our process for nutrient recommendations. This change came to standardize the recommendations across the territory to more quickly get them out to you.  Your FSA will be able to go into further detail on what the differences are, but I will paint with a pretty broad brush for the sake of space.  All recommendations will be based on a combination of what your soil test levels are and crop removal based on yield goals.  As our yields have increased over the last few years, we need to be sure that we are keeping up with our fertility so we don’t find ourselves playing catch up in the future.  That, and the move back to a partnership with Servi-Tech labs in Hastings, will help us more quickly respond to questions in the future.  Solum was a great lab with lots of promise of technology and science, but there is a lot to be said for a Nebraska Lab that understands Nebraska soils.  The changes made to the recommendations are not going to blow the bank, they are just easier to use and will help us get things done faster.  Remember they are only recommendations; you and your FSA can tweak them to fit your needs.

Next month I will put out the first annual year end review with brief discussions of what did or did not work and why or why not things happened.  I will also lay out some ideas for the future and what we can do to continue on this journey.  Most of all, I will be finding better ways to communicate with you our valued producer/owners.  Focusing on progress in the  future, and learning from what is in our past, is the place where communication can begin leading to profitable solutions.