I’ve been looking into 2016.
Not like in a crystal ball, but rather in records and charts. I’m not into fortune telling. I’m into preparation.
And this is my game plan: patience.
Two things are already readily apparent about 2016: given the tight farm economy, our margin for error will be ever tighter, and the moisture we’ve received lately will give us a lot of opportunities to make a lot of errors.
Thus, friends, patience.
Here’s the deal: when the frost comes out of the ground this spring, your fields will be at capacity. And you’ll really want to get going, because there’s tons to do before the growing season starts, right? But don’t. The risk for compaction going into this spring is the highest I have ever seen, so be patient.
And then be patient some more, because every little rain we have will bring your field back to capacity and that risk for compaction will shoot through the roof once again.
As you probably already know—though this is always worth a reminder—any compaction you cause from your well-intentioned overzealousness will directly impact your yield in 2016 and into the future also. Compaction is a nagging, long-term issue that hangs around like a hamstring pull: you think you’re over it until you try it out, only to discover that it’s still there. In other words, any mistakes this spring will haunt you for the lifespan of a gerbil.
So, be patient. If your field is too wet for you to go into it, don’t. Be smart about your preparations for the growing season—take your cues from the soil instead of the calendar or your neighbor’s progress in his fields.
My focus in 2016 is going to be on nitrogen and water and creating efficiencies by making the right choices from beginning to end. More than ever this coming season, patience will be the key to making the choices that create the efficiencies that will sustain our operations through the 21st century and beyond.
Anyone who knows me knows that impatience is one of my defining characteristics. Which is to say that this year will be an exercise in self-control and a learning opportunity for sure. If you’re in the same boat, I hope you’ll join me. We don’t need to become monks or saints, but even some small gains in our ability to wait to take the action at the right time will mean big gains for our operations this year and next and next and next…