ReachOut: Our Window

ReachOut: Our Window from United Farmers Cooperative on Vimeo.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

When a door closes, a window opens and the window that our recent storms have opened for us has to do with water.  For the first time in my career at UFC, we aren’t irrigating from behind.  Not only has the rain eased drought in some long-suffering areas, but has also provided some of us with something rare: a cushion.

We’re actually ahead.  Which is crazy and wonderful.

Before I launch into my spiel, let me extend a kudos to you all.  This cushion of extra water we’re currently experiencing is the culmination of everything you’ve done right managing your soils and fields.  We were able to catch and retain a lot of the rain that fell due to your efforts to increase the organic matter in your soil, to properly manage residue, and to till responsibly.  Your stewardship of the land has made it possible for you to benefit from the storms, even in the face of the damage they did.

It’s good and well that we’re ahead—our task and challenge now is to not squander this opportunity.  Your good decision making and management caught the rain.  Your continued good decision making and management will allow you to successfully irrigate from the front.  If we make the right moves, we can benefit from this cushion of extra water not only in the current season, but we can extend the cushion into the future to benefit next year’s crops as well.

When I was in high school, I played cornerback on our football team.    I wasn’t fast though.  In fact, I was even slower than I looked.  So when I was matched against someone faster than me (which was pretty much every guy I was ever matched against), I had to give myself a cushion: a two-step head start.  The thing is that when that cushion began to close—when the dude started to get away—I could just hit him.  We don’t have that luxury here.  We have nothing and no one to hit, so when our cushion begins to close, we just lose it.  So before we even get close to losing it, we need to do what I should have done in high school: take the steps to become quicker, more agile, and more responsive to the situation at hand.

The goal is to save an inch or two and our AquaSpy probes are exactly the tool to help us accomplish this.  For those of us still wary of this technology, this will require a quick rush through the five stages of acceptance so that we can learn to trust them, and fast.  The up-to-the-minute info that they can provide us regarding the status of our soil is invaluable and will allow us exactly the agility that we need.  So we need to use them and use them for every benefit they might confer on us this season.

For those of you with access to the KnowlEDGE 365 tool, you have access to a tutorial on the how and why of setting up a probe and access to weekly updates from yours truly about our water situation according to the probes in our Answer Plots.  Knowing the details of the probe set up will help you understand the info you receive from your probe as well as help you understand why I make some of the recommendations that I’m bound to make over the rest of our season.  The weekly updates on the Answer Plot probe will serve as a guide for you in making your own water management decisions.  For many of you, your probe may look exactly like mine, so the KnowlEDGE 365 tool will provide an easy window into the best practice given the situation.

For those of you whose probes don’t look like ours, who are without the KnowlEDGE 365 tool, and for those of you yet without a probe: call us.  We’re leaving no man (or woman) behind this season.  Your probe looks different?  Let’s talk about what it means.  You don’t have KnowlEDGE 365?  Big deal, let’s talk.  You don’t even have a probe?  We might just be able to get you one yet.Header1

This is ultimately about efficiency and the probes are the best tool for helping us achieve it.  It’s an unfamiliar situation we find ourselves in today, but we certainly have the tools and know how to seize the opportunity it presents.  Your good decisions and management have won you this great boon of additional water.  Let’s not only make the most of it this season, but make the decisions so that we might continue to enjoy it into the future as well.