In looking back, we realize that the past isn’t perfect, but often it’s a starting point – full of passion and enthusiasm – on which we build in the present and envision to improve in the future. This philosophy also applies to farming.
A good example is a short squib reported in www.Anecdotage.com: “Cyrus McCormick went bankrupt after the panic of 1837. He lost his farm and everything he owned was put up for sale – with the exception of one item, which was deemed to be worthless by his creditors: his recently invented mechanical harvester.”
We all know “the rest of the story.” McCormick’s mechanical harvester was the seed that grew into the combines that we use today to harvest grain. And the equipment companies continue to improve and fine-tune these machines to make them even better in the future.
In this month’s issue of Rice Farming, several of the articles and columns also reflect this philosophy.
Tom Butler, a fourth generation California farmer, who, along with third-generation rice farmer, Nicole Van Vleck, from the same state, are now contributors to the California Rice Commission’s blog. (See pages 8, 10). In a recent interview with Rice Farming, Butler notes, “Although we can’t grow rice the way we did years ago, we will continue the legacy of being proactive and innovative to improve our operation. For example, burning fields was practiced 15 to 20 years ago. Today, by flooding fields and carrying out decomposition work, we’ve created an invaluable habitat in the region for waterfowl and other shore birds that wasn’t there before.”
Also, Arkansas farmer Joe Mencer is spearheading an effort to improve crop insurance for rice farmers, which, in the past, has not worked out that well for them. (See page 6). Today, a special task force is working with crop insurance companies on developing new crop insurance products for rice growers, one of which may be available in the near future.
And, finally, one of the hottest production topics – weed resistance management – is addressed on page 16. Arkansans Ronnie Helms and Marc Cummings share their successful experiences using multiple modes of action in their herbicide programs, which is a good way to help curb and/or avoid resistance. One rice herbicide company is mixing some of the efficacious different MOA chemistries from the past and offering products which, Helms says, “is creating more viable herbicides given today’s resistance management awareness.”
No, the past is not perfect, but we can bring forward the best it has to offer to the present and, ultimately, strive for even more improvements to secure the future viability of our industry.