Crouch: Science Doesn’t Beat Experience

The apps are coming.
We have heard news of new smart phone apps that let you check the prices farmers are being quoted at elevators and other buyers of commodities. Handy when marketing a crop, and certainly good for a lot of chat in the coffee shops.

Listen here:

Then there are new software devices that apparently integrate data collected by machinery for a seamless increase in productivity. Don’t ask me how it works, but I’m sure it does.
These are just the latest two that we have word of, there are likely others, you can compile your own list.
In theory you can monitor your soil moisture and temperature conditions from a beach on the other side of the world, and I would guess adjust your hogs rations to boost their nutrition from the same place, all the while viewing closed circuit images of your cows to ensure they are happy.
And it has been mentioned, by me and others that it may be fine for you to hire an agricultural supply and service company to fly a robotic aircraft over your fields to get a sense of where the weeds are winning, but you’d better hope that someone with a less benign intention doesn’t do the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for technology. I’m a big fan to letting the machines do the work and a lot of the gear I’ve just been talking about will help improve productivity on many farms.
Let’s hope they are also able to improve profitability.
But as farmers become more an more savvy about the new types of equipment, and they are becoming savvy about it, let’s hope there is no fear that they will become less reliant on that old technology call common sense and experience.
Case in point. Agronomist Morris Sagriff told me early this year that planting would be late. He told me this in January, and he told me again early last month. Even Morris likely didn’t expect it to be this late, but you may remember the story. Last year pounding rain flattened and compressed the soil, pushed out a lot of air space and, it’s the air spaces that help the soil warm up and dry out.
Sagriff figured even when warm weather arrived there would be some lingering effects, and we are getting reports that he was absolutely right.
You can’t tell by looking at, he told us. You can’t tell by checking the surface temperature. Dig down four to six inches to get a real sense of what’s happening.
Now most farmers know there is no substitute to getting out in the field and getting your hands in the dirt.
Common sense and experience. All the data in the world is a big help, but it doesn’t replace common sense and experience.