So many of us farmers enjoy a good conversation at the local coffee shop. It is our opportunity to connect with our neighbours, and before the days of the internet it was one of our limited ways of finding out what was going on in the world around us. A lot of great things happen at the local coffee shop, but if you listen to the conversations going on you will recognize some common topics. It is so easy to get caught up in the questions that we regularly hear ourselves asking. What is the weather going to do in the coming week? What are the cattle prices doing? How much are we going to get for the wheat that we harvested? Are we going to be able to bale our hay without it being rained on? What is the price of hay? Is that field going to have a chance to dry down before the snow hits? Are we going to be able to swath that canola field before first frost?
There is a common theme among all of these questions and it is not just that the answer to them can have a very significant impact on our farm businesses. The answer to every single one of these questions is outside of the realm of our control. As farmers we spend a good amount of our time worrying about things that we have little to no power to change. Now I am not saying that these questions should not concern us, but what if we were to take half of the time that we spend worrying about the things outside of our control and put that time towards learning something new? With the emergence of the internet we have been given a chance like never before in history. We can now take courses, go back to school, take part in webinars for free, and access an unlimited amount of information from the comfort of our own homes. For that matter there are many seminars and workshops happening in our areas that are generally quite low cost and might give you a chance to get out of the house on a day that the weather keeps you from getting out to the field.
There are many good reasons to further our education as farmers. One of the biggest ones is what it can bring to our farm businesses. With every course, seminar, webinar or workshop that we take we have the opportunity to bring a new idea back to the farm with us. Sometimes that idea comes in the form of something that the instructor said, sometimes it will come in the form of a good old fashioned coffee shop type of conversation with a fellow farmer. Sometimes we will go home to our farm and not even realize that an idea has germinated until months or even years later. We can guarantee though that we will not leave a new learning opportunity without a seed planted.
Another great reason to get out there and further our education, is the chance to network with other farmers that have similar interests to our own. Now, I am not saying that we should neglect our local coffee shop, but just think what the guys at the coffee shop will say when we can come back with “Hey, I heard that Jane from northern Alberta is doing this crazy new thing, what do you think of that?”. Now not only will we have a new seed to bring home, but maybe that seed could eventually pollinate our neighbour’s field too! An extra topic or two for shop talk never hurts either.
A large reason for not furthering our education is the lack of time that the majority of us seem to experience, but if one seed could potentially save us from losing money on our next harvest, or help our pastures resist a drought, if it could save us money on our next fertilizer purchase or give us a way to salvage a crop that we considered a loss, would we not be willing to head over to our local UFA to purchase that seed? Even if it is an hour drive into town and a little inconvenient? I have taken part in educational opportunities where I have brought these exact seeds back to my farm.
The questions about weather, harvest, and markets will always be there. And really what would we have to talk about it if it weren’t for the weather? But let’s delve a little deeper into the agricultural world. Connect with your local applied research association and see what is happening in your area of province. It’s an investment that is sure to turn a profit!
Gateway Research Association