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So God made a farmer

On the eighth day, God made a farmer, not only to feed the world, but to be willing to devote time to people and organizations who make up the culture of rural America.

Farming today is much different than in previous generations. It seems unnatural to be using a small tractor built in 1954 to do farm chores while reading a Tweet that’s not even two hours old.

Remember the Paul Harvey narrated commercial that Dodge trucks sponsored for the Super Bowl? While Harvey had a great message, he neglected to point out the financial demands on today’s farmer. Agriculture today is big money business! If you don’t believe me just try getting started in it. A roommate in college put it this way: “I have a choice; buy a new truck or two acres of farm ground.”

Just the other night IPTV had a repeat of the documentary about the farming crisis of the 1980s. It’s hard to imagine losing your farm to circumstance, especially one that has been in the family for generations. I respect all who use very conservative strategies in this risky and cyclical business called agriculture. No other occupation encompasses the devotion and passion that agriculture does. It is sometimes jokingly referred to as an incurable disease. I would agree. Once someone has had an agricultural influence, through a mentor or hands-on experience, they take a liking to the culture and responsibility that follows.

Remember the movie “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt as a GM of a professional baseball team?Baseball has nothing to do with agriculture, but this movie was one of the best metaphors to agriculture as any I have seen. Among the many things that make baseball special are circumstance, luck and of course, statistics. Those of you who saw the movie know that no matter how much data and probability are utilized in the game, relying on it doesn’t always win the last game of the season.

It’s similar in agriculture. For example, look at the technology and data used on our farm. The seed corn possesses eight inserted genetic genes called stacked traits, planted with the most advance equipment; such that it’s operated and run with an Ipad with real time cloud streaming accuracy maps, detailing every skip or double, ride and spacing error. This corn is grown on the most productive soils in the country with soil tests of 4-5 percent organic matter and Cation Exchange Capacity values well over 30. The corn is variable rate fertilized for exactly what the crop will consume, using liquid, dry and organic forms. Yet, just like in baseball, this corn may not “win.” It may not be the highest yielding when up against our Illinois neighbors. Weather makes much of our technology unrealized.

Crop year 2013 may go down as the year with the most unusual weather seen by farmers. The year exhibited extremes in precipitation and temperature on both low and high values. Central Iowa farmers faced one of the worst planting seasons and now one of the worst grain fill periods. We are now back into severe drought conditions. This year our land will grow below average crops even though we used the best agronomic technology.

At the end of the movie “Moneyball” there is a catchy scene describing Brad Pitt’s season ending loss as one of the biggest accomplishments yet to happen in baseball. The team stat keeper finds a clever way of showing the team’s success, hitting a home run without knowing it. “It’s a metaphor.” In agriculture, the 2013 season will be the end of the season game loss. Yet agriculture has hit the biggest home run, and we don’t even know it.

Please thank a farmer, for on the 8th day, God made a farmer.

(Tim Couser is an Iowa Soybean Association farm and food ambassador, and is a young farmer from Nevada.)

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