From the Editor: Innovation is a year-round theme
By Bree Rody
In late November I joined the agriculture team at Annex Business Media. Together with Stefanie Croley and Alex Barnard, I have spent the last several months getting acquainted with the world of manure (as well as agricultural drainage). I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect.
I can safely say I never imagined that the first issue I saw go into production would be on innovation. As a city slicker who spent five years reporting on the advertising and media industry, I’ll admit I had a singular definition of what “innovation” meant. My previous work saw me visiting (or, as of 2020, virtually beaming into) Toronto skyscrapers to discuss programmatic ad delivery and addressable TV with ad agency executives, where the word “innovation” is thrown around to describe virtually anything that was new.
Now, I haven’t just virtually beamed into farm fields; I’ve connected with labs, classrooms and major manufacturing hubs to learn all the ways in which manure management is evolving.
Innovation isn’t just “what’s new” – although there’s plenty of that. Innovation is flexibility. Innovation is creative workarounds. Innovation is using existing tools in new ways to solve pervasive problems. Innovation is looking beyond just your own farm and asking what you can do to better the world around you, to keep a good relationship with your neighbor, to engage with your community.
Whether it’s getting creative to accommodate the economics and logistics of spring application (page 14) or some of the new tech that’s rolled out this season (page 6), the industry has a long history of adaptability – and what is that if not innovation?
Indeed, if the industry weren’t already inherently innovative, it wouldn’t currently be rolling with the punches thrown by COVID-19 (see Mark Halsall’s story on page 8 on how certification bodies have responded to the pandemic). In fact, producers and applicators are not only figuring out how to thrive in these trying times, but also innovating to solve non-COVID-related problems (yes, it’s hard to remember, but those still exist).
On page 18, we look at a new research project in Iowa that explores how manure and other soil amendments affect water quality and soil health, a sign that the industry is always forward-looking and proactive. But of course, you already knew that.
While this might be our annual innovation issue, the content within it should be a sign that manure is innovative year-round. •