FROM THE EDITOR: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves
October 7, 2022 by Bree Rody
The first of the leaves outside my office window are developing a reddish tinge to them. Pumpkin decor has landed in stores. I’ve even worn my fall jacket once or twice. While summer seemed far too short, I can take comfort knowing that at least some of that feeling comes from how busy it was. Whereas summer 2021 was spent in my sweltering home office watching virtual events, summer 2022 was spent largely on the road. A field day here, a meet-and-greet there… oh, and a 1,200-attendee Manure Expo.
But it might be a bit pie-in-the-sky of me to romanticize the feeling of a short, quick summer. For crop farmers, this season has contained very tight windows at every step of the way, often due to either too much moisture or not enough. If you’re in the business of spreading, you know that all too well – getting nutrients on the field this summer has been difficult for some, given the very constrained timelines and at-times uncooperative weather.
An historic labor shortage also continues as demand for services continues to surge, resulting in longer hours and tired workers.
In many industries, it’s easy to urge people to take time, slow down and reap the rewards of working smarter, not harder. But when you’re pumping, transporting or spreading manure, it’s difficult to not feel the time crunch. And the further one falls behind on safety, the longer those errors take to address and fix.
Fortunately, there’s one thing that separates safety from things like weather, input costs and broader geopolitical issues: we humans have a lot more control over it. No, not every incident is predictable – auto accidents, for example, require the elements around you and other drivers to behave according to plan. But the outcome can be more predictable with consistent and well-communicated practices. Standard procedures are just that: standards. Improvisation is great for jazz musicians and tap dancers, but not so much for manure haulers.
That’s why it’s important to invest in safety – not only in terms of equipment and personnel, but also in time. Taking the time every term to review standard procedures for key scenarios means you and your staff are more prepared for when things don’t go your way. Refreshers might also be needed more frequently than in the days of old; equipment is changing, and so is the world of farming. Urban expansion, as well as some people’s COVID-driven decisions to move out to more rural areas, means there is now more traffic on country roads.
While manure application and other aspects of agriculture often feel like a race against the clock, and the economic impact of just a few extra hours can seem insurmountable, it is also important to ensure the long-term survival of you, your workers, your animals, people around you and your environment. There is a difference between efficiency and rushing – so don’t let those first few tinges of red on the leaves make you think now is the time to rush. •