Diversify your farm……. now you might be thinking that this is another blog post talking about raising alternative crops, which is a great idea. If you are interested in that Dr. Curt Livesay is a great resource for that kind of info ( www.dynamiteag.com or on Twitter @dynamiteag ). But! I’m talking about diversifying your farm with professionals and your network. Not too long ago the main source of information came from the retailer and land grant extension agent. Thanks to Justin Smith Morrill for getting the land-grant bill passed. This was a huge improvement to ag and was instrumental to get information and solutions out to farmers to help them. This was a great system and pretty much a one-stop shop for farmers. But farming has increased in complexity, margins are super tight, a lot of money is on the line and the access to the information highway (internet) has greatly changed communication.
It’s time to diversify your farm. The operation that I work for we seek out different professionals for seed, chem, fertilizer, biologicals, marketing, consulting and etc. I would much rather talk to 6 or 8 different people than just 1 or 2 for the information that affects how the farm is managed. One or two salesmen or consultants don’t have the time required to focus enough attention on one farm and be able to successfully service a farm’s needs and situations. They have 20, 30 or more clients and there simply isn’t enough time and I am speaking from experience because I use to work for a retailer myself. It’s not their fault by any means, it just takes a lot of time to fully service a farm’s needs in any given area. One example is for soil testing, we use Encirca and our CSA gives probably 4x the amount of time on fertility than any other retailer has. It’s because she doesn’t have to worry about chemicals or how to market your grain or where the spread trucks are, they just have to worry about doing the very best job possible with soil testing and fertility recs.
There is another great reason to have multiple professionals on your farm and that is for the network. It’s your network that is so incredibly valuable for your self and your farm. There is a reason why the phrase “it’s not what you know but who you know” exists, not just for farming but almost everything in your life. You can’t be an expert in everything and one way to mitigate that is to surround yourself with the best people possible. Doing that will make your self and your farm the best as it possibly can. There are many ways to increase your network and I’ll share a few ways that I do so. One way that I increase my network is to attend conferences. Now, learning from speakers at a conference, of course, is always great but being able to interact and meet new folks is just as valuable as paying for the conference its self. Another valuable resource for networking is Twitter, yes that social media thing, where one can learn and reach out to anyone. As @TheChadColby calls it Twitter is the new “coffee shop for farmers”. So get out to conferences and start interacting on Twitter and you will be amazed on how you can build your network.
It’s time to diversify your farm with experts if you’re not already doing so. This can be of great benefit so welcome new folks to the farm, get out to conferences, join a peer group and get active on Twitter.