Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grandpa's Way

Surfing though my twitter feed today, I came upon a great quote from a friend of mine regarding how people who aren't involved in farming or ag today seem to think we should do things the way their grandfather did, on his farm. While my grandfather certainly did teach me a lot of things about farming, there are more than a few things that were common in his day that we've moved beyond. So, before we head down memory lane, let's look at a few common practices in "his day" versus what we're doing now.

Things like...
Used oil. Grandpa used to dump it in the driveway "to keep the dust down". Today, we recycle it, along with batteries, chemical jugs, and trash. Grandpa's solution was "the dump".

Spray programs. Grandpa used to spray atrazine on corn by the gallon, and used chemicals in the orchard that killed every bug in the township. Today, we are using lower pesticide rates than ever before, and integrated pest management has changed how we manage orchards.

Conservation. Grandpa would plow, disk, and drag the soil into a powder, then plant the corn. We've been using no-till farming since the early 1990's, and have installed filter strips and wildlife habitat area around the farms. Stewardship is a major concern.

So, as you can see, sometimes the "good ol' days" aren't so great. Farming has changed dramatically, but not always for the worse. So, before you criticize what we do, try to learn why we are doing it first.

Jeff VanderWerff is a 4th generation farmer from Sparta, Michigan. Learn more about his family farm at www.youtube.com/agsalesman