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Choice and accountability

FG Editor Lynn Olsen Published on 28 February 2011

If you are a parent, I think you’ll agree with me that one of the hardest life lessons to teach (or to learn, for that matter) is choice and accountability.

Children start out in life depending on their parents to provide everything for them, but as they grow and mature, they generally receive more freedom to make their own decisions, maybe starting with something as simple as what clothes to wear or what to have for lunch. 

As time goes by, they are faced with decisions that may have a longer- lasting impact on their lives, such as what college to attend or finding someone to marry.

With every decision comes a consequence. If a child chooses to wear shorts and flip-flops outside in January in North Dakota, they might be a little cold. If they choose to skip lunch so they can keep playing, they might end up pretty hungry. 

If a teenager decides to apply themselves and get good grades, they will most likely be accepted into a good college. If a young adult chooses the right person to marry, they will find themselves in a happy and lasting relationship.

Similar events occur in business. If an employee chooses to come late to work every day or be less than productive during their work hours, they might find themselves without a job. 

But if they work hard and show their employer they are interested in more than a paycheck, they might be the recipient of a raise or a promotion.

In all of these situations, the difficult part of the lesson comes in the accountability for the decisions made. As a parent or as an employer, we shouldn’t try to manipulate the consequence of the choices our children or employees make. Instead, we need to teach them the possible outcomes for decisions they might make and then let them be accountable for the end results.

I think this topic is one of those topics that can be applied to almost anything in life. But you might be asking yourself, how does it relate to forage production? Let’s look at just a few examples.

This issue is full of articles dealing with irrigation and nutrient management. While I realize that not all of our readers have the option of providing additional water to their crops through irrigation, those that do can greatly influence the quality and quantity of their end product. 

Decisions about type of seed to plant in a particular location or what fertilizer to add to a field are universal. And those choices can have a huge impact on the amount of forage you have to harvest and feed or sell.

How do you decide what to do, in life or in your field? You learn all you can through available resources and then make decisions to give you the end result you are looking for. And you have to be willing to live with the consequences of whatever choice you make.

Thankfully, most of the time we can make adjustments along the way to correct decisions leading us somewhere we might not want to go. And we have the opportunity to make new decisions when faced by challenges influenced by outside sources (such as weather or market conditions) that we don’t have much control over.

As I have been following the debate about Roundup Ready alfalfa (and other genetically modified crops), this issue of choice and accountability has been on my mind.

Whether you agree with the recent ruling to deregulate without restrictions or not, I propose that growers now have some important decisions to make.

If you make the choice to plant herbicide-resistant crops, how will that affect your operation? Will it improve or limit your marketability? Are you willing to accept the fact that your production practices will have to be adjusted with this new crop? 

If you choose not to implement this new technology in your crop rotation, what changes will you need to make in your management strategies? How will it influence your end product or potential buyers?

I would encourage everyone to find out all you can about this and other topics that may influence you. Use reliable and trustworthy sources, not hearsay or rumor.

Educate yourself to make the best decision you can for your particular situation, and then be willing to live with the consequences of those choices. And, yes... you might have to make a few adjustments along the way to find success. But that is one of life’s lessons, after all.  FG

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