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It’s all about the details

FG Editor Lynn Olsen Published on 01 August 2011
Tractor artwork

It’s always fun to pick out the photos or artwork that will appear on the cover of Progressive Forage Grower.

It needs to be eye-appealing and represent something to do with forage, but I also like to tell some kind of story.

It might relate to one of the articles in the issue or maybe something happening in the industry.

I have been holding the artwork used on the cover of this issue for a few months now. It’s obviously very different than what we have had on the cover before, but when I saw it, I knew I wanted to use it on a cover at some point during the year.

It was drawn by the son of one of my co-workers. His mom had some of his other pictures at her desk, and I was impressed by his talent.

I asked him to draw me a picture of what he thought a typical farm looks like. What I got back was a basic view of farming through the eyes of a child, but when you look closely, there’s a lot more going on than what you might see at first glance.

Although he is only nine years old (he was eight when he drew the cover illustration), every drawing he does includes small little things the average person might not think to include – look at the rows in the fields, the water from the wheel lines or the hay in the barn.

Although the drawing might be somewhat simplistic, it’s the attention to detail that really draws you in and gives his artwork character.

For me, there was a lesson to be learned here. If you think about it, growing forage, at the most simplistic level, hasn’t really changed much over the years.

You put seeds in the ground, it gets water and some sunlight and (hopefully) it grows into a useable crop.

Our management of that forage may have changed considerably over time, but the general process remains the same.

And if you don’t do the simple, basic things to start with, whatever else you do after that won’t really matter.

But what makes one producer “better” than another? Why does one person have higher-quality forage than someone else?

There might be a little luck involved (especially when it comes to weather and Mother Nature), but I maintain that it’s also about paying attention to the details, some of which themselves are pretty basic.

For instance, do you perform a soil test to help you decide what additional nutrients might need to be applied to your field before you even plant your crop?

Have you done the necessary research to decide what seed will be best to plant for your area and your forage needs? If you irrigate, do you monitor soil moisture to help you decide when it’s time to water?

Are you walking the fields, scouting for insect or other pest damage? Do you know when it’s necessary to treat those problems and when it needs to be done?

Do you know the most appropriate time to harvest, whether that’s with a piece of machinery or with an animal grazing? How does that impact nutrition or future crops?

The list could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. If you’re already taking care of the basics (which you probably are),

I challenge you to start paying attention to the details. Look for something simple you might be able to change. Those are the things that will set you apart and improve your forage quality the most.  FG

P.S. I hope you’ll also enjoy another of Brayden’s drawings and have fun looking for all the little details!

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Lynn Olsen
FG Editor