Friday, March 2, 2012


My mentors are my trusted friends, counselors, teachers, and fellow farmers. I am blessed with some of the best mentors in agriculture, savvy fellows who share my passion for the truth and expressed in farming.

A farmer asked on Crop Talk this morning for books or resources to learn more about crop fertilization. After earning two degrees and a lifetime studying soil and crop science I suggested he find a mentor. I have planted my own crop since 1963 and more so in "retirement" the past eight years.

My best course and highest degree doesn't answer the nuts and bolts of planning, planting, nurturing and harvesting a crop. Hand's on experience can't be beat and there are hundreds of ways of doing it, though we have melted them down to a handful.

Two mentors called me on the phone this morning. We discussed fertilization, the weather and our families. Several others have emailed as we exchange the latest information we are reading, digesting and applying to our lives on our farms.

I have to go to Iowa once each year to see the application of the highest knowledge about agriculture I am interested in, though my trips to other states and conferences help fill the gap. I travel to Pennsylvania each year to see the latest in cover cropping and to Iowa for the latest in notilling and soil and crop fertilization.

When younger people ask me about my work and my happiness, I usually remind them that two things have been key to my happiness and those I have studied. One is the career they choose and the other is the spouse they choose. Those two crucial parts of life pretty much take up every waking hour of every day for me.

I am quite willing to share my experience in this blog and share my mentors where I feel they can help you when you ask a question I think they answer.

Who are your mentors? Who do you go to share your most personal or specific questions with?

My mentors help guide me in answering my questions and evaluating what went right and what can be improved. It's a big responsibility to mentor others when they come to you for answers. I don't take that lightly.


  1. Ed

    There is some discussion going on currently about forming peer advisory groups for agriculture producers. Perhaps this would be a more organized structure of mentors. These groups have been a part of the business world for a long time but have never been applied in any degree to farmers before. Membership may not necessarly include your next door neighbors however.

    Ron Swanson

  2. I thought about mentioning that but I didn't. I have also met farmers with no one to take over and young people wanting to farm but they are usually so far apart a local group doesn't work for that either. Perhaps a national clearinghouse type operation would be in order.