Blog Post

Long-distance relationships.

Above is Case’s autonomous tractor – No Cab! It’s already in testing and coming soon to a farm near you, just not sure how soon…

Long distance relationships.

Hey Friends,

Technology in agriculture sure has come a long way. Think of what we take for granted.

I have always been a nerd, and by nerd, I mean interested in future technology and willing to give things a try even when there is no immediate benefit evident.

My middle school buddy and I tied up two landlines, two modems, and connected a mac computer and a DOS computer in 6th grade so that we could type words on each other’s screens – In the mid-’80s! Texting, we now take for granted.

Matt’s tractor uses GPS to align the cornrows a perfect 30 inches apart, and I’m still amazed it works on our contoured fields. His sprayer turns off automatically to save spray and fertilize more accurately – and it’s 90ft wide.

Our POS system can now tell us that 4 PM is the busiest hour at the farm market, and, contrary to popular belief, it is Apple Brown Betty pie outselling Blueberry during that hour. (But I love blueberry pie!)

My mother was a pioneer in direct mail sending out news and content-filled newsletter, eventually to over 5,000 mailing list recipients, which we used to hand label with a dozen teenagers then deliver to the post office for bulk mail. Now, I’m writing this from my in-laws’ house, and you’ll receive it on a tiny battery powered screen in your pocket, instantly upon my clicking of a button.

Technology has transformed communication, and connections now no longer are distance-dependent. My daughter is an accomplished clarinetist and so has performed in the district, regional, state, multi-state, national, and intensive summer programs all over the place. She thinks nothing of checking in with her friends from each group, keeping a SnapChat group going, sharing the challenges of collegiate applications, and laughing together.

How cool is it that we grown-ups can now do that, too? What used to be a singular event, maybe a convention or a meeting, that brought us together to laugh, share, and troubleshoot.

Now, we can connect over Facebook Groups, such as (if you aren’t a member yet, I highly recommend it). Emails and blogs (such as this one!), keep you informed, as well as share pictures and visits to farms you missed visiting.

I had great fun sending text messages of encouragement to clients and friends amid the hectic Fall season as I waited on a group to arrive or sitting out a rainy Sunday. Those little connections, those long-distance relationships build positive energy and community when previously we would have gone through it alone.

We can maintain long-distance relationships with our friends and colleagues that previously would have been challenging. Technology shrunk the distance and put our friends within reach.

In the December 18 online issue of International Psychogeriatrics, Dilip Jeste, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego, stated that three-fourths of study participants reported moderate to high levels of loneliness, using a well-established assessment scale.

Ellen Lee, MD, a research fellow at UC San Diego, noted that the UC San Diego group found a strong inverse association between wisdom and loneliness.

People who were deemed wiser were less lonely. “That may be due to the fact that behaviors which define wisdom, such as empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, self-reflection, effectively counter or prevent serious loneliness.”

That makes me think of the seasonality in agriculture. We spend the Spring planting, then summer growing, adapting, solving problems, and working with teams. Harvest is an all-out sprint to the finish line, often with thousands of personal interactions per day. It’s exhausting!

Traditionally, the winter months offer the ag community the chance to reflect, attend conventions, see farm friends, and connect in a much more relaxed environment. We are building community, learning, and gaining the wisdom of the industry.

I’m looking forward to the convention season. While I didn’t necessarily need a professor to tell me that conventions are useful for making me wiser and feel more connected, it’s nice to have academia confirm what we in the ag community have known all along.

I’ll be at the Illinois Specialty Crop, Ohio Produce Growers, Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Veggie Growers, NAFDMA Convention, Haunt Show, and others connecting, speaking, exhibiting new products, sharing in sessions and soaking in the joy of the ag community coming together.

I’d love to connect if you are there. If you know me, I’ve never had too much coffee, so I’ll be ready to enjoy hearing stories of your season.

Where are you going this off-season? Drop me a line and let me know.

Have a great week, and don’t be a stranger šŸ™‚


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