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Agriculture in Autumn and International Intrigue

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Written by Kelly Downing |

Ah, fall. This is my favorite season. The weather cools down, the humidity drops, and conditions tend to be very comfortable. And there is football (American style)! 

As I watch my wife finish her garden activities (from a safe, non-involved distance, of course) and I see the combines roar through the fields sucking in crops and dispensing chaff, it hits me. One of the big reasons I enjoy autumn so much is the feeling of accomplishment we get in agriculture. It really does create a warm feeling for me, seeing the harvest hit the bin after the long growing season of work, and worry. So, I get a good feeling whenever I stand in front of the (literally) hundreds of jars of bounty in my basement, canned by my wife from her garden. 

But, back to reality. I was asked to write about our international efforts. As this hits our website, I will be in Senegal, Africa, visiting a pivot rice project. The farm is just beginning its second crop. The first crop, planted this spring and harvested in August, was definitely a learning experience. 

One of the lessons learned was the importance of adequate weed control. The growers planted into virgin desert soil, where there seemed to be little or no native vegetation. So, it was a little surprising how many weeds grew. The growers also had to work around some limitations in available herbicides. Here is a photo of some weed issues they faced: 


This was a major problem, of course, and yields were very poor. However, the growers are committed to making it work, so they formed a relationship with the research team from the University of Missouri’s Delta Center that has been working with them—via regular conference calls—to improve their results. 

The “intrigue” comes, of course, from wondering how things will go in the second crop. While they are still battling the same issues all farmers face, it seems that the relationship with the Delta Center researchers has been beneficial. Early reports are better this time, so I am confident that the second crop will show improvement. 

The important thing, as we all know, is the process. There might be a lucky few who find success immediately, but nobody does their best work the first time they try something. So, the key lesson here is to keep trying, learn constantly, and put those experiences to work. 

I will report later on how things are going, and what I see there. I encourage you to stay in touch with us as well. Tell us how your harvest is going.  

And, remember to be safe. Get adequate rest and make sure your equipment is in good shape. I know things are hectic right now, and everyone is trying to finish. Just don’t cut safety corners to save a few minutes. We need you all out there next year, too!

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