The William H. Miner

Agricultural Research Institute

Miner Institute
Farm Report


New crop year coming. Want to improve forage quality, ensure high quality forage? Want to feed higher forage rations, buy less concentrate? What are the things you need to change in order to do that, and are you willing to change them?

So often we talk about improvement: Being better farmers, being better managers, being a better person. We ask for input and advice from others, friends, family, professionals. We may even go through some serious self-assessment, or maybe not. In all of these instances the first step to improvement is recognizing the weakness, which means that we have a weakness. Improvements require admission that things are not perfect as is, and that we need to change, whether it be crops or cow management, re-designing a house or re-designing oneself. Change is not easy, but if you want to improve it’s necessary.

We’re frequently asked to review diets, forage analyses, cow management systems, communication systems. We state our opinions, providing perspective, sometimes good, sometimes not. Quite often though, advice is met with an explanation of why it is, followed by why it will continue to be so, which is fine since there may well be real and rational reasons. But my fear is that so often reasonable advice and good suggestions are too easily dismissed. Suggestions meet opposition and in the end an unwillingness to change, or to even consider change or think through the possibilities raised through the assessment.

It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why things are the way they are and how a suggested change cannot be done, will not work. The question is whether these are excuses or truths. Sometimes it is a change of mindset that is most needed.

I heard a talk show yesterday about the term “resiliency” replacing “sustainability” as the new buzz-word for farms and businesses surviving in this era of change, political, economic and climate change. Regardless of which word is most suitable, recognizing weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as strengths is critical when assessing the need for change and whether we are really willing to make the changes needed to thrive.

— Kurt Cotanch

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The Miner Institute Farm Report is written primarily for farmers and other agricultural professionals in the Northeastern U.S. and Eastern Canada. Most articles deal with dairy and crops topics, but also included are articles dealing with environmental issues and global agriculture as well as editorial commentary.

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The William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute
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Chazy, NY 12921
phone: 518-846-7121
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