By Rob Kirkconnell, President Grey SCIA
It has been an interesting summer to say the least. It’s strange to think that so many businesses were shut down, or continue to be under restrictions due to COVID-19, when life on the farm, for the most part, hasn’t skipped a beat. From planting to spraying to haying to combining, farm life has carried on at a normal pace. Where we go from here, who knows? And with many future ag events looking to take place virtually, the possibilities are endless.
The Grey County Soil & Crop Improvement Association has jumped on the virtual bandwagon too starting with its first ever virtual crop walks. These took place in June, July and August with the last one scheduled for Sept. It has been a steep learning curve running these events but they have gone off really well.
Our June meeting presenters were Deb Campbell, along with siblings Jay Lennox and Justine Lennox talking about split application on corn for nitrogen and the importance of nitrate testing to get the best return on investment. In July, Soils at Guelph took a turn at hosting. They took participants through the intricacies of soil health and water management. Our virtual gathering in August was a follow-up to June’s meeting; revisiting an oat and wheat plot on the Lennox family’s farm.
It has been advantageous to have the virtual crop tours monthly as it gave the committee lots of options for content based on where the growing season was at when the meeting occurred. This is different from the traditional crop walk that would take place in July on-farm with participants only seeing the crop that day.
While it has definitely been tough to not see people in person, and have some delicious beef on a bun, time was allotted before the events for people to log-onto ZOOM and chat before digging into the planned agenda. It has been great to share information in a timely manner and still keep in touch with your neighbors.
As with any event, virtual or in real life, participation is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you have the best content, speakers or lunch; you still need people to attend to make it a great day. And with virtual events this is even truer.
There are going to be a lot of good events out there, including Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week 2021, that are going to go virtual moving forward. I know it’s not the way we’re used to doing things, but why not embrace a new way of learning and look at some of the challenges around COVID-19 as opportunities for growth.
The good news is that this shouldn’t be too hard because farmers are good at adapting. We do it every day on the farm. Whether we’re changing our cropping plans due to weather or switching around our selling decisions based on the market, we’re kind of pros at turning lemons into lemonade. So as we move into the busy farm meeting season, one that will most certainly be digital this year, make sure to get involved and try something new.