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Good communication prevents herbicide snafus

These rules of communication can lessen the odds of a herbicide mix-up.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

April 3, 2023

2 Min Read
Close up of sprayer at farm property
RIGHT PRODUCT, RIGHT FIELD? Open communications between employees and support personnel can help minimize herbicide mix-ups that result in wiping out a crop. Know what’s planted where, and clearly communicate which herbicides must go into the tank each time. Tom J. Bechman

Effective communication is essential in any farm operation. Clarity is key to avoiding misunderstandings, wasted time and major mistakes.

Marty Huseman, White County, Ind., an ag safety consultant with Good Day’s Work, says that’s why many farms adopt a policy of two-way communication, where both parties take turns talking and listening.

“This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that important details aren’t lost in translation,” Huseman says. “In addition, repeating back what you’ve heard helps to confirm that the message was received correctly. While it may require a bit more effort upfront, two-way communication can save a lot of headaches in the long run.”

One of the biggest headaches this time of year could stem from making one of the worst mix-ups possible on the farm — getting the wrong chemical on the wrong field. Instead of killing weeds, you toast the corn or soybean crop not tolerant to the herbicide mistakenly added to the tank.

While record-keeping plays a key role in making sure you spray the right chemicals on the right fields, communication is critical too. If you don’t communicate to the retailer properly, or vice versa, or if you spray your own crops and you and your employee miscommunicate, it can mean writing off a field of corn or beans, or if there’s time, making a hasty replant.

“The two-way communication method could really help prevent simple mistakes with big consequences,” Huseman says.

Golden rules of communication

Following Huseman’s “golden rules of communication” may also ensure the right products get applied in the right field:

Clarity. Your voice should be clear. Speak a little slower than normal. Speak in a normal tone. Think about your message beforehand.

Simplicity. Keep your message simple enough for intended listeners to understand. Think before you speak. Avoid a long, complicated message. Deliver the message so the listener can easily repeat it back to you.

Brevity. Be precise and to the point. Be short, accurate, complete and organized. No chitchat. Do not interrupt when someone else is talking; wait until they are finished.

Security. Do not transmit confidential information except when face to face whenever possible, period.

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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