Farm Progress

Too progressive?Too progressive?


February 10, 2016

2 Min Read

I enjoy good debates with farmers because often, everyone gains something in the process. But conversations become difficult for me when science is ignored in favor of personal beliefs.

A recent email exchange with a reader made me wonder if more farmers only trust science when it aligns with their own ingrained beliefs or long-held practices. The subject was a story we published on the myths of corn residue breakdown based on university lab and field trials.

The reader didn’t agree with the tillage study methodology, even after the scientist further explained the science — noting it is biology, not tillage, that breaks down residue. The reader extended his disagreement: “To report this research and argue tillage does not speed up decay does not persuade me; it just affirms to me the bias of CSD against productive tillage.”

In fact, he stated, “There is a lot of bias toward progressive ideas in the media, I believe; so I look at reporting of research very guardedly.” He went on to cite the many benefits of tillage, and “how it is a vital part of our operation, and the majority of others.”

I understand that viewpoint — being a farm kid raised on the excessive tillage of the 1970s. I also hear that he wants less focus on progressive and more focus on promoting the value of tillage and current farming practices — “because they are a better bet to be a successful farmer.” In fact, his “biggest concern is how young farmers trying to be successful are taught to look at how wrong farming is supposedly being done.”

Well, that’s not how the CSD brand adds a “Think Different” value to the conversation. We will continue to feature farmers who use applied science to deal with challenging issues, to improve and succeed. These stories won’t agree with everyone, as we strive to push readers to think different, especially when it involves soil improvement — a long-term solution that will solve many critical issues. (See our Conservation Legacy Award winners.)

Then there are reader comments like this: “I really commend you for writing the [December] editorial — 2016. Climate. Water. There are not enough organizations or publications stressing the importance of good stewardship and that your choices in life are that you really press down on someone to make them behave, which may happen if we don’t start doing things differently to sustain our soils. Or, you can work for the greater good and try to influence people to do better.”

Another reader sent his thoughts on why people ignore science: “Issues involving change become difficult to discuss because people occupy different realities. Thanks for challenging our mindset and pointing us in the direction of scientific reality.”

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on, for subscribing to our newsletters, and for being willing to Think Different.

About the Author(s)


Editor in Chief, Corn+Soybean Digest

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