I recently came across an article written by NDSU Extension Agent, Brad Brummond, titled “40 Chances”. In the article Brad shares his thoughts on Howard G. Buffets book also titled as you may guess. “40 Chances”. Howard G Buffet is the son of Warren Buffet and among many other things also happens be a farmer.

According to Brad the concept behind the book is that a farmer has on average 40 crops, or 40 chances, to make a difference in their operation (or not). He discusses how the concepts of the book can be applied to farmers in rural North Dakota where he works as an extension agent.  He talks of the easy changes like adopting the latest varieties and also some of the tougher changes such as adopting longer term approaches to improving soil health. Making more with what you have.

Brad goes on to discuss some of the big changes he has observed in soil health management when producers work together as a group with consumers. He mentions the “Save the Five” program that looks at increasing the productivity of the worst 5 acres in any field through better management instead of farming them at a loss.

Antara is taking a similar approach with a group of local growers sharing similar interests where we will be evaluating a number of management practices aiming to reduce erosion, improve soil health and make our soils and crops more resilient to adverse growing conditions. Our goal with this project is to play the long game to see if we can capture meaningful changes over the next 5 to 10 years.

Although I am no longer actively farming, as an agronomist I still play an active role in crop production and I am passionate about advancing agriculture in the Red River Valley. About half-way through my “40 crops”, I have seen enough to know we are only scratching the surface when it comes to soil health, microbiology and the science of growing crops. The more I learn, the more questions I have.  I know that change is inevitable and as Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. In the meantime, I look forward to reading Howard’s book “40 Chances”.

If it’s true that you only have 40 chances, how are you making out?