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Deep thinking, re-thinking, and reactive agronomy

Dave Wilber


"The world as we have created, it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." - Albert Einstein


I want to thank the hundreds of people who, however it worked for them, supported me as I cared for my mom during the end of her life. True earning of karma. And of course there are the few who had to be opportunists for criticism. Oh well. The many outweigh the few. And I hope no one finds themselves in the position I found myself.


For a time, there wasn't any thinking about agronomy. In fact,  I was damn happy not to. Burnout? I don't know. Just needed to use my famous focus on another reality, unleashing my inner Turfhead on Doctors, Nurses, Insurance companies and Snowplow Drivers. But later than sooner, I actually got in some deep thinking about agronomy during the ordeal.


Slowly the Turfhead ghosts crept back in. Some aided by communications in email. Some by reading the feeds and posts of others. At first I cursed them and their visits. Then welcomed their occasional offers of Turfhead chew. And the progression to meals shared and the bed now and then. Ah Turf Addiction, ye be an ugly but fun mistress.


Ah Turf Addiction, ye be an ugly but fun mistress...


Then someone sent me the Einstein quote above. Theirs was the intention of curbing grief. Of course I turned it into thinking about grass. As all addicts do, everything becomes the object of the addiction.


Thinking. It's hard to do when the crew is at full force. When the ladies garden club needs more understanding of why we don't plant bare root stock in June. When the GM decides to move up the budget process to start during the invitational. In those instances you are just reacting. There is no good thinking in those moments.


And that's the problem. Reactive agronomy is our version of the 1-iron. You carry it in the bag and pull it out. You know you shouldn't. But situational thinking dares otherwise. There's that word. Thinking. And you pull back the knife in hope of pin high and get that result, two holes over.


Reactive agronomy is our version of the 1-iron. You carry it in the bag and pull it out. You know you shouldn't. But situational thinking dares otherwise...


In a lot of years of consulting with and general loving on supers with words and ideas, the words, "I think..." followed by some declaration are just plain danger signs.


Here's a short list of 'thinking' that may be perilous and need 're-thinking':

  • "The latest research says X, Y and Z."  Yes. We all want that flavor of the month. But time and again, it takes a few cycles of study, some diligent field work in a few places before research catches the grove.
  • "There isn't any research on that subject". Yeah well. That means it didn't get paid for. I've said it a zillion times, you must be doing some trials of your own. Period. And rejecting an idea because it didn't get published? Nah.
  • "I heard so and so lost his ass using that product or doing that technique". You heard? From who? Really. You'd stop your own change process based on a rumor?
  • "They've been around a long time, there's probably better". This pile of stinking thinking has caused dramatic hassles. A product or process that has weathered the street usually does so because it's damn good. The knock offs are just that.
  • "I think I need something different". Yup and I need to paint a tunnel on a rock and watch you run headlong into it, Super Genius. I mean really? Really?  So often I'd ask someone why they changed and "needed something different" was the usual answer before the meeting as to "what the hell happened".

Thinking. I'm glad for it. I'm glad for analysis. I'm super stoked, for critical thinking today leads to better choices. I love the electronic age of idea sharing.


I'm not so excited about thinking that had lead to stories that don't and never will apply to you. That is a Turfhead Cesspool.


Here's one more quote:


"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Recommended Comments

Guest Jon Scott


Dave, having gone through my own recent "time of need" with my mother I am in complete empathy with what you did. In fact, it was the nurses and staff who gave me the look of you are the good son (or daughter) I hope I have when my time comes" that told me how rare this is in today's demanding and judgmental environment. Nonetheless, it was what I wanted to do, not what I had to do. Fortunately, I had great support from family and employer to enable me to be there for her. Even more fortunate is that this time she came through it and is slowly getting back to her feisty, active, not 84 year old life. I am thankful, but I know there will be another time and it will probably come soon rather than later. When it does, you have shown me the path to follow.


Your comments on "thinking" as it relates to agronomy are way overdue. We live in a reactive world. I remember when it changed - it was 9-11. Because we were not prepared, because all of our "thinking" did no good, and because we needed to react - now not later, an entire generation of Turfheads re-evaluated their way of working. To some, that comparison will be sacrilegious. So be it. I have hope that we are one day able to put 9-11 in proper perspective and use it as inspiration rather than dogma. There is still room and time and reason to think other than react. The success of our industry and our profession depends on it. The older I get, the more clearly I see it. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO BASIC AGRONOMY. God invented it long ago and it is our job to learn it, apply it, and maintain it. When we lose sight of that, we are no longer professionals. Keep up the great work you do, and remain the great human being you are.

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Guest Jason


Very good points and very true observation of how complacency so easily sneaks up on us!

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