We teach, learn, lead and serve, connecting people with the University of Wisconsin, and engaging with them in transforming lives and communities.

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING: MY TIME TO SAY THANK YOU

Life doesn’t always happen in the order that you would like it or even expect it to. A short three weeks ago retirement from UW-Extension was the last thing on my mind. Then a challenging opportunity was tossed my direction that melded two of my greatest passions: forage crops and writing. After many discussions with […]

Read More...

AGRICULTURE’S FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY

It’s surprising that a book about gray (or grey) has become so popular. We have become a species demanding what we think is right: black or white, Republican or Democrat, designated hitter or pitcher hits. Fact is, most things in life are not black and white. Gray, when you think about it, is not such […]

Read More...

BIG DATA GROWING PAINS

      My 88-year-old mother can’t figure out how to retrieve a text message from her flip-phone; in fact, she can’t retrieve and listen to a voice message. Communication with Mom is dependent on her availability to pick up the phone or an 800 mile roundtrip to Ohio. By the way, don’t try to teach her […]

Read More...

THE NINE BILLION PEOPLE CHALLENGE

Most of us move through life dealing with our day to day responsibilities, challenges, and obligations. Our lives center on the family and local community where we live and work. It’s human nature. In the course of daily human events, many of us also like to be informed about the broader issues of the day; […]

Read More...

CROP REPORTS, CORN KINGS, AND A MULE NAMED DOLLY

Ever since the September USDA Crop Report was recently released I’ve been giving a lot of thought to corn. In case you missed it, U.S. corn production for 2014 is forecast at 14.4 billion bushels, up 3 percent from both the August report and from 2013. More impressive is the predicted average yield of 171.7 […]

Read More...

TAKING REALITY TV TO THE FARM

Leave it to those crafty Kenyans to create a hit agricultural reality television show. “Shamba Shape Up” is a farm makeover show with an estimated audience of more than 11 million people in Kenya and several other African countries. The premise of this show is not difficult to guess—find farmer in need of help, bring […]

Read More...

SUMMER AND FIRST-CUT HAY SEASON HAVE ARRIVED

Forget the summer solstice as the official start of summer — it comes too late. I officially usher summer into my life when the first stems of alfalfa are ruthlessly sawed off by reciprocating knives or rotating blades. Summer is here. Though agriculture gets blamed for its fair share of objectionable odors, freshly cut hay […]

Read More...

SOME THINGS WILL ALWAYS BE ARGUED: Add GMOs to the list

Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone in the assassination of President Kennedy? Should drinking water be fluoridated? Is our climate changing or is it simply a natural cycle? Musial, Mays, or Mantle? These questions and others like them have been debated for years and no doubt will continue to be into the future. As long […]

Read More...

HIGH-STAKES ESPIONAGE IN THE CORN FIELD

Stealing trade secrets has been a part of the business and international scene for a long time. I suspect such activity has made some people very rich when they don’t get caught and some lawyers very rich when they do. Just last year Wisconsin made the national news scene when an employee at the Medical […]

Read More...

PUTTING ON THE 2014 PREDICTION HAT

When writer rotation fate picks you to ink the last News and Views column of the year, there are two logical directions to take. One, the path of least resistance, would be a year-in-review synopsis. We’ve all read them, at least until we got tired of finding out stuff we already knew. The other option, […]

Read More...

DOING THE RIGHT THING

I had made it to the sermon portion of our Sunday church service. The Brewers had played extra innings on the west coast the night before so my ability to stay coherent was being somewhat challenged. However, sleeping is difficult on hard pews and my wife is of the opinion that shut-eye in church is […]

Read More...

A PERSONAL BATTLE WITH AN UNBEATABLE FOE

Pick your battles—I’ve given and received this advice many times over the years. It’s generally a good bit of wisdom to follow, but I have failed miserably when it comes to one particular intruder in my life. No, it’s not a person, group of people, or even a thing. It’s a particular weed species. Around […]

Read More...

RYAN BRAUN, PANERA BREAD, AND YOUR MORNING ORANGE JUICE

Current events this past couple of weeks reminded me once again that life in its purest form is largely an exercise in making choices. Our choices guide our lives and send us reeling in a variety of directions, some planned and others unplanned. This past couple of weeks my normal cadre of reading materials has […]

Read More...

AGRICULTURE TAKES TO DRONE WARFARE

One of the summer sights of interest on the southeast side of the UW-Fond du Lac campus is a group of dedicated hobbyists who fly model airplanes on a homesteaded patch of ground and airspace. I’m assuming the selected real estate was originally chosen because of a lone tree that provided shade for the pilots […]

Read More...

IS THE GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY?

Until recently I never gave it much thought, but there are a lot of disagreements launched between individuals, organizations, and other entities that are rooted around “progress.” It’s somewhat ironic that such a happy and positive word is the cause of so many negative vibes. The reasons, as I see it, are three-fold. First is […]

Read More...

TIME TO RAMP-UP THE CLIMATE CONVERSATION

“Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Apparently there is some controversy about who actually is responsible for this quote that has been repeated multiple times over the years. The popular line of thinking attributes the quote to Mark Twain of “Tom Sawyer” fame. As we know, popular thinking is not […]

Read More...

IT’S SEQUESTRATION MANIA

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about sequestration. No…I’m not delving into the world of political analysis; honing such a craft disregards the value of one’s physical and mental health, if not life. My thoughts are squarely centered on soil carbon sequestration. It’s been many years since I’ve moved carbon to a place of hierarchy […]

Read More...

LEARNING AGRICULTURE: NEW YORK CITY STYLE

Apparently there’s a new fad in New York City these days–discussing the virtues of crop rotation. Who would have thought that such a recreational activity would have captured the hearts of residents in our nation’s largest city? In recent months there have been not one, but two dissertations on the opinion pages of The New York […]

Read More...

SMUT IN THE CORN FIELD

Smut is one of those words that evokes a myriad of thoughts: a corn fungus, a highly valued food delicacy, those elusive magazines displayed behind the convenience store counter. Because I’m not looking for early retirement, we’ll leave deliberation on that third thought for another writer; however, smut as a valued part of the balanced […]

Read More...

VIEWING AGRICULTURE FROM THE COCKPIT

Those who have been to a presentation of mine in recent years have probably seen one of my many aerial photos of somewhere in Fond du Lac County. Sometimes I show them to enforce an agronomic principle, other times it may simply be to get a laugh at the expense of some poor soul’s malfunctioning […]

Read More...

A TRIBUTE TO THE SMALL SQUARE BALE

Ed Nolt did me a favor, though he didn’t know it at the time. The Pennsylvania Dutchman invented the prototype for the small square baler back in the 1930’s. His patent was soon purchased and mass produced in the 1940’s for use on farms. In marketing terms: a hot seller. The Nolt-inspired baler was a […]

Read More...

SPRAY SCHOOL WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED

“When is spray school? I think my card expires next year.” It’s a question and comment I get several times each fall. Of course the official name is not really spray school, but rather Private Pesticide Applicator Certification Training, or PAT as it’s often called. PAT is the equivalent of driver’s education for crop producers […]

Read More...

THE COEXISTENCE OF COWS, CROPS, AND PEOPLE

I am not what some might define as well-traveled, but I have gotten around enough to know that Wisconsin is unique from the standpoint that no where else are so many people and dairy cows plopped down in one place to co-exist. It’s been that way for a long time; however, over the years we’ve reshuffled […]

Read More...

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”—Albert Einstein Between Christmas and New Years Day my family and I embarked on an 11-hour trek to the in-law’s Missouri estate.  This was done in an effort to reacquaint our kids with their grandparents and keep the parents listed in the will.  Such […]

Read More...

OH CANADA

I really have not seen much of the world, and probably never will. I like to stay home on Friday nights and the only travel plans on my “bucket list” entail getting to a game at every major league ballpark—still have over half of them to go. Admittedly, I’m a homebody. Occasionally I get the […]

Read More...

CARLY SIMON, ZACH GREINKE, AND $6 CORN

“We can never know about the days to come But we think about them anyway. And I wonder if I’m really with you now Or just chasing after some finer day. Anticipation, Anticipation Is making me late Is keeping me waiting.” Some of you “Children of the ‘70’s” need no explanation for the above song […]

Read More...