Social Media Expands My Corner of the Agriculture World

AI, Breeders, Harvest, Crop. Farmers of every kind use these terms daily across the country, but to each the terms may have a different meaning. These are just a sample of the Agriculture lingo farmers and ranchers use daily, but in different regions, and different sectors of Agriculture, some terms may be a foreign concept. If we (those involved in agriculture) are not careful, we can get caught hiding behind the perimeter fence that surrounds our niche.

I’ve been in the cattle business all of my life; mostly in Arkansas, but I have spent time on the Plains and in the Mountains. In each place producers do little things differently, all while performing the same function — raising beef. I have very little hands-on crop experience, virtually none in row crops, and in turn my experience with farming lingo is slim to none. My knowledge surrounds raising cattle, feeding them, their health, and slowly branches out into related subjects – forage production, diseases, range management, and so on. I’m pretty used to farming the way I have experienced it. However,  Social Media tools are breaking down those communication barriers and helping Ag-enthusiasts like myself branch out into other sectors of Agriculture.

Here’s an example. I posted this photo yesterday of a smoke plume and possible timber fire, while hoping it wouldn’t jump a fire lane into our timber or pastures. Rosie from Canada (@rotempleton) replied saying she hoped it didn’t reach any crops. Well, in this part of the country Pine Timber IS a farming crop. It is just more of a long-term investment. Rosie, and I’m sure many others, wouldn’t even think about trees as a farm crop if it’s not grown in their region. Same way I responded to irrigation of cow pastures when I worked in Wyoming — People actually water the grass in cow pastures?!? Well safe to say after 3 months of walking irrigation lines, I better understand the concept. Another example of stepping out of my comfort zone is when Janice Person (@jplovescotton) recently posted about having breakfast with cotton breeders. A novel concept to this guy raised with livestock who take care of their own breeding.

Social Media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and obviously Blogging, have opened new worlds for this cattle rancher. I’m learning about all sorts of farming methods and connecting with barley, wheat, and corn farmers and even cotton enthusiasts across the country. Not to mention international collisions with ranchers in Canada and vet students in Australia. It’s a whole new world out there! And best part is I can travel and learn about agriculture around the globe and pay no more than a monthly DSL bill. No plane tickets or expensive tanks of fuel.

Some find it unusual when I bring up a story about a flooded out farmer in Wyoming or the Dakotas, or how cotton is suffering from floods and residual problems in the Mississippi Delta (which I can then connect to the cotton seed hulls I feed my cattle). Or how I received a postcard from Hawaii and learned about their Kona Coffee production. But I think it pretty cool that I can connect daily with these farmers. Makes this big ole world seem a lil more personal. And heck, I get to learn about all the things my lil job on the ranch may never let me encounter.

How has Social Media impacted your awareness of Agriculture? Do you have an example of how SM has helped you to branch out?

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