New Year's resolutions aren't just for those who are overweight, sedentary or struggling to break a bad habit. Farmers can resolve to avoid poor management practices or implement better production techniques in 2013.
Purdue University crop, livestock and agricultural economics specialists shared their top three farmer resolutions for the year ahead. Those resolutions, and specialist comments about them, are:
Chris Hurt, Extension agricultural economist
* Resolve to never say, "It can't happen to me." "The 2012 drought was a stark reminder that bad outcomes can come to our farms and businesses. Evaluate and use the tools to help reduce the terrible financial consequences that can come from bad outcomes. Start with a re-evaluation of crop insurance alternatives."
* Resolve to make 2013 a learning year. "New technology is coming at us quickly. There will be a new farm bill to learn about. Tax laws will likely change. New farm products are emerging. Brand new opportunities will be presenting themselves. Be sure to commit time to increasing your knowledge and to the improvement of your decision-making skills."
* Resolve to review your family's succession plan and update your estate plan. "Even if you have a great plan, remember the laws are changing. At the very least, learn about those changes and how they affect your plan. If you don't have a plan, the new laws will give you a great reason to get started."
Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist
* Resolve to improve hybrid decision-making. "Look for hybrids that not only have high yield potential but also a demonstrated ability to consistently achieve that potential across a wide range of growing conditions, because you cannot predict what 2013 will bring in terms of weather."
* Resolve to spend more time in the fields with the crops. "This will help you better identify the yield-influencing factors most important to your farming operation. Then work with your adviser(s) to develop strategies to begin managing those factors."
* Resolve to work toward improving the overall efficiency of your nitrogen management program. "Take steps to reduce the risks of N loss, such as leaching, denitrification and volatilization."
Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist
* Resolve to read the variety tag. "Seed size varies from year to year. The drought conditions - timing and duration - have impacted seed size - small and large - germination and vigor. Your planter settings and seeding rates need to be adjusted accordingly."