What Does “Working” Mean to You?

- Tamra Boucher

Given the date on the calendar and knowing that warmer temperatures in the Midwest are just around the corner, everyone is naturally focused on what needs to be done for a successful planting season. I encourage you to pause for a few moments, though, and think about the fall harvest. I know that sounds a bit strange in March; but it’s beginning with the end in mind.

What is it that you need once the harvest is over? At the core, most researchers I talk with are looking for consistent, reliable data and quality samples.

And, oh, by the way, they are looking to get this from machines that operate efficiently, transport easily and cleanout quickly. Yet many researchers I visit with tell me they are running older combines from the production sector that have been retrofitted to meet their needs.

When I ask if this equipment is meeting their needs, they say “yes” but then go on to explain what is involved in “making it work.” From my perspective, “making it work” is neither a good use of time — especially when timing is critical — nor is it efficient.

Beyond eating precious time, “making it work” can impact the quality of samples, where integrity is crucial. And there’s the issue of volume. If you are simply “making it work,” how much of your plot data is actually captured during the harvest process? How much of the harvest is being left in the plot?

As we discussed in the February Insiders column, data drives research. Good, quality data is key to the success of any research program. Having equipment that requires you to “make it work” may jeopardize the integrity of your research.

So, if you haven’t already done a post-harvest maintenance on your equipment, it’s important to get that scheduled before you get too busy with 2017 planting. Then, think about your harvest process and if your research is at all compromised because of your equipment. Are you spending as much time to “make your equipment work” as you are performing the work itself?

While older equipment may still “work,” you need to ask: Is it really doing what I need? Is it working efficiently?

Our equipment has been designed, engineered and built from the ground up for the research environment. Shouldn’t yours be too?