In Perspective: Inspiring the industry

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On Sundays, I like to watch inspirational television and frequently watch the OWN network for shows like “Super Soul Sunday” and “Oprah’s Lifeclass.” One weekend in July, I caught an episode where Iyanla Vanzant, author, television personality and inspirational speaker, was discussing how people get stuck in their lives and think they cannot achieve anything greater than what they currently have.

She explained a trip with her grandson to an eye doctor. The doctor asked Vanzant why she didn’t have glasses. She’s in her 60s. She said she saw just fine. But the doctor explained that our eyes will adjust to the level of deficiency present, meaning that while a person may be seeing at 60 or 70 percent, they convince themselves that they see perfectly fi ne and at a 100 percent level.

Vanzant was able to spin this experience into a metaphysical message by asking the audience how they have adjusted their vision of life and settled for what other people told them is acceptable.

“How many of us have adjusted our vision, our desires, our passions in our lives?” she asked. “We adjust to what somebody told us we couldn’t do—that’s a level of deficiency. We adjust to the level of deficiency we’re programmed to receive from other people.”

Vanzant’s concept struck a chord with me and I wondered where the agriculture industry’s level of deficiency is when it comes to itself? Who tells the ag industry what it cannot do?

There are many naysayers in the world that say agriculture cannot feed the world. Naysayers say Big Ag pollutes our groundwater, streams and oceans with fertilizer, pesticides and manure.

They say monocultures are not sustainable or environmentally friendly. They argue that biotechnology is dangerous and offers no benefits to mankind whatsoever. They claim animal agriculture is barbaric and meat production causes greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

These naysayers keep agriculture from dreaming big and prevent some ag leaders from reaching farther. Agriculture has numerous challenges to face including managing crops during volatile weather, estate planning, an aging work base, increasing regulations, higher input costs and increasing global competition, to name a few.

It’s time agriculture has a vision that is clear of deficiencies. Yes, those challenges are large and naysayers tend to depress many in the industry. But agriculture is an optimist’s dream. Only an optimist can continue to farm year after year, generation after generation.

One optimistic technology coming for agriculture is the use of unmanned aerial systems. I had the chance to view some of the UAS Kansas State University is studying for possible future use by crop consultants and farmers. The possibilities for using this technology on a farm are incredible. As the technology develops and demand for this technology increases, agriculture could be entering a whole new phase of precision.

Japan is already using UAS to apply pesticides to crops and has been for the past 20 years. U.S. agriculture is just now experimenting with the technology.

As I spoke with K-State staff involved with researching UAS, we discussed possible future uses and capabilities. K-State’s researchers are open to possibilities and are only limited by the technology. The optimism I saw there was exciting! The ag industry needs that excitement and optimism to face the naysayers and see past the deficiencies used to hold the industry back.

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