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Extension offers cure for ag information disorientation

By Matt Reese

When soaring through the air at high speeds, jet pilots can experience spatial disorientation where their perception is different from reality. This can occur when they lose the horizon in poor visibility conditions. When this disorientation occurs, pilots need to rely on their instruments, and not their perception, to safely and successfully guide the plane. If left uncorrected with the help of instruments, the disoriented pilot could unknowingly end up in a diving turn known as the graveyard spiral, which (as the name suggests) does not end well for the pilot or the

Mark Loux gives a presentation at a Weed Resistance meeting.


In the flood of information overload in modern agriculture, sometimes farmers (and farm writers) need a reliable tool to help keep the proper perspective when facing information disorientation. Every agribusiness company out there has its own set of agronomists, consultants, research, test plots, miracle products and production benefits — then they have meetings, press releases, advertisements, websites, email, and social media to share them. And, for the most part, this is a positive thing that advances agriculture. But, when sifting through this mountain of products, data and information, how does a farmer keep his bearings?

This is one of the important roles of Ohio State University Extension.

Every seed company has data that shows their products out performing the competitors. How do you know what to believe? Consult Peter Thomison’s Extension hybrid research trials performed across the state.

What about that new herbicide claiming to solve weed resistance issues? Maybe it does, but Mark Loux can give you a research-based answer to help make your decision to give it a try or not.

Trying to stay on top of what production practices work best for your farm? Your seed company’s agronomist is a great resource, but it never hurts to cross-reference with the latest Extension research on the subject with the county educator.

Whether it is pasture management, sprayer nozzles, livestock nutrition concerns, plant pests, garden diseases, raspberry pruning, or just about anything else in agriculture, Extension has probably done at least some basic and helpful research that can help provide perspective to even the most information-disoriented farmer to make sure the operation continues to fly smoothly.

And, even if you do not personally use Extension-generated information for your farm decisions on a regular basis, the companies generating the data and research do not know that. In a way, Extension research can keep them honest, which is a real benefit for everyone involved.

With the Ohio budget being considered, I have had some conversations recently about the value of Extension to Ohio. The important role of Extension in sorting out the information overload out there is just one piece of the total value of the program, but it often overlooked.

We have so much agricultural information at our fingertips these days generated by private entities, why would we need any more that is publically funded?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, I’ve got this fantastic plane without an instrument panel I’d like to sell you.


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One comment

  1. Well said. The nation needs the public research for secure economical food production.

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