Each spring our family works off the winter rust and welcomes the new cropping season by tapping the maple bush for the spring sap run. This past year our father upgraded his operation with a new evaporator and new collection system designed to make the in-bush work a little easier. The new evaporator was a great improvement over his old smokehouse boiler, and the new sap collection system made light work of a normally difficult task. While it at times seemed like a whole new way of making syrup, many things remained the same. We were still at Mother Nature's mercy when the sap would flow, the constant loading of firewood into the firebox to stoke the flames and of course the countless hours boiling down the sap to get just the right colour and consistency. 

As those hours passed literally watching a pot boil, I reflected on how the change we saw in our syrup operation is much like others we have seen in agriculture in the past years. As much as it seems that new technology is changing the way we work, we still rely on time tested methods and agronomy to produce our crops.

Today we use soil testing and variable rate prescriptions to build our soils and place nutrients where they are needed. Dad clearly recalls Grandpa driving the team of horses and manure spreader out across the sand ridge for a few extra passes because he knew it would need just a bit more than the loam to make the tobacco weigh up. 

Dad used to track his production on sheets of paper, marking the weight of each tobacco bale, recording the daily markets from the noon farm show, and marking the calendar on the wall with notes of rainfall, planting and harvest dates.  Today we track all of this on the computer, much of it automated, but still just as valuable as he found it to be. 

New technology has always and will always be present in agriculture. With it comes a new learning curve and changes to your current system, but also more efficiency and profitability. But in the end our role as farmers is much the same as it has been for thousands of years. 

When you find yourself at the intersection of technology and tradition in your own operation, pause a minute to enjoy the view and reflect a bit on how you got there.