Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Man Out Standing in his Field

One more post about the man I love...

My beloved is a field researcher. He has spent the past 37 years doing experiments of one sort or another on various agricultural chemicals.

Here in this picture he is out working on his variety tolerance test. Basically what he does is stick all those little stakes that you see in the ground to mark off plots that are about 6 foot by 30 feet. Each plot gets a different code number. The ground has been planted with six different kinds of wheat. Each variety gets four different treatments of herbicides. Then my handsome man goes out to gaze at this field two or three times throughout the season to rate whether or not there was any damage to the wheat from any of the different rates of the various types of chemicals. He rates any damage on a percentage scale and compares that to the untreated controls. This particular test has 96 sticks in the ground separating out the various treatment rates, and the one next to it has 168 sticks. There's another behind it that has 200. And that's only about half of the test plots he has out. So he is using that fancy pants scientific graduate degree of his to put sticks in the ground much of the time!

Other tests he is currently working on include weed control in grass grown for seed, and weed control with several different chemicals in wheat.

Over the years he has worked with insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, plant growth regulators and just about any kind of pest control you can imagine. He has done tests in cotton fields, citrus and vegetables in Arizona, corn, soybeans and fruit in the Midwest, tree fruits in Washington and now he works with wheat and grass here in Oregon. I tease him sometimes that working with all those chemicals is going to make his belly button glow in the dark. But he's careful and he's smart. He does important work that helps farmers understand what chemicals work and what do not, what rates are safe and how to maximize crops.

Many people think we'd be way better off to quit using chemicals all together and go back to the "natural" ways of farming. But it simply isn't realistic for us to be able to feed the world without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Manure has its place (they use it here at the farm where we live), but it also has its limitations. With the agribusiness industry farming hundreds of thousands of acres there is no way to deal with weeds and bugs by hand. So if they are going to use chemical interventions to increase productivity, I'm glad there are people like my husband who do the research and development work to make sure what chemicals are safest under what conditions rather than just willy nilly pouring out poisons like people used to do with DDT.

Part of the time he is a farmer, out on a tractor planting crops. Part of the time he is a scientist compiling and analyzing data to measure the results of his tests. Part of the time he is a business man meeting with growers to give presentations and answer questions about what works and what doesn't.

Having grown up on a farm in Millard County, Utah he learned from a very early age the value of hard work and over the years has developed a work ethic with more integrity than anyone else I know. He works hard when there's work to be done. When the job is done he won't stand around trying to look busy. He either moves on to the next task or goes fishing. He's extremely responsible and dependable.

Can ya tell yet that I really, REALLY admire this guy?

I love his sense of humor and his sense of adventure. But I truly respect what a hard worker he is and all the things he has done to support our family over the years.

Tomorrow he turns 63. So I baked him a pineapple upside down cake from scratch and we'll spend the evening playing board games and visiting with friends.

Happy Birthday sweetie...wishing you many, many more.

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