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International Perspective: Preparing for Winter

by Dec 20, 2010International Perspectives

It is not normal (from a weather perspective at least) that I wish I was in Iowa! However, given the recent weather and temperatures here in the UK, Iowa has proven to be worthy of consideration as a destination to warm up a little! With temperatures down to -13°C (9°F) (according to my car at least) and several cm’s of snow, we have experienced some of the worst weather in decades. Airports, motorways and even some essential services have ground to a halt, which brings me to my first comment.

I was at the Ag Leader Dealer Meeting in 2009 – which was when Ag Leader Academy was officially opened – and overnight there was about 45cm’s (18”) of snow that fell, and the temperatures were none too warm either! But whereas in the UK that type of weather would pretty much shut the country down, the Iowans just kept going and the meetings went ahead as planned. This was despite having to dig through snow drifts 1-2m (3-6ft) deep and the task of clearing roads, but nonetheless people appeared to go about their daily business as normal. To be fair to the UK, we do not expect weather like this to occur very often and therefore don’t have the provisions in place to deal with it, whereas Iowa and other places around the world can pretty much set their clocks by when the snowfall comes and are therefore used to it and can plan for it. But this also brings me to my point for this blog: Being Prepared.

It is not always easy to be prepared for the unexpected, but there are still a lot of things that we do expect and can prepare for. Snow and sub zero temperatures in Iowa is one of them (though I am not sure I’ll ever get used to it!). But whilst most fields are not accessible during this time, there is still plenty to be getting on with in preparation for next spring, which will inevitably arrive next year. And sooner than you think:

  • Machinery maintenance. Going through all equipment that will be used next spring and double checking it, servicing, replacing worn components, fixing those small but annoying leaks, etc… will lessen the panic in spring when the silly season hits again.
  • Matt Pifkin recently wrote about winter storage of GPS equipment , so please take heed! Mice and cables do not mix so minimising this risk will lead to less stress and expense next year.
  • Insurance. This may sound like a no-brainer, but in recent weeks I have heard stories of machinery being stolen, and when it comes to making a claim, the displays and electronics mounted in or on the tractor are not always covered. In some cases, this can be very expensive and very annoying! Double check your policies and make sure these items are covered. Removing items such as displays can minimise this risk, but of course they often remain in the cab throughout most of the year.
  • Data. Perhaps it is time to go through the data you have collected and analysed over the last year and tidy it up a bit? In the heat of the moment it is easy to be entering data, importing and exporting data and make mistakes that you can’t be bothered to correct. Now is the time to correct those mistakes! Spell the field names correctly, or perhaps move trees around in SMS so they are where they should be.
  • Planning. According to Hofstadter’s law, planning may be a fallacy, but I tend to disagree. I think careful planning for upcoming events and situations will lead to a smoother execution of said events and situations. Even if it does take longer than expected! This could be planting strategies for next year, capital purchases or even the spouse’s surprise birthday party.

But most importantly, this is the time of year when we most definitely should be planning to spend time with family and friends. And whilst we are on the subject of Christmas and the New Year, let’s not forget those that are less fortunate than ourselves; it is also the time of year for giving. Merry Christmas!