Producers specialize in divergent thinking

Farmers are divergent thinkers. Not a day goes by when they aren’t trying to come up with ways to farm more efficiently, or recycle a piece of equipment to accomplish one more task. | File photo

If you are retired and want to keep active, or if you just want to test your brain power, ride along with a farmer in the field for a day, volunteer as a farm worker, or better yet, get a job on a farm. Forget sudokus, crosswords, and brain teasers. Hanging around farmers is a great way to make your brain work overtime.

Farmers are divergent thinkers. Not a day goes by when they aren’t trying to come up with ways to farm more efficiently, or recycle a piece of equipment to accomplish one more task. Some farmers are known for inventing new agricultural equipment.

They are forever problem solving. Modern day farmers likely use computer programs and spreadsheets when constructing their farm plan.

We are small farmers, so we still use graph paper and colored pencils. Nevertheless, we get busy forecasting the outcomes for the next year in our downtime in the winter, and projecting our needs and costs. An awful lot of figuring and calculating, and estimating and revising, goes into making a farm plan. Maybe even a little blue-skying.

A farmer’s “ing” functions are put to good use at seeding time. After a winter of discontent (or maybe just laying low), spring is time to fire up those synapses in preparation for seeding the crop.

Once in the field, the mental gymnastics do not stop. There’s adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing until the right combination of seed and inputs is achieved. Calibrat-“ing” and trial-“ing” involves more math.

Convert-“ing” bushels per acre to pounds per acre, and gallons to litres, and tonnes to pounds, is further proof that farmers use math skills every day. Convert-“ing” hectares to acres, or vice-versa, and feet into rods, if you are from the old school where a rod wide and a half-mile long equals one acre; well, it’s enough to make your head spin.

Your mental acuity can be emboldened even if you are just riding along in the tractor with a farmer. Determining the number of acres to the next power pole in the field, or estimating the number of acres to go around a big slough may promote the development of additional brain cells.

If you prefer to use a piece of paper for your figuring, auto steer makes that possible in a safe hands-free way, but the best way to strengthen those cognitive muscles is to do it in your head. A calculator will verify results, but the satisfaction comes from getting it right using your very own thinking skills.

Farmers have been using their figuring skills for eons, adding years to their life. If you want to improve your brain power, adopt a farmer at seeding time.

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