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By Staff | Dec 25, 2009

Advice comes in different forms. There is free advice, which can be wanted or unwanted. Another variety is unsolicited advice, which has the phrase, “If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it,” usually accompanying it as a spoken or possibly muttered reply or kept just as a thought.

However, advice can be put into two main categories, good and bad. A third category does exist, called no advice, which is not used enough by the know-it-alls of the world.

Good advice is obviously good while bad advice is worse than no advice. Nobody can afford bad advice.

As one who has received bad advice, I have learned to treat most advice with at least a little suspicion until I am sure it is not bad advice.

This is the time of year we farmers are seeking advice. What is next year going to be like? What is the weather going to hold? Which crop goes in what field? Should I replace or repair some old machinery? What is the best combination of fertilizer, seed, and herbicide?

The sources of advice are many. Some are more trustworthy than others. That trust is built up over years and the more trustworthy the source, the higher value we place on their advice.

This is a time of year I pay more attention to the Iowa State Extension Extension service than usual. I try to get to as many of their meetings on the subject of next year as possible.

Frequently, in the course of the meeting, they will say words to the effect of, “That is what we know for now.”

That tells me they have told me everything they know and are still researching the subject. Even the Extension service does not claim to have all the answers and they leave things open-ended so we can learn more in the future.

I was not always such a strong supporter of Extension. Many years ago, before I became acquainted with their abilities, my attitude was, “What do those guys know? All they do is talk to each other.”

After attending a couple meetings and actually listening, I discovered that it is to my benefit to pay attention.

The Extension service provides free advice that is the latest knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Yes, I know it is tax supported, which means it is not exactly free, but it is given freely to everyone. That is quite a concept, current information available just for the asking.

The computer age has made Extension even better as we can seek information from Extension services around the country. Information from research done in California or North Carolina is as accessible as research from ISU.

There are other sources of advice I subscribe to and, because they are good, I pay for them. The people I trust for advice on marketing my grain that can make the difference between good and bad decisions that can be measured in the thousands of dollars.

Extension gives the latest information away to anyone, farmers and non-farmers, on a wide range of subjects just for the asking. It is hard to find anything better in the department of best bang for the buck.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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