See you in the field: a farewell from Kristen Podolsky

When I started at MPSG in May 2013, I was the third employee and there were 900,000 acres of soybeans planted in Manitoba. Today, there are seven fulltime and three seasonal employees and we are expecting up to 2,000,000 acres of soybeans in 2017.

It was the anticipation of this growth and excitement that first attracted me to MPSG. At home, we grew our first soybean crop in 2012 and went through all the questions that new soybean growers ask – how much inoculant? What seeding rate? Can I use my air seeder? The fire was lit inside me to provide these answers to farmers. And if I couldn’t find the answer, then my goal has been to initiate the research.

My first growing season with MPSG was in 2013. I developed The Bean Report to deliver crop updates and production information to farmers, agronomists and industry. I spent the summers of 2013 and 2014 in soybean fields across the province, capturing information and meeting farmers and agronomists.

The most exciting part of my position has been having the opportunity to take all the questions, observations and pictures I capture in the field and transform them into fact sheets, research projects and new program initiatives.

I am passionate about delivering information to farmers and agronomists. But not just any information – research based knowledge, and not just in any form – it must be clear, concise and effective. Some of my favourite tools are the MPSG Bean App and Soybean Growth Staging guide. It is a very rewarding feeling to see these fact sheets taped to the wall in agronomists’ offices or in the cab of a truck.

The best moments for me come from interacting with farmers, hearing their questions or concerns and then developing strategies to address them. An example of this is the MPSG Research and Production (R&P) strategy for 2015–2017. With this strategy came the expansion of the On-Farm Network and new production resources and extension events (Getting it Right, SMART Day).

This was an important milestone in my role here at MPSG as new staff came on board to help implement the strategy. I’m proud to work with such hard-working, energetic and motivated staff, which has led to good synergy.

I’m confident even more exciting things are in the works for MPSG’s future. Four growing seasons have passed for me at MPSG and a new opportunity has presented itself. Within the R&P strategy there has been a vision to develop a Research Agronomist position at the University of Manitoba. This is an exciting new concept and collaboration opportunity for the agricultural industry in Manitoba, developed out of the need for more applied, practical research and increased extension capacity.

I am honoured and excited to accept this new mission of developing the Research Agronomist position and program. There are three broad goals of this program: to conduct applied soybean and pulse research, increase technology transfer between farmers, industry and researchers and to be involved with the learning experiences of young farmers.

In this role, I will tackle the production questions I’ve received over the past four years that we don’t have local knowledge for – seeding dates for soybeans, fertility rates for dry beans and crop input comparisons, for example.

In turn, I will relay the results directly to industry and communicate relevant results from other researchers within the Faculty of Agriculture.

To my network of farmers and agronomists – thank you for tuning into The Bean Report, inviting me out to your field and field days and for submitting your questions and comments. I encourage you to keep making those observations and asking those questions. It is your eyes out in the field that help guide research and program decisions to ensure they are relevant to our farms. I look forward to working with you in this new capacity. See you in the field!

– Kristen Podolsky