If you’re here because you Googled “Avatar, epic, movie” or “James Cameron, King of the World,” turn back. The title of this post isn’t some über-geeky invitation to discover cobalt-blue waves of grain on far off Pandora. The agriculture I’m talking about is the Earth-bound variety.
I’m also dead serious: Avatar, both the movie and the story of making the movie, has great teaching potential for agriculture.
Lesson 1: in the field of opportunity, it’s always ploughing time.
That money follows good ideas is not news. But it doesn’t happen quickly, in farming or film. In the crop protection industry, for example, the distance from lab bench to farmers’ fields takes a tortuous journey of testing and approval and the outlay of millions of dollars over a period of up to five years.
But sometimes, waiting a half decade is small potatoes.
James Cameron began his epic journey in 1994. He wouldn’t even start filming until technology caught up with his artistic vision. That means by the time the Na’vi leapt into theatres, investors had been hanging around over a decade and were out $237 million US. Of course, it was pretty much paid back after ten days.
Important ag takeaway? “It could be worse. You could be in the movies.”
So hang in there, crop protection. Don’t fret bio-tech. New seed traits, new equipment — even new government policy – your time will come. Increasingly, new ideas in agriculture will find development money because the world’s growing population needs safe, healthy, plentiful food.
Lesson 2: farmers are not a dying breed.
I think that Mr. Cameron saves his best for last. Admit it; watching the would-be conquerors of nature being marched off the planet was extremely satisfying. If you were lucky enough to share the moment with a farmer, I’ll bet they were cheering.
Important ag takeaway? “Respect the people who respect the land. They’re here to stay.”
Here on Earth, it’s time for all of us who get our agriculture from a supermarket to give farmers an extra measure of respect. They’re educated, resilient and determined. There’s nothing slap-dash or careless about the businesses they run. In fact, it’s common for today’s farmer to take over an operation that has grown and improved over several generations. That improvement is possible because farmers know what their land is capable of. They know how to manage what they’ve got, to make the most of its limitations and to make it better whenever possible. They have a strong sense of the big picture.
So don’t talk down to farmers, don’t sell them junk and for heaven’s sake don’t try to drive them from the land. We need them.
If I’ve missed any obvious agriculture/Avatar connections, please write. If you’d like to make your point in 140 characters or less, knock yourself out @adfarmtweets.
Warren Fick has no Facebook photo, just a silhouette. His big picture thinking gives our clients a unique face in agribusiness. And he writes. Contact him directly at email@example.com