Why Farming and Science Make a Perfect Pair

Why Farming and Science Make a Perfect Pair

Not too long ago, Susan Brown, Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics and Horticulture at Cornell University, took me around her fruit-breeding grounds in Geneva, NY. I was excited to see, hear, and taste the literal fruits of her work. But not before she showed me a large, handmade thank-you card that hung prominently in her office.


She said it was from a recent school group visit. The card was decorated brightly with hand-colored red apples and green leaves.

The inscription, Susan read to me with delight, says “You’re our favorite scientist.” There was something about the card and the word ‘scientist’ that struck me.

In my line of work, I never use that term to describe the folks in academia that I work with. Researcher? Sure. Expert? Sometimes. Professor? Yep.

But never scientist.


I’ve often wondered if it’s because I’ve somehow aligned the word ‘scientist’ with an image of a mad scientist with crazy hair and a white coat, hunched over some test tubes, cackling to himself.

But the term scientist is a vital word and one I hope to introduce more into my vernacular when it’s appropriate.

Most of what I write about is based in science and math. And, it’s important to link the vital role science has in the grape, tree fruit, berry, and nut industries.

Without science, there would be no new varieties, no dwarfing rootstocks. Without science, there would be no technological advances such as automation. Without science, there would be no new chemistries or IPM best practices to tackle the challenges of invasive pests.

I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re going to meetings and you’re reading our magazine, there’s no doubt you understand and appreciate the vital role science has on your farm.

This column hits your inbox at the close of another year and the end of another growing season. So, thank you for riding along with us as we try to provide the best information we can.

And, since I’m in a thankful mood, I’d like to recognize some vital folks who help us along the way. There are so many researchers, professors, Extension agents, and experts whose names have appeared in this magazine over the course of 2018, and more to come next year.

To all of you who have helped convey the importance of science this year, thank you. Thank you for being a source of data and analysis, and sometimes a columnist or contributing writer! Without your help our magazine would not be the same.

To all of you, I just want to say … You’re our favorite scientists.

Thank you and have a happy 2019!