As I’ve sat on-and-off on the combine on my family farm, it’s had me thinking more about how we conduct ourselves when it comes to our harvest operations, and who does what — especially in operations that have employees.
Everyone wants to be a part of harvest. It’s the most stressful time of the year, but also the most satisfying. You’ve worked hard all season to watch that crop grow, and have tended to its every need. It gives many a sense of accomplishment.
Managing a crew can be difficult and present many challenges during the dog days of summer, let alone during high-pressure situations. As I was sitting on the combine recently, I found myself thinking about sports at a non-professional level (I know, I know. Hear me out.)
When you’re playing a team sport, you most likely have substitutes. As a coach, if you are in a playoff situation, you are most likely going to put your top players in for the game. However, we all only have so much stamina. Do you keep those top players on and risk injury as players get tired? Do you substitute in the others that may not know the position as well, and too, risk injury?
During harvest season there are many different jobs. There’s managers, mechanics, grain cart operators, truck drivers, combine operators, etc. My question is, do we train each employee in their position to be the very best they can? Or, is this when accidents happen, because the proper breaks aren’t given, or minds aren’t stimulated in different ways?
Conversely, should everyone be well-versed in each job?
It comes down to the age-old question — is specialization a benefit or a drawback?
I took this question to Twitter, to get your opinion on the topic. However, I would love to hear from those of you that don’t play the social media game, to see what you run on your operation. Send me an email: [email protected]!
Here’s what those on the Twitter-verse had to say:
Specialize in one or two aspects of the operation. But with a long harvest a change of scenery is sometimes nice.
— Tyler Burns (@windypopfarm) August 22, 2020
depends on each persons skills and confidence
— Devon Walker (@Walkerfarm306) August 21, 2020
Me, Dad, long term employee (since 2005). Anybody can run anything. Sister also helps out on combine.
— Andrew Dalgarno (@Andrew_Dalgarno) August 22, 2020
Individual jobs. People come in that don’t always run equipment on the farm so keep them on equipment that they are comfortable running. Less mistakes and more efficient that way for us
— Ashley Willms (@ashley_willms) August 22, 2020
Everyone has their individual job, especially seasonal people, management will step into any shoe of needed
— Günter ??? (@gmjochum) August 21, 2020
With covid we will probably be keeping guys in their own machines as much as possible.
— Farmer (@Alberta_Farm) August 22, 2020
I have done it both way. I have also alternated two guys on combine and grain cart every other day. It’s amazing how they become better operators of each job when they understand what the other job needs to make it easier on themselves.
— Franck Groeneweg (@FranckGroeneweg) August 22, 2020
We have level 1 support, level 2 operators, level 3 operators. Level 3 can run anything. Level 2 can run a few pieces very well and training on rest. Support keeps everyone running
— Kristjan Hebert (@KristjanHebert) August 22, 2020