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The wacky world of decision-making

Hart Attacks: When there is too much information, there must be an app for that

Here’s one “flypaper” email list you want to avoid — the Conservative Party of Canada.

I made the mistake back in Stephen Harper’s days as prime minister — it might have even been during his first term — but I sent a donation to the Conservative Party. The pitch was if I sent even a minimum amount I could claim a tax refund. So I did and since then they have never left me alone. I don’t think I have even ever voted Conservative since. But they had my contact information and obviously shared it around.

In the past year I couldn’t count how many phone calls and now emails I get on a daily basis all looking for support for the party in general or donations for one of the 287 people running for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. I exaggerate, it is only 14 running but even that is too many. (Each candidate can spend up to $5 million on their leadership campaign. So far they have all done it without my help. I’m afraid if I send someone a dollar they will want to move in with me.)

But with that number in the race for the PC top job, I am throwing my support behind the federal NDP party. So far they only have four people running for leadership of that party. If it creeps up to more than six, then I am throwing my support to the Green Party of Canada.

I don’t know which of the Conservative Party leadership hopefuls I would support. First of all 14 is too many people to be in the running for anything, unless it is the Miss America Pageant. It simplifies it to some extent that half of the people running I have never heard of, so I can discount those. And for the other half, putting their names on a board and throwing a dart to see which name it hits might be as good a decision making tool as any.

Maxine Bernier sent me the first email of all candidates with his first statement saying he wants to dismantle supply management in Canada’s dairy and poultry industry. A brave move by a Quebecer. And I like Kevin O’Leary because he too agrees that 14 is too many to be on the leadership ballot. I don’t know if he would be a great party leader or prime minister but he would shake things up a bit.

One candidate in an email this week asked me, “Are you a real Conservative?” and quite frankly, the answer is no. I don’t have any definable political leaning. I usually wait until general election time and then decide based on which candidate I like the most — who strikes me as being a fairly honest and trustworthy person and who has good hair?

Truth is I usually get frustrated with who ever is in power at the moment and then after they are out of office I learn to like them more. Right now if I had to pick a Conservative leader I would go with Kim Campbell. She is Canada’s first and only female prime minister. She was only prime minister for about four months in mid 1993, so I think she deserves another shot. I see her on the news from time to time and she seems like a plain speaker. She’s a sturdy gal who could probably put young Mr. Trudeau over her knee and give him a good spanking when he needed it.

With 14 people in the running the Conservative Party needs an app to help me decide who’s on first.

About making decisions

While the Conservatives wear me down with emails trying to help me decide on a leader (even though I am not even a party member), I continue to be impressed with how technology is working to help farmers make decisions.

Elsewhere in our March 28 issue of Grainews is a story about how the Manitoba-based ag consulting company Farmers Edge has developed computerized predictive forecast models (not the ones used in the last U.S. election, but better ones) to help farmers decide if some action is needed in their crop.

Farmers Edge started out in the variable rate technology business. Let’s map out a field by zone based on variation of soil types and fertilize at different rates accordingly. That was pretty progressive.

But now they have ratcheted up the precision farming business to a whole new level. In real simple terms, they take weather information, soil type, seeding date, fertility rates, tractor and field sprayer operating information and overlay all that with satellite vegetative imagery (which can tell you what you ate for breakfast just by looking at your skin tone) and come up with a prescription that says this quarter is a little low on nitrogen, or that half section is prime for disease and so on.

There was a time when a person might read Grainews and be amazed by someone who rigged up three old push-type lawnmowers to the side of a riding mower and got that quarter-acre of lawn in front of the house mowed in 15 minutes.

Now we are talking about on-farm weather stations hooked into IBM’s world wide weather forecasting systems, monitors connected to every piece of field equipment, all viewed by a satellite 400 miles above the earth, taking pictures as it travels past at a speed of 16,000 miles per hour that can tell you whether a three millimetre long wheat midge is about to attack your crop.

I wonder if they can modify this system so the next time I am rushing to get out the door it could at least narrow it down to the room where I might find my glasses, which I just saw five minutes ago.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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