GPS and Squirrels’ Ears
Have you ever wondered how farmers know when is the best time to plant each crop? Do they consult the Farmer’s Almanac and pay attention to the signs of the moon? Do they wait for the subtle clues in nature, codified in sayings like “plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear?” Or do they get their guidance from crop experts?
According to an Iowa State University agronomist, the temperature of the soil is the key to planting field corn. 50 degrees F at a depth of four inches is the “magic number.” Another agronomist from ISU compiled data from years of research and concluded that April 15 to May 9 is the best corn-planting window for our part of the state. Of course, farmers are also guided by field conditions. For example, is the soil still soggy after the last rain?
This year we planted soybeans in the field south of our house in the second week of May and corn in the field by the windbreak the last part of April. The oak trees and the scientists agreed.
That’s the when of planting, and here’s the how:
The large yellow bins (called bulk hoppers) on top of the planter hold the corn or soybean seed. Seeds are delivered to individual row units by a computerized system that controls the rate and depth at which kernels of corn or soybeans are planted.
The planter isn’t the only piece of computerized farm equipment. The fields have already been mapped out with software utilizing the GPS (Global Positioning System), and that information is used by the computerized steering system on the tractor while planting.
The GPS guidance uses signals from four or more satellites to pinpoint exactly where the tractor is, enabling the tractor to drive itself while planting. The result? Perfectly straight rows with no hands!
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When we have a decision to make or a task to accomplish, where do we get our guidance? Thankfully, we have a God who is able and willing to help us.
The Lord will guide you always; Isaiah 58:11 NIV
If we’re smart, we’ll seek and wait for His advice.
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
Proverbs 1:5 NIV
Sometimes I wish I could have my instructions for the day appear each morning on my computer and hear a loud beeping when a course correction is needed.
How do we receive guidance from God?
The Lord guides us
through the wisdom and common sense He has already given us;
through the advice of wise counselors, friends, and family;
and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Just as the GPS uses signals from four or more satellites, we may be directed by more than one source. God guides us with love and kindness, desiring to maintain His relationship with us, which wouldn’t happen if we simply read instructions on a computer screen.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 NIV
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6 NIV
but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course
Proverbs 15:21 NIV