Drainage Contractor

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Editorial: Let’s get together

Getting together virtually, and in-person, helps us challenge ourselves and grow.

June 17, 2024  By Bree Rody


Remember when you were a kid, and you would take long car trips with your family? Surely, you had one or two little rituals in which you’d engage – for my siblings and I, we used to hold our breaths every time we passed over a bridge, or lift our feet off the floor of the car every time we went over rail tracks. Sometimes, we’d yell things when we saw certain animals on the side of the road. I didn’t grow up on a farm (or even near any farms), so naturally, we’d excitedly yell, “cow!” every time we saw some standing in a field.

Okay – admittedly, I still get quite excited about certain farming activity. It just happens to be more niche than seeing cows in a field. For example, since the start of spring, I’ve had more than a few instances of yelling, “Hey! They’re spreading manure!” On a recent road trip with my mother, I got so excited to see a team digging trenches for drain tile that I had her pull over so I could chat to the team and take a few pictures.

But because I didn’t have that experience with farming growing up, and none of my family or friends have connections to agriculture, I often must explain my job to my lifelong friends and family. I also have to explain why certain things make me excited. While they just see trenches in the ground, I (and contractors!) see a particularly ambitious or complicated project.

As such, it’s nice to be in environments where other people understand just why a new tile installation project is worth getting out of the car for. My work travel mainly consists of excursions to the heartland of Canada and the U.S. – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Saskatchewan and every little town in between.

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This past February, I was lucky enough to travel to the LICA Annual Winter Convention in Virginia. LICA are always tremendous hosts, so I knew that the event would be filled with great food and drink, lively discussions and hospitality one would never find in the likes of New York or Los Angeles.

It was incredibly valuable to be in the presence of LICA members and chapter leaders and learn what is important to them right now, in 2024 – engaging current membership, continuing to foster positive relationships with all stakeholders and ensuring that farmland is well-drained for strong yields. But what was even more refreshing than the ocean air was being surrounded by other people who get that glint of excitement in their eyes when talking tile.

The industry is not always fun and games – red tape, regulations and divisive issues mean that sometimes, things will get heated.

But overall, when a group gathers in an environment and setting where farming and tiling are understood and appreciated, the excitement for the craft becomes palpable, and valuable ideas are exchanged with wild abandon.

It’s important that the industry can gather frequently and encourage the exchange of ideas. We’re not just talking pats on the back and empty platitudes; we want to challenge each other as much as we celebrate each other. We need to ask the hard questions – like how can we encourage the adoption of edge-of-field practices (especially if they someday become mandatory)? How can we make new innovations, like bioreactors, more obtainable and accessible? And how can we utilize new technology like LiDAR to dream bigger and tile smarter?

Nothing brings these discussions to life quite like a meeting of the minds. Snacks, drinks, comfy chairs and good company are all it takes for the ideas to start flowing. DC


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