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Windshield farming

If you ride in the car with me, you’re going to get a scouting report on the crops we drive by. I didn’t realize how often I do this until I was driving a group of food writers and one commented on my observations. 

“I’m windshield farming,” I responded.

“What’s that?” she asked.

I’ve always referred to windshield farming as looking at crops through the windshield of your car or truck as you ride by a field. It doesn’t even have to be the farmer’s own field – any field of crops will do. 

Turns out the term has also been used to refer to a landowner who doesn’t do any work on the farm other than look through their windshield while a farm manager explains how the crops are growing. That’s not the windshield farming I know.

I started checking out fields when I was a county Extension agent and now that I’m a farm wife, I do it even more. There is many a night we load up the kids and drive around to all the farms we tend, checking out the crops.  You can tell a lot driving by a field:

  • How much rain the crop received
  • If the crops need fertilizer
  • If there are insect, disease, or weed issues
  • If any crops were damaged in a storm
  • If the seeds have germinated and if so, in how much of the field 
  • If you have replanted seeds (and we have) how many germinated
  • If the crop is ready to harvest

On the nights we take a family trip around the farm fields, my husband is evaluating the crops to plan for the next day or week. This helps him decide what needs to be done and which fields are a priority. After a storm, we survey crops to see if any were damaged. Recently winds blew down some fields of tobacco, so the next day’s priority was standing those plants back up. 

Driving by a field, you can get a picture of how the crop is growing. Sometimes we slow down to get a better look. Occasionally we pull into the field to walk the rows – unless it’s not our field. Then we just keep driving by. 

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