Jack Rabin, who is the associate director at Rutgers University's research stations, writes a blog called "Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe" (sustainable-farming.rutgers.edu). Although is it written for the Garden State producer, its points and principles could apply to just about anywhere.
Yesterday Rabin's article was about the Rutgers-developed hybrid male asparagus. I know there are people out there opposed to hybridization and the GMO thing, but if you read this article and are tuned into biology, Rutgers is doing nothing more than Mendel did with his peas. I think selective breeding is the farmer's responsibility to cultivate the best possible plant for human consumption under the circumstances which the farmer has to work with.
Anyway, if you get a chance to read this article, it is worth the time. I'm proud that our state university dives into this kind of science and that we can benefit from it. One of the lead scientists in the asparagus research, Dr. Steve Garrison, now retired but still very active, is an expert that has forgotten more than most of us will ever know. I have had the pleasure to sit and listen to him talk for hours on agriculture. He is also opened minded and listens to the farmers as opposed to being an agriculture science snob. The late Dr. Steve Johnston was the same way.
Dr. Garrison's methods are very simple. He is very detail-oriented and has honed his powers of observation to the point where he is well-connected to whatever he is studying. That's something I strive to do when I am in the field every day looking at the same fields over and over again. That's learning at its utmost and one of the things, in my opinion, that separates a farmer from someone who just puts seed or plants in the ground.