My passion as a news and technology junkie has helped my agricultural journalism career immensely. And one fun component of that curiosity and passion is to ask farmers what's new in order to learn their passions.

Such was the case at a recent Conservation Tillage Conference we helped sponsor, organized by the University of Minnesota Extension. During the Beer & Bull session, I spoke with a great father-son farm team from southwest Minnesota, and I was very impressed with their ability to Think Different.

The father's mindset and farming philosophy, which was edging toward retirement, changed for the positive when his son decided to leave his engineering profession of six years and come back to the farm two years ago. He said it reenergized his passion.

The son brought new open-minded thinking to the operation. One example is their switch to strip-till, which they ventured into after attending this conservation tillage meeting two years ago. New knowledge gained from presentations as well as peer conversations during the meeting sealed the deal to adopt this practice. They're very pleased with the transition period, and continue to attend this meeting to gain even greater knowledge.

If you don't have a son or a partner to help challenge your thinking, go seek other avenues to gain fresh perspectives.

My point – never stop learning and keep an open mind to try new or different practices, no matter how large or small. Invest time and money to attend seminars and conferences that not only provide insight into new practices, but give you a chance to swap stories with other farmers and industry pros.

In the case of this father-son team, the son's enthusiasm to explore new ventures truly reinvigorated the father who now enjoys mentoring, and thinking different.

Like I stated in my initial column in January, those who can find the value in change will benefit.