In May 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark, commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, embarked on a transcontinental trek.

Jaynes lynn
Emeritus Editor
Lynn Jaynes retired as an editor in 2023.

With 33 individuals in the party, their objective was to explore and map the territory recently acquired through the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and establish an American presence before other nations tried to claim it.

Their journey would last until September 1806 – two-and-a-half years.

I have a copy of the map Lewis and Clark used when launching their trek. Every time I study it, I’m struck by the inaccuracy and inadequacy of it.

The map had been compiled from verbal narratives of trappers and mountain men, and although some of the rivers’ relationships to each other are recognizable, the proportions of this map are skewed, like looking in those funky mirrors at the carnival where everything is horribly distorted.


For instance, being accustomed to the mountain ranges of the East, Lewis and Clark’s map only depicted the Rockies as a narrow range. In short, Lewis and Clark had no understanding of the width of the Rocky Mountains or the expanse of the continent. No wonder they nearly starved.

Lewis and Clark were aware the map was inaccurate before they started and, in fact, part of their mission was to fix that. So they just started with the information they had.

But the point to bring away here is: They started. There wasn’t anything wrong with the vision; the integrity of the vision was still intact. And with vision, they set out to discover and experience the reality.

During their journey, when reality collided with vision, Lewis and Clark drew about 140 maps. One hundred forty. Does that number tell you anything about the impact between Lewis and Clark’s vision and their reality?

Does this sound familiar to you? What was your vision when you started farming? How big was the collision when reality hit? What was the fallout?

Can you look back those several years ago and say: “Yes, despite the reality, the vision is still good. There’s nothing wrong with the vision, even if we at times almost starved to death.” Sure, we all have to adjust for the realities, maybe even 140 times or more, but it would be utter defeat to lose the vision.

We have an interesting interview in this issue about infrared rays (page 10). The light spectrum visible to the naked eye is our reality. It’s just not a complete reality. Infrared rays increase our “vision.” They are invisible to the naked eye – can’t see them, can’t feel them.

They’re like x-rays. I can see the results of those rays, but I can’t see the rays themselves. In fact, there are a whole lot of rays I can’t see – gamma rays, ultraviolet, radar, radio or TV waves.

I can use them; I just can’t see them. In fact, my eye-vision only covers a very small part of the known wavelength spectrum, to say nothing of the possible wavelengths we haven’t yet discerned at all.

In other words, without infrared images, we’re farming pretty much like Lewis and Clark were exploring. We’re depending only on the limited field of knowledge provided.

Crop infrared images, on the other hand, smack us upside the head with reality, thus improving our vision. They provide us with information we can’t see, taste, touch or smell. They virtually track water and nutrient footprints across the farming landscape.

So the question here is: Once we know that an infrared map is available and much more complete than the site-farming map we’re currently using, would we really want to continue forever with our distorted one?

Wouldn’t we want reality and vision to be more closely aligned? I, for one, really hate getting smacked upside the head. I’d rather have my vision more closely connect with reality.

As some wise person once said, “Vision is good and reality is inevitable, but insight makes all the difference.”