I’m the fourth generation farmer on our home farm, where we grow corn, soybeans and wheat.
My dad was a farmer, and he thought it was very important for us as children to be part of the farm. I got my start driving tractors by about age nine and was combining corn by 11. After graduating from college, I came back to the family farm and have been farming ever since. That was in 1972.
Always learning from and working with Mother Nature
I believe farmers are the original conservationists and environmentalists. We have to work with Mother Nature to produce a crop, to always be ready for any curve balls she throws our way – whether it’s too much or too little moisture or too many insects.
I also think it’s the goal of every farmer to pass the farm down to the next generation in better condition than he or she received it. I’m doing things differently than my dad did when it comes to conservation and sustainability. Planting buffer strips along fields to help reduce water and soil erosion, and providing needed habitat for wildlife and pollinators are just a couple examples.
Planting pollinator-friendly weeds
As farmers, we have a great opportunity to be a partner in bringing back pollinator populations, including the iconic black and orange monarch butterfly. I can remember as a young boy cutting milkweed out of soybean fields by hand, so I would have said you were crazy if you would have told me I’d now be planting milkweed. But what we’ve learned is that milkweed is less available than it was years ago, and we can plant it – and control it – in some of the non-productive areas of the farm. It’s good for the farm and it’s good for the monarchs.