Road to Successful Farming has Four Stops

Country road

Blog written by CommonGround volunteer Charlotte Roesner, a corn, soybean and wheat farmer from Indiana. 

I’ve heard many opinions about what it takes to be successful in farming. The banker says it’s about the bottom line, while the seed company sales reps say it’s about improving yield. While they’re both correct because we can’t sustainably operate a farm without profit and good yields, we also measure success on our farm based on four components: technology, networking, taking risks and stewardship.



We use the technology available to us. The advancements in both biotechnology and equipment technology is so important in the operation of our grain farm. We keep up to date on research about fertilizers and herbicides, as well as plant varieties, so we are using what is best for the environment. We keep our equipment up to date to stay on top of the latest available technology in planting and harvesting our crops to help lessen the amount of downtime due to equipment failures. We are passionate about using the best tools available to produce high-quality crops and reduce our environmental impact.



Listening and learning from a variety of different people, both farmers and industry professionals across the country, allows us to consider new production techniques that may be beneficial to our crop. For example, we started using cover crops, or crops grown in the winter to protect the soil, after talking to several farmers who had success with them. Thanks to using cover crops on our farm today, we have been able to better control erosion, reduce the runoff of valuable fertilizers and improve the overall health of the soil.


Taking Risks

We value our ability and desire to take risks.  Not just any risks, but calculated risks. It’s difficult to improve a farm each year without taking a few risks. We take our time to research a new technique to make sure it is feasible for our farm. We know that not all risks will pay off – we’ve learned that through experience. For example, we used to grow crops on 1,800 acres in another state. We carefully planned logistics and finances and concentrated on taking care of the land since the new farm’s soil was completely different than what we knew.  We don’t farm that land anymore, but our work there taught us a lot about our strengths, weaknesses and limits.



We believe it is very important to be good stewards of the land under our care. Land is a finite resource. We must practice stewardship in a way that conserves all of that land for future generations to farm in order to provide food for our growing population. There are a variety of different ways to practice good stewardship.  We work closely with our local soil and water conservation district. We try new techniques, including cover crops, which, as mentioned previously, helps reduce runoff of valuable fertilizers and prevents soil erosion. We also use organic fertilizer such as used poultry bedding where we can. We also plant GMO seed to reduce the amount of chemicals we have to apply to our crop.


John Bobbe

Actually GMO’s require use of more chemicals and more farmers are now making the switch to non-GMO seed. Consumers overwhelmingly don’t want GMO ‘s in their food and they want a choice with labeling. It’s time farmers produced what consumers demand not what Monsanto wants to line its shareholders pockets. Looked at Monsanto’s quarterly profits for the last 3 quarters.

Jim Specht

There seems to be much concern about all the topics expressed in your blog. The natural resource of land of the American Farmer must be cherished. One alarming fact, National soil erosion lab suggests we as farmers, on average loose 3000 lbs of topsoil per acre per year. In my opinion, that’s too much. I like cover crops but the land application of gypsum will also do much of positive things cover crops do. Check the value of gypsum out.

The GMO debate is everywhere. GMO’s are the state of American agriculture like it or not. There is also strong research that GMO’s are nutritionally different. Originally the uptake and translocation of all nutrients into the plant was less efficient. 26 % less efficient. Looking at a couple of nutrients, namely manganese and zinc. Zinc being only approximately 53% efficient and manganese approximately 65% at the uptake and translocation of these essential nutrients. Research has also proven that the use of the very popular herbicide glyphosate, changes microbial populations in the soil. This fact, microbial population shifts associated with the use of glyphosate in many soil scientist opinion could have the greatest environmental impact , greater than all the other environmental influences in modern agriculture combined.
We as Responsible people must protect our environment. We must think for ourselves and not blindly follow any company let alone a company such as a Monsanto. I have this opinion that agriculture is being controlled by sales staffs promoting a product rather that scientist.
The American Farmer are the most resourceful people in the world. To say we need GMO’s to feed the growing world is a slap in the face. Genetic improvement in my opinion should not be just bushels per acre but also consider total nutrition grown per acre at the most efficient cost. Number 2 yellow corn is number 2 yellow corn. The nutrient content is rarely considered. Many changes in agriculture are needed. It is my hope it is lead by responsible scientists not salesmen promoting the product with the greatest commissions.

Former Organic Farme

By focusing solely on the increased pesticide use associated with GMOs (wrongfully or not) is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water. GMO food can help curtail the staggering amount of wasted food in the U.S. and throughout the world. When I ran out of onions this winter, I bought some at the store. Almost half had mushy middles. Onions could be modified to delay rotting. Because I threw half of them out, I paid 2x as much as I should’ve for them.

GMOs are not nutritionally inferior, nor is their any research showing they are dangerous for human consumption. In the end, this is nothing more than an attempt at controlling farmers and consumers through scare tactics. If you don’t want to consume GMO food, don’t. But not consuming it doesn’t make you healthier or morally superior. It just makes you a consumer who feels good about paying more.

Organic Farming

An excellent article, you have mentioned such great thing for successful farming, the concept of Road to Successful Farming has Four Stops, is really good.


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