12.9.14 / admin
Road to Successful Farming has Four Stops
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.
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.