by Anyssa Gates | Apr 1, 2019 |
Real Growers Farming Different
Crops: Wheat, Barley, Canola
Solution: Smart Nutrient + Moisture Manager
Sean Stanford: Diligently Different
Sometimes a will really does make a way, as Southern Albertan grain farmer Sean Stanford has lived and learned. Technically a third-generation farmer but considers himself first generation, having started his stand-alone farming journey with no more than his farming roots and a strong desire to persevere. Raised on a grain farm, he knew he wanted to do the same, but lack of ground and resources didn’t allow him to join his father’s operation. Instead, Sean’s father encouraged him to get further education after high school and learn a trade, which proved to be a win-win. After graduating with his Journeyman’s license, he began to rent land where he could, while doing mechanic work on the side, all the while keeping his eyes on the prize of eventually farming full-time – a dream he is still chasing, but well on his way to seeing fulfilled.
Not one to give up, Sean has worked hard to find ways around the struggles of farming in his area. Sitting about forty-five miles east of the Rocky Mountains, two-thirds of the land he farms is irrigated and none is well suited for corn and soybeans, so he grows mostly wheat, barley and canola, some years alternating peas and flax. The biggest challenge to farming in his part of the world is not the quality of land, it’s the quantity. Sean says, “finding land is almost impossible due to strong competition and high prices, making it really hard to expand.” To combat the challenge, he realized he was going to need to farm different to make a living and continue to make a way for expansion. The difference he found was in custom spraying. When a local sprayer went out of business he jumped on the opportunity to fill the gap, bought a high-clearance sprayer, rigged up a trailer with water tanks, taught himself the ropes through webinars and videos and became a self-contained one-man spraying show. In addition to doing mechanic work during his six off-months of farming, his custom spraying operation has allowed his own farming endeavors to continue to grow.
Sean is constantly looking for ways to farm and work smarter and attributes Farmers Edge with helping him do that. Now going into his second growing season using Farmers Edge technology, he has found Daily Satellite Imagery and weather stations not only useful for his personal farming, but extremely useful for his spraying operation. He says, “a quick check of imagery every morning allows me a good overview before heading out to custom spray, saving me time in looking for issues and then I only have to address the places that need to be monitored.” In addition to the technical benefits he’s found through FarmCommand and the new soil moisture probes that are saving him time and money this year, he touts his Farmers Edge reps as another great resource, saying they “check in all the time, ask how things are going, address any issues right away and if anything needs updating or data is needed, they are there within a day.”
While farming is important to Sean, his commitment to family and giving back to his community are where the largest part of his heart lies. Having settled down within five miles of his home, Sean and his wife Amberley are raising their son, Huxley and daughter, Macie, immersed in family and farming. Sean’s brother and dad both farm their own operations and while they all farm separately, they are there to help each other when needed. Because family and community are important to the Stanfords, they give back in various ways throughout the year, including hockey and baseball tournament sponsorships and a yearly Thanksgiving dinner for local families. Sean has also been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years, becoming Captain a few years ago. He says it’s a huge commitment, but one of the most fulfilling things he’s ever done and he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve his community in such a way.
When asked what’s helped him get where he is and what advice he’d give others wanting to get into farming, Sean says, “If you have a chance to buy land and can afford it, buy it. Equity once paid off is priceless. Don’t be afraid to diversify and think outside the box, it might be an option to help get through hard times. Be open minded and open to opportunities that present themselves.”
Solid advice and proven principles that have helped this grain farmer grow in more ways than one.
By Meredith Bernard @ThisFarmWife
Meredith Bernard is a mom to two, photographer, writer and farmer living and working alongside her husband on a beef cattle farm in Milton, NC. Connect with her online at thisfarmwife.com.
Crops: Corn & Soybeans
Solution: Smart VR
Eric Wappel: Devotedly Different
For many farmers, farming isn’t just what they do, it’s as much about who they are and maybe even more about what they were meant to do. Indiana farmer Eric Wappel is one of those people and it only takes a few minutes hearing him talk about what he does for a living to know that his passion for farming runs as deep as his family roots in this way of life. Roots that go back three generations to a great-grandfather that farmed full time, a grandfather who worked full-time in the Chicago Ford plant, while tending close to 500 acres nights and weekends, and another grandfather who started the farm that Eric and his brother farm today.
For Eric, drive and determination have been and continue to be the foundation for his success. From the age of ten when his dad gave him and his brother a small field to grow pumpkins, gourds, squash and sweet corn, he learned to take an opportunity and make the best of it. From saving up enough money from his roadside stand to buy his first truck and rent a 34 acre farm without a loan as a sophomore in high school, he learned the benefits of working hard, teamwork and how to make the most with what he’d been given. Today he continues to farm alongside his brother, and these early experiences laid the groundwork for a successful partnership.
While it may seem like going into farming after he finished school would have been an easy decision, Eric says he had second thoughts. A self-professed “aviation nerd” he always thought he might go into commercial flying, but that never came to fruition. After attending Purdue in Ag Economics, he realized that when all was said and done his one true love was farming – and more specifically, his heart was in growing corn. So home he went and home he stayed.
Just as their father and grandfathers before, Eric and his brother have learned to farm the sandy, mucky soil in their part of northwest Indiana that was originally a marsh and can prove to be a challenge. The ground ranges from areas that require a lot of irrigation to others that don’t, some that is well suited for corn and beans and some that is perfect for growing mint, which is only grown by a handful of farms in the midwest. In 1991, the Wappel’s built an on-farm distillery where their mint is processed and now Wappel Grain and Herb is one of the leading farms for its production in the US.
It’s safe to say Eric has as big a heart for family and community as he does farming. When he isn’t farming (and even a lot of times while he is), he’s spending time with his wife and their three girls, ages two months to eight years. He says his oldest daughter is his biggest fan and never far away when she can be involved or helping him on the farm. In addition, he’s served his community for eleven years on the local volunteer fire department, the last four of which he has been Captain. Although this is a huge commitment, it’s something he’s passionate about doing.
Eric’s desire to do all he does to the best of his ability brought Farmers Edge into the Wappel’s farming picture a few years ago. He says their zone maps have been game changers for their operation. Before using FarmCommand’s satellite imagery, they had tinkered with pulling sleds across fields, but always had questionable measurements. He says they can now make precise decisions on seeding and fertilizer application rates, which helps them put their money where it’s best spent and saves time in the process. He also attributes his field reps as huge benefits, saying they are “willing to answer questions night or day, always making things work and with very fast turnaround,” which during planting and harvest is crucial. Last year Eric used his vSet Select planter to plant a combination of corn hybrids and “grow” the Farmers Edge logo in a field, because their different soil challenges them to not only farm different, but have fun in different ways, too.
If Eric had to give a young person advice on getting into farming today, he’d go back to the things he has learned along the way – work hard, earn respect, make connections with other local farmers to trade labor for equipment, don’t expect to start big, but work up to that if it’s where your heart it. Where there’s a will there’s a way and for Eric and his family, the will to keep their strong farming roots going is as plentiful as the crops they take pride in raising year in and year out.
Verdadeiros Produtores Cultivam Diferente
Yukio Yamashita Neto
Pacote: Smart VR
Falando sobre a telemetria, antes não era possível enxergar o que era feito na fazenda. Hoje, com a Farmers Edge, é possível acompanhar todas as máquinas.
Com isso, pude determinar uma velocidade de plantio e inclusive usar essa informação como parte da bonificação dos operadores, bonificando aqueles que trabalhavam dentro dos critérios pré-estabelecidos. Após essa ação, foi notável a diferença da qualidade do plantio dessa safra em comparação a safra anteriores.
Além disso, com o acompanhamento de cada equipamento, houve uma melhora geral na conduta dos operadores com os maquinários da fazenda, utilizando as máquinas de maneira mais correta, tanto em operações quanto no deslocamento.
Eu utilizo as Estações Meteorológicas acompanhando muito o Delta T. Apliquei somente em condições aceitáveis do Delta T tendo um resultado satisfatório. Então utilizei as informações da Estação Meteorológica para tomada de decisão para aplicação. Nos dias de veranico intenso, as duas estações não apresentaram condições aceitáveis de aplicar durante a tarde, então apliquei somente de manhã. E tive um resultado satisfatório, não tive ferrugem no final do ciclo da cultura.
Outra informação da Estação Meteorológica que utilizei é se choveu, assim eu cruzo os dados de chuva com o trabalho das máquinas para ver se o operador obedeceu ao período (carência) de aplicação quando se tem chuva.
As imagens de satélite, mapas de NDVI, era o que eu mais queria, pois assim tenho noção real do que está acontecendo na lavoura juntamente com os voos de drone que realizo. Dessa forma, utilizo as duas imagens para traçar estratégias nos meus talhões.
A previsão das estações meteorológicas está muito assertiva, é uma ferramenta que será utilizada para o plantio da safra, para saber a data correta de plantio no ano de 2019.
Mapas de colheita está dentro das minhas expectativas, foram bons para cruzar com outras informações.
Estou apostando muito no zoneamento que será realizado para a fertilidade do solo.
Crops: Wheat, Canola, Lentils
Trevor Scherman: Innovatively Different
In the words of Saskatchewan farmer Trevor Scherman, “Sometimes you have to look back before you can look ahead.” Looking back for Trevor includes visions of his 19-year old grandfather migrating to Canada from Austria with seventeen dollars in his pocket and rich hopes of making a life for himself and a future family, an ocean away from his birthplace. Four years after he settled and bought a farm, a severe drought that lasted three years threatened to take his livelihood from him, but an even stronger determination kept him afloat and today that same pride and passion for agriculture lives on through his grandson.
Trevor left the farm for university to get an agriculture diploma and then went on to work in agri-business for 17 years before he went back to his roots, buying his dad’s farm out and growing the operation. He now farms 6,000 acres of peas, wheat, canola and lentils with his wife, Michelle, who utilizes her Ag Economics background to make good use of the data they collect in various ways. Together they are raising two children with the hopes of keeping the farm in good hands for future generations.
The same entrepreneurial spirit Trevor’s grandfather had was passed down through the generations. When Trevor and his father, Pat, both natural-born problem solvers, realized their need for a fail-proof way to measure grain loss from the back of their combine but couldn’t find one on the market, they invented their own. Through their patent-pending solution system for combine loss analysis, Schergain was their answer and has become a widely used tool to save farmers time and money from losses. Given an Innovation Award by Canada’s Farm Progress Show in 2018, Schergain’s popularity for ease of use and accuracy is keeping both demand and hopes high for the young company.
With all the Schermans have going on, they rely on Farmers Edge digital agronomy tools to help keep things growing efficiently for their operation. Trevor says the weather stations have helped him both make and save money, and he relies on the equipment tracking to make sure things are running how and where they should be. He says having access to the data FarmCommand offers is important because it “allows you to have conversations with neighbors, bankers and lawyers based on facts, and it takes the guesswork out.” He also says that having FarmCommand data along with data collected from their Schergain implements helps them improve their operation every year. Being able to look back and see both what was done right and what could have been done better, allows for better decisions in the future.
While Trevor can’t know for sure that either of his children will want to keep the operation going, he says he’s come to realize the most important thing is setting them up to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. The Schermans plan to continue farming smart, utilizing the advances in technology they have at their disposal, and not be afraid to keep thinking outside the box to keep their farm profitable and growing. Trevor says their farm motto is “to make the best decisions with the best information we have at the time.” In looking back and looking ahead, this has been and continues to be a positive and productive outlook.
Crops: Corn & Soybeans
Rob Sharkey: Boldly Different
Rob Sharkey can’t remember the exact moment he knew he wanted to be a farmer, because he can’t remember a time when he didn’t. Growing up on his family’s hog farm outside of Bradford, Illinois, he knew he’d leave for college, but he also knew he’d be back – and that’s exactly what he did.
After graduating with a degree from Southern Illinois University in Agribusiness Economics, he happily headed back to his roots, married his high-school sweetheart Emily and was hopeful for a future doing all he’d ever known in the only place he’d ever called home. Two years later he found himself in the best of times, expanding the family operation through buying his own hogs, then almost as quickly he found himself in the worst of times, with the hog market crash of 1998, and along with it, the crashing of his dreams.
Rob says that year was the most pivotal one in his life. Yet as hard as it was to endure, enduring it is exactly what gave him the fortitude to excel in all that’s happened since. With a young family to support, quitting wasn’t an option, even though things didn’t look at all like he thought they would. The year after the crash he decided to diversify his farm by starting a whitetail deer outfitter service. The following year, while still helping his father farm corn and soybeans, he was able to rent his own ground and expand their farming operation. In addition, Rob and his wife Emily took the opportunity to manage a buying co-op, a job Rob says he was grateful for, but that his heart was never really in. As he continued to farm with his father, all responsibilities and full-time farm ownership eventually became his when his dad retired in 2008, giving Rob the chance to buy out his dad, and simultaneously give up his co-op job.
Fast-forward six years, after the loss of his father and working hard to keep the farm profitable, Rob felt a desire to do something different, in addition to farming and outfitting.
Having watched his friend Carrie Zylka’s success with her hunting podcast, he thought it would be interesting to start his own. Using his handle from twitter, the “SharkFarmer” podcast was born. When he began, he thought he would only be sharing hunting stories, but quickly realized they weren’t as exciting for a broad audience to listen to as they were to hear amongst fellow hunters. Instead, he changed direction and his podcast became a platform for farmers (and since then, non-farmers) to share life stories of strength and struggles, overcoming adversities, and in turn, a common ground for people of all backgrounds to tune in and be encouraged and inspired week in and week out.
Three years later, Rob and his wife Emily are now managing a media business that encompasses not only SharkFarmer podcast, but also SharkFarmer SiriusXM radio show, Shark Farmer tv segments, and one of the first-of-its-kind digital publications, “Ag Now Magazine.” Rob says he feels very blessed to be at a point in his life where he gets to make a living doing the three things he enjoys the most – farming, outfitting and media. In his words, “If you’re not working to your full potential, life will bite you. Life is easier when you go full bunny.” If he could give anyone advice on making it in farming or any other endeavor in life, it would be simply to “work hard and keep going.”
In 2017, one of his podcast advertising partners introduced him to the young Canadian agronomy company Farmers Edge and he was impressed with what he saw. He soon began using their products and has since become a spokesperson for them. He says, “When I first started using Farmers Edge, they challenged the way I looked at farming. Before using FarmCommand, I wasn’t implementing the technology side of my farm into the agronomic side. I had maps, but I wasn’t utilizing them. Now, through the accuracy of their variable rate prescriptions, I’m making more money.” He also appreciates the high quality of service he gets from their reps and the fact they make his job easier.
While opportunities continue to soar for Rob, he says he plans to retire eventually. In the meantime, he’s building his farming, outfitting and media operations that his four children will have solid choices to continue in, if they choose. If they don’t, he says he’s fine with that too. Never having felt pressured to come back to the farm, he wants his children to have the same freedom to pursue their own dreams.
When asked what legacy he hopes to leave, Rob says, “I want to leave the legacy that a good life is one that’s going to affect more than just yourself. In farming, you’re feeding other people, and that’s noble. In outfitting, you’re helping people do something they enjoy, and that’s noble. In media, you’re giving people a platform to tell their story, and that’s noble. “If you live a life where you’re helping other people, that’s a good life to live.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Farm Size: 4,000 acres
Crops: Corn, Soybeans
Solution: Smart VR + Moisture Manager
Randy Uhrmacher: Not Afraid to Try Something Different
During the mid-1980’s when many farmers were finding it hard to hang on, Nebraska native Randy Uhrmacher decided at the age of 18 that it was just the right time for him to dig in and make a go of it. As a fourth-generation farm kid, he knew he wanted to continue the legacy his family had started and when the opportunity to rent more land became available right out of high school, he seized it. Times were hard and the struggle was real, but so was Randy’s drive to make it work and that’s exactly what he’s done.
Change has never been a hindrance for the Uhrmacher farm, instead, it’s been a catalyst for growth. From what began as a multi-faceted operation with cattle, hogs and crops, today is a 4000-acre enterprise of solely corn and soybeans that Randy farms alongside with his brother and his son, Derek. When pressed as to why he thinks he’s been so successful, he attributes the lessons he learned through such a hard start and not being afraid to try new things along the way.
Randy isn’t different from a lot of other farmers in working the crops he grows, but he has had some different approaches to making his crops work better for him. With three-quarters of the land he farms being irrigated and the rest dry land, having a grasp on all agronomic aspects and moisture management are essential for raising and harvesting profitable crops.
Three years ago, Randy began hearing about a relatively new agronomy player in the field and he was intrigued enough to test the value he perceived they could bring. After having Farmers Edge on board with their operation for two full years now, Randy says they have brought value to the table since day one and it continues to grow and improve.
The Farmers Edge all-in-one approach combining Daily Satellite Imagery, on-farm weather stations, and variable rate mapping to their farm zones has made farming not only easier for Randy and his partners, but also more profitable and in the end that’s where the true value lies.
For someone who isn’t afraid to farm “different” when different means better, Randy is excited to try Farmers Edge new Soil Moisture Monitoring Service this growing season. Through what he saw using their test soil moisture probes last year, he’s ready to unleash this new technology across all their fields this year.
Across the board, from the complete data collected through FarmCommand, timely and friendly service from field reps, to state of the art moisture management tools that nobody else in the industry is offering, Randy sees his decision to join the Farmers Edge team of growers as a win-win.
Randy considers himself somewhere in the top third of farmers for being an early adopter to using new technology. He learned early on that by watching “pioneers” in farming who would try new things, he could learn from their successes and try to perfect their failures. That mindset and practice has gotten him through hard times and allowed his farm to continue to thrive. He has benefited from using Farmers Edge products the past few years and looks forward to continuing to benefit from the new and different ideas they keep bringing to the table. Different may be different, but it can also very much be forward.
Crops: Wheat, Corn, Soybeans
Solution: Smart VR + N-Manager
Farmer Derek Klingenberg: Famously Different
If there is one word that sums up farmer Derek Klingenberg, it would be “different.” When his grandpa migrated from Prussia in 1923 and settled down on a farm north of Wichita, Kansas, chances are good he had no idea the changes the farm would see or how his grandson would use his talents and out-of-the-box ideas to bring a well-rooted love of farming to a different stage.
From an early age, Derek was ingrained in not only the day-to-day of helping farm crops and background cattle, but he was also heavily involved in music, including singing in groups, marching band, and playing several musical instruments. After graduating from Kansas State University with degrees in Ag Economics and Agronomy tucked under his belt, he married and found himself back on the family farm raising a family of his own in addition to raising cows, wheat, corn and soybeans. But, his love for music and entertaining was never far from his mind and he eventually found ways to combine his love for both.
After teaching himself to play the banjo in three short weeks to contend in a local talent show with his two brothers and two friends, “The Possum Boys” band was born. While the group disbanded after three years and the other members went off to join a seminary, Derek stayed on the farm and decided he’d go solo, uploading videos of musical parodies and original songs to YouTube for fun. What was just a “fun thing to do” eventually landed him on the world stage, being interviewed on national news programs, spotlighted in People magazine and traveling from London to Germany to Nicaragua, all for calling his cows to feed while playing his trombone. Nobody was more surprised at the public’s reception of his videos than Derek was, and in the last eight years he’s racked up millions of views on his YouTube channel, which is the epitome of “different.”
In addition to a love for music, Derek has always had a fascination with all things space related. A couple of years ago he heard about the cutting edge satellite imagery that Farmers Edge offered and his interest piqued. He now religiously relies on their FarmCommand app in addition to their soil sampling services and zone mapping to help him determine biomass, cut nitrogen costs and make overall better input decisions for his farm. Having attended several farming shows recently, he says, “I’ve seen the flashy things other companies are offering. What Farmers Edge offers is the real deal and I know that, through not only my agronomy background but through having used their products.”
Out of all the Farmers Edge tools Derek has at his disposal, he says his favorite is their daily satellite imagery which is processed into multiple map layers to monitor crop health and variability. In addition to the information it provides on where to most adequately apply fertilizer (which is done remotely and sent as a prescription to his local co-op), he’s also learned how to judge the time when the satellite is flying over his farm and used that to his advantage to video his cows eating in the formation of images and words like “Hi,” a heart, smiley face and a cow pi. A self-professed “farm nerd,” Derek has found amazing ways to merge his own version of different with the differences Farmers Edge offers, to make a really big difference.