As a fourth-generation farmer from Humboldt County, Iowa, I take pride in the rich tradition of farming in my family. Throughout our history, my family has experienced the innovation that drives farmers to constantly improve how we care for our land and animals to produce food.
We are celebrating both tradition and innovation as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has proclaimed the week of March 21 through 27 “Agriculture Innovation Week” in Iowa. We also recognize the vital role that agriculture plays in our society with National Agriculture Day on March 22.
My family farm is a perfect example where using technology and new management practices will not only improve quality and quantity of the crops and livestock produced but also improve their sustainability. My great-grandfather farmed with horses, raising mostly hay and small grains. With the industrial revolution, my grandfather improved his farming operation, using tractors. My father also saw significant changes in technology during his lifetime. His first tractor was so small that he could stand and see over its top. One of the last times he rode with me when I planted crops, the tractor was much larger in size, we sat in an air-conditioned cab, and the tractor “drove itself” across the field using satellite-positioning to guide its path.
Technology has enabled us to be better stewards of the land we farm. We are managing the land by the individual square foot today and not by the farm field as my grandfathers once did or by the acre as my father once did. Today, we manage each seed we put into the ground and carefully apply livestock manure using the latest technology.
An Iowa-based business for nearly 30 years, Ag Leader, is privately-owned and family-operated. They design and manufacture rate controllers and flow meters to help pork producers like me apply manure more precisely. Every time I can replace commercial fertilizer with home-grown organic fertilizer, I know I am improving soil health and increasing farm sustainability.
The soil is a key asset for every farmer. We need to use all the resources and technology available to conserve and manage it, leaving the soil in better condition for not only the next generation of farmers but for all current Iowans.
Iowa has led the nation in pork production since the 1880s. 140 years of knowledge and experience are being applied each day to deliver a consistent supply of nutritious pork to feed the world. We may be the top producers in the country, but we can’t be complacent. We must continue to use our resources to take the next steps for improvement.
We’ve developed strong partnerships with researchers at Iowa State University as well as economic development partners within Iowa’s state government. More than 147,000 Iowans work in the state’s pork production businesses, generating $6.8 billion in income for individuals working here. The revenue from pork production and processing sales totals nearly $41 billion.
Innovative companies and individuals have made life on the farm and in rural Iowa more productive. Companies like Prestage Foods of Iowa in Eagle Grove use robotics to reduce the physical and mental stress on employees, while also increasing efficiency. This allows them to focus on higher level planning and thinking, bringing even greater value to their workplace.
There is no better place than Iowa to establish a new ag-related company. Iowa farmers are among the best at adopting innovative technology that will make our farms more sustainable. We enjoy doing business with local, reputable companies that understand what we do!
During #AgInnovationWeek in Iowa, join me in recognizing everyone in the agriculture and food chains. We are all working to utilize sustainable practices to bring a healthy, safe, and affordable food supply to our fellow Iowans and to the world.