For these Indiana brothers, higher education is helping them make big improvements on the family farm.
Meet the new face of farming. Columbus, Ind., farmers Ben and Evan Daily are young, driven and well-educated.
"I have a bachelor’s degree in ag systems management, a bachelor’s degree in ag econ, associates in agronomy, a minor in Spanish and a minor in farm management," Ben says.
When "AgDay" first met Ben, he was attending school at Purdue University and working alongside his classmates to create an innovative senior class project—a remote-control tractor.
"The main thing we learned has been the incorporation of different systems to work together," said Ben last spring while working on their project. "It’s just one giant system trying to work together."
That practical project turned into a vital and efficient tool on the Dailys' farm this summer, eliminating the need for a tractor operator during sweet corn harvest.
"We actually increased our productivity by almost 200 dozen (ears) an hour on some of our best days," Ben says.
Some may question if having that many degrees is necessary, but in Ben’s mind, his entire college experience is helping him improve the family’s operation. Less than a year in, proof is in the improvements he’s already brought to the farm.
"I use the ag systems management to help increase efficiency of the row crop operation, as well as the vegetable operation," Ben explains. "And then I use my ag econ background to better the financial management of the farm."
He’s also taken the lead in areas the family would otherwise be forced to hire out. A good example of this is commodity marketing. Ben says by taking the right classes at Purdue, he learned to hedge corn or buy back crash grain sales on the Chicago Board of Trade using an electronic trading platform. He says that’s paying off.
His brother, Evan, is in the same field of work today, juggling college while working on the farm. While he’s taken a different approach and decided to attend school closer to home, he’s not immune to the fact that challenges are ahead.
"The biggest challenge is expanding within reach of the operation," Evan says. "Don’t expand too fast and try to expand some each year, but don’t take too big of a step."