College friendship extends to advisory group
With one notch in their belt marking their first year of full-time farming, these young bucks already have stories to tell and experiences to share. Iowans Josh Lammert, Zach Lynch and Nathan Whitehead are all in farming—and their friendship—for the long haul. They’re hard-charging under farming’s ropes, and it has already proven to be quite a ride.
"To have the first year be the worst drought in decades will be something I talk about for many years," says Lynch, of Redding, Iowa. He’s not complaining, though, noting that his first year couldn’t have been better on the money side. The past two years were the best ever for his family’s farm. He had some corn that yielded triple-digits, while some did not.
This same story was echoed by his two good friends. Genetics and soil type make the difference in a year like this when drought was relentless, agree Whitehead, of Riverton, Iowa, and Lammert, of Treynor, Iowa.
The three met on a crisp autumn day five years ago at Northwest Missouri State University. They discovered that they shared the same ag business major and all had plans to return home and farm. Since graduation, they’ve informally formed a peer advisory group and frequently talk about farm and nonfarm issues.
Farm Talk. "We talk tillage, equipment, technology, what works and doesn’t work on our farms, and we give each other honest feedback, which is invaluable," Whitehead says. The three also talk about preparing for technological developments to come, such as planters that will carry several different kinds of seed, allowing the right seed to be planted on the right soil.
"One hot topic of conversation the past few months has been the need to switch to 20" corn rows," Lammert says. All three were challenged with selling the idea to their fathers that the switch would boost yields. It isn’t just a matter of narrower rows but thousands of dollars in equipment modifications.
When college graduates return to the farm with new ideas, there is bound to be a little conflict. All three young producers say that while they don’t win every battle, they feel respected and a compromise is generally reached.
"My father values my opinion, but we don’t see eye to eye on everything," Lammert says.
For instance, Lammert and his father were looking for a tractor. His father wanted an older tractor with more horsepower, and Lammert wanted something newer with AutoTrack. His father ended up purchasing an older tractor with more horsepower that had the AutoTrack feature.
When Lynch returned to the farm to work with his father and grandfather, he quickly found his niche. "Dad is still in charge of finances and marketing, but I’m the go-to guy for technology," he says, having added AutoSwath, automatic row shutoff clutches and Precision Planting meters to all three planters.
Knowing he has to pull in his share of income for the farm, which focuses on crops and cattle, Lynch just wrapped up the paperwork for a beginning farmer loan with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and is leasing his first piece of farmland. "I told the FSA loan officer that if money was any cheaper, they’d be giving it away. I’m very excited," he says. As for equipment, Lynch will use his grandfather’s in exchange for labor—one perk of a multigenerational farm.
- December 2012
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