Doing More With Less

Today I had the opportunity to visit Monsanto’s Water Usage Learning Center in Gothanburg, Nebraska.

It was so interesting to learn about the research they are doing with fertilizer, water, drought resistance, weeds, etc. however there was one particular part of the farm that really caught my attention.
There was several strips of crops that my tour guide Robert explained are showing how productivity has increased over the last 80 years and even some examples of corn in its original grass form. I know the stats and try to use them, but to see them in actual for was so interesting.
The first plot was the amount of corn it took to make a bushel in 1930. It took about 580 square feet to make one bushel of corn (a bushel of corn is 56 pounds)

In the 1950’s it took 384 square feet to raise one bushel of corn
In the 1970’s 192 square feet was required for one bushel of corn

In the 1996 136 square feet was required for one bushel. This year was so important to agriculture as this is when RoundUp was introduced. It allowed farmers to spray their fields when weeds were present and not kill the crops they were growing. This not only took care of weeds, but is a conservation practice, farmers do not necessarily have to plow their fields anymore.
Today farmers on average are able to get 165 bushels and acre and a bushel can be grown on only 104 square feet.

What’s next you may ask? By the year 2030 it is Monsanto’s goal for farmers to be able to produce 300 bushels and acre on only 56 square feet of ground! This is quite a feat, but things are heading in the right direction.

It is amazing when you look at the side view of these plots to see the difference form the 1930’s compared to today.
Farmers are efficiency experts. Today’s farmer feeds 155, what a difference from the 19 people fed by one farmer in 1940. They know exactly how to manage their crops in order to be productive. They know approximately how many plants are in their fields in order to be able to know how much fertilizer, water, pesticides, herbicides are to be applied if they are needed. They do not apply anything other than what is needed because it is costly and they have to be careful to conserve our natural resources. They realize more than anyone how important taking care of what the Earth has as more land will not be created 

Doing more with less is not only with row crops but the livestock industry according to (www.plentytothinkabout.org)
For example, since 1944, annual production
of milk per cow has quadrupled in the United States,

32 which means we need

far fewer cows to meet the demand for milk. Consequently:
• Modern production of every gallon of milk requires 65 percent less water
and 90 percent less land than it did in 1944.
• 76 percent less manure is being produced for each gallon of milk sold.
• The “carbon footprint” for a gallon of milk in 2007 was 63 percent lower
than it was in 1944.

 

The story is very much the same for every pound of beef found in the meat case.
• We need nearly a third fewer cattle today to meet demand than we did in 1977.
• Each pound of beef produced in the United States today requires 14 percent
less water and 34 percent less land, and beef production generates 20
percent less manure than in 1977.
• The “carbon footprint” for each pound of beef we buy today is 18 percent
lower than it was a generation ago.


Less land is available today for production with the way our population is growing. So basically today’s farmer is having to do more with less. (I think this means farmers should go into politics). They are using less land, water and implements than they ever have and are more productive than ever.



What Have I Gotten Into?

Back in January I accepted an internship with Monsanto for this summer. I am working with one of their brands called Channel. It is found mainly in the Midwest. Honestly I had never heard of it until I was told that is who I am to work for.

A few weeks after I accepted I found out I was going to be in the Dakotas. (you can read all about that here It Might Just Be South Dakota) I am now in South Dakota, been here a little more than 24 hours now, and it has been an intersting 24 hours. It all started yesterday morning with a 4:30am trip to the Saint Louis Airport where I had been at Monsanto’s headquarters for the week being trained.


Oh the joys of airport lines, security and problems. I flew to Minneapolis and there boarded a Great Lakes Aviation flight to Watertown, South Dakota. Great Lakes Aviation must be short for Crop Dusters USA because the planes were all tiny. Don’t believe me? Smallest commercial plane I have ever flown on.
 When it came time to board, they called for the Watertown flight and me and ONE other man walked up. It was just the two of us on the flight. Yep 2 of us plus 2 pilots, no flight attendant, no bathroom, no free drink. I had checked in first so I was assigned the special seat. The back row had three seats and I was to sit in the middle one to try to distrubute the weight as evenly as possible. It was a loud, bumpy and extremely cold flight. I even broke out my leather work gloves out of my backpack.
It was that cold.
As we began our descent below the clouds I got my first look at my new location for the summer. Lots of fields and a lot of lakes.
We landed at the Watertown Airport, no gate you just get out on to the asphalt.
When we taxied up to the airport and I looked around and thought “What in the world have I done??” This was the first time during this process where I doubted what I was doing. I had came 1,400 miles to the middle of nowhere and it didn’t hit me until I got here. As we deplaned I figured it would be warmer than the plane ride…false. When I stepped off the plane I was almost knocked off my feet by a gust of wind. I was handed my bags then it was off to the parking lot to find my truck, which wasn’t hard. My boss had described it as the dirty silver Ford (which I have since washed). Found it!
I loaded up the truck and started trying to back out and realized the emergency brake was on (so I thought). I released it and nothing happened. Engaged the brake and released it again, still nothing. I then got out the manual and tried to figure out what the warning messages meant. Texted my boss who had been driving the truck prior to her getting a new one. Still Nothing. Called the local Ford dealership who said to bring it in, but how was I to get there?!? So finally I got desperate and called my trusty mechanic, my dad. He told me to do the same things I had been doing and it still didn’t work. So then I cried a little and scared my dad (afterall I’m sure he wanted me to call him from 1,400 miles away crying) anywho, we finally got it figured out with a little extra jiggling of the brake pedal. Thankfully the only major crisis so far. The truck works fine now. Whew!
I then drove to my church so I would know where it was for today, bought a few essentials then drove the 70ish miles from Watertown to Webster, South Dakota where I am residing for the summer. I am living at Lakeside Farm Bed and Breakfast with Mr. Glenn and Mrs. Joy, a sweet Norweign couple who are retired dairy farmers. Their place is beautiful!
I have tried making friends with their cats, with no avail.
I got to the house and Mr. Glenn asked me if I would be interested in going into town with them to a celebration at the Webster, Armory. I did. (what else would I have done?) It was very interesting, the city of Webster and the city of Dewangen in Germany has had a friendship for the last 10 years and there are 36 people from the city in Germany here in Webster visiting. So it was an evening full of singing, musical and dance performances. There was even a German Polka band the town had hired to come in and play.
There was a huge crowd for a town of 1,900 people on Memorial Day weekend.
It is still cold here today. The drive to church this morning was more difficult than I am used to. It was extremely foggy and so windy I had to hold the wheel firm to stay on the road plus heavy rains. Not a fun drive, but it was very encouraging to be with brethren. I only brought summer dresses and sandals for Sundays. Thankfully I brought a few cardigans, but I still looked like a spring chicken today and it was 50 degrees. I am still cold and have the heat cranked up still trying to thaw out.  So for the most part the summer is off to a good start, I am just ready to start work on Tuesday. I’m not sure what I have gotten myself into, but I can face the uncertainty by finding comfort in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good”

It Might Just Be South Dakota

You really know where life is going to take you next, and it might just be South Dakota. Yes, South Dakota home to

Mount Rushmore
The World’s Only Corn Palace (I’ve been there and yes its made of corn)
The Badlands
The Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest
Cows (more cows in SD than people)
Corn

and this summer…. ME! 
This summer I have accepted an internship with Monsanto and I will be covering a territory that covers parts of North and South Dakota. I will be working with a brand that we do not grow in the Southeast, it is called Channel. 
I will have approximately 40 growers that  I will be working with and promoting some of  Channel’s varieties of corn, soybeans and some alfalfa. It is definitely going to be an experience. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a little apprehensive about moving 1,200 miles away. It is a comfort is knowing that is is for three months and not permanently. I do believe it will be helpful in figuring out what I want do career wise as I get ready to graduate in next May. I have been to South Dakota once before, but I’ve learned a lot about South Dakota in the past few weeks, there is not a lot there when it comes to people, churches, temporary housing etc. I am looking forward to no humidity, it will be very nice compared to the temperatures I am used to in the summer. I know a few people up there and have made a few new connections since finding out that is where I’m going to be located. If you know anyone in South Dakota or if you have any suggestions of things I should see/do while I’m there pass them along to me!