Deep roots, strong values

In an industry where technology shifts in the blink of an eye, some things remain constant.

“Agriculture has changed a great deal in the last few decades due to new technologies. But the fundamental values that drive agriculture haven’t changed a great deal at all,” says Dr. Alan Blaylock, Agronomy Manager with Nutrien.

Blaylock grew up on a farm in eastern Oregon. “Family – working the land, working with nature, having control over your destiny – these values are the same today as when I was young on the farm, and when my grandfather was young too,” he says.

Terry Vissing lives those values on his farm at Marysville, Indiana, where he raises corn, soybeans, wheat and beef cattle. “My dad was running a dairy farm when I went to college. I called him every day saying, ‘Hey Dad which cow had a calf today? Was it a heifer or bull calf?’”

After two years in college, Vissing decided to go back to the farm.

“I called my father and said, “Dad, this is what I want to do.” Farming had already got in my blood. He was very good about giving me responsibility. I was making marketing and livestock decisions at a very young age,” Vissing recalls.

In his 45 years as a farmer, Vissing has seen many changes. “GPS, soil mapping, better soil testing … now I’m mapping, auto-steering, grid sampling, variable rate seeding, and doing some variable rate fertilizer applications too,” he says.

A Smart Grower …

He also relies on ESN controlled-release technology to increase nitrogen use efficiency. “This past year I was second in the Indiana NCGA corn contest. With no-till, I achieved 295 bushels in the corn contest. I was primarily using ESN as a nitrogen source. I felt like it helped me achieve that.”

Vissing recognizes that, while technology has changed, his lifestyle hasn’t. “I’ve never punched a clock in my life. That’s important to me – being my own boss. When you’re doing it on your own, there’s a push to do better every day, because there’s nobody backing you up,” he says.

Joe Leininger at Mishiwaka, Indiana, says farming was always in his blood. “I remember sitting in a combine with my Dad, and all I wanted to do was farm,” he says with a smile.

Four generations in, farming values run deep in the Leininger family. They were selected Indiana’s family farm of the year in 2007, an award based on factors like: entrepreneurship, diversification, family values, and community contributions.

Leininger’s family has diversified. They grow corn, soybeans, seed corn, wheat and pumpkins. They also help out in the community. “We go to food pantries and give them anything we have left at the end of the year,” Lininger says.

Integrity and hard work …

Roger Gunning, Nutrien account manager and ESN marketing rep, says, “You can put technology around it but, at the end of the day, the values in agriculture stay the same: integrity, honesty, and hard work.”

Gunning also grew up on a farm. “The passion of being in agriculture, I think it’s instilled in you at a very young age. That work ethic – it’s still what gets me up every day,” he says.

Gunning now follows the same ethics when helping farmers use ESN. “There’s a level of trust between you when you’re dealing with the end-user. They put their family on the line, and this is their livelihood, and they trust you to deliver when you say you will,” says Gunning.

In agriculture – on and off the farm – the core drivers remain the same. “Farming is as much a lifestyle as a business. There’s a great deal more business to it today than there used to be, but farmers choose to be farmers for the values, and I think they remain the same,” says Blaylock.