Jarrod and Sarah Bowser

(Mikhayla) Good morning folks and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. And we’re here in Jackson County with Jarrod and Sarah Bowser where they will be talking about crops, their cows, their passion for agriculture as well as their plan to conserve the land. Stay tuned we’ll be back right after these few messages.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Mikhayla) I’m your guest host and we’re here with Sarah and Jarrod Bowser from Holton, Kansas. So to start off Sarah, talk a little bit about your farm and how it kind of all got started and maybe some history behind it. (Sarah) Mikhayla, we’re excited for the opportunity to share our agriculture story. Jarod and I really grew up in agriculture. I was raised on a farm in central Kansas where my parents still farm on a dairy farm that then transitioned into what is today a grain operation. So, grew up in the 4H and FFA programs, whereas Jarod also had a similar experience growing up. His family farm is right around this area. And then he also was in the FFA program which is where we first met. And then we went to Kansas State College of Agriculture where we met and dated. And agriculture is just inherent in who we are as individuals. (Jarrod) That’s right. In December of 2007, we both graduated from Kansas State University and my whole goal while I was going to college was to someday come back to the farm. And to start in, my Father, he farmed part time, had a job in town. And my Grandpa farmed full time. When we moved back in December of 2007, my brother had already been here for two years. He received his Master’s degree from Iowa State University with the goal of coming back here and farming together. He stared in and we started with a swine operation and some row crop. And then we expanded the row crop operation and kept expanding the swine operation until 2012 when things got… when the drought hit and everything and corn and everything was high priced. So we decided to… we kind of started transitioning at that point into livestock. (Mikhayla) And talk a little bit more about who all is involved in the operation now family wise and who’s hired on, I guess. (Jarrod) Well, my brother and I are full time partners in our operation and we work together. We grew it really from just row cropping Grandpa’s operation, expanding that. And then we also have great support from our uncles and from my Dad. He’s around here helping during harvest and the busy times. So that has been a blessing to be able to have them around to help us during those times. (Sarah) And Mikhayla as you look at the scope of operation, I think what’s really attractive about how we have tried to instill our skill sets. So Jarrod, he has college expertise and animal science, AI, livestock management, also Ag Econ. Brother-in-law, his business partner has expertise on the Agronomic side, a masters in corn breeding. And so making sure we build a team because production agriculture is a very real business. It’s not just a lifestyle, but it’s a business. So creating a family team full of various expertise so we can ebb and flow and sustain the challenges of today’s production agriculture while also having the diversity of talents to contribute to the team here. (Mikhayla) OK. Perfect. Thank you guys. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. And I’m here with Jarrod. And so Jarrod, talk to me a little bit about the crops you raise here in Holton. (Jarrod) Well here south of Holton, we grow a wide variety of crops. We have corn and soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat, sunflowers. We’ve grown a little bit of everything, triticale, and of course we also have lots of hay ground that we consider a crop here too. And we grow all of these different crops and it really…we try just about everything and we do a little bit of everything. Whatever we think is going to work the best for us that year. And we look at all the numbers and see what exactly we think is going to work best. We try a lot of different things. We are a no till operation here, 100 percent no till. We truly believe in that operation of no tilling and conservation. We are big into conservation. We try our hardest to preserve the land to make sure it’s here for every generation to come. And with that we’ve tried a lot of different things from doing a lot of cover crop and different aspects there, whether it’s radishes or hairy vetch or whatever it might be. We’ve done a lot of things to try and create more profitable economic sense for us and treat the land to make it’s better than what it is today. (Mikhayla) Also talk about what are some challenges that you face this year or in the past? Talk about that a little bit. (Jarrod) Some of the biggest challenges that’s been just in recent… is drought. Since 2011 really here south of Holton it’s been dry. And it still continues to be that way. This year it was really wet going clear into July and then just shut off and the beans they’re definitely not yielding what they traditionally would yield. But that’s something short term. That’s a challenge. If you think about an overall challenge of a young producer, I think it’s usually always just controlling assets and being able to have enough to be able to afford a family while farming. (Mikhayla) OK, sure, sure. Jarrod when you use your cover crops how does that affect, how does that play into your conservation role? (Jarrod) We started using cover crops about three…I guess it was 2012 when we first started planting them. And it’s I feel it’s a great asset for the land. If you look back, especially this year how wet it was back in May and the places that we had cover crops planted, that the soil held so much better and you didn’t see near as much erosion coming out of those terrace channels into the waterways. And it really benefits, I just truly feel it benefits the ground by adding great organic matter and I really enjoy the cover crops. I think it’s a great benefit to the future going forward. Also with conservation we’ve done a lot of things. We’ve actually narrowed all of our rows down to 20 inches from when where we started. So, that way we can get quicker canopy cover, better…have the plants themselves have better root structure out there fast. So that way we can help hold that soil in place during heavy rainfalls in the spring. We feel like all that does a real good job to preserve the land and help in conservation. (Mikhayla) Thanks Jarrod. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host here on the Jarrod Bowser Farm. Tell me the history about your livestock production. (Jarrod) Well, when moving back…well my brother moved back from Iowa State; he moved back two years prior to me. And we started with swine operation. We had a bin full of milo and prices were cheap and we thought we might as well feed it to something and make it worth something. So, we started on hogs and we slowly kept growing that and expanding that until about 2012. And that’s when we had a bad year, bad drought. We had no corn or grain sorghum to feed to the hogs. And our infrastructure is needing some upgrading. So, we decided it was probably just the best time to be able to get out of hogs. But at the same time, we were also along the way have been growing the cattle operation. So, at that point we just transitioned completely out of the pigs and we went all to livestock and currently we are running a cow/calf operation. We first started off with 30 head of Gelbvieh cows and that has grown and we’ve since influenced quite a bit of Angus back into the herd. And we’re predominantly all in Angus/Gelbvieh cross operation. And we’ve been going with that cross and we calve in March. We wean the calves off in August/September time frame, which will then fed ourselves until January/February. And then we’ll send ’em off to the feedlot to finish ’em. So we can get information back on them so that way we can make better production decisions on the bulls and the cows that we buy. (Mikhayla) So, you mentioned a little bit about your weaning strategies. What are some other techniques behind your production? (Jarrod) We really feel that you know, cows are meant to graze. So, we do a lot of things and one thing great about livestock, that they are great to have with a grain farm. And I mentioned the cover crops, and I think that’s something that goes hand in hand with them to turn the cattle out and let them go out there and pick cover crops and pick the residue. So, that has really benefitted us at being able to turn the cows out into the crop residue and the cover crops and keep them happy that way. And it cuts down on the amount of hay that we feed. And we really enjoy that. Some of the other production, like I said we’re Gelbvieh/Angus crossed and we really feel like that gets the best hybrid bigger in our operation. And as for rotational grazing, you know, we’re here where we’re standing, we’ve got multiple paddocks going south here. And we’re able to transfer the cows as the grass grows. At certain different speeds, you know you move the cattle to try to keep ’em grazing distribution even, you know. And keep the waters where they’re supposed to be and the minerals and everything to keep the grazing distribution even. (Mikhayla) OK. What are some challenges that you find with your production? (Jarrod) You know, growing up we were always on a swine farm and then we moved into livestock and there’s a few…we always had some cows around. Dad had a few cows and everything like that. But there had been some learning challenges, especially when it came time to feeding. We had some cow/calf, but we never really fed cattle. And there’s some challenges learning and developing that. And it did help tremendously that I did graduate from Kansas State with a degree in Animal Science. So that greatly helped in being able to build…develop rations and do those types of things to make sure the cattle grow effectively. (Mikhayla) Thank you Jarrod. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I’m here with Sarah Bowser, the other half of the Bowser Farm production. Sarah, tell me about your role in the sorghum industry. (Sarah) MIkhayla, I have the opportunity to work for sorghum farmers and to help promote producer productivity and profitability as a Regional Director for the United Sorghum Checkoff and National Sorghum Producers. I get to work with growers, just like the grower who raised the crop behind us, Brett Morris, here in Jackson County, Kansas. But I also work with the entire infrastructure, all the way from the end users and the grain handlers, as well as the researchers in the sorghum industry. This year we have a fantastic crop in Kansas. USDA has us forecasted to produce over 250 million bushels on 3.1 million acres. We also have an industry that continues to grow in opportunities. (Mikhayla) Next what is some exciting research that’s going on with sorghum? (Sarah) I’m glad you asked. Department of Energy has a big announcement. They have just invested over $50 million dollars in sorghum specific research, all the way from basic science to applied science. We’re excited to see that pipeline of investment go into the sorghum industry. Speaking of pipeline, the Sorghum Checkoff and Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission here in Kansas continue to fill the pipeline to look at new and novel investments to get back into the seed bag for the sorghum farmer. Those range from everything from looking at doubled haploid technology and what can that do for the sorghum farmer? All the way to looking at specific end uses. So, at Kansas State we have Dr. Sajid and he has done a number of different research projects looking at the different processing opportunities for sorghum, as well as the different applications including food aid. (Mikhayla) OK. What are some market opportunities when it comes to sorghum? (Sarah) Sorghum markets are extremely diverse and as we fill that pipeline of research, we continue to see new and novel applications for the sorghum industry. So, obviously, historically we’re very familiar with the feed side, but we know ethanol is a huge and significant industry for sorghum farmers here in Kansas. But also we have this expanding and exciting application- the food sector. Panera Bread just made an exciting announcement, knowing that sorghum is a domestically grown, ancient, wholesome grain. There’s a number of food companies, including Kind Bars that is looking at sorghum, all the way from looking at pet foods. So, sorghum being a high end protein, high antioxidant, low glycemic index grain. There’s some exciting applications in the pet food industry as well. Sorghum farmers have robust opportunities on the international side. We’re bringing in a Latin America trade team just this week. We’re going to showcase Kansas agriculture production, specifically sorghum utilization and production. And so we have some great opportunities for sorghum farmers on the market side, diverse opportunities as well. (Mikhayla) OK. Thank you Sarah. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. I’m here with Sarah in one of their family’s cover crop fields. And first off, Sarah, why is it so important to share your agriculture story? (Sarah) So, we in agriculture, we do something very unique to any profession, or an industry that produces a commodity, is we call it agriculture. So, it’s not just a business, but it’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle. So, as you’ve seen and heard from Jarrod and I, we grew up in agriculture, it’s a part of our very roots, it’s a part of our family. And as we raise our daughter, we expect to impart upon her the values and the principles that we in agriculture hold near and dear. But often we can forget, we in the business of agriculture, it’s not just a culture for us, it’s a culture for our consumers. You know when we sit down and we have a family meal it’s very much so, not just about nourishing our bodies, but about the experiences and the touches and the feelings and the connections with other people that we have as we share food. And so for me it’s very important because I know consumers make decisions, not just based off of sheer facts, but about an emotional connection they have with the nourishment that they have when they eat the wholesome food that we raise on our family farm. (Mikhayla) So with that, what are some challenges with getting the agriculture story out to consumers? (Sarah) So as an American agriculturist I am very proud of what we do. We raise wholesome nutritious, abundant food and we almost do it too good. Too good meaning that we have an entire society as you look at the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a basic psychology class, we have taken care of the human need of having shelter and food and we are very good at what we do. And we provide abundant, healthy, safe and very cheap food. By doing that people have been able to think more about their food and they want more than nourishment, they want an emotional connection. A food to fork movement. The understanding of where my food comes from and ensuring that those that grow my food, do it in a way that will sustain the earth, the environment, and our bodies for the future and long into the future. So, as we often know, farmers are the first environmentalists. We’re sustaining a cover crop. This is not a crop we’re growing to raise and sell, it’s a crop that we are going to reinvest into our soil. So, we believe very much so in soil health. Not just for the generation of farming that my husband and I are in, but for our daughter’s generation of farming and hopefully my daughter’s children and her children’s generation of farming. So, growing this crop of radishes and rye here, it’s to make sure that we’re taking care and we’re being good stewards of the food that we grow. But not only just the food, but the environment and the system that we grow it in. (Mikhayla) So what is the best…what are some best strategies to get this out to consumers? (Sarah) Certainly it’s not an easy story to tell right? We use a lot of science. We are very innovative in the agriculture industry and we continue to incorporate new technologies. And it’s hard to boil that down into a very synthesized, friendly message that conveys the sincerity and the values that we grow and feed the world. We grow food and feed the world with. So, as I think about the best tools that I’ve been able to find and I know this varies for others, is first and foremost on a daily basis, to share my agriculture story. So, whether that’s through social media, whether that’s through my peer Moms out there that are making consumer choices for their household, that’s my first prong approach. But then my second prong approach is to engage in agriculture organizations. So, I know I’m one of many farmers that cares about the food and fiber that I raise. And so, being a member of Kansas Farm Bureau, being a member of National Sorghum Producers, connecting with those larger grower organizations that can really help me partner with my peer producers to share the story, because each farm is diverse. And sharing that rich, diverse story is very, very important. (Mikhayla) Thanks Sarah. And thank you for watching That’s My Farm. We’ll see you next week.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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