Ken McCauley Farm

(Mikhayla ) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host, and we’re here on the Ken McCauley Farm in northeast Kansas near the Nebraska line. Stay tuned for Ken to talk about the technology he uses, the next generation of farming, as well as his role on the Corn Commission. Stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Mikhayla) I’m your guest host. I’m here with Ken McCauley in White Cloud, Kansas. And first off Ken, what, how far does your family go back farming in this area? (Ken) Well, we’re very fortunate to have five sides of our family that have been involved in agriculture and own farms. And on my wife’s side also. So, we’re very fortunate it goes back 150 years. On this farm itself is 150 years, of my Great, Great Grandfather who is next door here. But as far as where we live here in this house, my Great Grandfather built this house in the 1920′s. My Mother was born here. My Grandmother lived here and it’s very special to us. We take a lot of pride in the fact that he was a real energized guy for farming with horses. But I think we’ve improved the farm as we go and we’ve expanded and that’s something that we’re really proud of. If you look at this farmstead compared to 43 years ago when I moved here, it doesn’t look the same. We had buildings, there was a milk barn, chicken house, hog house, dogs, cats, everything and today we’ve made it look more modern. We’ve remodeled the house; the house is a modern house today, much different than it was a hundred years ago. Really interesting to have seen the transition. And looking at our son’s farm today, hopefully one of our seven grandkids will want to farm and live here, because with our age and the things we’re looking at, we really want someone to take over this house that will take care of it and feel the same way as we do. (Mikhayla) So, with the whole farm operation, how many people do you have working under you, and who all, how did you go about that process. (Ken) Well, it’s actually two separate farms, our son has his own and we have our farm. And our farm has grown knowing that he was coming back from K-State. He’s been back here over 10 years and it’s actually, he has his farm, me and my wife, she’s very active. We have two full time employees which are very close to us, we treat them as family also. And then in the off season, harvest time, the busy time, we have up to seven total. So, it’s a big enterprise once things get rolling. But in the off season, it’s basically three of ‘em, cause I’m not around here as much as I used to be either. So three people run the place 75 percent of the time. (Mikhayla) OK. How many children do you have Ken and what’s the future looking like for the farm? (Ken) Well our son farms with us, and he’s eventually going to take over the whole farm. Right now, he’s making all the decisions and he has four children, three girls and a son. Our daughter works at Archer Daniels Midland in Kansas City. She’s a grain merchandiser, so she’s involved in agriculture. Both graduated from K-State and both of ‘em I feel got a…they make very good use of their education. You know back when I grew up people said you didn’t need a college education, didn’t do you any good. I really think they got a lot out of their education and you know hopefully one of those grandkids or two will want to live here and be a part of the farm. That’s what I think every farmer dreams of is passing it on to, not only your son, but down the road of what grandkid would like to farm. (Mikhayla) OK, thank you. We’ll be back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) We’re back here on That’s My Farm at the McCauley Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your host this morning, we’re gonna go into some depth about some corn specifics here with Ken. So, just to start off, what are some varieties you have here? (Ken) Well, we tend to plant, start planting with our shorter season, a 107 day variety of maturity corn. We end of up with about 115 day. Right here we’re in a 112 day variety planted at 34,000 populations, which is about six inches apart on 30 inch rows. We try to fertilize for our yield goals. And this year, we’ve exceeded our yield goal with less fertilizer. So, something we’re really proud of. We’re actually getting 240 bushels an acre off of this field with 180 pounds of nitrogen. And most studies show that it takes more nitrogen than that. So, we feel that’s sustainability topic is really, really getting fulfilled right now. So, when you look at the things we put in this field, we’re getting the most bushels for those inputs and that’s really important. Most people don’t understand, we talk to environmental groups about that, they do not understand that what you get out of it makes it more valuable. That’s really important. The other part of it is you can see this field is really clean. We fight the weed resistance very close. We try to get the three-legged stool where you’re attacking that weed from not just one point of glyphosate, but you try to hit it with three different kinds, and you can see the fields are really clean. Really proud of that. My son takes care of all that. He owns a sprayer, we hire him to spray and he takes care of the chemicals. He’s our agronomist in the field and it’s really good to have someone young to take care of that because as we get older, our brains fill up and there’s nothing left. (Mikhayla) Go ahead and talk about how your soybeans fit into the rotation here. (Ken) Well we look at…and soybeans are a very valuable crop, but to us, the soybeans are a rotation crop. And this year the soybeans are really yielding good. But we’ve had some of this land in corn for as many as five to eight years at a time. Some people longer than that. As you go east of here you have more rolling land and more slopes, you need to have more corn. And the longer you put corn out there, the better your soybeans will be because the corn just builds up the organic matter, builds up the soil. We’ve found that if we’ve had at least three years of corn, the soybeans will be quite a bit better after that. But you break down, your chemicals work better if you rotate. Most farmers rotate 50/50. We’ve gone as high as 80 percent corn, and in the fall that really makes your life intense. And right now we are at 60 percent corn, 40 percent soybeans. And we could wrap up soybeans in the next four days. (Mikhayla) Talk about how the crop prices are affecting the farm this year. (Ken) Well prices aren’t as low as they seem, they’re actually just a little bit higher than they were a year ago, and we have close to the same yields. And I know everybody doesn’t have the same yields as last year, but I think it’s gonna turn out to be a more profitable year, than we anticipated. It won’t be near as much as two or three years ago, but we’re satisfied with the yields and the price. I really think as soon as we get through with harvest, we’re gonna have some kind of an increase in the price. And that will make everybody feel good too. But that’s where the grain storage comes into play. It really helps not having to sell at harvest when there’s a market glut. It’s a big beneficial aspect to our farm. (Mikhayla) Thank you. We’ll be back after these words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and we’re here with Ken McCauley just on the west side of Doniphan County and we just want to talk to you Ken, a little bit about your latest technological advances you’ve done here at the farm. (Ken) Well, we’ve always been early adapters of technology and going from the yield monitors all the way to the auto steer and now the drone technology. With the bins in our background we have the computerized tower dryer system and we don’t monitor the bins directly with wires but we keep track of them with different things that we can use on the iPhone technology, but we’ve got the cameras set up so we can watch things. Not to watch the people work or the guys, but just to keep track of things cause it’s really neat all the things that we’ve got. And I think that’s a big part of why our yields are up, why we are doing such a good job, sustainably farming, I mean we’ve got to keep up with the buzz words but all these figure into the job we do on the farm, and how we keep track of things. Because when you talk about sustainability, the real deal is we’re documenting what we’ve done. We don’t get enough credit for the things that we do. And the sustainability is part of documenting, being able to say, this is what we’ve done. (Mikhayla) Go into a little more detail about your drone, and how long have you had that? How familiar you are with using that? (Ken) Well, I put it off for a year. My wife wanted me to buy it a year ago, and I’m glad I waited. This drone, UAV technology has just been advancing at a record pace, and you see the people who say we should drag our feet, we should wait. You can’t wait for these things. You have to get your feet wet, you have to do these things, just to figure it out. Because I was very apprehensive about learning it and this. And I’m not scared of many things, but I was scared of losing it. So you have to get it, you have to learn how it’s going to work. But I see so many possibilities with being able to check your crops. Not necessarily all of ‘em, not doing this full time. But the beauty of it is you can send it out, come back, done. You don’t have to call anybody, you don’t have to wait on an airplane to fly, you don’t have to pay a lot of money. It’s really a toy, but you’re seeing the advantages of it. They’re just huge. (Mikhayla) Sure, sure. Also go into some more detail about the technology you have with your bins and if the market requires the different things you can do. (Ken) Well if you look at our bin system, we designed it to be able to isolate and identity preserve crops. And that’s kind of where I grew up and the things that were changing. I visualize that as a big deal. The market hasn’t offered enough money or any money at all, to make that beneficial yet. But if the market decides that they need that and they want to pay enough for it, we can do it. And it’s a different scale than some people think, but really these are large bins. But that’s the way agriculture is today. It’s just a bigger scale. So, we feel we can adapt to anything the market asks us to do. (Mikhayla) Sure, OK. Well thank you Ken. We’ll be back after these few words from our sponsors.

(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. And I’m here with Ken McCauley. And you are a part of the Kansas Corn Growers and Kansas Corn Commission. Tell me, is that correct? (Ken) Yes. I’m involved in both. And the Kansas Corn Commission actually is the checkoff side of things. In the Kansas Corn Checkoff, it’s one cent per bushel; it can be used for promotion and research of corn. And to be honest that’s how the ethanol business bloomed so well in the past 10 years is because of your checkoff dollars. (Mikhayla) And how are you involved in those two organizations? (Ken) Well, I am a board member of both, but being a board member of Kansas Corn Grower’s Association has really given me a lot of insight into what really needs to happen and why things have happened the way they have. And I would like to say to all the members out there, thank you for being a member and for those who are not, to become a member. Because it’s really important that farmers become active in organizations that will represent you at state level and at the national level because that’s where things…you just need a voice there. And size does matter. So, if there is one message that we could give is to become a member and to realize how much that voice is, how important that really is. (Mikhayla) OK. What are some key issues that are with those organizations? (Ken) Well currently we have the Environmental Protection Agency trying to make a decision on the Renewable Fuel Standards and our message has been, and still is, to keep the RFS in place as it is at the current levels. And that is really important to the price of corn, demand for corn, all those things. EPA also is attacking us on the Waters of the U.S., which could change drastically. Right now it’s in the courts, judges been in our favor. We continue to fight that because that’s terribly important to us. If anyone’s read about that, that is just a total infringement on all of our property rights. Then there’s also the atrazine issue that EPA continues to look at. They’re just attacking us on so many fronts, we need all the representation that we can get. (Mikhayla) How does being part of a large organization help you on your farm here? (Ken) Well, it gives us some time to do our work and know that we’ve got people working for us. The other part of it is, is that there’s so many things that we get represented on in Washington and Kansas, that you just can’t keep track of ‘em. There’s always somebody watching out for us and it’s really important. Granted, those things will happen regardless. But the other side of that is if you’re not a member you can’t say that you did your part. And it’s really important right now to speak up for yourself, to speak up for agriculture and to help someone speak up for you by being a lobbyist or being a person watching out for the EPA. The watchdog type mentality is just really important right now because we’re just under attack from so many sides. (Mikhayla) Thank you Ken. 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 we’re here with Ken McCauley. And to start off, what kind of plan do you have in place to pass on your farm to the next generation? (Ken) Well, we’ve always looked at this as, how are we going to keep the farm intact? And we’ve been at this transition period for about five or six years. And we finally got to the point where we have a plan in place and we feel like it’s working. It’s working best for our family and our son and our daughter and all of our grandkids. So, the fact that we have the plan in place doesn’t mean it’s finished because it just continually needs to be looked at and how’s it working, things like that. (Mikhayla) Talk about your son and his son and his family and how they’re involved with farming at the moment. (Ken) Well our son currently has his own farm. And that’s one big thing that my Dad always stressed to me, that we need to be using our own money, growing our own business. And that’s been a really big influence on my life. And it’s the way we’ve done it with our son. We had a large farm together-that it was his farm and our farm. Currently his farm is getting bigger, our farm is getting smaller. And we’re just really lucky to have enough land to do this cause some people can’t. But in the 80s it seemed like it was just terrible hard to do because there was not enough profit to make that happen. We’re really lucky, the fact that we’re coming off of a good profit time. And everybody’s grown. So, we feel really confident that that’s going to work to where we still own our land, we lease the land, retire off of it, and then as far as our estate goes, the right things will happen there when we decide to pass away. And we don’t get to decide that! (Mikhayla) Right, right. Your son and his son, how do you think he’s planning on…you think he’s going to follow in your footsteps of passing the farm along? (Ken) Oh, I’m sure our son Brad is. He’s talked about being impressed by the fact that we’re doing this to make the right things happen. He’s talked about doing it himself. As far as which grandkid or how many will want to be a part of the farm, you never know that when…I mean your age, you probably know what you’re gonna do, but as far as a high school kid, things like that, you just have to let things happen. And I’ve always been pretty good at that. Just throw it up in the air and hopefully you can make the wind blow in the right direction. (Mikhayla) What do you think the differences are from when you started farming back in the day to now? (Ken) Well, if you look back into the 1960′s when I started farming in high school with my brother, things have changed so much. Coming from a tractor without a cab that was really wheels out in the open and a plow, to no till farming today with all the auto steer, precision things that we do, it’s just been a huge eye opener for me. I think my son even recognizes the fact that these things have really improved our life. We should…my life’s much better than my Grandpa’s life. I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve known three of my Great Grandparents. I was old enough to know that. Their bodies were…they didn’t live as long, their bodies were broken up. Mine isn’t in good shape, but I think all of this agriculture improvements because of profits, because of different layers and I really think that is a huge deal, not to mention the profit potential we have because of the increased yields. (Mikhayla) OK. Thank you Ken. Thank you for watching That’s My Farm. Make sure you tune in next week for the next episode.

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

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