(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and I’m here in Howard, Kansas, at the Bellar Farm where it is nighttime as well as harvest time. We will follow Mike through his crop and hog production, as well as talk to him about his involvement in the Kansas Soybean Industry. Stay with us, we’ll be right back.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Mikhayla) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and we’re here in Howard, Kansas, with Ben, Ethan and Mike Bellar. So to start off Mike, tell me about the history of this farm and how long it’s been going. (Mike) I am the third generation here on this farm. And these two boys and plus I have another son Luke, they will be the fourth generation on this farm. My Grandpa, my Dad and then myself. We’ve kind of…my Grandpa and Dad didn’t farm a whole lot and we’ve kind of…this third generation which is my wife and I, we’ve expanded on that. And we hope to be able to bring three sons in to farm. And we’re going to have to go through another expansion here in the near future. But we hope we can make it successful and bring all three boys home to farm. (Mikhayla) Do you have any plans in place for the next generation of farming with your boys? (Mike) Well, we’re kind of, it’s just kinda of finding land to rent or buy is gonna be a big challenge. We may have to diversify to an area farther away than what we’ve been going to farm. We may have to go 30-40 miles at some point in time. I don’t know yet. Ethan is still in high school, so he’s not here full time and the other two boys have just graduated college. And so, we’re just kind of playing it by ear to a certain extent. We have a long range goal in mind, but it’s just going to take a little while to implement it. (Mikhayla) What do your sons do here on the farm? I know you mentioned your one son is kind of in charge of your hog operation. What roles do they play here? (Mike) Luke is running the finishing end on the hogs. It’s pretty well a full time job doing that. Ben, he trucks, he hauls commodities most of the time. But during harvest or wheat planting or on weekends he’s home and he helps here on the farm. And until I decide to give it up and turn it over to him or we find some more land to farm, he’ll probably continue doing that. (Mikhayla) OK, thank you guys. We will be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host and we’re here with Mike Bellar in Howard, Kansas, in front of his hog operation. So to start off Mike, tell me some background information on your hog operation. (Mike) I started…my Dad finished hogs. He started finishing hogs when I was a Sophomore in college. I came from school, when I graduated and we built another hog confinement barn for finishing only. Soon after that my Dad retired from the hogs and I took over both barns. Did that for about 12 years. Then I was getting…we were having a little bit of trouble buying feeder pigs finding a source, so in ’93 we built a sow operation to go along with the finishers. We liquidated the sow end after 22 years last July. The sow operation worked very well for us. It made me fully employed. We could market our grain, our corn especially through the hogs. When we were going full speed on that I had about 420 sows for completely farrow to finish. In the process, in the meantime, we’d built seven more…during that time we built seven more hog barns for the farrowing, nursery, grower and finishing end of it. I liquidated the sows. Barns were getting old. They needed updated. I was getting tired of it. We’d managed three hired help, hired men for those years. I just needed a change of life, needed to kind of do something a little bit different. Bev would get away from the farm, where I…those years with sows, I was very tied down with was what was going on. But I have a son that just graduated from Fort Hays State last May and he’s taken over the finishing end. We’re buying feeder pigs now and we’ll finish out about…we have capacity for about 3,500 head of hogs. And we’ll finish out about 7,500 hogs a year. We’re marketing our hogs through Triumph Foods in St. Joe, Missouri, which is…which really works well. Back in ’99 we had an episode with $8 dollar fat hog market. And I always said if I ever had a chance, to Bev, to buy into shackle space, I would do that. Well through Triumph I am able to own shackle space and we market our hogs that way. And we sell ’em on a carcass basis and the hogs…then we get dividends from Triumph Foods on a regular basis. (Mikhayla) Thank you Mike. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. And I’m back here with Mike Bellar, and we’re gonna talk about his crop production as well as his hog production and how he combines the two. So Mike, tell me about how your crop production. How you use that for your hog production. (Mike) Well, we grind and mix the feed for our hogs. We use corn, soybean meal and DDG’s, plus a vitamin/mineral premix. The corn we raise on the farm for the hogs. The soybean meal, we raise the soybeans but we would generally take a load of soybeans to Bungee or Cargill and bring a load of soybean meal back. So, we’re just kind of trading one protein for another. And the DDG’s is a corn based product but we have to get them from the regional plants on that. But all of our feed is processed here on the farm. We probably average two and a half hours a day just grinding and mixing feed. (Mikhayla) OK. So, you run a diversified production. What is being a diversified production mean to you and how does it benefit your family? (Mike) Well, the hogs are a big part of the diversification. It’s…the hog operation is almost a full person job. The crops, we’re diversified in basically four crops. We have corn, wheat, full season soybeans, and then we jump in with double crop soybeans which is a whole different ballgame than first crop soybeans. So, basically we have, on the crop end we have four different chances for maybe better yields or good yields. And with the wheat, corn and soybeans, I have three different ways I can market the products. Approximately, on a decent year, half of the corn will go through the hogs and the other half I’ll end up selling. And we had, in ’11 and ’12 were really tough, dry years here and I ended up buying, having to buy a majority of my corn instead of selling it. And that was a different experience for me. (Mikhayla) So just shortly touch on maybe some challenges you had to buy some corn, some challenges you had with your production as a whole. (Mike) On the crop production it was the really dry years of ’11 and ’12. They’re pretty tough. But I guess I’ve been through it before. I think it probably bothered my kids worse than it did me. But it’s just kind of part of Mother Nature. You can’t control Mother Nature and you just kind of go with the flow. (Mikhayla) OK. Thank you Mike. We’ll be right back after these few words from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott your guest host. And we’re here with Mike Bellar in one of his soybean fields. So Mike tell me about the crops that you produce here and your rotations with those crops. (Mike) I plant corn, soybeans, double crop soybeans and wheat. The corn ground, we’ll after corn harvest we’ll no till wheat into the corn stalks. The following spring after wheat we’ll double crop that ground into soybeans. And then the following year we’ll plant that back to full season soybeans. So, basically I’m getting four crops in three years through this process. (Mikhayla) When it comes to some practices that you have here, what do you do when it comes to no till and irrigation and things like that? (Mike) We have no water here so we do not irrigate, but the soybeans and the wheat are all no tilled. The corn ground we work it. And we work it primarily in southeast Kansas here to help that. We plant corn pretty early and to help kind of warm up the soils and I’m able to incorporate fertilizer down deeper by working the soil. (Mikhayla) OK. What are some challenges that you’ve found in the now and in the past with maybe some yield and things like that? (Mike) The biggest challenges were 2011 and ’12 during the drought. Those were pretty tough times. In ’11 we raised overall 26 bushel corn and in ’12, it was 38. So it was pretty tough. We’re having a little bit, starting to have some problems with resistant weeds in on the soybeans. We’re in a time of down prices of grains right now. But that just kind of…I’ve been in this long enough, so it’s just another little bump in the road on that. (Mikhayla) You mentioned you have some weeds that are becoming resistant. What are those weeds? (Mike) Primarily Mare’s Tail and resistant Pig Weed; our two biggest ones. I will change on my soybeans next year my pre-emerge. I’m going to do some different chemicals and I think I can work through that. It just didn’t quite work this year like it should of with all the rain we had last May. (Mikhayla) OK. Thank you Mike. We’ll be right back after these few messages from our sponsors.
(Mikhayla) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott, your guest host. And I’m here with Mike to talk a little bit about his involvement in the Soybean Commission as well as National Soybean Organization. So tell me a little bit about your involvement with those and what you do for those. (Mike) I am one of seven commissioners that represent Kansas. I’m from the southeast corner. We’re an elected position. We have to send in a petition and fill out a petition and we have to be elected to do this job. The Soybean Commission, we receive every Checkoff dollar, the Kansas Commission receives half of it and the other half will go to the National. We do research. We do the picking out of research projects for Kansas farmers and things to help them improve yields, disease control, weed control. We work on several different avenues of that. Plus a little bit of research on maybe plastics or polymers and issues like that. (Mikhayla) You mentioned that National Soybean Organization, and what does it…what does it serve for the soybean industry? (Mike) Well the United Soybean Board, half of the money from every state goes to them. They do more, probably more national projects. They’ll do projects in other parts of the world to promote soybeans. And to help everybody, just to help get more soybeans in other countries to use up our production. It’s very important. (Mikhayla) So what else do you do with the soybean industry? (Mike) I’m appointed from our Kansas Soybean Commission to the National Transportation Coalition Committee. There are approximately 20 members on it from across the nation. And we meet three times a year. We go over issues on transportation of the soybeans. We talk a lot about the lock and dam system. Ways to kind of give that up. It’s getting outdated. Ways to maybe get funding. We talk about the ports where soybeans are floated to go to other countries, on ways to maybe…some of these old ports they aren’t deep enough to get some of these new ships in, and maybe ways for that. A major problem is the aging grid system in the United States. And maybe we’ve been talking about new ways too on bridges, new tests on…to test bridges, probably. (Mikhayla) OK. Thank you Mike. Thank you for watching That’s My Farm. I’m Mikhayla DeMott your guest host. Stay with us for next week’s episode on That’s My Farm.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.