SEGMENT: CHANGES IN FARMING METHODS & THE FUTURE

Karl Boekenhauer>NIU Collection>NIU Collection, Segment 4

SEGMENT: CHANGES IN FARMING METHODS & THE FUTURE,

duration 09:12
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GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS
Karl notes value in soil conservation programs. Notes programs designed to take land out of production to increase grain prices. He did not get into these programs. Fear is that cash crops & programs that raise grain prices encourage continuous plowing to plant more crops using moldboard plow which causes more erosion. Minimum tillage now using chisel plow that turns soil over, but leaves surface intact. Government encouraging minimum plowing to decreases erosion.
CHANGES IN FARMING METHODS
Used to plow in spring, but now plow in fall sometimes contributing to erosion. Used to be on schedule if harvest was done by Thanksgiving, but now farmer is on schedule if tilling for next year is done by Thanksgiving. Erosion not as much problem on flat prairies as in hillier areas.
REFLECTIONS
Farming is a way of life, an independent way of life. Grain farmers have more leisure time. During freezing times fields are frozen so no work can be done in fields.
CHANGES IN FARMING METHODS
Farms were more diversified (e.g., used to have hogs, dairy cattle, hens) to care for in winter & these activities would keep him busy. Used to have own garden and fruit trees. Few diversified farmers in DeKalb County now.
FUTURE OF FARMING
Farming has changed so much over the years. Grain will still be big; varieties of corn/grain will continue to improve. Finding more markets is challenge (e.g., gasohol). Small percentage of acreage in DeKalb County growing sweet corn & peas for Del Monte under contract. Karl doubts that few other plants can be grown profitably besides grain.
FARM BUSINESS
A natural disaster could quickly eliminate present corn surplus. Karl relates seeing mountains of unshelled corn at intersection of hwy 23 & 30 in Waterman, IL. Country Elevator could not afford all of the surplus corn he saw. He suspects a lot of surplus is being held as collateral for loans. Farmer can pay the loan back in dollars, or in the corn collateral.