In Winnebago and Worth Counties, Old meets New in Agriculture
31 Mar 2022
A recent report stated that American agriculture policies need to make strategic changes to meet the new challenges facing us today. As one of the oldest industries, agriculture must embrace a technological, connectivity-driven transformation for our farms to remain competitive, safe, efficient, and environment-friendly. Our farmers can choose to drive the change or be driven by it.
Matt Storby, a young farmer from Winnebago County, has chosen to lead growth by embracing technology that helps him in his business. Storby grew up on a farm with a family-owned seed business and was inspired to take up farming. While attending the Lake Mills Community School District, he joined Future Farmers of America, a youth organization that promotes agricultural education. Upon graduation, Storby pursued a two-year degree in agriculture sales & service from NIACC before transferring to Iowa State University to study agriculture with minors in agronomy and economics.
Storby believes that the ongoing developments in the farming industry demand adaptation to new technologies. “Agriculture is turning into a fast-moving profession and farmers should train to use data resources to help move the needle on their operations,” he said. “If anything, we try to make the most out of what we have by using technology to help lead the way. As a farmer, I do not want to apply fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide, use more diesel, or add more cost than I need to. We want to be sustainable and grow a crop while maximizing our efficiencies per acre.”
A daily mix of traditional farming and modern technology
Storby is both a farmer and a seed dealer. On any given day, his role is twofold, and his activities vary by season. “Wintertime as a grain farmer is typically slower, but we still must check markets, research and purchase inputs, haul grain, get educated on new products/technologies at supplier meetings/conventions, and start preparing a game plan for the growing season. Spring is a busy time, but fall is probably the busiest time on the farm. Lots of moving parts with combines, tractors, semis, auger carts, tillage tools, and long hours to boot (most of it in the dark). Summer is full of taking care of our crops and helping them grow to maximize our yield potential on the farm. We still check markets, move grain, fix equipment, but the main focus now is growing the crops. We typically split and apply nitrogen to maximize its efficiency and safety for use. We also spray herbicides for weed control and then apply fungicides to help protect our crop to end the growing season.”
Putting information technology to work on the farm
Storby uses a lot of technology aids on the farm. “I use tech tools every day to check grain prices on my phone, use GPS AutoSteer in the tractor, and now I’m using past yield data to make variable rate planting scripts. New to us this year is using our own data to make profit maps, so we can use this information to help find the areas of the field that, when adding more resources, can lead to a higher yield. We have also implemented apps on our iPads to view and control our corn drier in the fall, view the combine from other places beyond the cab, and apps to monitor each auger cart of grain and track where it went.”
On the Community
Storby is proud of his community. “Our area is a smaller community that helps each other out and has a lot to offer. The practice here has always been to buy local and from surrounding areas - this goes a long way to support agriculture. That is what is great about our smaller community; we all help and promote each other. We have a lot of independent and retail businesses that make it diverse. Agriculture is vital and intertwined in our area. That is what will help young farmers get started and hopefully be successful.”
Matt’s message to young farmers:
“We need more young farmers to want to come back to the farm to help with our smaller communities and to keep farming moving forward.” Farming is a vital and in-demand career essential to our nation’s health, nourishment, and security. Wise uses of tradition and technology can help bring young people like Storby back to the farm.
Winn-Worth Betco is a regional economic development organization supporting Winnebago & Worth Counties. Our team provides direct support and a high level of service to businesses looking to grow in our region. Visit https://www.winn-worthbetco.com/ to learn more.