On-Farm Innovation

I love the innovation of farmers!  We all know that farmers are hard workers, but the ingenuity and invention to solve any problem is really amazing to see in person.  If you ever been to the machine shed on the farm, you’ll see that every bit and piece has value and purpose.  A good farmer lets nothing go to waste and every task they do is calculated and efficient – there is a lot to do on the farm every day and being a great farm manager is essential. It’s easy to picture innovation in the machine shed with the repairs made to keep equipment running.

portion of what use to be my grandparent’s dairy farm, machine shed in top left corner

On the other side of the coin though, is the business side where the farmer is just as innovative.  Becoming dealers for seeds (or other products), pooling resources together with neighbors to ensure that everyone has access to equipment or services at a fair price, or even working to create a new market for their product when needed. 

I even appreciate seeing opportunities, like the “Making More From Milk” event and new on-farm technologies, that provide support and encouragement to farmers who are developing and maintaining healthy agricultural businesses, which also preserve the ability to continue in the tradition of on-farm innovation.

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist

Dangerous Weather for Farmers

Driving to work today, it almost looked like fog — until I saw smoke go up…and then sideways. This is a weather inversion, and it can be deadly for farmers.

If farmers see this kind of thing happening, it’s a really bad day to agitate their manure ponds.  I know that I could smell the farm and wood smoke a little stronger in Augusta as I was walking into the office this morning (which makes sense cause all that stuff is trapped close to the surface).

So I guess you can actually see air quality in this case… I’ve often seen the Twin Cities issue Air Quality alerts on days like today.

Your science lesson for today:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inversion_(meteorology)

While it’s fascinating to see a weather inversion, I hope that our farmers stay safe today.

Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist



When you’re a farmer, everything but the weather is your responsibility. You’re in charge of the cows, the barn, getting the chickens out of bed.


Ok, so not the chickens.

Still, when the storm hits, you don’t get to say — well, my job starts at 8 a.m., so I’ll get to it then…you have to get up now and take care of things. It’s your job.

At my job, my responsibility covers a lot of things that might not seem to go together. Telling stories about what we do, encouraging our staff, making sure the numbers add up right. Sometimes in the day-to-day, it can be easy to miss what the real target is — why I go to work each day.

That’s why I love that one of the things I do is keep our ‘reason why’ in sight.

Why we do what we do…

It’s our responsibility to help our farmers improve their farms. It’s our responsibility to smooth the way, so the government stuff has all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. It’s our responsibility (and our privilege) to help you build a farm to pass down to your children.

Some heavy responsibility — but it feels great.

Leaving a Legacy

Farmers are a unique people. They live on the land. They have a connection to the earth.

When they talk about their farm, you can hear the pride in their voice. This is not just a business or a way of life (although it certainly is those things), but it’s also their family legacy. 

In today’s world it can be easy to not SEE the farms. Many of us live in town. We drive by fields of corn and cows and barns, but do we see what is really there? It’s tradition. It’s generational.

I’m inspired by this vision of a legacy. What sort of legacy do I want to leave at work?

If I do my job well, not only will my co-workers be inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and happy to work with me, but they’ll be more effective, too. They’ll be confident knowing that I am also doing my best.

What is really there? It’s more than management, engineering, drafting, and filing forms.

If I remember that I’m leaving a legacy, I have to also look at the farmers that we serve. Because of what I do, their farms will grow for another generation of farmers after them. Because I work hard for accuracy, completeness, and quality, these farmers and their families can go to work and not worry. Not worry. Not lay awake at night thinking about forms and regulations and project coordination, contractors, earth movers, and hundreds of phone calls.

Thanks to all those farmers for the inspiration to leave something behind worth having.