It’s Always Earth Day on this Iowa Farm

T. Morgan 4/22/2011

Chris Weydert wakes up every day and puts his shoes on one foot at a time. He sits down at the table to eat breakfast with his three blonde-haired kids. He gives his kids and wife goodbye hugs and kisses. But his routine stops there.

For this farmer, no day is the same, yet each one has a single goal in mind: leaving the land the same -- if not better -- than when he started farming. For Weydert, he must leave fields of opportunity for his kids, who he hopes one day will take over the family farming tradition.

“I’m a father of three children, and hopefully they’ll decide to come back and follow the tradition our family has had for more than 400 years,” Weydert said.

Weydert farms with his father and brother in Bode, Iowa. For this family, the land is not just a place they farm. It’s their livelihood. ‘Environmentalist’ is a term used by many, but for Weydert, it’s a term he lives by every day. “We farmers like to say ’If you don’t take care of the land, it won’t take care of you,’ and it’s absolutely true.”

“Given the fact the land is basically our principal resource from a row crop farming perspective, we have to protect that,” he said.

Protecting the land is something farmers strive to do each day. Weydert does this through micromanagement -- conducting tissue samples of the plants, doing soil tests to see where nutrient deficiencies are, as well as many other things to be sure the soil is in tip-top shape. He does this not only to ensure his crops perform the best they can, but also to verify he’s protecting the environment.

“It’s important to me from a traditional perspective, as well as from an economic perspective, because I feel like if we don’t manage or protect our resources, we lose them,” Weydert said.

Another way Weydert manages his land and resources is through adopting new traits. This is nothing new to him – he’s been doing so since 1996, when Roundup Ready® technology was introduced. 

“The adoption of Roundup Ready technology has allowed farmers to manage our soils better because it’s allowed us to use less tillage, which equates to fewer trips across the field and less fuel burn.”

Over the years, Weydert has used various traits on his farm. He says they not only help increase the amount of crop he produces per acre, but they also help him reduce the amount of pesticides and insecticides he applies to each acre. And that helps him save money on inputs, but more importantly, reduces his farm’s environmental footprint.

So, what does Weydert think when he hears people outside of farming bash agriculture and claim farmers don’t take care of the land?

“Quite frankly I’m offended by that notion and that attitude,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in my aggressive management. So, when I hear someone trying to stigmatize agriculture or give us a black eye, it’s really offensive because it’s not true. Like I said before, if we don’t take care of the land, it won’t take care of us.”

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