Production Blog

Are You Listening?

Gregg Hillyer
By  Gregg Hillyer , Progressive Farmer Editor-in-Chief
Kevin Ross is taking steps today to use practices that improve his land in hopes that one or all of his four sons (shown, Carver and Hollis) will want to take over the family farm. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Greg Lamp)

Farming is unlike any other profession. Raising crops and livestock takes perseverance, optimism and a thick skin to survive the ups and downs of fickle weather and commodity prices. But, no matter what the size of your farming operation or years of experience, one thing holds true for every farmer: a passion for the land.

Take Kevin and Sara Ross. The southwest-Iowa couple farm fields that have been in their families for more than 100 years. Maintaining that legacy drives many of their production practices to improve the land. They utilize soil-health practices, the latest in precision and equipment technology, as well as layers of field data to enrich and preserve their most valuable resource. With four young sons, the Rosses have their eyes toward the future, hoping one or all of their boys will be interested in taking over the farm.

"Who knows?" said Kevin Ross, a sixth-generation farmer. "But, if it's not them, hopefully it will be somebody else caring for the land the same way we do."

That strong sense of stewardship is deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of all farmers and ranchers, because productive soil is the foundation for success. Land is the ultimate natural resource that can't be manufactured. As caretakers, growers must be keen observers and assess how their actions and decisions influence the overall health of the soil. In effect, they must "Listen to the Land."

We hope you will listen to and learn what growers have to say in a special series that is appearing during the next few weeks on DTN. You can read the first installment here:…

The series debuted in the mid-February issue of The Progressive Farmer. Find the entire set of inspiring and insightful stories on how farmers apply soil-health practices, sustainable solutions and various technologies to boost productivity today while improving the land to pass on to the next generation on the digital site:

All of these farmers understand that to meet the demands of a global population racing toward 10 billion people by mid-century, it will put added pressure on land resources. Growers such as the Rosses will continue to refine and refresh cropping systems that boost productivity, protect the environment and embrace sustainable solutions. They know that if they want a seventh generation of farmers, they will need to "Listen to the Land."

Gregg Hillyer can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @GreggHillyer



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