A new crop of farmers is growing in South Dakota. These millennials are leveraging data and adopting technology to make their operations more sustainable for the future. The great news is they aren’t the only ones going high-tech for the environment! Many South Dakota farm families use practices that protect natural resources while growing safe and healthy food.
Morgan Holler is a millennial farmer from Pierpont who’s the fifth generation to run the family farm with help from his wife, Heather, and their three daughters. For Morgan, implementing environmentally friendly farming practices means being a good neighbor and doing the right thing to feed his family and yours.
“My older daughters love riding in the tractor and the combine. I love seeing their eyes light up when they walk the fields they ‘planted’ and can’t help but stop and think about what it will be like to farm with them one day,” Morgan said. “That lays in my hands. If we don’t practice sustainable farming, we’re not only hurting the land but also ourselves.”
The 29-year-old South Dakota State University grad puts his agronomy degree to work every day. Morgan always looks for ways to use less pesticides, fertilizers and other products, while growing healthy soybeans and corn.
Technology is a big help. Morgan uses data to determine precisely where and when to apply pesticides, plant seeds and even the types of seeds to use. The technology in equipment like tractors and sprayers ensures it’s done in the right amounts so nothing is wasted. That’s important when you grow a lot of crops.
Another sustainable practice the Hollers have implemented is minimum tillage. After they harvest their crop, they leave the plant stalks in the field to help enrich the soil. This reduces soil erosion and keeps the soil healthy for years to come.
Though Morgan knows technology helps him take better care of the land, that message doesn’t always make it to grocery stores and dinner tables. He works with a young man who recently moved to South Dakota from California to learn about agriculture.
“He’s been full of questions, which I love. He said he never realized how much thought I put into each seed,” Morgan said. “It’s been fun showing him the technology we use to feed our friends and neighbors while taking care of the land.”
Morgan and other young farmers buck the stereotype of lazy, self-obsessed millennials.
“I love coming to work every day,” he said. “Feeding people is such a rewarding way to provide for my own family. I’m proud of that.”
Want to learn more about how farmers use technology? This Hungry for Truth blog explores how farmers use data to make their family farmers more earth friendly.