With the introduction of so many different types of new technology in agriculture and farming, one might think farming has become easier. All farmers have to do is plant the seed, watch it grow and then harvest when the time comes, right? Well, not exactly. Farming may be more advanced, but farmers still must put in long hours to get the job done.
John and Dean Werries are examples of how farmers don’t put in eight-hour days. In fact, the workers on this family farming operation combined put in 24-hour days.
“Well, right now we’re running this tractor and anhydrous applicator around the clock,” John Werries said. “It’s easier to do because of the RTK auto track, you don’t have to steer it as much. It’s more relaxing and not as stressful. There are three of us who can run it and take turns. Getting up at midnight or 12:45 a.m. isn’t hard to do. But we switch off and take naps. Right now, I’m wide awake.”
John, who’s been up since 1 a.m. with only a short power nap, runs on excitement. John’s son, Dean, is often in shock about the extreme hours his father is able to put in.
“We have a guy who comes out after his job and helps load wagon and brings it to me and I run it late,” Dean said. “And then Dad, I mean, he’s so excited; (he’s your) typical older generation. He goes to bed early and he usually wakes up early. But during this time of the year, it could be 1, 2, 3 a.m. when he wakes up and he knows he can’t go back to sleep, so he’s ready to get in the tractor and run it until the typical early morning hours. Then someone can give him a break so he can get a nap in.”
John wakes up when his internal alarm clock goes off.
“I haven’t set an alarm clock in 45 years. I just wake up,” he says.
“For a 60ish-year-old, he’s as excited as you can be about all technologies, whether it’s on the tractor, planter, combine, or in the (crop) varieties,” Dean says. “He’s seen so much in his lifetime as far as the change.
Dean said his dad started farming when yields were below 100 bushels per acre. Now the Werries are disappointed if they don’t reach 200 bushels per acre as a whole farm average. And they aren’t stopping there. They’re pushing to reach that 300-bushel-per-acre yield average people keep talking about.
“He’s having more fun than he’s ever had,” Dean says of his dad. “He talks about it all the time; the rest of the year is just to get to spring and fall. He loves it.
“With farming, there’s always something to look forward to. You look forward to the spring, planting season. And by the time it’s over you look forward to a summer break and you just can’t wait for harvest.”
Monsanto employees will be following the 2010 crop season from beginning to end on the Monsanto.com Crop Season site.