Dengler Domain: Thoughts from the Field

Here are my thoughts from the field:

1. I am one lucky son of a gun. Few live their passion every day, let alone try to earn a living doing it. Farming does this. I also love performing comedy and MCing events, but those are not exactly paying the bills. Shameless plug, please hire me if you are interested in my entertainment purposes. Back to the main point, farming is a lot of fun and I am blessed to have generations of family work the land before me and now can do the same in addition to those I rent from.

2. Earlier this year I told myself, “It cannot be as dry as it was last year.” What a fun thought. Mother Nature knows how to provide humility.

3. X, formerly known as Twitter, has helped with crop marketing. Having the opportunity to follow a variety of commodity traders with differing perspectives on the market helps inform my decision-making when marketing the crop. Market to Market is also informative, but being a weekly show, it becomes old news extremely fast. Any time Sue Martin shows up on it, it is a fun time.

4. X also connects me with other farmers for better or worse throughout the country and helps give me potential ideas about how to improve my farm.

5. Grasshoppers are the bane of my existence, well, at least around the field edges.

6. Practical Farmers of Iowa is a wonderful organization. They allow farmers, landowners, and others to work together and share ideas to create a more sustainable agriculture economy leading to a more vibrant rural life.

7. As for yield, the corn will be variable. For the beans, it depends on how much this last heat wave and lack of moisture until harvest affects it. It might be slightly better than anticipated, but I am not holding my breath.

8. Conserving our family land and the land of those I rent from is important. While our timespan on Earth seems long it is nothing compared to the time humans have been on and will be on Earth. Preserving it by reducing inputs while utilizing nature to get the same if not bigger yield year over year is important. Knowing what inputs help the crop versus the new snake oil is always the fun of the game. If this land stays productive for longer without needing more inputs over time, I will have done something right.

9. Tying into number eight is being responsible for what is on my land. Whatever goes on my land may end up in the waterway. As a resident of Urbandale who utilizes the Des Moines Water Works, it would be hypocritical of me not to worry about those downstream. High nitrates in water can potentially impact human health. It certainly impacts the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. It also matters for my pocketbook. Putting too much nitrogen on the land leads to less money. Keeping living roots in the soil will help negate the fears of leaching and my pocketbook for the long term.

10. If you have not heard of Stock Cropper, do yourself a favor and do a quick internet search.

When it comes to farming, sometimes, farmers can be secretive about what they are doing whether it be an economic advantage or the fear of being a village idiot. I have performed standup comedy long enough to know being uncomfortable helps make one stronger. Trying new tactics is always worth it, even if one fails at something, it is not an end game. It is a learning experience. When farmers can share these experiences with one another, they can lead to better farms that will last longer. This leads to more farmers staying on the land and hopefully more into the future. Rural Iowa benefits when there are more farmers on the land. Competition is always healthy, but for farmers, helping each other succeed and everyone getting a piece of the pie is more important than only a few getting most of the pie. When we help each other, we all live to fight another day.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.