From traditional farming methods to modern ag production | TSLN.com

From traditional farming methods to modern ag production

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenOne of Reid Jensen's farming enterprises is his Wagyu cattle. He feeds out Wagyu/Angus cross calves and is developing his own herd of purebred Wagyu heifers. In addition, he also raises 100 head of Angus cattle.

Third generation Burbank, SD farmer Reid Jensen is very familiar with the heavy soils found on the flat ground he and his father and grandfather have been cultivating for nearly 100 years. While he and his stepson, Trent Hemmingsen, now farm nearly 1,800 acres to grow their corn, soybeans and wheat, Jensen has maintained many of the traditional farming methods he learned over the past 40 years because he obtains the results he needs for his crops and livestock.

“We rarely use no-till practices here because we’re usually too wet and we need to work the ground,” Jensen says. “I’m raising drug-free, hormone-free cattle and generally use conventional corn varieties.”

Like many farmers in South Dakota, Jensen has been actively involved in the state’s ethanol development. He served on the South Dakota Corn Growers Association for nine years and is just finishing his one-year tenure as president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. He says his interest in ethanol began in the 1990s as he and his peers searched for ways to add value to their corn crops.

“Corn prices were well under the loan rate and ethanol seemed like an avenue to increase corn demand in the state,” he says. “South Dakota has one of the widest corn bases in the nation, so it seemed like a logical fit to take cheap corn and add value through ethanol.”

Jensen believes the feed value found in distiller’s grain has been an added benefit to development of the ethanol industry.

“Distiller’s grain has given South Dakota an opportunity to become competitive in the cattle business again,” he says. “I started out as an investor in the ethanol industry and found it was a good way to hedge my crop. When corn prices were low I was able to offset that with ethanol dividends. When corn prices were higher, the ethanol dividends weren’t there, but I received the higher corn price. It’s been a win-win situation for me.”

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Jensen is aware that consumers blamed high corn prices for rising food costs in 2007 and 2008. He believes it’s become clear in recent months that high energy prices were at the heart of rising food costs during that period.

“Corn prices affect about 20 cents of every food dollar,” he says. “Rest of the cost increases can be attributed to higher energy costs.”

Jensen expects the ethanol industry will rebound, but not until the overall economy begins to recover. He also believes increased ethanol blends need to be available in order to move the industry forward.

“We’ve hit a blend wall,” he says. “We would at least like to see the industry move to a 15 or 20 percent blend. We’re having a hard time achieving that, partly because the auto industry is concerned about liability issues and engine emissions. The scientific information we need to move forward isn’t available yet, but we’re working toward completing those studies.”

With a new administration taking over Washington, DC, Jensen says the ethanol industry is also waiting for the placement of new personnel who will be involved in advancing ethanol use.

“There’s some lag time here,” he says. “We have to wait until this administration’s people are all in place. But we believe there’s a lot of potential for ethanol use because the world’s major oil reserves are depleting. It’s costing more to obtain the oil that’s left. The world is going to need additional energy forms, whether that’s wind, solar or ethanol. If you consider the growing energy demands from China and India as their countries develop, you can see that once we pass this current economic crisis, the potential for ethanol use is very good.”

Jensen believes livestock producers will continue to appreciate the feed value of distiller’s grains, which provide from 100 percent to 140 percent the value of corn in feedlot rations.

“There are also some new studies regarding the net energy value of ethanol, showing that the actual net energy is higher than what’s been previously reported,” he says.

Third generation Burbank, SD farmer Reid Jensen is very familiar with the heavy soils found on the flat ground he and his father and grandfather have been cultivating for nearly 100 years. While he and his stepson, Trent Hemmingsen, now farm nearly 1,800 acres to grow their corn, soybeans and wheat, Jensen has maintained many of the traditional farming methods he learned over the past 40 years because he obtains the results he needs for his crops and livestock.

“We rarely use no-till practices here because we’re usually too wet and we need to work the ground,” Jensen says. “I’m raising drug-free, hormone-free cattle and generally use conventional corn varieties.”

Like many farmers in South Dakota, Jensen has been actively involved in the state’s ethanol development. He served on the South Dakota Corn Growers Association for nine years and is just finishing his one-year tenure as president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. He says his interest in ethanol began in the 1990s as he and his peers searched for ways to add value to their corn crops.

“Corn prices were well under the loan rate and ethanol seemed like an avenue to increase corn demand in the state,” he says. “South Dakota has one of the widest corn bases in the nation, so it seemed like a logical fit to take cheap corn and add value through ethanol.”

Jensen believes the feed value found in distiller’s grain has been an added benefit to development of the ethanol industry.

“Distiller’s grain has given South Dakota an opportunity to become competitive in the cattle business again,” he says. “I started out as an investor in the ethanol industry and found it was a good way to hedge my crop. When corn prices were low I was able to offset that with ethanol dividends. When corn prices were higher, the ethanol dividends weren’t there, but I received the higher corn price. It’s been a win-win situation for me.”

Jensen is aware that consumers blamed high corn prices for rising food costs in 2007 and 2008. He believes it’s become clear in recent months that high energy prices were at the heart of rising food costs during that period.

“Corn prices affect about 20 cents of every food dollar,” he says. “Rest of the cost increases can be attributed to higher energy costs.”

Jensen expects the ethanol industry will rebound, but not until the overall economy begins to recover. He also believes increased ethanol blends need to be available in order to move the industry forward.

“We’ve hit a blend wall,” he says. “We would at least like to see the industry move to a 15 or 20 percent blend. We’re having a hard time achieving that, partly because the auto industry is concerned about liability issues and engine emissions. The scientific information we need to move forward isn’t available yet, but we’re working toward completing those studies.”

With a new administration taking over Washington, DC, Jensen says the ethanol industry is also waiting for the placement of new personnel who will be involved in advancing ethanol use.

“There’s some lag time here,” he says. “We have to wait until this administration’s people are all in place. But we believe there’s a lot of potential for ethanol use because the world’s major oil reserves are depleting. It’s costing more to obtain the oil that’s left. The world is going to need additional energy forms, whether that’s wind, solar or ethanol. If you consider the growing energy demands from China and India as their countries develop, you can see that once we pass this current economic crisis, the potential for ethanol use is very good.”

Jensen believes livestock producers will continue to appreciate the feed value of distiller’s grains, which provide from 100 percent to 140 percent the value of corn in feedlot rations.

“There are also some new studies regarding the net energy value of ethanol, showing that the actual net energy is higher than what’s been previously reported,” he says.

Third generation Burbank, SD farmer Reid Jensen is very familiar with the heavy soils found on the flat ground he and his father and grandfather have been cultivating for nearly 100 years. While he and his stepson, Trent Hemmingsen, now farm nearly 1,800 acres to grow their corn, soybeans and wheat, Jensen has maintained many of the traditional farming methods he learned over the past 40 years because he obtains the results he needs for his crops and livestock.

“We rarely use no-till practices here because we’re usually too wet and we need to work the ground,” Jensen says. “I’m raising drug-free, hormone-free cattle and generally use conventional corn varieties.”

Like many farmers in South Dakota, Jensen has been actively involved in the state’s ethanol development. He served on the South Dakota Corn Growers Association for nine years and is just finishing his one-year tenure as president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. He says his interest in ethanol began in the 1990s as he and his peers searched for ways to add value to their corn crops.

“Corn prices were well under the loan rate and ethanol seemed like an avenue to increase corn demand in the state,” he says. “South Dakota has one of the widest corn bases in the nation, so it seemed like a logical fit to take cheap corn and add value through ethanol.”

Jensen believes the feed value found in distiller’s grain has been an added benefit to development of the ethanol industry.

“Distiller’s grain has given South Dakota an opportunity to become competitive in the cattle business again,” he says. “I started out as an investor in the ethanol industry and found it was a good way to hedge my crop. When corn prices were low I was able to offset that with ethanol dividends. When corn prices were higher, the ethanol dividends weren’t there, but I received the higher corn price. It’s been a win-win situation for me.”

Jensen is aware that consumers blamed high corn prices for rising food costs in 2007 and 2008. He believes it’s become clear in recent months that high energy prices were at the heart of rising food costs during that period.

“Corn prices affect about 20 cents of every food dollar,” he says. “Rest of the cost increases can be attributed to higher energy costs.”

Jensen expects the ethanol industry will rebound, but not until the overall economy begins to recover. He also believes increased ethanol blends need to be available in order to move the industry forward.

“We’ve hit a blend wall,” he says. “We would at least like to see the industry move to a 15 or 20 percent blend. We’re having a hard time achieving that, partly because the auto industry is concerned about liability issues and engine emissions. The scientific information we need to move forward isn’t available yet, but we’re working toward completing those studies.”

With a new administration taking over Washington, DC, Jensen says the ethanol industry is also waiting for the placement of new personnel who will be involved in advancing ethanol use.

“There’s some lag time here,” he says. “We have to wait until this administration’s people are all in place. But we believe there’s a lot of potential for ethanol use because the world’s major oil reserves are depleting. It’s costing more to obtain the oil that’s left. The world is going to need additional energy forms, whether that’s wind, solar or ethanol. If you consider the growing energy demands from China and India as their countries develop, you can see that once we pass this current economic crisis, the potential for ethanol use is very good.”

Jensen believes livestock producers will continue to appreciate the feed value of distiller’s grains, which provide from 100 percent to 140 percent the value of corn in feedlot rations.

“There are also some new studies regarding the net energy value of ethanol, showing that the actual net energy is higher than what’s been previously reported,” he says.