Getting to know a next generation farmer
Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:00 PM
BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin News Writer
VAN WERT - It is a sad misfortune of many small communities like Van Wert that when its teenagers leave for college they often do not come back to begin the next stage of their lives. For 2007 Crestview High School graduate, Scott Eickholt, this was not an option as the family farm called him back home.
"The reason I decided to come back to the farm is because it is more than a job," said Eickholt. "It truly is a lifestyle. I was fortunate to grow up around it and to have great parents as role models to develop successful working habits."Scott is the son of Ray and Carol Eickholt. Eickholt has been shadowing his dad on the job since he first began walking, and this continues today. Even at the age of 24, this young farmer is still continually learning from his dad and works with him to improve the operation as a whole. Like other children that grew up on a farm, Eickholt has been helping since he was big enough to ride on the tractor with his father. Eickholt began to take a more active role on the farm as he grew up and began to become involved in the livestock and crop production side of the job.
Despite homework and sports, he continued to work on the farm in high school and eventually went to The Ohio State University to obtain a degree in Agricultural Systems Management in 2012. With schooling complete, Eickholt has left the big city of Columbus behind and made his way back to Van Wert where he is working full-time on the family farm. His job on the farm varies with the season, something known by experienced farmers but misunderstood by young adults Eickholt's age.
"I work everyday with my dad to maintain and continually improve our farming operation," said Eickholt. "My personal achievement that I have brought back to the farm is soil sampling and managing fertilizer levels of our farms. I take samples and use a program called SMS to create management zones based off of soil types. I then use this data to create a recommendation for fertilizer prescriptions that need to be applied in order to maintain and push yields on various soil type."
Eickholt also raises 200 head of cattle that he raises from 400 pounds until finish. As his first full season back on the farm comes to an end, Eickholt admitted this harvest season was a challenging one due to the inconsistent weather in this area. After so much drought, rain plagued farmers on an inconsistent basis during harvest time. It was often hard for the youthful farmer to string days together so that he could cover a lot of acres. It was also difficult to get corn and soybeans to dry properly. The problem of high moisture did not make the job any easier this year, but these are common issues that a farmer must always deal with as part of the job. Dealing with issues that cannot be controlled is often the hardest part of farming.
Eickholt explained that there is a limited window of opportunity for different tasks such as planting, spraying, harvesting, and tilling, and these issues are often compounded by additional issues such as weather. Too much or too little rain can create a number of stressful days at work for farmers.
"Despite all the advances in technology, mother nature is always the limiting factor," remarked Eickholt. "This can always make or break a year for any farmer, but the thing I really enjoy about farming is taking a product from beginning to end. When you put a plan in place that starts with planting and finishes with the harvesting and marketing of the product, it is a rewarding feeling when you succeed with a good crop. There is so much that can affect the end product throughout the year, and t is fun to try new things and continually find ways to improve yields."
Now that Eickholt is back in his home town, he is eager to be involved in this community. One easy way for him to do this is through his love of sports. Eickholt previously coached Jr. ACME baseball for three years, little league baseball for one year, and YMCA basketball for two years. Eickholt enjoys investing his time in teaching local youth how to improve their own talents.
Eickholt also works with Bob Gehres as a Pioneer Sales Representative. "Being involved in the next generation of farming is very exciting," he remarked. "It is interesting to talk with my grandpa as he tells how me of how they used to farm and how it has evolved since he was a kid. Even in my own life, the practices have continually evolved in efforts to improve the end products. It is exciting as a young farmer to have opportunity to learn from family members and continue to push the envelope for the future. In a world that has population that continues to grow, it is going to take more innovation and dedication to produce enough to feed the world. It is a great feeling to learn the trade and know that I am responsible for the next generation of Eickholt Farms."