Derek and Grant Klingenberg are college graduates and likely could find an easier life and good-paying jobs in the business world. However, they both have come back to the family farm at Peabody, Kan.
“We always knew we would come back,” Grant says. “We grew up working on the farm and couldn’t imagine being confined to four walls.”
The two brothers and their father, Vernon, 65, are incorporated as Klingenberg Farms. Vernon oversees the entire operation, while Derek manages crop production and Grant manages the cattle-feeding enterprise.
Derek is 30. He graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agriculture economics and a minor in agronomy — the science of crop production and land management.
Grant is 25. He graduated from Kansas State, also with a degree in ag economics and a minor in animal science.
Derek says the most difficult part of carrying on the family farm was the transition to modern farming. He said his grandfather had a difficult time accepting new methods of doing things.
Adapting to new technologies is always a challenge, Derek says, but the brothers’ father has been more accepting of it.
“Dad trusts us,” Derek says. “We teach him how it works and he likes it.”
Derek initiated a gradual change to no-till, which required a new line of planting equipment. Now, the entire farm is no-tilled. The brothers say they are sold on no-till.
“It saves on oil, soil and toil,” Derek says.
He says no-till has made a huge difference in erosion. After heavy rains, water from no-till fields runs clear, but runoff from tilled ground carries soil with it.
He notes that after 5 or 6 years, no-till ground became like a hard sponge, full of many little holes that soak up the rain and allow for aerobic activity. Grant says he has noticed that weed populations have been reduced.
“Weed seeds only germinate when light hits them,” he says.
No-till requires fewer trips across a field, reducing fuel usage and saving time.
Klingenberg Farms practices a lot of double-cropping in a rotation of wheat, then milo, sorghum or sunflowers, followed by soybeans and corn before going back to wheat. Derek says continuous cropping is good because it keeps soil microbes active.
Derek uses a software program, Farm Trac, to analyze the operation. He says a yield map is generated on the combine monitor during harvest and can be laid over a soil map to determine variable rates of fertilizer for succeeding crops. The monitor uses GPS to map yield and location.
Harvested crops are stored in bins on the farm and hauled later to terminals, which usually results in a better price than at the local elevator. Landlords, who get one-third of the crop, have the option of having it stored on the farm or taken to the elevator.