Meet a Modern Farm Family
Chuck and Wanda Patsche own and operate a modern farm with pigs, corn, and soybeans in southern Minnesota. Their farm has grown from 150 acres 37 years ago to nearly 1,000 acres today. Chuck’s parents and grandparents once farmed part of this land.
"Our farm has changed in big ways over the last 35 years," Wanda explains. "The biggest change is the technology that lets us be more efficient and do a better job farming. When we started farming, our herd was 96 sows. All were housed outdoors, where it was hard to keep them safe and content. Today, we raise about 2,200 pigs indoors. We get them from a nearby sow farm when they are three weeks old. It takes around six months for them to grow from 13 pounds when we get them to market weight of 280 pounds.
"Our goal is to raise the healthiest animals possible. The baby pigs live in clean barns when they come to our farm. Technology allows us to automatically control feed, ventilation, and temperatures. During the hot summer weather, water sprinklers in the barns help keep the pigs cool. We work closely with a veterinarian on a vaccination plan to help prevent diseases. As they grow, we feed our pigs nine different rations to meet their nutritional needs.
"Our crop machinery is much larger today. More work gets done in less time. Our crops get planted more accurately and faster."
Wanda, Chuck, and their one employee need extra help at harvest time. Their grown daughters and other family members come to help during these busy fall days when workdays can be 16 hours long.
Chuck and Wanda work hard to protect the environment. "We have buffer strips of grasses between our crops and waterways to help protect our waters. We practice crop rotation and minimum tillage to help with soil erosion. We fertilize with pig manure to replace soil nutrients used by the crops. We use the least pesticide possible."
The average Minnesota farmer today is 55 years old. Why is it important for young people to be involved in agriculture and farming.