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It's No Act: Nebraska Family in Farmland Film

As harvest approaches, David Loberg is counting his blessings. “We had three hailstorms before the crop was at a critical stage,” he says. Causing further damage were 80-mph straight-line winds, but the Nebraska corn and soybean grower feels fortunate to have escaped the tornado that devastated nearby Pilger on June 13.

David farms with his mom, Kris, sister Beth, and wife Jessica, near Carroll. “David and Beth are the fifth generation of Lobergs here since 1905,” Kris says. “Over the years, our operation has grown in size and scope. We’ve added irrigation and grain storage. The biggest changes have been in the technology we use in our equipment and with the operation of our pivots.”

In 2000, the Lobergs began custom-feeding cows for a local dairy. “We use the manure for nitrogen on crops,” David says.

David was one of six young farmers featured in Farmland, a film that premiered in over 170 theaters this year. “I’ve wanted to farm since I could crawl,” the 26-year-old producer says.

Family Pulls Together After Loss

The film highlights the Lobergs’ difficult transition in 2010 when David’s dad, Dan, 53, passed away after a four-year battle with cancer. “We were married for 31 years,” Kris says.

David had graduated with an agronomy degree from Northeast Community College in Norfolk in 2008. “He began taking over more during the last year or so when Dan and I were gone for medical treatments,” Kris says. Beth, a 2005 graduate of Iowa State University, and her husband, Jim, moved back to Carroll in 2008 to be closer to family. 

“We made the decision not to make major changes the first year after Dan died,” Kris says. To allow Kris to spend more time in the combine, disk, and planter, Beth began handling some office chores, including the book work, employee paperwork, and payroll. She also works at Beck Ag.

David and Jessica were married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son, Ryan.

In 2012, when a local equipment dealership offered to subcontract the erection of its Reinke pivots, David and Beth formed a separate business, L&L Ag. “We’d always put up our own pivots, and I also had an internship at a dealership,’” David says. “It keeps us busy during the winter.” 

This past summer, the pace was brisk due to storm-damaged pivots. “L&L Ag has been getting into the salvage and selling of parts and more of the rebuilding,” Beth says.

David adds, “Even if insurance totals a unit, it’s possible to salvage 60% to 70%.” 

The Loberg operation is 90% irrigated. It also relies on fertigation.

“After applying enough for a base yield, we spoon-feed nitrogen through the pivot,” David says. “We don’t apply it all in spring. There’s a risk of runoff with a heavy rain.”

Precision ag is a growing tool. “We’re using APEX for crop insurance reporting purposes for the first time this year,” Beth says.

Dave and Kris work closely with full-time employees John Newton and Jim Fernau.

Diverse operation

Diversity is a hallmark of the operation. “We see challenges, and we like to take them on,” David says.

The Lobergs do their own spraying and handle most of their welding and fabrication in-house in their shop.

They reflect on their unexpected role in Farmland as a positive. “It’s a public outreach effort to let people meet a younger generation of farmers,” David says. 

Following its release, David says 15 to 20 people contacted him on Facebook. “They said they also had suffered a loss of the one at the helm,” he says.

2 recent changes

Here are two recent changes the family made.

• Increasing storage capacity to about 436,000 and applying for a REAP grant to help pay for a tower dryer. “We ran into a grain-drying bottleneck last year,” David says.

• Building a new shop that includes a conference room, office facilities, and bathroom. “It’s nice to have a space for work that’s separate from family space,” Beth says. 

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