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Ag tag team

Their corn and soybeans were
nearly in the bin when John Ryan and his sons – Shawn, 43, and Tom, 35 – took
time out for a postharvest huddle. The Springfield, Minnesota, farmers reviewed
the past crop year and planned ahead for 2011.

Thanks to good weather and
adequate storage, the 2009 harvest was timely. “We can store 75% of our
production,” John says. “It’s a big asset so we can keep going and eliminate
elevator waits. It’s also good for marketing flexibility. Our five-year plan
may include more bins.”

He adds, “We can move grain,
blend it, and load it into semis in five minutes. We’re talking about adding a
third semi.”

Shawn handles machinery and
maintenance and is hands-on in day-to-day operations as well as planting and
harvesting. Tom is a master agronomy advisor for Winfield Solutions in Brooten,
Minnesota. He farms on weekends and applies his expertise to fertilizer, seed,
and marketing decisions on the farm.

John’s wife, Pat, is in
charge of employee payroll and worker’s compensation. She is a tax assistant at
United Farm Credit in Redwood Falls.

They have one full-time
employee and another who splits his time between the farm and the hog barns.

One major decision made
during their meeting was to resume management of their 700-head farrow-to-wean
hog operation. For the past three years, they’ve leased their hog buildings.
“Most companies want 2,500 head,” John says. “But I think we’ll be able to get
a contract.”

Technology Tops Discussion

Technology was a continuing
topic of discussion. “We’re going more technology-driven,” John says. Tom is
driving the push to field mapping and fertilizer prescriptions, assisted by
Shawn. They’re in the process of upgrading equipment to Ag Leader’s Integra and

“We’re going for top yield
and maximizing production off our acres,” Shawn says. After harvest, he rode
his ATV in the fields, marking intakes. “I’m mapping all of them in the
computer,” he says.

They’re also pursuing ways
to use precision ag for manure application. “We want to tie it into the whole
system,” John says. “We’re not quite there.”

Tom is working with NRCS on
a comprehensive nutrient management plan.

The Ryans also evaluated the
transition plan they recently initiated. “I’m getting to the point where I’m
phasing out a little,” John says. “We got serious a year ago and formed Ryan
Farms Partnership.”

The general partnership
includes the operating assets. Land is owned individually and leased to the
partnership. “We decided on a partnership because when I retire, it’ll be
easier to get out,” John says. “I’ll just sell that year’s crop.”

They exchanged their
machinery for stock in their existing hog corporation. 

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