by Kalie Ammons
Wabash County Chamber of Commerce has selected a 2014 Wabash County Farm Family of the year. Cousins Jon and Christian Rosen run Rosen Farm and Seeds where they grow corn, soybeans, wheat and raise hogs.
“Being chosen Farm Family of the Year means a lot to us,” Jon said. “It’s a great honor. We were happy to accept it. We had some challenges, especially after the 80s, and to be chosen is a great honor.”
“And I think our dads see a sense of a big accomplishment,” Christian said. “They’re thrilled, and we’re thrilled, and our family members are all thrilled, I think it’s one of the highlights of our farming career. We greatly appreciate that we were chosen.”
“Even that we were nominated!” interjected Jon.
“Yeah, that we were nominated, plus chosen,” Christian said with a chuckle.
The cousins were very light of heart when explaining their farm to The Paper, making jokes and laughing with each other. It’s not surprising how close the cousins are, especially after they attended Purdue University together to earn their Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Economics.
“When we told people what we wanted to do they wondered why we needed a college education for it,” Christian said. “You do need a college education. Not necessarily to learn what you’re going to do, but you need it on the business side and the networking and the communication skills.”
Jon explains how a college education will pay for itself in the end.
“I bet the average Wabash County farmer, I would guess at least grosses around $1 million annually, if not more,” Jon said. “Who in the world would not want a college education when you’re dealing with over a million dollars’ worth of product?”
The Rosens explain how farming is more than just riding a tractor in a field.
“I think it’s a good way of life,” Christian said. “Somebody needs to do it. And there’s getting to be fewer and fewer [farmers] all the time. There’s a business aspect to it, with the buying and the selling.”
Today’s farming differs significantly from the farming of the last century. Equipment is much more sophisticated and complicated, and new ideas for equipment to help farmers are never-ending.
“You have your GPS, and a lot of that’s ran by computer, you need to know how to program that GPS to do an avian line or you have to download that information to put it in your computer so you know what’s going on in that field. It tells you about the bushels, it tells you what you’ve sprayed per EPA records, basically everything you have is electronic,” Jon said.
“Our fertilizer is all controlled by the computer, our monitors in the combine and all the steering is [also powered by a computer,]” Christian said. “Our equipment has come so far, it’s getting bigger, more expensive, and—“
“Pretty soon it’s going to run itself,” added Jon.”
“Yup,” agreed Christian. “We’ll be in the office. I love running the tractors but I can’t wait to the day I can sit at the computer and run it from the office. I’ve already seen it and they talk about it, it’ll be great.”
Drones, an unmanned aircraft that can be navigated from a separate location, are making their way into the farming field as well. The Rosens said drones would be able to help with scouting in the fields.
“I don’t want to walk through a cornfield, do you?” asked Jon.
“Nope,” answered Christian before breaking into to laughter.
All joking aside, the drones would prove very beneficial to the crops.
“It’s going to help with scouting and we’re going to be able to find those isolated areas out in the field and see the growing crop and say, ‘Hey, we need tile there or our PH is out of whack there or our fertility is a little low,’” Christian said.
“In one of our farms, we had green snap, and we didn’t know where the green snap was until you went out and looked for it, if we could have sent a drone out there to look for it, that would have been much easier,” said Jon.
“You couldn’t even get through the cornfield, it was all intertwined together,” Christian said. “The drone would have really helped.”
The Rosens also talked about the recent drop in prices of corn after this growing season.
“Unfortunately when you see $8 corn you get used to $8 corn and a lot of people became accustomed to it,” Jon said. “Short term, I don’t see that coming back, especially in the near future, unless for some reason there would be a drought, but I think we better start getting used to the $4 and $5 corn. You hear some people guessing we are going to see $3 corn. I still remember when we wanted to see $3 corn.”
The Rosens feel with the right preparation during the good times, the bad times won’t be so hard on the farmers.
“I think farming’s been great and I think farming is going to be great,” Christian said. “Times change and things were good the past several years but now we’re just going to have to go back and really watch your cost. I think farming is always going to be good, I just think times aren’t always going to be as good as they have been.”
Much of the product produced by Rosen Farm and Seeds is sent locally to POET and also overseas to other countries to help feed their populations.
“Over in China, most of their corn products should say ‘Made in the USA’ on them,” Jon said.