Bowman, McKillip host Farm Management Tour

Kevin Bowman makes a point during the Purdue Farm Management Tour Friday. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

Purdue University put on its 87th annual Farm Management Tour Thursday in Huntington County and Friday in Wabash County.

The tour allowed those in attendance to get to know the ins and outs of each family farm that was showcased.

Thursday, the tour visited Anson Farms in Andrews, as well as Dennis Grain & Farms in Huntington. The night was capped off with a Master Farmer Banquet at Huntington University.

Friday morning, the tour shifted to Bowman Farms in LaFontaine, and then moved to McKillip Farms for lunch and an afternoon tour.

Bowman Farms includes a mostly corn and soybean crop operation, and the farm also operates a commercial grain elevator.
The farm is managed by Dan and Kevin Bowman, fourth generation farmers, as well as the fifth generation, Kevin’s sons Kyle and Evan.

Dan started off the discussion Friday morning by giving a little history and background on the farm.

Bowman Farms got its start back in the 1800s when Riley Bowman migrated from Miami County and started the farm in present-day rural LaFontaine.

Walter Bowman, Dan and Kevin’s grandfather, lived around the corner from the farm’s headquarters, and had eight children.
At the age of 24, Charles Bowman was left in charge after Walter suffered a heart attack.

“Kevin and I came in full time while we were going to Huntington University full time,” Dan said. “Dad pretty much turned the operation over to us and that gave us some ownership and interest.”

The 1980s came, and Dan described it as “only by the grace of God that we survived it.”

“Experiences like that, through other difficult years, it’s made us so we are all aware, that in year’s like this where things do not go well at all, that God is there for us,” Dan said. “He will see us through even a year like this.”

In the 1990s, the Bowmans dabbled in hog production, but got out of that to focus on their crop production.

Kyle and Evan came on while they were in college, and have been responsible for upgrades to the facilities as well as technology used on the farm.

Kevin explained that the farm is nearly exclusive corn and soybeans, but they do grow some wheat as a window to do drainage projects. In the same breath, he talked about the challenges a wet season like this one presents to a farm. 

“We’re basically split almost 50-50 with corn and soybeans, probably a little bit heavier with the beans,” Kevin said. “You plan all winter long and you have down. You have this big game plan in front of you. You have your crop mix and where stuff is supposed to go. And, it’s almost as though you’re in a football game, and you walk up to the line of scrimmage, and you look at the defense to see what they’re giving you.

“This year, it wasn’t giving us a whole lot. So, we called an audible and everything just goes out the window. … We were just trying to find dry ground, put a bean in the ground, and hope it comes up.”

The farm utilizes but till and no-till fields, using mostly no-till on their soybean production.

“It’s a wonderful system until it decides it’s going to be wet,” Kevin said. “And, (at that point), you’re basically holding a funeral for it.”

In the afternoon, the tour switched to McKillip Farms.

Dennis McKillip explained that his grandfather started the business in 1934, when he raised five acres of corn for Farm Bureau.

The business has expanded, and has had its ups and downs over the years.

“We’ve been going through some growing pains since we joined AgVenture (in 2006),” Dennis said. “We bought an MPS system that is really working. We go to our customers, and we’re placing certain products in the right kind of soil.”

Todd McKillip explained what’s grown at the farm. He said they grow seed corn, tomatoes, commercial corn, wheat, and soy beans.

They used to raise hogs, but have gotten out of that business.

“We have 13 or 14 different hybrids of beans,” Todd said. “We’re a little slower as far as harvesting because there’s a lot of cleaning efforts going on, cleaning trucks, moving belts, and cleaning stuff up, trying to keep everything as pure as can be.”

Posted on 2019 Jul 02