Editor’s note: The following story is another segment in our series on Bureau County’s Master Farmers.
WALNUT — Looking into what farming might be like years down the road, Dean Ganschow sees a bright future for farmers.
There will be the usual ups and downs as there always has been, but one thing is for sure — as the world population grows, there will have to be greater farming efficiencies.
“Farms will continue to get a little bit bigger than they are today. It’s going to take considerably more financing than it used to because everything is costing so much more,” he said.
There’s one thing Ganschow is strongly opposed of in the future, and that’s family farms becoming a thing of the past.
“I’m a fan of the family farm. It’s a wonderful way to raise children, but I’m afraid we’re going to loose flexibility and possibly efficiency as farms get larger — although I’m not sure if I’m right about that,” he said. “I would personally hate to see this family farm disappear from the scenes.”
Ganschow lives about a mile from where he was raised on the farm. Living the life of a farmer is all Ganschow ever wanted to do.
“I’m fortunate enough to have lived my life doing what I loved to do and what I wanted to do,” he said. “I don’t do much farming today, but I’m kind of still associated with it … I ran a combine last fall part-time, and I love to do it. I don’t think that is going to change.”
Around 1979, Ganschow became the first area farmer to try out the zero tillage farming method on a crop. The idea had evolved from trying to find a way to overcome one of his greatest farming challenges — soil erosion.
“The farm I live on is rather rolling and soil erosion was a big challenge,” he explained.
Ganschow made his first test on an area in one of his fields, that was far away from the road where no one would see. When the Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual tour and was shown the new method, they were amazed at the results.
When the method caught on, the proper equipment was developed for better efficiency.
“I approached it pretty cautiously, but equipment came along, and it’s not near the challenge nowadays,” he said.
Ganschow was selected as a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer in 1989.
Looking back on the high points in his farming career, Ganschow is quick to say his No. 1 memory was being able to raise 100 bushels an acre on his corn crop. At second thought, he says it was the help and encouragement from the people he was acquainted with, including his wife.
A big change that Ganschow has witnessed throughout the years is the decreasing number of people who live on the farm.
“Not as many people live on the land anymore, and we used to be more associated with each other and worked together more than we do today,” he said.
Ganschow explained there were many factors that changed these ways. The main one being the economy. Small farms weren’t able to support families, so other farms got larger, and people moved away and got better paying jobs.
“There wasn’t a loss in interest; farming just wasn’t as practical as it once was,” he said. “It just happened, and it was just the way it was.”
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