Bremer County Farmer Shares His Secret To Being “A Good Farmer”
When something works, it’s hard to justify changing how things are. But for one Bremer County Farmer, change is what helps with growth.
Mark Mueller is a fourth-generation farmer producing no-till corn, soybeans, alfalfa, specialty beans, forage rye, and corn for silage. But it wasn’t always that way.
Around my house, today is now corn, but 100 years ago, we planted sugar beets here, and Russian migrant laborers picked the sugar beets, put them in a wagon, and my grandfather drove to the Waverly Sugar Company. Now we can still grow sugar beets here, but we don't because economically we're better off raising corn.
Over the years, not only has the crop changed but how it’s grown has adapted. Mueller has even tried his hand on some specialty markets growing azuki beans for Japan, corn for a cattle herd in Spain, soybeans for fisheries in Idaho and Norway, and special corn for racing pigeons.
But what Muller really takes pride in, is the attention he gives to conserving his land.
I have chosen to be more of an environmental steward in that I do no-till farming, I use cover crops.
Mueller explains that the definition of a good farmer changes with each generation. He tries to grow and adapt on his farm to keep up with these changes and preserve his soil. He says while he doesn’t expect his topsoil to wash away in his lifetime, the primary focus of his environmental stewardship. He credits this focus to lessons learned in history.
The Fertile Crescent was the birthplace of agriculture. Well, the Fertile Crescent is in modern-day, Iran and Iraq. And the first thing I think of when I think about those countries is desert. They were once able to feed themselves it was the birthplace of agriculture. And yet it they lost their topsoil, either it got too salinized from irrigation or simply washed away or blew away.
Mueller also focuses on keeping his water clean. This past year he took advantage of state programs and built a wetland in a part of his field that water drains into.
So, let’s take a look around his farm.