Family, neighbors help farm succeed
By Heather Smith Thomas
For the Capital Press
Scott Turpin’s father is a farmer, and he is carrying on the family tradition.
“In 2002 I graduated from Utah State University, then came back and rented some land,” says Scott Turpin, who lives southeast of Burley, Idaho. “My dad and I still work some ground together. We share equipment. I own some and he owns some and we own some together. With his help, I was able to get started.”
“I’ve raised sugar beets, wheat, alfalfa and potatoes and farm about 400 acres of my own. I hire two neighbor kids to help move wheel lines,” he says.
The crop rotation doesn’t follow any set schedule.
“I usually plant 100 acres of beets. I don’t have potatoes in the plan for this year but usually have 80 acres of spuds. I rotate the hay and wheat, and like to have another crop in between beet crops for at least 2 years — whether hay, wheat or potatoes — before I plant beets again.”
Alfalfa makes a good rotation with other crops because it puts nitrogen back into the soil.
“It’s good for the ground. I also like following beets with potatoes because there is some residual fertilizer from them, too, that I can take advantage of,” he explains.
“I prefer to grow fall wheat; it seems to do better than spring wheat. We usually plant wheat after we harvest the sugar beets. We do some light tillage — disking — when we go from beets to wheat. If we do the same crop back to back we usually plow under any residue.” This puts more organic matter into the soil.
This year he’ll have 100 acres of alfalfa.
“This fall we’ll take out one field, to prepare for another crop. The alfalfa has been in for 5 years; it’s been a good stand. We’ve sold it off the stump to dairies. The fellow harvesting it has been green-chopping, hauling a certain number of loads per day to a dairy,” Scott says.
Selling it this way takes the weather risk out of growing alfalfa.
“It can be harvested and we can get back on the field immediately with water,” he says. A person cutting it for hay is at the mercy of the weather. If cut hay gets rained on before it’s baled, quality and value drops and it can’t be sold as dairy hay. There may be a delay in getting water back onto the field if cut hay has to dry out after a rain.
Amalgamated Sugar Co. buys his sugar beets.
“Our farthest haul is only 5 miles, so this has been very convenient for us. We work together with neighbors during harvest and planting. We share some equipment, and this spreads the expense. It’s been really good to have good neighbors,” he says.
Scott and his wife Amber have 4 children. The oldest girl, Kailey, is 11. “Last year she wanted to raise sugar beets for 4-H. She helped move wheel lines. She was able to start the motors and move them and was good help. She’s excited to do it. The younger ones aren’t quite old enough to do this, but they all like to go out and help. Kessa is 9, Taya is 6, and Casen is only 2,” Scott says.
His wife, Amber, helps a little with the farming, but also works for the school district during winter.
“This works out well because in winter the farming demands are slower and I can help with the kids when she is at work,” he says.
Scott and Amber Turpin
Time farming: Since 2002 on his own
Crops: Sugar beets, wheat, alfalfa, potatoes.
Number of acres: 400