A multi-generational farm near Paul, Idaho, produces a variety of crops.
Rodney Hansen started this farm in the early 1950s. His sons, Bruce and David Hansen, are still farming the original place and have added to it over the years. Bruce’s son Blake is the third generation on the farm.
One of their major crops is potatoes.
“We grow potatoes for McCain Foods and Mark Produce, here in this area,” said Bruce. “We also grow seed grain for Western Seeds, as a rotational crop.”
The types of grain they plant usually depends on the needs of their customers.
“They tell us what types and varieties they want, and we have a good working relationship; we try to produce what they need,” he said.
“It varies from year to year with the grain,” says Blake. “The main types are barley and wheat, and we have grown some 2-row and some 6-row barley and some spring wheats and winter wheats. We grow a little corn as a rotational crop — selling it to a local calf ranch for silage,” he said.
The Hansen family farms about 1,500 acres, but actual acreage varies from year to year.
“We haven’t expanded very much in the past 10 years, however,” Bruce said. He and his brother David are nearing retirement age, and his son Blake will eventually take over.
Blake has worked on the farm for more than 10 years and has taken over a lot of the management responsibilities. The farm has two full-time employees and several seasonal employees.
Blake’s three sons are 8, 5 and 3 years old.
“At this point they mainly enjoy just playing in the dirt. They are too young to do farm work yet, but they may want to be farmers when they grow up,” he said.
This past year Blake started another farm entity in partnership with his father and uncle, adding sugar beet production and alfalfa. He rents 320 acres — where he grows 150 acres of sugar beets and 60 acres of alfalfa with the balance in grain.
“This is part of the expansion plan for the future, to diversify a little more. I decided to grow these crops on another place, to work in partnership with the family farm,” he said. The rented farm is next door.
“The neighbor was ready to retire, and willing to rent his land to me. This is handy, not having to go very far with equipment, and it’s worked out nicely, so far,” Blake said.
They have also been trying to increase their utilization of technology over the past few years.
“We’ve always tried to utilize new technology whenever it justifies the expense. We are using more of the variable rate fertilizer these past few years, and more precision management of our resources,” he said.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years, and especially the past 5 years.
“The challenge is to figure out which new methods will be worth the time and investment and pay off for us,” said Blake.
Agriculture is ever-changing.
“There are always new and different challenges,” Bruce said. “You think you have one challenge conquered and the next year you face something totally different” such as weather, markets or plant pests.
He says they enjoy being part of the farming community.
“We enjoy our neighbors and the people we work with and work next to,” he says. “We have great employees and it’s a great life.”