Editor’s Note: This interview is the second part of our “Farms and Faces behind Feedstock CI Scoring” series. As the ag industry continues to uncover value-add opportunities for carbon intensity (CI) scoring, we believe that it is essential for biofuel producers, commodity managers, and grain farmers to not just understand the what behind CI scoring, but the who. The success of commercial CI scoring marketplaces will be largely dependent on the engagement of everyday corn farmers looking to capture new revenue opportunities and tell their operation’s story through simplified CI scoring. Let’s get to know a few of those stories. Find Part 1 of the series here.

Editor: To start us off, could you share the story of your farm?

So we’re a sixth generation farm, so it's pretty easy to say it was in my blood to return back to farm. My brother and I came back in the late 90s early 2000s and have worked to grow the farm since then. Tom is married to Jill and has three boys. Jackie and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in August. We also have three boys.

Tell me more about the crops you raise and the types of ground you farm. And what can you share about your operation you're most proud of today?

We raise both corn and soybeans in Western Illinois. A Lot of variable soil types. About 20% of our operation is irrigated. We try to do most of the farming operations “in house”. We feel that we have very high quality employees as a part of our team and they take ownership and have a lot of pride in the outcome. We truck and store almost all our own grain. We also have a tiling company as part of our farm. It’s  not only for ourselves but for our landowners. Taking care of those acres and more importantly our employees and landowners is something my brother and I are both pretty passionate about.

I feel like our team members have gotten us to where they make our job a lot easier. We work hard to set expectations and our employees exceed expectations most of the time and that's allowed us to really flourish and grow. We are also passionate about our communities that we farm in and around. We’re involved with local organizations, schools, and our churches. Putting investment back to the community has been pretty important to us.

Clearly, there is a lot of data flowing in, around, and through your operation. Tell us about your experience with on-farm data capture and your vision for leveraging it to its fullest potential.

So looking back about seven years, I felt like we were not doing a great job of capturing data within our operation. If you talk about planting data and harvest data, sure we had good records, but outside of that I didn't feel like we were capturing good quality data. Whether it was fertility or as-applied maps or even pre and post chemical application maps, I knew there was going to be a day when we would need the entire “data set” to separate our commodity from others.

The frustrating part about data was that it was fragmented. Different types of data lived in separate systems. I talked with a lot of the people in the industry, nobody felt like they had real good quality data because it was so fragmented and outside of their own use it was not valuable. And ultimately I felt like there was a vacuum or a void we could fill by giving farmers a solution to take all their data from every operation on the farm and get it into one actionable place.

So that was where the inspiration to help start Verdova, the Farm Data Cooperative you’re a part of, came from?

Exactly. I am pretty passionate about keeping growers in control of their own data. Verdova is the place that allows growers to congregate their data captured from multiple sources into one system. Then their data only leaves if and when the grower gives permission. This keeps the grower in complete control. We felt like too many companies were making their own “mouse traps” to capture grower information and then use it against them or use it without their permission.

To wrap us up, do you have any tips on how farmers can best capture their data and put systems in place today that might enhance the value of their grain tomorrow?

So when I talk about this with the team at our farm, I lead it off by saying if you saw a penny on the side of the road you’re probably not going to stop and pick it up. But if you saw a hundred dollar bill there, you're gonna stop, get out, and pick it up. A few years ago, our data felt like it was that “penny” but we’ve gotten to the point where now there’s real value in capturing it for our operation. 

One thing we do in the winter is go through our fertilizer, seed, and chemistry purchases. We pre-load every input that we purchased into our FMIS so basically it's just in a drop-down box where the operator can pick and choose what they’re using. 

Another thing we’ve found works well is putting somebody in charge of making sure as-applied maps get back to us. Essentially making sure that it's somebody's job and they’re responsible and accountable for those maps.

A final example is that we make an application map a necessity from our suppliers. If we do have something custom applied, part of the service is the digital delivery of the application. Full payment does not happen if we do not have the digital map.  

Jenks Family Farms
Incite.ag Community


Want to learn more about Jenks Family Farms or the Verdova story?
Let us know at
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