In early September, Cole and his Dad took the one-hour drive over to Ellsworth for the annual Champion Seed Field…
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Nathan Voss has been busy since taking over the family operation in 2008. A fuel bill slashed in half, improved soil health and the highest yields he has ever seen have been just some of the highlights for the fourth-generation farmer.
Voss farms with his brother near Algona, Iowa. Together, they have made significant changes to the family operation. Their grandfather thought they were crazy when they chose to strip- or no-till in favor of the ripper.
“Grandpa made a big jump when he transitioned from the plow to the ripper,” shared Voss. “But he never would have guessed we’d jump from the ripper to minimal or no soil disturbance.”
A self-proclaimed conservationist, Voss has innovated his way to better soil health by significantly reducing or eliminating tillage and incorporating cover crops. The 1,100-acre corn and soybean operation has diversified to include rye and oats. Every acre of row crop now also includes cover crops.
Innovative forward thinking has carried Nathan’s family far, extending the economic and environmental sustainability of his farm. Just the same, the Voss family needs an innovative, forward-thinking seed company.
“Five years ago, 200-bushel corn and 50 – 60-bushel beans were what we were shooting for,” said Voss. “Now, it’s nothing for us to set a goal of 240-bushel corn and 65 – 70-bushel beans. I 100% attribute that to better soil health coupled with Champion Seed genetics.”
Voss’ local NRCS office and a forward-thinking neighbor helped guide Nathan and his brother to soil-health improvements. And Nathan’s dad, who conducts independent soybean research, helped him find Champion. Now, the Voss farm plants 100% Champion Seed corn and beans.
“I don’t like stale,” said Voss. “They’re always pushing it and that’s where I like it.”
Champion Seed and innovative farmers like Voss go hand in hand. Outside of row crops, Voss assists with an aerial cover-crop-seeding business on thousands of acres, diversifying his total farm income and improving the soil health of area farms.
Five years ago, 200-bushel corn and 50 – 60-bushel beans were what we were shooting for. Now, it’s nothing for us to set a goal of 240-bushel corn and 65 – 70-bushel beans. I 100% attribute that to better soil health coupled with Champion Seed genetics.
Not a fan of sitting in a tractor, Voss says eliminating recreational tillage and an equipment lineup all at once killed two birds with one stone. Now, the family pays half the fuel bill they used to and sees continued savings through significant equipment reduction while reaping the benefits of improved soil health.
“If we can do this thing a little bit better and leave the soil better than we got it — that’s my goal,” said Voss. “At the end of the day, we’re making my grandpa’s farm better.”
But competitive yields are just one component of a true seed partner. Voss says Champion has set the bar high by checking all the boxes he believes a seed company should.
Those boxes include customer service, independence, regional focus and constant innovation.
“They’re top-notch, but yet they’re independent,” said Voss. “I like to push the envelope and they’re here to do it. But at the same time, they’re never too big to remember who everybody is. I’m a small business kind of guy and any time I get a chance to stay away from the ‘big machine’, that’s my choice.”
Voss attributes much of his yield success to the truly focused nature of the Champion team. He says the fact that they live and work where he does makes him sure they understand his fields. Now in his sixth year of growing Champion traits, he says he hasn’t looked back.
“Champion owners Seth and Brett have gone pheasant hunting with me on my CRP land,” he shared. “Working with them and others from Champion has really shown me how much of a rockstar team they have.”
And looking back is impossible to do when you’re constantly looking forward — a trait shared by both Nathan and Champion.
“They raise the bar every year,” he said. “Those are my kind of people.”