Making Digital a Family Farming Tradition

Living on and maintaining a Century Farm adds a richness of family history to farming for fifth generation farmer Jason Orr of Orr Farms in Rowley, Iowa. But it’s a more recent family “tradition” that Jason has found impactful for the way he does business: the early adoption of technology.

“I’ll give my parents credit,” Jason says. “Throughout my childhood, they were always early adopters of technology and we’re just trying to continue that trend.” He reminisces about the family’s first computer, an Apple 2E that his parents bought in order to do record keeping. From there, the advances just kept coming, providing Jason with decades of farm data to work with and creating a welcome environment for continuous modernization.

Today, Jason runs the farm alongside his father and his mother does the operation’s bookwork, and one thing has persisted over the years: “We’re constantly trying new things,” he says.

Meeting Modern Challenges With Modern Solutions

Having an appetite for innovation on the farm means keeping an eye on market trends, consumer demands, and other developments in order to make decisions about what to maintain and what to change. One of the challenges Jason and other farmers like him are working to address is the desire for sustainably grown crops, and he only sees that demand rising from here.

“We’re working with a company right now that requires information about how the raw product we provide was raised,” he shares. “Using Granular, we’re able to provide that information with a couple of clicks of a mouse. Sustainability is major in our industry right now, and that demand is only going to increase.

But it’s more than consumer behaviors that Jason and his family are addressing using technology; government regulations and a waning workforce are also top-of-mind as he seeks to optimize as much as he can with a technologically augmented farm. “You’ve got to be as efficient as possible, and the only way to do that — to do more with less — is by adopting technology, in my opinion.”

Now in his seventh year as a Granular customer, Jason says he’s implementing the software into his farm operations more and more all the time. “We’d be lost without Granular.”

Sowing Success for the Next Generation

Just as Jason’s parents did for him by blending technology into their farming practices well ahead of the curve, Jason is working to create a cutting-edge environment for his son to take over one day, as well. “We just keep moving forward,” he says. “We’ve adopted technology in every process we have on the farm.” And his son, a junior at Iowa State, is already getting into the business in a big way, recently taking over as the farm’s crop scout as he learns the ins and outs of the family’s entire operation.

“Sometimes we’ve been on the bleeding edge,” he admits. “But we try to stay on the leading edge, because profitability and efficiency are our main areas of focus, and for those things to happen, technology is just plain necessary.” And, he notes, that technology is necessary not just for profitability and efficiency today, but for the farmers yet to come: “Hands down, there’s no way technology wouldn’t help a family operation, especially as the farm rolls from generation to generation.”

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