Soybean Farming and Public Service

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

Paulding County Farmer Roy Klopfenstein never strayed far from the farm he was raised on, or the values he was raised with. Klopfenstein and his wife Deb have four boys that are all involved in the agriculture industry. They farm with one son raising primarily soybeans and corn, but also have added wheat back into the rotation this year. They also custom chop silage.

The Klopfenstein’s farm in the flat topography of southern Paulding County and northern VanWert County, which is in the Maumee River Watershed. “One of the things we are trying to do on our farms is get rid of the variability we see on our yield maps,” said Klopfenstein. “Looking at our yield maps we see variability even though most of our fields have one single soil type. We primarily have Hoytville clay. After that we have some fields with Paulding clay.  What we have found is even though the field is sub surface drained and surface drained, those little pockets where water may lay makes a difference. We observed a neighbor leveling a field with GPS and a box scraper to make the field as level as possible and it reduced their variability. A 2-inch rise in a level field is like a 2-inch dam and water laying an extra 24-36 hours is a yield robber, so we are going after that 10 percent of the field that has some variability in it.”

The Klopfenstein’s participate in the H2Ohio program. “The focus of H2Ohio is water quality,” said Klopfenstein. “We have filter strips along our larger ditches. I haven’t met a farmer yet that wants their fertility washing-off the field and going down the ditch. There is a misconception that farmers overapply fertilizer and let it wash away, and that is not the case.  Occasionally there are freak storms that move fertilizer away from where we intended, but the application methods have gotten better over time. From strip-tillage to zone tillage and placing fertilizer below the soil, there are new tool-bars that incorporate manure into the soil.  All these make a difference. We use chicken litter, hog manure, dairy manure, and even a product out of Ft. Wayne IN that is composted human waste and yard waste. We use all the natural organic products and like them. We feel that they have a lot of good things that improve the soil. The H2Ohio program encourages farmers to try some things that they may not normally do and gain some experiences and find practices that improve soil health and the watershed.”

The Klopfenstein’s us a variety of production practices. “We like to try to do a little bit of everything some something is always ready to go in the spring,” said Klopfenstein. “We will no-till soybeans. We sometimes chisel corn stalk if we harvested wet. We occasionally do fall tillage and level it to be ready for spring. We will do some vertical tillage to incorporate organic matter. Cover crops also have a place,” said Klopfenstein. “This year we had some fields that we chiseled the interior of the field and seeded cover crops on the ends. That worked really well for the wet spring we had.”

Klopfenstein represents the 82nd District in the Ohio House of Representatives. Prior to serving in the Ohio House, he served three terms as a Paulding County commissioner. “I approach the Ohio House with the goal of protecting and preserving the values of the 82nd district and rural Ohio,” said Klopfenstein. “There are a group of full-time farmers that currently serve and represent their rural districts across the state in the Ohio House of Representatives. With that being said, there are still a number of non-ag members on the House Ag Committee, so it is important to be able to inform them and others about the importance of our industry. We’ve got to keep telling our story. With the constant turnover in the legislature, we need to constantly re-explain agriculture. Agriculture and farming make up less than 2 percent of the population. We need to keep telling our story and driving the narrative or someone else will.”

The Klopfenstein’s are members of the Ohio Soybean Association, and two of the sons have also been Ohio Soybean Council scholarship recipients. The scholarship program is funded in part by the soybean check-off.

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