AMHERST, Ohio — With today’s high farmland prices, adding more land may not be the most cost-effective way for a farmer to expand production.
Taylor Abraham, owner of Abraham Drainage and Excavation, explained that better drainage can help many farmers increase production with a much lower investment. “You can have anywhere from a 15 all the way up to 30% yield increase on a systematically tiled farm,” Abraham pointed out.
For instance, consider a cost of about $1,200 an acre to install drainage. For a difficult farm, the cost might be up to $1,700 an acre, he explained. “That’s the cheapest land you can buy, just tiling your own farm.”
With better drainage, a farmer can harvest bigger crops without some of the added costs additional land would bring, Abraham added. “You don’t need to up your equipment size, you don’t need to spread more fertilizer, you don’t need to get a bigger operating loan. You literally can run what you already have and it’s like you’re farming more acres.”
The quick growth of Abraham’s drainage business is one indication of the strong demand for agricultural drainage. The business is based in Amherst, Ohio, in Lorain County. Most of his business is done within an hour and a half of Lorain County, although he has taken on jobs in Pennsylvania and across Ohio on the Michigan and Indiana borders.
Abraham launched his business in 2019 doing mostly residential drainage and excavation projects. Now he and the five members of his work crew are running three tile plows. He has 1.3 million feet of tile sold for installation this year.
“We’ve really accelerated our growth.”
Abraham grew up helping his grandfather with his family farm and drainage business. He then spent three and a half years in the military, working as a combat medic, before leaving the service and taking jobs in a steel mill and with an excavation business. Eventually, he returned to his grandfather’s farm and drainage business where he worked full-time for seven years.
In September of 2019, the time came for Abraham to launch his own drainage and excavation business. He began with $200 and a pickup truck. Later that year, he added a mini-excavator. At the time he was newly married, and he and his wife used $15,000 they had received for their wedding for the down payment, he said.
For the first two years, Abraham focused mostly on small residential excavation and drainage jobs, he said. “I just started in people’s back yards doing French drains and downspouts.”
His goal, however, was to expand into farm drainage. “This was the only way I could get back as close to farming as I could,” he said.
At the end of the end of his second year in business, Abraham took out a loan to buy a wheel machine for installing drainage tile. “It was more money than our house at that point in time,” he recalled.
That machine allowed him to expand into agricultural drainage and he continued to expand, investing profits back into the business. His most recent equipment addition is a self- propelled tile plow.
Bringing on a crew of employees has also helped with business expansion. Abraham said he looked specifically for people to hire who share his passion for agriculture to help grow the business.
“The key is creating that company culture,” he said. “We want it to feel like when you come to work you’re part of a small family operation.”
As he builds his business, Abraham said he’s looking for ways to use modern technology to improve drainage system design. He also stresses the use of top-quality fittings and tile.
A farmer might get only one chance in a lifetime to buy a certain piece of ground and Abraham said he feels the same about drainage jobs. He’ll only get one chance to drain any particular field, so he wants to do it right, he said. “I want my product to last generations.”
For more information on Abraham Drainage and Excavation, check their website at abrahamdrainageandexcavating.com. The company also has a Facebook page and can be reached by phone at 440-714-0696 or email at Abraham.DE@Yahoo.Com.
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