Stark Co. farmer Ben Klick embraces technology, new challenges

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tractor plowing field kicking up dust
Ben Klick in the cab of the John Deere tractor which uses the John Deere Operations Center Mobile App for planting on April 21. Credit: Nella Citino

NAVARRE, Ohio — Ben Klick is seeding soybeans two weeks ahead of schedule. The sun is warming the soil as he runs his tractor over his plot of land in Navarre.

“It’s a little early, but I’m trying to get a jump on planting,” Klick said. He is expecting a new member of the family to arrive in three weeks.

Ben Klick is young, ambitious and willing to embrace new challenges, new research and new technology.

Klick has farming in his blood. He is part of a farm family that’s in its fifth generation, and he farms full time with his father and another partner. According to Klick, farming is a business, and everyone should be open to the entrepreneurial side. In the meantime, he is giving voice to a new generation.

Klick barn ext wide shot
Terra Haven is the name of the Klick farm in Navarre, Ohio. April 21. Credit: Nella Citino

Collaboration.

One opportunity Klick embraces is participating in the Stark Sustainable Soils Initiative, which is in its fourth year of study. It is research conducted in collaboration between the Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Extension Program and the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.

The purpose of the project is to gauge the land management practices of 12 local Stark County farmers and how their practices impact soil health, crop production and the quality of nutrients. This project is funded by the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation.

As one of the farms in the research project, Klick’s farm is soil tested regularly. He strives to have a minimal-till or no-till crop farm and has become keenly aware of soil health and how it affects crop production.

New opportunity.

Klick also participates in the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, where he is a board member. One of the opportunities he recently encountered is with PepsiCo. He and a couple of other corn and wheat board members met with the international company while in Washington, D.C., on a trip to discuss the upcoming farm bill.

head shot of Ben Klick
Ben Klick is a board member of Ohio Corn and Wheat Association. Credit: Provided by Ohio Corn and Wheat Association

He and the other board members learned about PepsiCo’s sustainability programs. Klick is optimistic, and believes there may be opportunities for some types of partnerships.

“There is no working relationship yet; however, PepsiCo is intending to help farmers with regenerative practices,” he said.

According to Dan Christenson, senior director of government affairs at PepsiCo, the company will be working with demonstration farms and looking at improving the livelihoods of people in its agricultural supply chain.

Tech savvy.

Another part of Klick’s farming practices is the use of technology. Agricultural apps are trending up in the US and Brazil, which have the highest instances of app downloads, according to recent research. Klick uses an app called ClimateView, in conjunction with his John Deere tractor.

Klick was kind enough to allow me to ride along as he showed me how the app worked. The app uses satellite imagery to create detailed maps of his fields, which are used to identify areas of the field that are productive. The maps are highly accurate, and Klick is able to assess how many seeds are planted and how much coverage there is within the field.

over the shoulder shot of Kick and iPad with crop app in john deere cab
Ben Klick checks the numbers and rows before beginning to plant on April 21. Credit: Nella Citino

As Klick showed the measurements displayed on the iPad, he let go of the wheel in the cab of the John Deere tractor. The machinery was driving itself. This specific app works with the John Deere Cab App, and planting seeds is fast, accurate and efficient. And it’s done autonomously.

All of the data from the app is uploaded and managed on Klick’s computer. His next step is to show the information to his insurance agent for crop insurance.

“All this information becomes part of a historic plan as I rotate crops, track fertilizer and keep agriculture sustainable,” he said.

(Reporter Nella Citino can be reached at nella@farmanddairy.com or 323-643-2353.)

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