Linder brothers’ passion: Farming and tractor pulling

Sowing the seeds for the next generation

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John and Mike Linder
Brothers Mike and John Linder stand in front of the first silos built on Linder Farms, in Morrow County, Ohio. (Catie Noyes photo)

EDISON, Ohio — Try as he might, the Linder brothers could not be convinced by their father to raise livestock on their grain farm in Morrow County. But one thing did stick with John and Mike, and that was the importance of conservation on the family farm.

John, his wife, Cheryl, and brother, Mike, make up the Linder Farms partnership in Edison, Ohio. The row-crop operation consists of corn, soybeans and some wheat.

Linder farm
From atop the tallest grain bin at Linder Farms you can look out over the original farmstead. The Linder Farms partnership was formed between John and Mike Linder and their father, William, in 1980. The operation continues to grow including John’s daughters, Joanna Gall and Katie Post, who have always expressed in interest in being a part of the operation.
(Photo courtesy of Linder Farms)

Beginnings

John and Mike’s father, William, started the farm after serving in World War II. Mike joined his father after finishing school in 1972. “I remember building (the farm’s first silos) with Dad, with just a wrench and hand ratchet,” said Mike — the silos are still standing proudly on the main farm.

John officially joined the operation in ’79, and the Linder Farms partnership was formed between John, Mike and their father in 1980. But as John and Mike became more involved, the operation began to shift. “Dad always had livestock, but try as he might,” he could not convince his sons to continue with animals, said John. “We would rather turn the key and pull the levers,” he added.

Conservation

But there is one thing their father instilled in them: the value of water quality and conservation. William Linder was a member of the Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District and an advocate of conservation, explained John.

“He put filter strips on drainage ditches and made sure his sons understood the value of grass waterways and filter strips,” he said. That is why Linder Farms is predominantly a no-till operation today, although John said they did some minor tillage following heavy rains last year to offset ponding and compaction issues.

“We are constantly improving waterways and filter strips. It’s part of what is necessary for good stewardship,” he said.

Technology

Linder grain bins
The Linder Farm operation, in Morrow County, Ohio, consists of corn, soybeans and wheat. “Try as he might,” the Linder brothers father could not convince them of raising livestock; They enjoyed the field work much more. (Catie Noyes photo)

The Linders also are quick to explore advancing technologies in agriculture. Equipment is set up with GPS technologies for accuracy, and John said they have used yield mapping for years. “We have always enjoyed newer technology and have seen what it has done over the years,” said John.

Mike Linder is head of seed technologies, managing site-specific yield monitoring, soil testing, productivity and soil enhancements. He also develops application maps for nutrient placement.

Both John and Mike are working on further testing on variable rate populations and have recently upgraded an older model planter to the newest brand available so they could plant at variable rates, depending on the site.

Tractor pulling

And then there’s the pulling team. The Linder brothers took up tractor pulling in 1980 with a restored John Deere 4320 they rescued from a bank barn that had caught fire.

Linder Brothers Pro Stock
Courtesy of Linder Brothers Pro Stock. Find them on Facebook for pulling updates.

And that Deere has earned them a pretty impressive resume over the years, with six national titles, various wins at Bowling Green, Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association (OSTPA) puller of the year, National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) pro stock puller of the year and NTPA rookie of the year, as well as various OSTPA points wins.

Recently, the Linder Brothers Pro Stock joined the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, which will mean pulling in six states — Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Bigger role

While tractor pulling is a hobby for both brothers, Mike has found his way to give back by volunteering on the board for OSTPA. John, on the other hand, finds his niche in being a part of the Ohio Corn and Wheat marketing board. “Mike and I have always felt there is value in anything you put in,” John said about the importance of volunteering and being a part of the community.

Brazil trip

John’s recent mission trip to Brazil through Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association gave insight into the challenging corn market U.S. growers face, and explored how one of the U.S.’s largest competitors is handling its corn supply. “We have an enormous amount of corn in the U.S. and it’s a bit of a challenge in margins and export markets,” said John. “It helps you understand our place in the world market.”

The Brazilian climate allows them to use ground for production year-round. “It’s amazing the amount of corn they are producing, and it seems to be a little under the radar,” said John. Brazil also has high acreage in soybeans and a strong potential to have lots of acreage in cotton.

So how do they handle their growing supply? “Where there is a will, there is a way,” John said of what seems to be the mantra of Brazilian farmers. They farm in large groups of many families. They stay independent but, “they recognize the advantages of working together,” said John.

“We (U.S.) need to be members of our commodity groups so we can get the benefits,” he said. “We’ve got the tools if we use them.” John also said free trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are going to be beneficial to American farmers.

Family style

There is plenty of work to go around and the Linder family has jumped on board to help make it a successful operation. John’s two daughters, Joanna Gall and Katie Post, are becoming more involved in the family operation.

“They always said they want to be a part of the farm at some level,” said John. While John mostly handles the bookwork and marketing for the farm, Joanna, who has a full-time job off the farm as a grain merchandiser, assists. Joanna’s husband, Mike Gall, has found himself a position as full-time farm hand, working alongside John and Mike.

While Katie is finishing up graduate work at Ohio State University, John said he is excited to incorporating her skills into the farm. She has a background in agronomy and has worked as an intern doing crop scouting.

“Our goal is to be here through the kids and into the future,” said John. “We are being proactive now in offering (help) at an adviser level while were are still here.”

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Catie Noyes lives in Ashland County and earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture communications from The Ohio State University. She enjoys photography, softball and sharing stories about agriculture. Formerly a reporter for the Farm and Dairy, Catie is now pursuing her master's degree in education.

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