Farming is a high stress occupation in which the job merges with personal identity. Relationships quickly become complicated if the job becomes the only focus. Children don't always become farmers. Many leave farm life forever, but some of those who return to the family farm bring innovations in technology and management that help reduce the stress of farming.
Kim Keller, a third-generation farmer, is one of those young people who left the farm and joined the corporate world, only to return to farm life. Ms. Keller realized that certain stresses of the job could be eliminated or at the very least reduced by using technology. Ms. Keller teamed up with Himanshu Singh and formed Farm At Hand, a free multi-platform cloud-based farm management program that tracks everything from seed to sale.
According to Ms. Keller, "We as farmers have all been there. So full of hope and energy every spring, until the tractor and air drill get stuck for the fifth time in a week trying to get that crop in the ground. Those beautiful summer days turning into devastating hail storms. Worms that show up the one weekend you try to take off to spend with your family. The harvest that gets off to a slow start, counting every bushel that comes in and noticing it's a lot less than we anticipated, while also watching the markets take a nose dive. Checking the weather four times a day to see the forecast, hoping it doesn't rain or freeze early so we can just get this crop off and into the bin. Quite often wondering what the hell we're doing this for and no idea how we are going to wake up the next morning and do this all over again, let alone a few months later when spring comes around again."
"This is all a part of farming," continues Ms. Keller. "This is the other side of the amazing opportunity that everyone is seeing in the Ag industry, and increasingly in Ag Tech. This is the real life that goes into every day as a farmer. Every year our fate is in the hands of everyone or something else, but our own: weather, disease, insects, or markets. We just strive to make the most of it."
While not every agricultural technology is available to all farmers worldwide, there is a sense of camaraderie in the occupation. For instance, Farm At Hand's application is free for anyone to use. The aim is to both reduce the farmer stress while increasing production and crop quality. It's a fine balancing act.
"Remember that you're not alone out there," Kim Keller reminds farmers. "Each farmer is or has gone through those same emotions and stress you may currently be experiencing. Don't be afraid to reach out for help when you may need it. Everyone around you will thank you for it."
Note: Terezia Farkas was contacted by Himanshu Singh to share Kim Keller's story about the pressures and stress on farmers from the perspective of a third-generation farmer.
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