Hulstein Family Farms

Innovation goes beyond technology. Being innovative means having new ideas and the ability to adapt to new tools and technologies.

For Michael Hulstein, innovation is about trying new processes and technologies and seeing how you can implement them on the farm and make them successful. In the end, farming is still a business, and the technology must work for them. 

Michael grew up on his family’s farm outside of Sheldon, Iowa. He grew up always wanting to farm, and after graduating from South Dakota State in 2009, he came back to the farm and began working alongside his father, planting corn and soybeans. Today, they run the operation together and have experimented with different sustainable practices. Some of these changes take a shift in mindset, which goes against some of their gut instincts. 

Take their addition of cover crops, for example, “We are getting used to it, it’s different, but it’s helpful. Look around this area; generally, it’s black fields and a lot of tillage,” Michael said. “When you go to plant, and there’s a cover crop, it’s green. Your first instinct is to spray it and kill it, but you actually do the opposite. But from what I’ve found, the longer you let it grow, the better it seems to help,” Michael said.

For Michael making sustainable practice changes is his way of giving back to future farmers. He said, “It’s leaving your ground and your crops in a better position than when you started. You can make your ground better, keep erosion down, and grow better crops. These choices are important to farmers and for everyone who lives here”.

In addition to helping them grow better crops, they have seen it lower their cost and ROI. They have saved on fuel and fuel costs, been able to use fewer chemicals, and had better weed control. These adjustments have been made over time, and are still learning. 

Adaptability to try new ideas and technologies has only helped Michael’s farming operation be more successful. He’s been able to keep what is working for him, keep what is working, and then continue to look toward the future for other advanced technologies. “Technology will play a big part in it. There is more and more technology involved in every aspect…planting, spraying, everything. There’s a lot of cool things coming out and it will be interesting to see how that affects ag.”