As part of the Land O’Lakes internship program, and our company’s drive to tell the story of modern farming to people from different backgrounds, summer interns are encouraged to participate in a field trip to an Answer Plot® and dairy in central Minnesota to experience agriculture firsthand.
Interns first traveled to Centra Sota Cooperative’s Answer Plot® location in Princeton. Centra Sota is a Land O’Lakes retail-owner that specializes in agronomy, energy, feed and grain, country stores and lawn care.
Crop advisors from Centra Sota explained the cultivation process of corn and soybeans in that specific environment. Interns were led by Master Agronomists through the fields and learned that the soil in central Minnesota has a sandy texture which makes the growing processes different than with rich soil in southern Minnesota.
Agronomists at Centra Sota highlighted precision ag techniques, including seed depth and nitrogen application. Each acre-sized plot tests a different combination of precision ag and utilizes new technologies, including GPS, to develop optimal growth conditions, ensuring crops are “knee-high by the Fourth of July”.
Interns were able to ask a multitude of questions to employees of Centra Sota and expand their understanding of the agronomic tools and technologies used every day by growers and producers.
“The work they do here at corporate doesn’t just affect their teams, it is our retail-owners and our member owners. This is people’s lives and the pride they have in our cooperative system is contagious,” said Heidi Riese, College Relations.
Next stop was Roerview Dairy in Swanville: a family-owned, 250 cow dairy farm. Tours were led by member-owners, which allowed our interns to gain firsthand knowledge of the hard work that goes into dairy production.
The interns were able to experience all aspects of an innovative and environmentally conscious dairy, including learning the processes behind fully-robotic milking machines. The member-owners also emphasize cow comfort throughout their facilities, introducing manure collectors, feed pushers and temperature regulation in their barns.
Many interns are drawn to Land O’Lakes because of their agricultural background, but there are still some who had never been on a farm.
That’s true for Jasmin Kemp, IT intern, who had her first farm experience on the intern field trip. Jasmin has a plethora of cultural experiences which have contributed to her interest in an agricultural career, despite never visiting a farm.
“What makes Land O’Lakes different than most companies is our member-owned business style, which was incredible to witness first hand,” says Jasmin. “After visiting the Answer Plot® and dairy farm, I have a better understanding of the people behind the data.”
Jasmin can use what she learned on the farms in her everyday role at Land O’Lakes in the IT department.
“Witnessing the software WinField United has to monitor the soil levels and the autonomous milking cows at the dairy farm opened my eyes to the dependence farmers have on technology,” said Jasmin. “It inspires me to work harder and create technological advancements that will benefit the farmer.”
With a limited number of Americans connected to agriculture, experiences such as these help bridge the rural-urban divide.
“Agriculture is not ‘sleepy,’” said Heidi. “Interns got to see the importance of what research and technology does for our farmer’s fields, go into a root pit, and see robotics at work at our member’s farms.”