Fourth Generation Wyandot County Farmer Prepares for Future
September 6, 2022 Ohio Soybean Council
The next generation of soybean farmers are joining in on the fun. With innovative ideas and an open mind, Tyler Miller joined his family’s farming operation full-time in 2019. Tyler represents District 6 — Crawford, Seneca and Wyandot Counties — on the Ohio Soybean Council Board of Trustees. By collaborating with other Ohio soybean farmers, he is ensuring a profitable future for Ohio’s soybean industry. Learn about Tyler’s experience on his family’s operation and how he is thinking about the future:
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Crawford County and currently reside in Wyandot County with my wife Kelly, and our 8-monthold son, Brooks.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I graduated in 2012 from the University of Toledo, with a BA in Communications concentrated in Public Relations.
When did you decide to come back to work on the farm?
I really didn’t decide I wanted to come back home and farm until my senior year of college. After school I worked at an ag retailer. 2019 was my first season farming full-time.
What counties do you farm in?
We farm in Crawford and Wyandot Counties.
How many acres do you farm? What do you raise?
We operate about 2,000 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans.
Can you share some of your farm’s history?
Our farm started with my great grandfather. My grandpa and his brother grew the operation and, with the help of my dad and uncle, started one of the first custom application operations in the area. The custom application and retail side has long been gone now, and we are now a full-time row crop operation.
Did you face any challenges when returning to the farm? How did you solve them?
Since farming full time, I have thankfully only had to deal with a widespread prevent-plant spring, COVID-19, supply chain setbacks, vomitoxin-riddled corn, skyrocketing fertilizer prices … there’s always going to be something. Be flexible and don’t be afraid of a plan B, C, D.
What are some important business planning lessons you have learned since working on the farm?
Always be looking for value-added practices. It’s easy to look at a task and look at the capital investment, as well as the manpower and time and be completely overwhelmed and write it off. But look for the hidden benefits as well. Several years ago, we started doing a majority of our own spraying. Not knowing how much time and effort we would put into it, we invested minimally in a compact pull-type and a side-by-side. Top dressing wheat turned into burndown into running corn. We ended up covering over 4,000 acres that year. Running the numbers, it was easily a 125% or more ROI based just on custom application savings in one growing season. Add in the cash and carry savings on chemicals and the agronomic benefits of application at the ideal timing versus being on someone’s stack of work orders – it’s a no brainer to put the effort in.
Do you have a favorite piece of machinery on your farm?
I would have to say one of my favorite operations on the farm is plowing in tile. Everyone running around, operating all the different equipment, calculating all the different grades and layouts, trying not to bury a 40,000-pound tractor… very few things are more satisfying.
Are you seeking ways to improve on farm efficiency? If so, what resources are you using?
One of the ways we are working to improve our on-farm efficiency is with technology. Fifteen years ago, everyone thought it couldn’t get better than automated guidance systems. Today we are working on implementing several different systems. Application controllers, variable rate technology and precision seed meters are just some to name. As much of a pain they can be to manage somedays, I somehow doubt we could afford to go without them. With the precision it brings to application quality and planting consistency, it’s an easy value to see, but hard to put a number on unless it’s gone.
What practices are you doing today that will prepare your farm for the future?
I’m trying to get as much of our operation done in-house as possible. It’s impossible to do it all but having a hand in what’s possible to control goes ten-fold in quality, cost and efficiency for the operation.
What piece of advice do you have for young farmers? That’s a tricky one … I like to think of myself as a young farmer, but soak up all the advice you can. Everyone’s has a different theory on how to do something and a different way of thinking about it. Not saying they’re all correct but looking at something from a different point of view can go quite a ways.
What do you do for fun outside of farming?
Well, that’s changed quite a bit as of late. Now, most of my free time is spent rolling around on the living room floor with my son playing with loud colorful toys, it’s a great time.