Meet a Farmer: Doug Saathoff

10/9/2013 8:32:31 AM

Doug Saathoff of Trumbull credits his dad and granddad with good planning: both he and his brother Dan are able to support their families on the Saathoff farm in the northeast corner of Adams County.

“They always told us: ‘Don’t get carried away,’” Doug says. “Things look good now, but we need to prepare for the next bad year.”

Doug’s great-grandfather started out farming near Glenvil, east of Hastings, but during World War II, the U.S. government took the land for an ammunition depot, so he moved to the Trumbull area. Today, Doug, Dan and their sister – who’s married to a farmer – are all close by.

“You can drive around the section, and you can be at all of our places,” Doug says, “which makes it easy to help each other out.”

Doug attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), majoring in business.

“When I went to college, I wasn’t planning to farm. But I missed being outdoors,” he says, so that business degree got swapped for a major in diversified agriculture. He graduated in 1996.

Doug met his wife Gail, who’s from North Platte, at UNL. He lived in Burr Hall, she lived in nearby Love Hall, and the rest is history. Gail teaches sixth grade at Doniphan-Trumbull School and their older daughter Emma, 9, is a fourth grader there. Younger daughter Erin, 6, is a kindergartener this fall.

The Saathoff farm grows corn, soybeans and seed corn for Pioneer. Nearly all of the land is irrigated, about half with gravity irrigation, and the rest with more water-efficient center pivots. Doug recently installed drip irrigation on a former gravity field that’s too irregular for a pivot.

“We were wasting too much water on that field, and we definitely want to conserve water,” he explains. “As farmers, we are conserving the land and the water. We’re not out there putting more fertilizer or chemical on our crops than we need to,” he emphasizes.

The biggest challenge in farming, Doug says, is trying to control costs and remain profitable to support the farm and keep it going. He’s focusing on implementing newer technologies that help with that goal and support the environment. His tractors now have GPS. He also traded planters, so he can use variable-rate planting and variable-rate fertilizer application allowing him to farm more precisely.

Doug is an occasional golfer, and about 10 years ago he was invited to the Adams County Farm Bureau golf outing. That led to an invitation to join Farm Bureau and attend the county Farm Bureau board meeting. Doug recently completed his term as county president. With his leadership, Adams County Farm Bureau has developed a close relationship with the Hastings Chamber of Commerce and collaborates with the chamber on events such as coffees with state senators. During National Agriculture Week in March, Adams County Farm Bureau hosts a Hastings’ “Business after Hours” gathering. That close relationship led to the Hastings Chamber of Commerce being the first local chamber in Nebraska to adopt a resolution in support of livestock farming. 

Although his operation is all crops, Doug says it’s important for crop farmers to stand up for livestock producers, “They’re my main customers, and every livestock producer I know takes good care of their animals.”  

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