Nestled along the southern edge of Adams County, the Atwater family farm buzzes with activity. Second generation farmer Lance Atwater and his wife, Krystal, gear up for another planting season. Lance’s father, Kevin, came to Nebraska from Santa Monica, California, after graduating high school. He along with his wife, Denise, he started the family farm near Ayr and now Lance and Krystal are building upon that solid foundation.
“I’ve been around farming and agriculture basically since I was a little kid. I was out helping my dad irrigate in the summertime and was one of those kids that took naps in the tractor or the combine. There’s just something about being on the farm and knowing that you’re helping provide food for the world,” Lance said.
The Atwaters have a diversified farm. They raise yellow corn, popcorn, soybeans, non-GMO white corn and have a small cow/calf operation. Lance says they have been growing popcorn and non-GMO white corn for several years and it has provided different economic opportunities for them.
“Specialty crops give you a premium, and so white corn and popcorn has treated us pretty good over the years. It’s also fun growing a product that goes right into the food supply. If you go to a movie theater or you’re shopping there at the grocery store and you pick up a box of popcorn, there’s a chance that came from our field. The same with the white corn. If you enjoy those chips with your nachos, that’s what our white corn is going into,” Lance said.
Bringing her own wealth of agricultural knowledge to the table, Krystal is the other piece of the puzzle that completes this farming couple. She grew up helping on her family’s Idaho cattle ranch that has been in her family since they came across the Oregon Trail. A running scholarship helped Krystal earn her college degree in Chicago, but the city life had her missing her ranching roots. Krystal was working as a Purina rep when she met Lance and landed in Nebraska.
“When I’m not on the road working, my job is to help out on the farm. I don’t just wear the hat of a farm wife. I’m also in the tractor if they need me. I think a lot of people forget that women are very active on the family farm operations. We tend to just stay quiet, but I think it’s important for people to realize that women in agriculture are very strong forces behind the scenes,” Krystal said.
Caring for the land is of utmost importance for the Atwaters. They utilize no-till practices, moisture probes, and updated machinery to ensure they are being the best stewards possible.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate to continue to stay on top of all the technology advancements. The coolest thing is with planting. We’re using variable rate planting technology to basically change the planting population out in our fields. For example, dry land corners, we’re able to reduce the population and that helps us save on seed costs,” Lance said.
“We all want to raise our families in a safe environment. Farmers don’t want to over spray a field because ultimately we’re the ones reaping the benefits or we’re hurting ourselves if we have negative farming practices,” Krystal said.
Lance and Krystal serve on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. Lance has served as past President of Adams County Farm Bureau and currently serves on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors as the Youth At-Large representative. Krystal is a national accounts manager for Land O’Lakes Purina. The Atwaters say being part of Farm Bureau is one of the best investments they’ve made for their operation. Lance says the representation Farm Bureau gives them at the Nebraska Legislature and in Washington is invaluable.
“That’s what I love about Farm Bureau, we’re truly representing all of agriculture and we’re wanting everyone in agriculture to be successful,” Lance said.
Lance and Krystal Atwater of Adams/Webster County Farm Bureau are this month’s Nebraska Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Month.