Families Growing Our Food: Father-Son Dynamic Farming Duo

Husker Home Place

No-till farming and the ability to modify their machinery have helped the Dvoraks conserve soil on their rolling Colfax County farm.

Published on: March 1, 2013

Curt's Comments:   Farmers are often maligned for caring only about profits, and little about the soil. Personally, I have found the opposite to be true. Farmers today understand the soil and the importance of the soil more than ever before. That's why farmers have adopted no-till systems so readily. My case in point is the Dvorak farm. When I first visited the Dvoraks for a story that ran in our December 2011 print issue, I was impressed by the size and efficiency of their farm shop. But after talking with Mike and his son Chris, I understood why they needed that shop. They are not only farmers, but inventors. Mike has the no-till philosophy of protecting the soil, reducing tillage and input costs and making the land more productive. Chris has the engineering capabilities to invent new efficiencies in their equipment that will make the machinery work better under challenging no-till conditions. They are truly a dynamic duo. Here is their story…

NO-TILL INVENTORS: Mike Dvorak (left) and his son, Chris, are innovators, modifying their planter to cut through high cornstalk residue.
NO-TILL INVENTORS: Mike Dvorak (left) and his son, Chris, are innovators, modifying their planter to cut through high cornstalk residue.

Colfax County farmers, Chris Dvorak, and his father Mike, are true innovators. When they purchased their corn and soybean planter five years ago, they were satisfied with the machine, but found ways to customize this key piece of equipment to make it work better in their no-till operation.

As the family gained experience in no-till farming, which was adopted to protect the soil from erosion by not tilling it in an invasive way and leaving precious crop residue in place, their philosophy changed. "It has gotten so that I hate disturbing the soil at all, even grading center pivot irrigation tracks," Mike Dvorak says.

The family uses their personally-modified planter to cover around 1500 acres of no-till corn and soybeans each year. While the Dvoraks have been on the cutting edge of technology, Mike says that Chris is carrying that to the next level. "Chris is in tune with the technology part of production," he says.

Chris, who obtained a mechanized systems management degree from the University of Nebraska, returned home to farm with his family. "It's been a great foundation for working with the technology and the systems that we have today," Chris Dvorak says. "Even in the short time since graduation, technology in agriculture has been and will continue exploding and we have to keep up and keep learning."

Dvorak put his degree to work, utilizing their well-equipped farm shop, to make important changes to the planter so it would cut through heavy stalk residue and hold the row in their rolling fields.