Rural roots, new technologies come together to drive innovation
By Steven Brockshus
Growing up as the fifth generation on my family’s dairy farm near Ocheyedan in northwest Iowa, I watched my dad, uncle and grandfather work together to solve problems, manage employees, care for animals, raise crops and manage expenses. I saw business owners serve and support our rural community and took advantage of all the activities and opportunities in a small school system.
While I didn’t realize it at the time, I was surrounded by a community of entrepreneurs and innovators, and a culture that required everyone to work together for all of us to succeed.
Combining the understanding of farming and rural communities with technology led to the founding of FarmlandFinder in 2017. Our goal is to bring a new level of transparency to land sales, and level the playing field for farmers, landowners and investors alike. I am excited to be part of a fast-growing network of entrepreneurs who are building on our state’s agricultural leadership with a new generation of technologies and innovations.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has proclaimed this week as “Agriculture Innovation Week” in Iowa as part of the state’s celebration of National Ag Day, which is today, and to recognize the leadership and opportunities here in America’s Cultivation Corridor.
In just a few years, we’ve seen an explosion of resources available for startups and entrepreneurs across the state. From the development of accelerators and co-working spaces to venture funding and regional resources and programs like Iowa’s West Coast Initiative, there has never been a better time to start a new business here.
And, if you have a new idea for agriculture or agribusiness, Iowa is where you need to be. As home to some of the most established global brands in agriculture, there are opportunities for mentorships and partnerships. Our central location surrounded by fertile soils and progressive producers allows testing and feedback of new products. These networks drive a ripple effect that can be a support system for new ideas and innovations.
The idea for FarmlandFinder came when I attended a land sale with my dad during college. Across the room, there were pockets of people with different levels of information. Bankers and potential investors were armed with financial data, and local farmers understood the production value of the land, but piecing together a comprehensive picture of the land’s value and potential was difficult and time-consuming.
To me, innovation means bringing transparency and opportunities to farmers, landowners and investors in the land market. By compiling financial and production information with sales data and other factors, we can provide a clearer picture of the land’s value and allow farmers to make better decisions for their operations and families.
We are just one example of how increased connectivity and new technologies are boosting productivity for farmers and building opportunities for rural communities. Precision agriculture and analytics tools are improving yields and sustainability for crop farmers, robotics are easing labor challenges for dairy producers and new models are allowing producers to make better decisions. Businesses and entrepreneurs in rural areas can stay connected across the state and around the world to take advantage of innovations and spark their own.
As we celebrate National Ag Day and “Agriculture Innovation Week in Iowa,” I am excited to see where the future takes us – opportunities to continue growing in America’s Cultivation Corridor are limitless.
Steven Brockshus of Des Moines, Iowa, is the founder and chief executive officer of FarmlandFinder. He is a graduate of Sibley-Ocheyedan High School and alumnus of Iowa State University.
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