Looking to the Future
By Brandelyn Twellman
After years of riding in the buddy seat and countless trips across the field with his dad nearby, Logan Korff experienced his first lone trip in the tractor at twelve years old.
“Starting off, Dad would take the tractor to the field, and he would go around the edges and get me started.” Korff said. “It was just tillage, but I would go from there and, once I would finish up, he would come get me and he would drive the tractor back.”
Korff was excited when the day finally came for him to get in the tractor at their shop and start a field all on his own.
“That was probably the first time I realized tractors actually had brakes,” he laughed. “I started off and almost ran into a trailer out in front of our shop.”
Through increased responsibility and hands-on experiences, Korff has surpassed many similar learning curves on the family farm today, thanks to the guidance of generations before him. Logan’s dad, Rob Korff, and grandpa, Tim Korff, are the third and fourth generations to steward Korff Farms.
Their corn and soybean operation in Norborne, Missouri has served as Logan’s gateway into the agricultural industry.
“I’ve been riding in the tractor ever since I can remember,” he said. “I became really involved with helping on the farm in high school. I would come out here and work in the evenings, especially when we needed the help during harvest and planting.”
The more involved he was, the greater responsibility he took on.
“It used to be just running errands and going to get parts,” Korff said. “As I’ve gotten older now, I’m actually in the tractor planting, spraying, in the combine or running the grain cart.”
After high school, Korff transitioned to a life over two hours away from the farm at the University of Missouri. Majoring in agricultural systems management, Korff said he was fortunate professors in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources allowed him the flexibility to make the trip home to help when needed.
His ties to the family operation in Norborne have slowly but surely started pulling him back home more permanently.
“I always pretty much knew that I wanted to come back,” Korff said. “I thought I knew that I wanted to be a farmer and come home to the farm. When I went to college, I decided to explore other opportunities outside of farming. I got an internship at an ethanol plant in Nebraska.”
He enjoyed the experience, but Korff said he couldn’t stop thinking about home while he was gone. He decided it was time to seriously explore the idea of farming full time after college.
“We’re a generational farm, so looking toward the future has always been a big topic,” Korff said.
The first step toward a type of succession planning conversation started as a shift in the way decisions were made on the farm. Korff said he and his dad always stay in constant contact about the farm, but their conversations have evolved into more operational decision-making discussions.
Those conversations had to take a step further when Korff was offered an internship in Nebraska for the second year.
“We had to talk through our future plans,” he said. “That’s when dad told me there was room for me on the farm if I wanted to come back.”
Korff has made the decision to bring what he’s learned back to their operation upon graduation in May 2020.
He is coming home to the family farm at a time when change and innovation are constantly occurring in the industry. He said he has already seen some of what he has learned at MU slowly implemented in their operation.
“Efficiency is what I’ve started to see evolve on the farm,” he said. “Making every acre count a lot more and every second count a lot more. This is through making our equipment more efficient and slowly adopting some of the new technology in agriculture.”
Another way the Korffs make the most of every acre is through changes in genetics and tillage.
“The first memories I have of actually doing things on the farm are related to tillage,” Korff said. “Now, we haven’t used a disk in years.”
He believes these changes will push their operation forward.
“When I took classes on soils or plant science and learned about some
of these topics, I realized the best operational practices are transitioning in agriculture,” he said. “Those are the conversations we’re starting to have now, especially now that I’m becoming more involved.”
Korff said he enjoys answering his dad’s questions about topics he’s learned in school because it allows him to put his education to use while benefitting the farm.
Some of the changes made on Korff Farms have proven to be vital in chaotic growing years like 2019.
“Farming in the bottoms of the Missouri River has been a challenge this year,” Korff said. “We’re lucky to have hill ground in years like this when our bottom ground has continued to sit underwater.”
Like most farmers across the state, the Korffs have had to battle the weather patterns this year.
“Most years we start planting soybeans in May, and we’re done in two weeks,” he said. “This year, between the rain and having to sandbag the river, we hadn’t started much when I got home from school in May.”
In the midst of the chaotic season, the highs and lows of this year have taught Korff many valuable lessons.
“We’ve had to communicate and plan a lot more this year,” he said. “You’ve got to make hay when the sun shines. When it rained, there was only so much we could do so we ended up preparing a lot more to get through the season.”
While Korff has several goals for the future of his family farm, he said the first step is to work toward purchasing more land of his own.
“Once I own my own ground and can bring that into the operation, that’s when I feel like I’ll truly become part of the operation,” he said.
“That’s when I’ll really feel ownership in Korff Farms.”