June 13, 2019

Indiana Farmer, Kris Tom, On Managing Their Most Valuable Asset: The Soil

Tom Farms has a rich legacy of farming. Everett Tom, Kris’ grandfather, started the operation in 1952. At 90 years-old, Everett and his wife Marie are still active on the farm operating a small cattle herd. Today, three generations run the 19,000 acre operation that spans six Northern Indiana counties. Kris has four siblings, two of whom work on the farm along with one of their spouses. The Tom’s primary crops are corn and beans, but thanks to the diversity of their soil they have also grown tomatoes, potatoes, and cucumbers. “Our soil ranges dramatically from sandy loam, muck, tight clay and more,” Kris says.

Tom Farms 3

Running an operation of their size means dynamic conditions are a constant. A wealth of information at their fingertips from real-time sensors to historical data creates a unique challenge of its own, to utilize the information in a timely manner and attempt to make the best decision possible. “The difficulty lies in the analysis and understanding of data sets in a way to help create a sustainable and efficient method for producing a great crop quickly and precisely,” Kris remarks.

“We begin linking the pieces together so we can better understand the whole image that the soil, environment and products are creating.”

The Agricultural Puzzle

Every piece of data they have fits into a greater puzzle that paints a picture of the working system, “As we continue to improve our operations, we begin linking the pieces together so we can better understand the whole image that the soil, environment and products are creating.” The soil and the data underground sheds light on the foundation that is sustaining the crop. It’s a compilation of small steps each season to improve the soil, manage the disease risk and find opportunities for yield improvement. “Soils are the base of our livelihood, our opportunity to grow a plentiful crop only works if we can take care of the soil for the current and future generations,” he says. Kris hopes Trace’s data will contribute a large piece to this agricultural puzzle by giving them the information needed to manage their most valuable asset一the soil.

Tom Farms

A Push Towards Innovation

Kris’ father, Kip, stresses the importance of innovation on the farm. It’s ingrained in their farm’s culture and drives the employees to push themselves every day. Running a family operation, Kris has witnessed the differences from generation to generation, “It’s less about gut decisions and more about taking a systematic approach using data to make decisions.” He’s confident that data-driven decision-making and an openness to new ideas will allow their farm to innovate and find continued success.

 

About: Tom Farms is a multi-generation, family owned organization firmly planted in the fertile prairies of Northern Indiana. Tom Farms has evolved into a global crop production, sales and service company and industry leader. To learn more about their farm visit their website.

 

Want more stories from the field?  Follow us @tracegenomics