Thoughts From The Farm

Written by: Kara Lidberg
field with rows of cultivated plants in perspective, wide portion of sky

By Kara Lidberg
Photos courtesy of Jared Hagert

Jared Hagert is a fourth-generation farmer, with his great grandfather having started their farming operation in 1905 in Emerado, North Dakota. Since childhood, Hagert has been interested in what lays beyond his family’s own farm.

“I enjoy all aspects of production agriculture,” Hagert said. “I have had a passion instilled in me from a young age to look beyond the perspective of production and what is needed to improve our operation but others’ situations as well.”

Hagert has been influenced greatly by his parents and grandparents. “They were always there to support me and challenge me to strive for the best in whatever I do,” he said. “They helped me improve not simply our farm but the community that surrounds us through activities and services they took part in,” encouraging him to do the same.

Using Technology

Hagert recognizes that technology has played an important role in his farming operation, using it daily to keep him informed on what is going on with the farm and happening in the world.

“I can remember the first system I ever purchased,” Hagert said. “It had audible tones to keep us on track ― two beeps signaling us to steer left and three to steer right. It was amazing, and we didn’t have any more pickups in the ditch.”

One of the technologies that Hagert thinks affected the farm the most has been autosteer, providing the machine operator with the opportunity to focus on the job rather than concentrating on driving straight. “It’s one of those things that the more you use it, the more uses you find for it,” he added.

There was also elevation mapping that came hand-in-hand with the recording of field operations. By tying elevation and yield maps together, Hagert was able to come up with better plans for upcoming production cycles.

The latest technology Hagert believes has become extremely important to the industry is satellite data, allowing farmers to prioritize field operations. “This past year, the technology even helped us track new chemistry opportunities that we used on our wheat crop,” he said. “It was visibly different within 10 days of application and show up all the way through harvest.” This chemistry gave Hagert’s farm a 10 bushel-per-acre advantage. “Without the satellite data, we would’ve had to wait until post-harvest to see the difference,” he continued. “With the data, we were able to go out and put boots on the ground before harvest.”

Hagert also added that he would be remiss not to mention cellular technology. “The amount of data and communication ability that is at our fingertips is mind-blowing,” he said.

What Makes North Dakota Unique?

Hagert believes that living and working in North Dakota is a privilege. “Production agriculture in this state allows you to be very flexible in your farming operation,” he said. “There are quite a few crops that can be raised, and they all present their own unique opportunities.”

He also thinks that North Dakota is extremely unique regarding utilizing technology. “We are a state that is full of early adopters and people that value cutting-edge capabilities,” he said. “I value the opportunities I have to interact with others in this space that are farther ahead of where I am at.”

With North Dakota’s innovation, Hagert also places high importance in connecting with decision-makers throughout the nation to discuss what is happening in his own state. “Sharing what is happening in North Dakota with people in a different environment and point in the supply loop is necessary,” Hagert added. “Communication is key.”

Production agriculture in this state allows you to be very flexible in your farming operation.” Jared Hagert, Owner of Hagert Farms and Integrated Ag Services

Growing to Feed the World

As the population swells, the agricultural community is under pressure to increase its production, and Hagert believes that as farmers grow in the ag-tech space, sustainability should be the focus. “If we look at the issue soberly,” he said, “it’s not about increasing yields. It’s about increasing what is needed ― a denser nutritional bundle in soybeans and other crops.”

Hagert went on to explain how in the past, producers have chased bushels because that’s how they would be profitable. “Most of the yield increases that we have gained in the last 30 years have been by increasing carbohydrates,” he said, adding that if the ag-tech industry utilized farm data to help shift this trend, producers could better understand what the end-user actually needs.

Understanding that farmers get paid in pounds of grain produced, Hagert would love to see a shift to be paid for the nutrient bundle instead, encouraging a denser end product. “It isn’t a revolutionary process but an evolutionary one,” he continued. “We need to produce what is valued and be compensated on that level, helping with the end goal of feeding everyone on the planet and continuing sustainability.”

Jared Hagert Owner of Hagert Farms and Integrated Ag Services

Integrated Ag Services

In addition to his own farming operation, Jared Hagert owns Integrated Ag Services, a North Dakota-based seed conditioning and precision agriculture company that grew from Hagert Seed.

“My parents started Hagert Seed in 1993, which was a tough year for farmers in North Dakota because of the major amount of rain that summer,” he began. However, there was a silver lining in those stormclouds: the seed plant. “My dad installed a gravity table in the plant ― a machine that operates on the theory of specific gravity,” Hagert said. “It was able to clean the bad seeds out of the good seeds, providing a service to surrounding farmers to be profitable even with the added cleaning expense.”

Along with his wife Brandie, Hagert purchased the business from his parents in 2007. As they grew the company, however, they quickly realized that it wasn’t just about seed and being a service provider anymore. “There were more layers to this onion,” Hagert exclaimed.

In 2015, the Hagerts decided to purchase a plot of land and move their business from the farmyard to the intersection of highways 15 and 18, eight miles north of Hatton and six miles east of Northwood.

“We felt that by providing seed conditioning services, we could also provide another opportunity for local producers to look at as well as a service that dealt more specifically with precision agriculture,” Hagert said, noting the reason for the name change from Hagert Seed to Integrated Ag Services. “We brought in a Certified Crop Advisor to bolster our agronomic insight and help handle the needs of our existing customer base,” he continued, “feeling like that would help in the long run.”

Hagert recognized that he would only get a few chances to develop something that can genuinely make a positive impact on the lives of others as well as their own and placed a high level of importance on these business changes. “We have a deep-rooted respect for North Dakota agriculture,” he said, speaking about his family, “and we want to make sure we can augment that in whatever way possible.”

In regard to the business, Hagert believes that one of the major drivers of growth has been the shift of the soybean production area north and west in the United States. “This has provided us with the opportunity to condition more soybeans for seed and for farmers to plant a crop that has been in high demand worldwide,” he said.

Striving to put the best options on the table for producers, Integrated Ag Services has been partnering with seed and chemical companies to do trials that will aid in their decision making. “We felt strongly about wanting to provide a data point within our region in order to help in the development of products that work well here,” Hagert said. As the company moves through the production season, the team maintains contact with those seed companies as well as customers to aid in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We value our customers’ input and what they are seeing with our products ― both the good and bad,” Hagert continued, “and the most rewarding aspect is that we can interact on behalf of our customers in discussions with the seed companies. The business is operating as the middle-man, providing feedback, fostering partnerships that last and hopefully delivering long-term benefits to the ag sector. “It’s truly a give-and-take from all parties involved.”

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Originally from Garrison, North Dakota, Lidberg has lived mostly in Fargo since the fall of 2013. She graduated from North Dakota State University in May of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in theatre arts. Lidberg has a history as a reporter for her hometown newspaper as well as an editor for Fargo Monthly magazine. Currently, she is a freelance writer and editor, working with clients from industries like publishing, wedding, and human resources and on a wide range of topics, including agriculture, business, entertainment, marketing, and technology.