Todd Peterson is a member of the Miami Trace FFA Chapter in Washington Court House, Ohio, and he has a small problem. However, it’s a good problem to have: The land he farms as part of his supervised agricultural experience (SAE) is expanding so rapidly he occasionally has trouble remembering its exact acreage on a given day.
“I farm corn, soybeans, and wheat in south-central Ohio, and the acreage has changed,” Peterson said. “I’ve grown very fast, so I couldn’t exactly tell you an exact acreage right now.”
Peterson’s records show his farmland is currently 333 acres in size, but at his current pace, that number is likely to change again soon.
“The last five or so years have been real explosive growth for me,” he said. “I’ve found some properties that maybe the bigger farmers looked over. I was able to rent some stuff with my dad. I’ve rented some stuff from other landlords.”
Peterson started his SAE in the spring of 2014 with only a 7-acre pasture. He credited much of his agricultural knowledge to growing up on a farm and participating in crop judging as part of an agronomy career development event (CDE) in high school.
“The agronomy CDE specifically was huge for me,” Peterson said. “When I was in high school, and I competed in the agronomy CDE, I learned a lot. … Through the agronomy CDE and just through my SAE, I’ve learned I can walk around and identify most of the plants in my field, weeds and otherwise.”
Farming is a family legacy, Peterson said, but he still wants to keep improving his farming sustainability and doing things differently from his parents.
“No-till is one of the things that I’m trying to push into,” Peterson said. “Currently, at the home farm, it’s all no-till [soy]beans, but I’ve been looking toward a no-till corn for probably next year.”
For the future, Peterson said he hopes to graduate from Ohio State University with a master’s degree in agronomy and a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness before continuing to work on his farmland. His advice to other FFA members starting their own SAE is to talk to everyone who can help you.
“Just talk to people,” Peterson said. “Your FFA advisor is going to be extremely helpful. … You’ve got to reach out to people, talk to them, just be open and then listen to what they say.”