ADAIRVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) -- Back in the 1950's I grew up on a 200 acre farm in northern Illinois, considered a pretty big farm back then. And this was the tractor I drove, An International Harvester Farmall "H" with a 4-cylinder engine putting out a whopping 24 horsepower.
This is the tractor of today, something called a Challenger, with anywhere from 400 to 500 horsepower, and its own on board computer with satellite guidance!
Jeff Burr is the man who uses this tractor, working 400 acres of the farm that has been in his family for five generations, going all the way back to the 1800's, but he has his eyes on the future as the 2017 Kentucky Young Farmer of the Year.
"I was put in the combine at 8 weeks old," says Jeff. "I was in the combine and from then on I stuck around the farm. Anything need to be done on the farm, I was with my parents and grandparents." But now Jeff Burr farms all 400 acres of his farm outside Adairville by himself.
"He took over this operation when he was 21 years old after the death of his father and grandfather," says SKYCTC Agriculture Specialist Mike Bullock. "That says what kind of people farmers can be. And I'm so proud of him for that."
Jeff raises corn, wheat, soybeans, and cattle. But how can he do it by himself? One word -- Technology.
A satellite shows Jeff his field and tells him all about it. And the tractor even drives itself! Jeff just sits there to monitor the operation. "The GPS on the satellite will keep it in line and drive it straight," says Jeff.
But that's not all the on board computer can do. It can talk to the machinery the tractor is pulling! In this case, telling the planter about the field it's in.
"And tell it, um, if it's been planted, already been planted or not been planted," says Jeff. "It can tell the sprayer to cut off, on, where you're not wasting seed or chemical."
"When I'm combinin' wheat," adds Jeff, "I got two semi trucks. I park 'em at the end of the road. And I'll harvest until the combine gets full. Dump in the semi truck, and when the semi truck gets full I'll haul 'em to the elevator or to my grain storage facilities."
Gene: "And this is all by yourself?"
Jeff: "All by myself."
So why does he do it? Because he's a farmer.... "We've got to feed the United States. We've got to feed the world." With a deep, abiding faith. "When you wake up in the morning, see the sunrise.... when you work ground, and the crops growin'. I can't understand how anybody would not have faith in God, by lookin' at nature, what he provides in nature every day."
As you can see, Jeff burr has a lot of faith. Farmers have to have a lot of faith. If you do everything right, but the weather goes bad, you have a poor yield, so you don't make much money. If you do everything right and the weather is great, you have a good yield, but so does every other farmer around, so the price you get paid for your crop could actually go down.
It's a big gamble, but one farmers are willing to take, because they have faith, like Jeff Burr, the 2017 Kentucky Young Farmer of the Year."