Laucks run top-end farming operationWritten by Saige Albert
Wheatland – Tyler Lauck has developed a reputation as one of Wyoming's best farmers on his operation in Wheatland, and today, Tyler, his wife Liz and their one-month-old daughter Rozella continue to strive for new heights by harnessing the best technology and farming practices on their operation.
Tyler grew up on a farming and cattle feeding operation near Wheatland while Liz was raised on a horse ranch in Chugwater.
The couple married in 2011, and Liz comments, “In 2012, I left my job at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and came on as a full-time farm wife.”
The Laucks raise corn, dry beans and malt barley and constantly pursue new technologies and opportunities to improve their operation.
Getting a start
When Tyler graduated high school, he jumped into his own farming operation, leasing land and equipment to get started.
“Tyler’s first year of farming was in 2002,” Liz says.
He adds, “It was so dry, and there was no snowpack. The first year, I was young and dumb enough not to care that it was that bad – I knew I wanted to farm.”
The upside is, things haven’t been as bad as the first year, Tyler jokes, saying, “Things have gone up from there.”
With their farming operation, the Laucks strive for one simple goal – to ensure that their crops never have a bad day.
“It doesn’t matter how many acres we farm or what we farm, we always want to perfect our production to produce a better crop,” Tyler explains. “Our key to making this farm successful is to have the most production out of every acre we can possibly get. To do that, we can’t let the crop have a bad day.”
He continues, “We don’t want to stress the crops for nutrients, weeds, bugs, water or anything else.”
Any stress that a crop sees impacts its final yield, and the Laucks manage the farm to prevent crop stress.
Tyler and Liz work with a crop consultant, Glen Johnson of Mother Earth Agronomy to provide advice on fertilizer, water recommendations and any chemicals to use for weeds and bugs.
“Every two weeks, our crop consultant scouts our fields and gives us a report,” Tyler says. “He provides seeding and variety recommendations. We sit down with him and form plans for the coming year.”
Tyler notes it is helpful to work with the consultant to integrate new technology into the operation, including variable rate seeding and fertilizing.
Tyler and Liz have integrated some relatively new technology to most efficiently and productively farm their ground.
“Some places might make 240-bushel-per-acre corn, while others only make 80 bushels,” Tyler says as an example. “We assess what we can produce and only apply what seed and fertilizer is needed to reach the potential of that part of the field.”
The Laucks consider the production potential of certain acreages to make investments into the field. For example, a hillside where the water runs off will never produce as much as a more level piece of ground that allows water to soak in and be utilized by the crop – regardless of how much seed or fertilizer is used. They strategically add inputs where they can be efficiently utilized by the crop using GPS and yield monitoring data.
“We have a combine with a yield monitor on it,” Tyler explains. “As we go through the field, it monitors and records yields and moisture.”
The equipment maps the information to correlate yield data with GPS locations.
“We build maps based on the recorded yields,” he adds. “Our crop consultant helps us develop a plan based on those yields and soil samples. We determine how much seed and fertilizer we need.”
The information is compiled into GPS maps – referred to as prescriptions for the field – that equipment in their tractors can read.
“We download the data into the planter and fertilizer applicator to change the rate at which we plant seeds and fertilize the field,” he said. “These fields require less inputs and create more yield. The plants aren’t stressed because they aren’t competing against each other for nutrients and water in the soil.”
They work to continually refine the technology and improve their output while decreasing inputs. 2014 was the first year the Laucks utilized prescribed seeding and fertilizer rates, and they noticed improved yields from reduced inputs. The couple looks forward to seeing continued progress using the technology.
Liz adds, “We can’t spend money on things we don’t need, but with this, we can get the most out of what we put in.”
Driven to farm
While Tyler and Liz have seen success, expanding each year and continuing to improve their operation, they also note the career choice isn’t for the faint of heart.
“A person has to have the drive to farm,” Tyler says. “We have to want to succeed and remember there are going to be tough times if we want to make it.”
Liz says, “We really enjoy raising and harvesting our crops and knowing we are feeding consumers.”
Tyler enjoys that farming isn’t a nine-to-five job, and he sees a benefit in consistently having to learn and adapt.
“Nothing is ever the same in farming,” he comments. “Market conditions, crops and the weather are all different all the time. At times it can be frustrating, but it is always interesting.”
Working together is also rewarding for the Laucks.
While Liz considers herself in the support role and as the “cheerleader” of the operation, Tyler notes that she is important to the day-to-day decision-making.
“We have discussions about what we are doing and why we do it to make sure we have a good reason for doing everything,” Tyler explains. “Our operation is a team effort. It’s ours together, and we’re working together to make it better.”
A future in farming
As they move forward and continue to run the farm, the Laucks note that they hope to grow in the future – not only in size, but in their efficiency and productivity.
“We don’t ever want to stagnate,” Liz comments.
“To run a successful operation, we want to succeed and grow for as long as we are doing this,” Tyler says. “We want to have a family and be able to hand this off to the next generation, if they want.”
By developing an operation that continues to learn from the past and not take anything for granted, Liz and Tyler hold faith that they will be successful into the future.
“We want to make sure we move toward our goals and that our operation is running as efficiently as possible,” Liz says.
Tyler notes, “In farming, if we do everything to the best of our ability, and we do our homework, things might be tight and there might be tough times, but everything is going to be ok. Each year, we’ll be ready to come back and prove we can do it again.”