Derek and Grant Klingenberg are college graduates and likely could find an easier life and good-paying jobs in the business world. However, they both have come back to the family farm at Peabody.
“We always knew we would come back,” Grant said. “We grew up working on the farm and couldn’t imagine being confined to four walls.”
The two brothers and their father, Vernon, 65, are incorporated as Klingenberg Farms.
Vernon oversees the entire operation while Derek manages crop production and Grant manages the cattle-feeding enterprise.
Derek is 30. He graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agriculture economics and a minor in agronomy — the science of crop production and land management.
Grant is 25. He graduated from KSU, also with a degree in ag economics, and a minor in animal science.
When Derek graduated from college, his grandfather, Willie Klingenberg, who died two years ago at age 88, was still a part of the operation.
Willie and his wife, Marie, acquired the original 80 acres of the Klingenberg farmstead in the late 1930s. It has grown to a large operation consisting of owned and rented land, using much of the latest farm technology.
Derek said the most difficult part of carrying on the family farm was the transition to modern farming. He said his grandfather had a difficult time accepting new methods of doing things.
Adapting to new technologies is always a challenge, Derek said, but the brothers’ father has been more accepting of it.
“Dad trusts us,” Derek said. “We teach him how it works and he likes it.”
Derek initiated a gradual change to no-till farming, which required a new line of planting equipment. Now, the entire farm is no-tilled.
The brothers are sold on no-till farming. “It saves on oil, soil, and toil,” Derek said.
He said no-till has made a huge difference in erosion. After heavy rains, water from no-till fields runs clear, but runoff from tilled ground carries soil with it.
He noted that after five or six years, no-till ground became like a hard sponge, full of many little holes that soak up the rain and allow for aerobic activity.
Grant said he has noticed that weed populations have been reduced.
“Weed seeds only germinate when light hits them,” he said.
No-till requires fewer trips across a field, reducing fuel usage and saving time.
Klingenberg Farms practices a lot of double-cropping in a rotation of wheat, then milo, sorghum, or sunflowers, followed by soybeans and corn before going back to wheat.
Derek said continuous cropping is good because it keeps soil microbes active.
Grant buys feeder cattle over the Internet. He backgrounds about 900 head every year. Cattle are fed in pens during the winter and put on grass or sent to feed yards in summer. This gives him time to help with farm work.
Using QuickBooks, a software program, Grant’s wife, Allie, keeps computerized records of income and expenses. She did not grow up on a farm. She said she was shocked at first to see the thousands of dollars farmers handle every year.
“The money comes in big but it also goes out big,” she said.
Derek uses another software program, Farm Trac, to analyze the operation. He said a yield map is generated on the combine monitor during harvest and can be laid over a soil map to determine variable rates of fertilizer for succeeding crops. The monitor uses GPS to map yield and location.
Harvested crops are stored in bins on the farm and hauled later to terminals, which usually results in a better price than at the local elevator. Landlords, who get one-third of the crop, have the option of having it stored on the farm or taken to the elevator.
Despite their large operation, the brothers find time for recreation. Derek likes music. He and another brother, Brett, and two friends formed a bluegrass group, Possum Boys, which performed for three years.
Derek wrote the songs for the group. He recently has begun making videos of his songs for YouTube. Grant is featured in one of them. One of Derek’s favorites is, “Bumble Bees in the Hay.” His videos can be accessed on YouTube by searching for klingpossum.
Grant’s favorite pastime is hunting. He hunts turkeys and enjoys bowhunting for deer.
Derek’s wife, Kara, is a registered nurse but currently is a stay-at-home mom caring for their 18-month-old daughter, Makayla.
The Klingenbergs could be characterized as a clingy family, which may be necessary when working together as one unit. At one time, four Klingenberg families lived on the same section of land.
Grant and Derek live just a few yards apart in the 200 block of Quail Creek Road. Their parents, Vernon and Carol, live around the corner in a new house on 30th St.
Brother Brett is the exception. He is married to Cassie and is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree in Virginia.