Young farmer standing next to tractor

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Member spotlight: Kollyn Lentz, Plainfield

July 6, 2023 | Jeff Hutton

Kollyn Lentz is following in the footsteps of generations those before him — farming the land and feeding the world.

The Iowa State University (ISU) student from rural Plainfield is a sixth-generation farmer whose family emigrated from Germany in the 1800s and planted roots in northeast Iowa. For Lentz, farming is the natural evolution of what he has always wanted to do.

In the beginning

He grew up on his family’s farm, raising cows and growing soybeans and corn. He showed cattle in 4-H, and pursued a path in agriculture.

Before stepping foot in Ames at ISU, Lentz went to Hawkeye Community College.

Now, he’s gone from doing the chores and helping with fieldwork to renting 80 acres in Butler County on his own.

“I love farming,” he says. “There are so many different things to do; no two days are the same.”

As a youngster, Lentz knew he wanted to be outdoors, in the field and working with livestock.

“I knew then that farming was on the list,” he says. “I always thought it was cool.”

And for Lentz, the cool part of farming is the unknown, the unpredictability and trying new things.

“For the last two years, I’ve been doing new things with fungicide and insecticides, with good results,” he says. “I like to scout my crops, and I’m trying new seed treatments and working with a good herbicide program.”

Young farmer on farm in Plainfield

Lentz’s father is a seed dealer and is working with his son to help pick out new varieties that are likely to work in his fields.

The young farmer is also investigating custom spraying methods and learning about cutting-edge products that will positively impact his farming operation.

It’s all about balancing what will work and what won’t, he says.

Lentz balances farming and college, arranging his class schedule so he can head back to the farm on Thursday nights and work there all weekend.

“It gets to be more challenging balancing homework and other activities,” Lentz says. “It’s about setting your priorities and getting things done.”

Getting involved

The unpredictability and balancing multiple aspects of life on the farm excites Lentz.

“Honestly, that’s part of it,” he says. “There are so many different decisions you have to make.”

He relies on data and expertise from the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI), as well as ISU, to be more productive and profitable.

“Looking at the data, I never realized just how many decisions a farmer needs to make,” he says. “You have to be positive and move forward.”

Lentz says he has been involved with ISA since he first heard about the association in high school and at Hawkeye Community College. An event hosted by Beck’s also included ISA’s involvement, he recalls.

He learned more about ISA by joining the Soy Squad, a program specifically for college students who want to gain more insight into the association. The various meetings and events held as part of the program included insights on ISA’s efforts in research, building demand for soybeans, policy, education and unique opportunities to strengthen his personal and professional development.

Ideas and innovation

At ISU, Lentz says he enjoys talking with other ag students, exchanging ideas and talking about new innovations. He’s also building his networks in various classroom experiences.

In an economics class, for example, he was involved in a mock business with other classmates. They bounced business ideas off one another, discussing what it takes to be successful in agriculture.

Back on the farm, he participates in minimum-till efforts. He is working on new seed treatments and discovering ways to save money while maintaining or increasing yields. “In the future, I would like to try some cover crops ahead of soybeans, probably something like rye and see how that works,” he says. “I’ve heard good things about that and how it helps with weed control and other aspects.”

Touchstone to the past

While Lentz knows that farming is a career, it’s also an avocation.

“Farming is a business, but you want to make it fun,” he says. “It must be something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re better off doing something else.”

Over the next several years and following graduation from ISU, Lentz wants to farm full time, integrate new technologies and find personal satisfaction in what happens in the field.

“You have to keep changing, evolving,” he says. “I love the community, fellow farmers, and getting to know other students and those in agriculture.”

The family homestead, where his German ancestors planted roots, is only 2 miles away from where Lentz now farms. It is a touchstone to his past and his future.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to help feed the world,” he says.