The Dallas County Farm, north of Adel, works as a tool for DMACC students interested in the agriculture business. Whether students are linked to a family farm, or envision themselves owning a private farm one day – the Dallas County Farm resides as the hub of potential experience for future farmers.
“We probably work with six or eight different seed companies out here, and at one point in time, three of those were graduates of the DMACC Ag program,” Farm Coordinator, Travis Lautner said.
Lautner has worked as a Farm Coordinator with DMACC since 2012. He oversees students, often thinks of ways to implement everyday farm happenings into later lessons, and checks in with the farm throughout the day.
“I think as time moves on, it’s more common to not be from a farm background,” Travis said.
Most commonly, two to four interns are hired per year, as the Dallas County Farm relies heavily on student labor. The two students per semester work alongside Lautner, tending to the Dallas County Farm. Interns get first-hand experience, working alongside both the cow/calf operation and the swine operation.
“Typically we won’t spend too much time after five unless we are harvesting, planting, or cattle are being born,” Lautner said.
Students have the opportunity to tend to various aspects of the 325-acre farm. In addition, the Dallas County Farm includes 100 acres of corn, soybeans, and the remainder of the pasture and hay ground, according to the DMACC Farm page.
In addition to the crop ground, the DMACC Farm Page lists a “cow/calf operation consisting of 60 pairs and a swine operation consisting of approximately 20 sows” at the Dallas County Farm.
“Our students get to see the whole process,” Lautner said. “They calve them and farrow them and we grow them up and the females either end up in the herd or in a feeding program.”
Those that end up in the feeding program will become market meat and is later sold back into the community. According to the DMACC Farm Page, the Agribusiness Farm harvests and processes its meat locally at Kirkpatrick Locker in Winterset, Iowa.
The Dallas County Farm runs predominately John Deere, including a six-row John Deere Planter. Lautner says the six-row planter is considered top of the line and while it’s not necessary for their size of farm, it’s nice to have and show students how it works.
Outside of the farm, students are encouraged to become involved with other internships, often pushed in the direction of new farms instead of a family farm.
“We try to instill upon them that ‘you’re here to learn, but you’re here to network,’” Lautner said.
Lautner wants students to know that there are endless paths to an agricultural career.
“You don’t come through this program and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna do this or that,’” Lautner said. “It may open a door somewhere else.”