When Kasey Bamberger’s great grandparents purchased an Ohio farm at a sheriff’s auction during the Great Depression, they had no idea that 90 years later, the farm would be the center of Bryant Agricultural Enterprises and that their descendants would be managing nearly 20,000 acres of crop land throughout the state.
Kasey’s grandfather began farming the land his parents purchased and now Kasey, her father, uncle, and cousin manage Bryant Ag. After graduating with a business degree from Wright State University in 2013, Kasey returned to the farm to oversee the business aspects, including input purchasing, finances, land partner management, human resources, and public relations. Her cousin, who also returned in 2013, oversees operations and the field crew. Bryant Ag farms approximately 19,500 acres in six Ohio counties, with the majority of acreage in Fayette County, rotating between corn, soybeans, and soft red winter wheat.
“There’s not a lot of time other than work, but I love what I do so that’s perfectly fine,” she laughs. She and her husband live near the farm and when they do have free time, they play in several co-ed sports leagues and love to travel. “Family and friends are very important to us,” says Kasey. “We are ‘people’ people, so we’re rarely alone. We’re always surrounded by people we love.”
As Kasey sees it, the biggest change they have seen in farming has been the technology that is now available and the ability to capture data in realtime. Her grandfather was running labor-intensive, open-cab equipment, and today, the farm has self-driving tractors and can record what happens on every acre across the farm.
“Today, we can manage a larger footprint in a very meticulous way, which has allowed us to grow and continue to be good stewards, whether it’s right out our back door or in a different county,” says Kasey.
These changes, along with an increased focus on the environment and sustainability, have challenged Bryant Ag to look for ways to improve operations and ensure crops are grown in a way that is best for people and the environment. Modern consumers take a greater interest in how their food is grown and have access to more information, says Kasey. With that in mind, Bryant Ag strives to produce and yield crops at a high level in an environmentally safe way. As new rules and regulations come down, she says Bryant Ag is always researching new technologies and tools so the farm can keep providing a quality, affordable product to a growing number of consumers.
Kasey says they continually evaluate all aspects of the operation, and technology and soil health are two key factors. To maintain and improve soil health, Kasey says all inputs are varied by field — seed, fertilizer, and chemistries — which helps them ensure they never put out more than the field needs. “In some of our low production areas, we’re trying to build those soils, which is one of the reasons we do a three crop rotation,” she says.
Soil testing is also key, so Bryant Ag performs a grid soil sample every three years. “We stay up to date on what we’re taking out of the soil and make sure that we put those nutrients back into the soil,” says Kasey. Bryant Ag is also testing soil probe sensors, which allows them to see any nutrient loss after a heavy rain.
We’re looking at different practices, including ways that we can lower the amount of synthetic nitrogen we’re using, and SOURCE has data showing that we can reduce our nitrogen. I’d advise other growers to take a look at SOURCE, whether it’s for a yield lift or reducing nitrogen use.
Kasey says the biggest changes they are focusing on for soil health is reducing tillage, introducing cover crops, and educating employees and land owners about the benefits of these practices. “We continue to produce crops at a high level yield like we’ve done in the past, even though we’re starting to change some of our practices to make sure we’re operating efficiently and not over-utilizing inputs the fields aren’t calling for,” she says.
It’s important for the company to keep an eye to the future as well. Kasey says that when she returned to work on the farm in 2013, her father instilled in her the importance of environmental sustainability to the longevity of the farm. “We have every intention for our farm to be here for generations to come. The only way that works is if we are caring for the environment and the soil,” she says. Sustainability has always been part of Bryant Ag’s operations, and Kasey says that as new research and tools become available, it’s important to evaluate past procedures. “We look at it and say ‘Is there a way to do it better?’” she says. “That’s something my dad and my uncle did with their father, and it’s something my cousin and I are doing now.”
One of those new tools is SOURCE, Sound’s microbiome activator that increases the activity of nitrogen fixing and phosphorus solubilizing microbes in the soil. In 2020, Bryant Ag applied SOURCE across 50 acres post planting. Kasey says they saw a yield boost of about 9 bushels per acre, which not only covered the cost of the product, but provided them with a return as well. “It was incredibly easy to use and measure,” she says.
Kasey likes that SOURCE can provide two different benefits — a yield boost potential or an opportunity to reduce nitrogen application. Some growers may want to try it for a specific benefit, but Kasey says Bryant Ag is looking at using SOURCE for both.
“We’re looking at different practices, including ways that we can lower the amount of synthetic nitrogen we’re using, and SOURCE has data showing that we can reduce our nitrogen,” she says. “This year, we’ll have a plot looking at nitrogen reduction compared to farm-standard. We are excited to evaluate that with SOURCE this year,” she says. “I’d advise other growers to take a look at SOURCE, whether it’s for a yield lift or reducing nitrogen use.” During a time when market prices are high, input prices tend to follow, and growers may see an even greater return on investment with SOURCE when using it to reduce nitrogen, she adds.
“Agriculture is hands down the best industry to be part of. There’s not a single person on the planet that doesn’t rely on what we do every day,” she says. “And the people in the industry are the most wonderful and hardworking individuals to grow food and fiber for the world.” Kasey says she and her cousin challenge themselves to set the bar high, both for Bryant Ag and for the industry.