Success Story: The Ochsner Family and Double O Farms
May 16, 2023
The benefits of Lindsay's irrigation solutions are well-established. Many of the 2 million farms operating in America today rely on Zimmatic™ pivots and FieldNET™ technology to maximize their productivity as they supply food and fuel to the entire world. But technology is only half the equation; the farmers using it are just as important. That’s where families like the Ochsners come in.
Five generations of farmers
Levi and Jena Ochsner of Sutton, Nebraska, know their way around a farm. As well they should—the Ochsner family has grown crops and raised livestock at Double O Farms since 1885, “by hand and horseback,” as Jena puts it. Growing is a family activity. Today, Levi’s parents also work on the farm, and Levi and Jena often inspect pivots together with their sons, Stetson, Crawford and new baby Walker (who recently took his first tractor ride). Farming seems to be in the boys’ blood; Stetson constantly peppers his parents with questions about how equipment works and crops grow.
Jena documents it all on the family’s Instagram. “Farm kids,” Jena says, “are born with dirt in their boots.”
Challenges across lifetimes
You don’t run a farm for more than 135 years without encountering some challenges. Every generation faces the ups and downs of working—and sometimes battling—with mother nature. This generation is no exception. Every year brings something different (Jena jokes that farming is one of the few legal forms of gambling in Nebraska). The family handles all these issues with aplomb, but it can make things difficult…especially when you have a year like 2022.
A tough year
“The 2022 growing season was probably the hardest growing season that I’ve been a part of to date,” Levi says. “We were extremely dry. Driest I’ve ever experienced.” It was, in fact, Nebraska’s second driest year of the 21st century. The weather was unpredictable. “We got really cold, then we got really wet. We had hail, wind, tornadoes…it was a year of extremes.” Forecasted storms didn’t happen and days that were supposed to be sunny got soaked. Worse yet, the combination of persistent drought and deep cold made planting difficult. The parched soil got so hard they had to irrigate before they could plant their crops (something Levi’s father Jeff had never done in all his years of farming).
Flexibility and resilience—always necessities in this business—became more essential than ever. In Jena’s words, “we really had to flex that resiliency muscle this year.”
Fortunately, the Ochsners had help in that department.
Boosting through technology
Farming technology has come a long way since 1885. The traditional flood irrigation Double O once relied on couldn’t keep up with the demands of modern farming. Water and fertilizer ended up going to waste or seeping out of its target areas. Adopting Zimmatic pivots changed that.
Zimmatic pivots allow for targeted irrigation, down to the millimeter, that stops and starts on a dime. Levi and Jena can plant multiple different crops in the same circle, only watering each when needed. They can fertigate, too, passing fertilizer straight through the pivot to maximize efficient use of resources.
Then there’s FieldNET. Instead of spending hours going from pivot to pivot, Levi uses FieldNET to control irrigation directly from his phone. When the weather conditions change, Levi can quickly change his irrigation settings to compensate.
“If we get a good rain, I can stop the pivot while I’m still at the house,” Levi explains. “Everything’s just done, right away, and then I’ve got that extra savings. [...] It’s worth it, so much, to have that flexibility.”
Plus, as Jena points out, FieldNET also alerts them when a pivot encounters problems, such as a stop in rotation. “It might be stuck watering in the same place for 12 hours, because you checked that pivot, but then it stopped after you left. And without FieldNET, we wouldn’t be able to know: ‘oh, it’s not running, I need to circle back today, not wait 24 hours.’” They know when and where issues come up, so Levi can go straight to where attention is needed most. No wasted water, gas or time checking the entire farm.
A little help from their friends
When it comes to irrigation support, Levi and Jena need a dealer who’s as much a member of the community as they are a business partner – a dealer who’s invested in seeing them succeed. Their local Zimmatic dealer, Perfect Circle Irrigation, fits the bill perfectly. Rain or shine, day or night (and it’s often been at night), their dealer always comes through when they need assistance. The most daunting problems imaginable are fixed within 24 hours.
“I have a brand and a dealership I can trust,” Levi says. “You get a feeling with both Lindsay and Perfect Circle that they are here for you.” Knowing they have someone they can trust and rely on gives Levi and Jena the peace of mind they need to grow the best crops possible—especially as they welcome their new son into the world.
Growing the future
Zimmatic products help the Ochsners conserve water, fertilizer and fuel. They help Double O minimize waste and maximize yield. Perhaps most importantly, they save Levi and Jena time. That time comes at a premium. “We’re teaching [our sons] a way of life,” Levi says. “It can’t be done in one day.” Less time surveying fields on a four-wheeler means more time to teach Stetson about how those crops grow. Or introduce Crawford to calves. Or take the boys on trips to the lake.
There will always be long hours (and the occasional late night) on the farm. But with Zimmatic and FieldNET, the Ochsners are using those hours more efficiently. They’re spending more of them in each other’s company. And, alongside some of the best crops and beef in Sutton, they’re raising a new generation of growers at Double O Farms.
Whether you’re running a multi-generation farm like the Ochsners or a brand new operation, our dealers are here to help you succeed. Find your nearest dealer to learn more!