East vs. West

Posted: 5/7/2015

SD_map.jpgThis week I had the opportunity to travel west of the river to visit school kids in Philip to teach them about South Dakota agriculture.  The Missouri river seems to be the great divide in our state.


Agriculture on the east and west sides of our state look very different.  On the eastern side there is a variety of crop production, dairies, hog farms, and cattle feeding. On the west side of the state there are mainly cattle ranches with some farms growing wheat and sunflowers. For many people, the difference can be as simple as calling yourself a rancher or a farmer.  


So why the divide? The difference is soil.  On the east side we have nutrient rich soils and adequate rainfall that make it the perfect spot to grow corn and soybeans. As you go farther west in the state, the climate becomes drier and the soil type changes.  This makes it harder to grow the crops you commonly see on the eastern half of the state. It’s harder to grow crops as you go west, but these lands produce an abundance of grass. We aren’t able to eat grass, but cattle can! The wide-open spaces and green grass make the west a perfect place to be a cattle rancher.


As for myself, I grew up on the east side of the river. Our farm is just about 15 miles from the Missouri river, meaning we got to spend some (very few) of the hot summer days cooling off on the beach. Our farm does grow a variety of crops in the summer, and we have a feedlot.  We also have a cow calf herd that is kept on pasture. I may not be a “true” rancher that can rope a calf off a moving horse, but I can identify with letting the cows out to grass in the summer. Being from the middle of the state, I feel that both types of agriculture have shaped our farm into what it is today.


Depending on where you live in South Dakota, the agriculture may look very different. One thing is the same, South Dakota farmers and ranchers care about the land and livestock and are working hard to produce a safe, healthy, product to feed their family and yours. 




Listen to this week's radio segment here! FARMERS_DAUGHTER-MAY_4TH.mp3


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