Alan Miller, Purdue University farm business management specialist, stands next to Ty Brown of Windy Lane Farms (right) as the tour coordinator addresses the participants visiting Brown’s operation during the recent Indiana Farm Management Tour.
Alan Miller, Purdue University farm business management specialist, stands next to Ty Brown of Windy Lane Farms (right) as the tour coordinator addresses the participants visiting Brown’s operation during the recent Indiana Farm Management Tour.

MULBERRY, Ind. — Since a career in farming is greatly based on Mother Nature and what the weather will bring from one growing season to the next, many farmers supplement their incomes with a part-time job off their operation.

Hal and Ty Brown, a father-and-son duo, combined their efforts to run and maintain Windy Lane Farms, a diversified agricultural production operation in Clinton County, where they grow corn and soybeans.

Their location also is the only Drago corn head dealership in the state, and they recently added a three-story office, parts and service building to better serve their increasing customer base throughout Indiana and neighboring states.

The farm was one of the tour stops during the recent Indiana Farm Management Tour coordinated by Purdue Extension.

Ty Brown noted that he and his father have more then 26 landlords throughout the county and the surrounding area, and the key to having a good relationship with them, as well as the hope that they will keep letting them rent their land for planting, is communication.

Periodic emails informing the landlords of what is growing on their land, along with the processes being used, is a big tool that Brown and the rest of his family have adopted over the years to stay in touch with the owners of the property they are farming.

“We also give them gifts in the fall and at Christmas,” he said.

Brown added that since they have quite a large number of landlords and such a diversified operation — he and his father also own and operate grain facilities in the nearby towns of Colfax and Kirklin — he has started writing a newsletter, which he sends out to the property owners.

The publication, he noted, is honest with the landowners about what’s going on in the field, such as the use of cover crops to improve the overall long-term health of the soil, as well as market prices.

Brown mentioned that he also tries to explain why renting to someone else, such as a fertilizer company, just because the other potential renter has placed a high bid may not always pay off in the end.

“What works one year may not always work the next,” he said.

He added that Windy Lane Farms expresses to its landlords how, even though it may not have the highest bid, the family wants to build long-term relationships with their landlords that will last a generation.

“There’s always things to do to improve,” Brown said, which he believes is an important part of the family operation.