Like many who farm today, Mike Moser started young, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. However, he very nearly lost out on the opportunity due to financial hardship after a downturn in the markets decades ago.

“Grandpa farmed and my dad farmed for a few years, but they went under back in the 1980s when things got real tough,” Moser said.

Mike grew up in farm country just north of Randolph, Nebraska, and while he was still in high school, his dad continued farming a single 80-acre field while working his day job in town. Although his early farming experience was limited to this small number of acres, it was enough for him to understand he had found his calling.

“I don’t farm that land now, but that’s where I got the bug,” Moser said. “I knew farming was what I wanted to do. I just needed to figure out how to make it work.”

With few acres to the Moser name, finding a way to make it work was especially challenging. Essentially, Mike had to start from scratch. Right out of high school, he started working full time as a well driller while farming part time, buying his first quarter at the age of 19. For the next several years, he accumulated land and livestock until he had enough to strike out on his own.

“We worked it several times,” Mike said. “We put in the time. It took 15 years to get enough equity to do it. We just worked, and that’s mostly all we’ve ever done. Didn’t have any choice. If you wanted to farm, you just did what you had to do.”

This dogged determination allowed him to go fully independent once he acquired around 800 acres, along with a sizable herd of livestock; and that resolve helped him not only build a substantial operation, but also aided in its expansion. Mike credits this achievement to what he sees as an increasingly uncommon work ethic.

“Every morning, you know what you have to do,” he said. “You have to work! A lot of people don’t like to do that anymore, but you’ve got to wake up, get out of bed, and work. That’s just the way it is, and if you do it long enough, soon you won’t know any different.”

These days, Mike, 63, farms about 1700 acres with his wife, Nancy – and they own every acre. Together, they primarily raise corn and soybeans in a 50/50 rotation, but they’ve held on to some cattle and keep alfalfa ground to support the remaining herd. Though Mike is a hard worker, when it comes to day-to-day operations, he gives his bride of 45 years exemplary marks for also being his match on getting things done.

Mike Moser and his wife, Nancy, work together to accomplish all the work needed to make their operation successful.

“I couldn’t make it without her,” he said. “There’s no way I could do all this by myself. If a tractor, truck, or grain cart needs driving, she’ll drive it. Whatever needs doing, she does it.”

The Mosers’ dedication carries over into how they operate daily, as they continually strive for bigger and better results in the field.

“We’re never satisfied with the yields,” Mike said. “When we started farming, 100-bushel corn was pretty good. Now, if it doesn’t make three times that, we think we didn’t do very well. We’re not really sure how much an acre of corn can actually make, so we’re pushing hard to figure it out.”

Another way Mike stays on top of the latest trends in agriculture is by growing production soybean seed for Hefty Seed Company. This gives him a preview of how the latest genetics and traits will perform on his ground.

“We always get to try something new,” Mike said. “Last year, we grew Enlist beans. Now this year, we’re growing XtendFlex.”

Though 2021 marks just his third year of growing production seed for Hefty’s, Mike has worked with the company since it opened a store in nearby Laurel, Nebraska, and he holds a longtime relationship with his local agronomist, Kody Urwiler. Over the years, Kody has helped accommodate Mike’s drive to push his yields ever forward.

“We’re not satisfied with just ‘normal,’” Mike said. “Kody knows I have high expectations of both him and myself. He’ll come out here whenever we need him, plus he shows up to check things when we don’t.”

Though Mike’s tireless pace can be difficult to match, Kody does his best to keep up and continually guide him toward his goals – but in the end, Mike is the one that makes it happen.

“The thing about Mike is he doesn’t want to believe that he’s a great farmer, but his yields say otherwise,” Urwiler said. “He’s very hard-working, very organized, and pays attention to detail because he wants to learn the what and why of what’s happening on his farm. Plus, he’s a great guy. Once you get to know him, he really and truly becomes a friend.”

As the Mosers set their sights on their next yield goal, they know that they can rely on Kody for his advice and insight into the unique agronomic challenges they’ll face going forward.

“He knows our operation, the kind of land we have, the hybrids I’ve planted, and he understands what will give me a leg up,” Mike said. “We may not have the best ground in the county, but we sure make it work.”

That’s why they make sure to conduct various trials on their ground. Soils and fertility are especially important, and the Moser farm has been a very early adopter of using soil data to influence applications. While many growers have only recently begun soil sampling their farms, Mike has been pulling grid samples for nearly 30 years. Nowadays, he uses that information to seed at variable populations and apply variable fertility across the field. In his other trials, he makes sure to apply his testing to broad acres.

“We don’t believe in doing trials in only your best ground in your best field,” he said. “One-acre trials can give you bragging rights, but they don’t pay the bills. Something might work well on hills, but not in the draws or maybe only in certain populations, and it just varies. By the time we’re done trying something, we have a pretty good idea about where it does or does not work.”