2022 Legislative Farm Tour

R.D. Offutt Farms, Becker, MN | July 29, 2022

The Irrigators Association of Minnesota hosted more than 60 people at its annual summer field tour in Becker last week, in partnership with R.D. Offutt Farms (RDO) and University of Minnesota Extension.

State legislators and agency representatives, congressional staff members and public officials, IAM and industry members attended the event. The first stop was at an RDO field in Clearwater, equipped with a top-of-the-line center pivot irrigation system. Tom Heyn, RDO Regional Manager, joined Trisha Mitzel, Prospera Territory Manager, to demonstrate irrigation features at the RDO field.

Heyn said Aqua Trac provides soil moisture data, the Valley Scheduling program recommends where, when and how much to irrigate and new camera technology collects and analyzes all kinds of data – right down to detecting Colorado potato beetles or other problematic issues that could affect potato plants.

“We can monitor and operate our irrigators from our smart phones and adjust as needed with changing weather conditions,” Heyn said. “All in all, new irrigation technology is allowing us to make smarter decisions to precisely water and care for our crop.”

Next up was a stop at the University of Minnesota Sand Plain Research Farm, where Dr. Vasudha Sharma presented research studies on precision irrigation and nitrogen management for enhancing water and nitrogen use efficiency. In the study’s third year, the project aims at building research and extension capacity to provide science-based data on the integrated precision irrigation and nitrogen solutions.

“This research could help to increase on-farm profitability and reduce the environmental impact of irrigated agriculture in Minnesota,” Dr. Sharma said.

Finally, participants headed back to the RDO Becker Farm for lunch and heard an update on statewide agricultural issues from Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, as well as economics behind irrigated agriculture from Rett Landers, Strategic Sourcing Manager from Chaska-based Michaels Foods. Members from Central Lakes College brought the AgCentric Trailer and a new irrigation model for participants to experience.

Jake Wildman, IAM President, said the event went well and he heard positive feedback.

“As irrigators, it’s important to share our story so policy makers and members of the public better understand how precise technology has become,” Wildman said. “Between last year’s drought and this year’s increasingly dry summer, irrigation is more critical than ever as Minnesota farmers are meeting the country’s food production needs. ”

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the event!


About R.D. Offutt Farm

A family-owned and operated potato farm headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota. In the early 1960s, our founder, Ron Offutt partnered with his father to grow potatoes. In 2018, the company renamed its farming operations “R.D. Offutt Farms.”

Today, Ron’s daughter, Christi, is company Chair, and Ron is Chairman Emeritus, while his son-in-law, Keith McGovern, serves as President of the company.

The initial idea for R.D. Offutt Farms began when Ron saw the opportunity to produce more uniform potatoes by developing irrigation and growing in Minnesota’s sandier soils. Then, after recognizing the need for a consistent demand for his potatoes, Ron decided to enter the processing side of the business and purchased a small french fry factory.

As a family business, R.D. Offutt Farms remains driven by integrity and humility, using them as the foundation for all of its operations. Employees at all levels of the business are encouraged to make their own decisions, to find solutions for their customers, to celebrate team and individual successes and to be innovative and entrepreneurial.

Learn more at www.rdoffuttfarms.com/about

See photos from the IAM Legislative Farm tour below.