MEET

Andrew and Karlie Bowman

soybeans • non-GMO soybeans • white corn • corn • specialty popcorn

Andrew and Karlie Bowman

Oneida, IL

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I feel a big responsibility to the generations that came before me

By the time I was starting 4-H, my dad had set aside 5 acres of the farm for me. I'm 30 now, and I'm already looking ahead 20 years or so to passing the farm to my son if that's what he chooses. I feel a big responsibility to the four generations that came before me, but it's a burden that I welcome.

My dad treated me like a partner

I'm the 5th generation, and when my son is old enough, he could be the 6th. I think the best succession plan is what my father did. He treated me like a partner for as long back as I can remember. He challenged me, he respected my opinions and he included me in everything he did. Mostly, he made it fun.

There's never enough time in the day

The thing about this way of life is you need to have so many skills. Nobody can be the best at everything they put their hand to, but it helps to at least know the basics. We need to understand agronomy and mechanics, and know how to think strategically because we wear so many different hats throughout the day:

  • I oversee the growing and marketing of our seed soybean, non-GMO food-grade soybean, food-grade white corn and regular corn crops.
  • We've also expanded into specialty popcorn under our brand, Pilot Knob Comforts, an effort that grew from 30 acres of hobby farming to 300 for commercial use. 

About my family

I am a fifth-generation farmer from Oneida, Illinois. I am in the family business with my father, and we farm 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans. My wife Karlie and I work together to market Pilot Knob Comforts popcorn and to raise our son Ryker.

My Blog Posts

"Free-Range Popcorn” – A Food Label, From our Family Farm to Your Kitchen
Illinois Farmer Q&A: How is your farm different from your grandparent's? How is it the same?
Let's Talk About Chemicals
Spring Brings New Life and Renewed Optimism
Under 30, Over $1M in Debt
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    Chemicals

    "So, as I grow crops, my family’s health is the standard I weigh everything against."
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FEWER, SMARTER CHEMICALS = LESS IMPACT ON SOIL, WATER AND CROPS

My farm is roughly the size of 1,300 football fields. As I see it, I’m the steward of those acres. I’m doing my best to grow the most from these acres in a sustainable way. For me it’s all about growing high-quality products that feed my family and yours.
 
Standing in my way every day are weeds and pests that feed on my crops. For a farm my size and with the crops we grow, it’s not practical to keep up with the weeds or insects by hand. I use herbicides and insecticides to protect my crops, but only those that are proven safe and only in the smallest amount needed to be effective.
 
Some folks have misperceptions about chemical crop protectants. Here’s what I want you to know about my chemical use:
  • The only chemicals I use have been proven safe by the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA after rigorous testing.
  • Before applying chemicals, the applicator must be certified for proper use and application.
  • Today’s chemicals are precise, effective and leave virtually no residue on the soil, water or crop – that’s because they are designed to break down after they accomplish their job and become inactive.
  • That’s why I’m confident I can walk through a sprayed field just days or even 72 hours later, and the products I harvest are safe to eat.
I’m a farmer. But I’m also a father. So, as I grow crops, my family’s health is the standard I weigh everything against. If it’s not good enough for my wife and 3-year-old son, then it isn’t good enough to be on your table either.