Steve Schwering operates Schwering Farms with his two sons, Adam and Curtis, in Rush County. Farming is much more than a job to the family.
“Farming is more a way of life than it is an occupation,” Steve said. “You’ve got to love the land and love what you do. It keeps us busy. There’s never a dull moment.”
Steve’s father, Dale Schwering, started working on what is now Schwering Farms as a share crop producer in 1970. Dale farmed 400 acres of ground before retiring in 2004.
The Schwering’s landlord passed away in 2004. The family bought what property they could of their late landlord’s estate and found investors to help them purchase the rest of the farmland.
Adam started farming with his father in 2004. He graduated from Purdue University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Farm Management.
Steve went to Purdue as a teenager, but returned home after realizing he didn’t need to be in school as much as he needed to help on the family farm.
Curtis attended Purdue, but like his father, eventually returned home to work on the farm. He joined the family business in 2014.
“I’ve always wanted to farm,” Curtis said. “It’s a way of life. It’s got to be in your blood.”
The Schwerings now farm a little over 1,800 acres of land. They grow corn, soybeans and recently started growing wheat.
The family values the land they farm tremendously. They went strictly to no-till farming in 2004.
Adam wants to leave the land as intact as possible for his children and future generations.
“We need to treat the ground the best we can so it will be here forever. I’ve got two kids,” Adam said. “My boy shows a lot of interest in the farm. I’m glad he is able to come out here and enjoy it. We have to take care of the ground for future generations.”
According to Steve, farming technology started to take off in the 90s. To him, farming is an entirely different work than it used to be for the better.
Extensive technological innovations have enabled the Schwerings to maximize their yield and efficiency. The family’s tractors and planters are linked to GPS mapping.
They can’t plant without modern day technology.
“If one thing isn’t working it throws off all the rest,” Adam said. “It’s all tied together. I don’t know how people did it before.”
Adam said one of the greatest advancements in farming has been the implementation of drainage tile, which the family has installed in its fields. Drainage tile has helped improve the quality of the family’s farmland by removing excess water the ground can’t hold.
Drainage tile also decreases soil erosion.
“If you quit giving to the soil it will quit giving to you,” Curtis said.
Like many farmers, the Schwerings have had to diversify what they do.
“It takes a lot of diversification,” Curtis said. “Knock on wood, we have been able to make it last so far.”
Steve started Schwering Trucking LLC in 1990, but eventually stopped trucking and kept the semi-truck for use on the farm. Later on, the family began hauling grain and seed corn for farmers, but now they use the trucks strictly on the farm.
Last year, Adam and Curtis started Schwering Livestock LLC. They built a wean-to-finish hog barn down the road from the family farm, which can produce 5,000 head of hogs annually.
Steve and his father used to raise hogs together, each raising 100 sows a piece annually.
Four years ago, the Schwerings started driving school buses and managing their upkeep for Mays Community Academy. Steve, Curtis and Adam drive their own buses for the school and Steve employs three other drivers to help.
The Schwerings value their community and are passionate about giving back.
“You’ve got to support your community and help out,” Steve said.
Steve has been a part of the Rush County Fair Board for more than 35 years. Curtis and Adam now serve on the fair board as well.
Steve has also been involved with the volunteer fire department since 1988.
“Farming gives us more of an opportunity to volunteer our time and give back,” Curtis said.
Farming comes with its own unique challenges. Adam and Steve agree access to affordable land and weather are some of the biggest hardships farmers face.
“I’ve worked my whole life to try to own something,” Steve said. “I didn’t have the opportunity until 2004. It has been tough to make everything flow.”
Adam once had a professor at Purdue tell him to buy land at a young age. According to the professor, it’s the only way a younger person would be able to acquire anything later in life.
This year’s planting season was one of the toughest Steve has encountered.
“I’ve farmed or been around farming all my life and I’ve never seen a year like this,” Steve said. “I’ve seen some wet years, but this one was even worse. We planted in conditions this year that we’ve never done before.”
Curtis estimates they planted more hours at night than day.
The family finished planting corn on May 29 and beans by the first few days of June. Other farmers have told the Schwering family they have the best looking crops around.
“We are really fortunate in Rush County to have what we have. We’ve traveled a little in all directions and you don’t have to go far to find some horrible crops,” Adam said. “We suffered badly enough, but we are extremely fortunate.”
Even Steve’s father Dale has never experienced a planting season quite like this year.
The family hasn’t had any issues since getting crops in the ground, other than having to replant some soybeans due to hail.
Adam said this year’s crops probably shouldn’t look as good as they do. He explained farmers have been spoiled the last 15 years as corn has typically tasseled by the fourth of July.
Steve knows farmers play critical roles as providers of food for both humans and animals. He reiterated the importance of properly preserving farmland for farmers to continue to produce enough quality crops.
“Food is what makes the world go around. If we can’t eat it’s going to be rough,” Steve said. “We need to conserve that. God’s given us a good way to raise food for everyone and make it all work. If we destroy that, if we don’t preserve that for that future, who knows what will happen.”