Opportunities in Water Quality
- Jacob Handsaker of Hands On Excavating
Fifth-generation Iowa farmer, Jacob Handsaker, started Hands On Excavating about 10 years ago to meet the tiling needs of area farmers and has been growing ever since. He shares the opportunities he sees in the installation of water quality practices in the changing water management landscape.
Episode 14 | 46:27 min
Fifth-generation Iowa farmer, Jacob Handsaker, started Hands On Excavating LLC about 10 years ago to meet the tiling needs of area farmers. Jacob Handsaker and his two brothers, David, Brett and Brian Handsaker all grew up on the family farm where the value of hard work, dedication, and team work was always taught. Jacob went to Iowa State University to study Agriculture and Turf Grass Management. After college and working in their own areas of study, the brothers were all drawn back to the farming lifestyle. Tile repair and smaller dirt work projects had always been a part of the farm and the opportunity was there to expand their work into a commercial enterprise, which is how Hands On Excavating got its start.
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Matt Helmers 0:12
water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.
How misunderstood what we do is.
I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.
Well, welcome back to the water table podcast. We’re happy to be with you again. And we have a great day today. Again, lately, I’ve been interviewing different people and a lot of the podcasts in the past I’ve had Kent Roedelius with me. And Kent has many contacts in our industry and has been working a lot on agricultural water quality and working with different producers on that so excited to have Kent with us today. Kent as a as a guest with us. I’m going to turn it over to Kant and let him introduce Jacob.
Thanks Jamie. It’s great to be back here on the water table with you. today. I’ve got a longtime friend I’ve known quite a few years. Jacob Handsaker. He’s from Radcliffe, Iowa, he and his family. Jacob and his family have started a really nice business down there called Hands on Excavating and, Jacob, but I just like to break to break into this this morning by having you tell us a little bit about your operation who from the family is in the operation? What do you guys all do?
Jacob Handsaker 1:35
Well, thanks for having me. Good to see you guys again, and honored to be a part of this. So, I’m a fifth generation farmer down here in central Iowa. My parents, or well my great grandparents moved to the area and have been farming for for many years down here. Pretty fortunate to have a long family tradition in agriculture sector. Down here we raised corn and soybeans and feed some, custom feed some pigs as well. So kind of, I live in the same, my kids are growing up in the same house that their great great grandparents built. So I grew up there, my dad grew up there, my grandma grew up there and so it was it’s pretty long history of family down around the central Iowa Red Cliff area here. So getting involved with, been involved with the farm my whole life, of course. And honored, and holds a pretty special place in my heart and went to Iowa State University and majored in agriculture and graduated there in 2004. And didn’t come straight back to the farm went and worked at a plastics molding company. So I have a little bit of the background on the injection molding side as well. So as we’re fighting these plastic increases in the resins shortages, and I can feel fortunate to be able to talk a little bit of that language as well with some of these hard times we’re facing, not the first rodeo with those challenges in my professional life anyway, so. About about 10 years ago we, I was home to farm with my brother, my next younger brother, Brett, and my third youngest, our youngest brother, Brian, and a cousin had come back and wanted to we all want to just try to join the farm life and we quickly realized there with the acres we had and the workload we had we were not going to be sustainable with long term with just farming. So we had always dabbled in tile repair with a backhoe a little bit and had a longtime family friend that I worked for doing dirt work mainly in digging hog buildings and doing some masquerading and things and in high school. We bought an excavator just mainly for farm use, and asked him to come up and kind of show us the ropes and people heard he was back around the area he he’d moved away down to Branson, Missouri and heard he was back in the area and there was kind of a lack of companies in our immediate area that did a lot of this type of work. So we started out in 2008 timeframe at that point and right as the run up in crop prices were going, like we’re seeing now, and we just basically got to the point of not turning anything down. We do the couple 100 foot jobs and the repairs and everything else and kind of got us started and got us a good, good customer base and I’d say we’ve been growing since.
Yeah, good story. Just back up a little bit. I was not aware, Jacob, that you are a fifth generation farmer and what year would of that all started, in the first generation of that?
Jacob Handsaker 5:25
Whoa, gosh. So we started in Colo, Iowa and that is about half an hour south of where we are. And I don’t know when that original homestead that farm was homesteaded. That’s where my grandfather would have grown up and I don’t know what year that was. It’s back there a ways. I know that there are a century farm. And they’re coming up pretty quick, I believe on the 150 year heritage farm award from the the local farm bureau down here.
Yeah, yeah. And that’s an interesting, we’re gonna go off topic just a little bit. But some of our listeners are city cousins. And we get some questions from people about what we do on the farm. And just to mention that you know, that I like what’s happening and how our state’s on an individual basis, but many of them are doing it where they’re, they’re recognizing century farms, and 150 year farms and giving people awards for keeping those farms in the in the families for that long. And I’m I’m assuming I’m probably pretty sure I’m right that a lot of people don’t even know about that, if they aren’t, don’t have connection to the farm and how, how that goes. But there’s a lot of pride in farm families and rightfully so around keeping a farm and a homestead in the family for many years. I know my personally, on the personal level, my mother and father in law on a century farm and a few years back, received a award from the county i think is where it came from, in our case here in Minnesota, but was something I wasn’t aware of before that. So I don’t know if you have any more to add to that or not just as information for people.
Jacob Handsaker 7:17
Yeah, down here in Iowa, the way it works is the Iowa Department of Ag and land stewardship, they they hand out awards, and they have a full day at the State Fair every year, when we’re able to have a Atate fair that they do a presentation and talk with the Secretary of Agriculture. He says there’s there’s a lot of tears shed on that stage of, of what it means to hold on to a piece of ground for that long and keep it in the family and there’s a lot of it hands down through a lot of generations and differences of probably differences of opinions and family members and heirs, and it’s a it’s a lot of work to to maintain something that long. And just to understand that it’s not only owning that piece of ground for that 100 years, or 150 or however long it is, but it’s also very more often than not when it makes it to that 100 years, that same family’s been been stewarding that land for that amount of time and, and that’s really the ownership is a miniscule part. But it’s the connection and the care and the stewardship of the land to to keep it profitable and keep it running and keep it producing 100 seasons. They say a farmer is pretty lucky if he has 40 seasons under his belt by the time he retires. And as we well know most farmers it’s not retirement that takes them out, it’s getting carried out in the on the stretcher. You know, they just stick with it, they just stay with it and keep it in the family. And that’s that’s really a testament to what, what these generations of farmers can do.
Yeah, it’s interesting that, you know, this was not part of our conversations in the past. And it’s interesting that you put it that way and I think we need to do a podcast on land and land in farm families because, my wife is an agricultural land realtor and auctioneer and just all the motions that come with making decisions to either sell the farm or keep it in part of the family and you know, like you said over 100 years there is every emotion there’s some great successes to some really difficult failures. And you know, the blood sweat and tears are in that land and and so that creates all those emotions and creates all those conversations that need to happen. And so it’s neat that that you’re part of that and your family’s part of that on a century farm. Kind of move back to the topic at hand. Tell us more about about your operation in regards to, so are you have brothers and cousins that are involved in your farm operation, are you running the the installation and tiling business water management business? Or are you alone in that? Are you working with your family in that?
Jacob Handsaker 10:22
So where we’re at now my, on the farm side, is my my dad and your younger brother, next younger brother, Brett. They operate and run management of the farm side. And we’re all equal partners in everything we do. But it’s kind of how we’ve seen it work best is, I manage the excavation and operations of the water, the drainage and excavation side of things. My brother, Brett, he manages the farm operations, along with my dad, and then our youngest brother, Brian, he manages day to day operations of grading projects mostly. So I would say I do the design and the bulk of everything on the water management, the tiling and drainage and everything of that side and the design work that comes along with that. So it’s nice that we each have, we’re each where we know we’re partners, but we each have our niche. And when I make a decision on the this is how I’m going to tile this field. There, there’s “Okay” there’s buy in and there’s support. And when Brett makes a decision on the tillage practices and the crops and the way that we’re going to do something on the farm side, that’s the way it’s going to be. There can be some questions and there’s always good conversation. But it’s always helpful. And it’s always productive that I’m not going to second guess his expertise and the same thing on kinda what goes around comes around. So it runs pretty well. And as well as a family operation can go I guess, and it works pretty good.
That’s great, Jacob, that your lead up from the last question talking about all the investment in stewardship and conservation on the farm. All the attention to detail. And making sure the land is well cared for really is an amazing commitment that farmers have. And as your family owned the land, Jacob, can you tell us a little bit about the evolution of the drainage or water table management on your farm? How did you guys get started years ago? And I think it’s interesting for people to understand that usually tiling is in segments and in pieces. You fix some of the poorest land first and then work toward eventually probably some pattern tiling. But if you would talk to us a little bit about that, I’d appreciate it.
Jacob Handsaker 13:07
Absolutely. You know, this region that we’re all in would be very difficult, very different landscape if there wasn’t 100 year old tile and a lot of these places and I think all of us as contractors run into that quite often the tile that nobody knew was there that well, Grandpa thinks that there was something put in here some time and then you’re able to fortunate enough to get some of the pictures of that stuff being hand dug or dug in with horses or however. On our farms, there hasn’t been, we’ve done some since we started our our business, we’ve definitely done some improvements, but it’s kind of the old saying that the carpenters house gets finished last and I would definitely say that’s the same adage that that could be said of operating a drainage business alongside of a farm we definitely focus on customers and delivering a good product to those customers. And then we fit our own stuff in when we have time. We we have done some different cropping systems to allow us to do some of that we’ve grown some specialty crops, namely sweet corn for a company up there in Minnesota, out of Waseca that they, so that was able to be harvested in August. And then we were able to go in and and tile some of our fix some of our own farms. And it’s a great opportunity to try new things and learn and perfect our processes. And if something doesn’t work exactly how we planned it, then it’s our testing grounds. That we know that when we’re going into a customer’s farm that it’s right and we’re doing what we need to do. So we got a lot down here in central Iowa, there’s a awful lot of clay, old clay tile, and we allow, and even more amount of clay tile without maps. So while a lot of our farms are somewhat drained with that we haven’t done, like I said, we’ve done some, some additional but not a lot on on our personal farms.
Good. Good. Yeah, that’s interesting when you talk about the clay tile, and then the old tile, like you mentioned, 100 years, it is really amazing when, and most people that aren’t on the farm don’t recognize how systems you know, in much smaller scale, but all systems have been in place for a long, long time, that have been, you know, managing water on farms and producing more for those farms and how much work that was back when they installed them in a very different way than they do today. It’s pretty amazing when here at Prinsco, we’ll have the opportunity once in a while to be on a farm and see, you know, when they come across some old clay tile or even wood tile. And you just it’s unbelievable how long that’s been there and it’s still working and still operating on its intended use. So pretty neat. Tell us about your workload. You know, what’s been happening the last couple of years and what what’s kind of your outlook? As so much has changed, just in our world with COVID and with, you know, what’s happened in the last year in pricing on the commodity side? You mentioned plastic, yes, plastics going up a lot to but just on the commodity side from the standpoint of corn and soybeans, and what does that done for your workload? And what do you guys think about on a daily basis? I mean, you’re farming, you’re raising hogs, you know, all these things are impacted by the price of commodities. And how does it look in the workload side?
Jacob Handsaker 17:09
Workload looks looks somewhat overwhelming to a point, I would say. I always say it’s much better to not know how you’re going to get it all done rather than not know what you’re going to do next. So we are very fortunate that we are we have some great customers and a great base around the central Iowa area that we’re able to work for and do a lot of projects for. And then you know, with the added added workload of commodity prices, getting better farm outlook getting better, but then in the central Iowa region, the duratio to have last year, last August, that you know, I had everything had everything all planned out for my summer last year and was gonna say, okay, guys, we’re gonna be ready to hit the ground running and have a great fall tile season and we were a great workload lined up for fall last fall as well. And then August came and that kind of just threw it all in the air because we did nothing but take down grain bins and silos and buildings and the damage from the duratio to is just just immense. And so and that’s still still filling up our workload with all the dirt project side of things but the drainage, I think the best thing that has happened in the last 10 years for drainage was the was guys having the money, the discretionary income and choosing to put it towards drainage. There were a lot of guys that hadn’t really understood what drainage, what a good drainage system can do for their farms. And they were able to have that the 2008-2010 that timeframe. The last the last run up in prices. There were a lot of people that I believe got into the mindset that you can spend a lot of money on new paint and pretty pickups and buildings and such, but the return the investment that’s going to return to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week is definitely drainage. And it’s going to be it’s going to be something that you have that initial cost, but your payback is going to be a few short years and it’s always going to be there. It’s going to outlive any of our production any of our time producing the land. Here we go back and look at the clay tile mains that we’re hooking into, that are verifiably over 100 years old through county records with district drainage districts here and such rural Iowa. And it’s something that the investment that they’re going to be able to do with that and count on the return is is immense. So I think that’s really what’s been keeping our business business going, is just people seeing the return and seeing the benefit of what drainage does for a field.
Well, thanks for that, Jacob. That’s a good recap. One thing I always enjoy about stopping by and visiting with you, or seeing you at a conference or a convention is that you’re a lifelong learner, Jacob. You’re always looking for a better way to do something. And you’ve developed a pretty strong interest in water drainage management practices, and kind of are taking on some of that kind of work. How did you get interested in pursuing those drainage water management practices? What made sense to you about that, Jacob?
Jacob Handsaker 20:55
Well, the opportunities that are out there and the opportunities that we have to better, I guess, what gets me interested in it is the betterment of the view of agriculture. I would say my first love is agriculture and farmers kind of get the short end of the stick a lot of times. And it’s working with different different concerns through the urban areas of Central Iowa, that have placed a lot of that blame squarely on the shoulders of farmers and squarely on the shoulders of drain tile that those farmers have put in. There’s got to be steps that we can take that are going to be able to benefit everyone, both the farmer, the view of the farmer, the production of the farmer, the water quality that everyone drinks and the respect that the farmer gets, and the willingness to understand why he is why the farmer is putting in these systems and water management and water quality systems are what’s going to do that. So there’s never a silver bullet for what the water quality can be, what water quality process can be done, but there’s always something that we can do better. And getting better and doing a better job and understanding what’s going to be the best that we can do is, what I think what we all have to do, it’s coming one way or the other, whether we like it or not. And working together with government agencies and the NRCS and public private partnerships is really what’s going to let the farmer control how this process goes. Because it’s gonna it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. And it’s just, we all know that voluntary is a lot better than mandated.
For sure. Do you feel like landowners you’re dealing with, are you the one suggesting these practices? Do they understand the practices? Are they coming to you saying, hey, we should we should consider drainage water management? Tell me more about it. Because for the same reasons I see this coming and I want to be out front or? How’s that push pull going?
Jacob Handsaker 23:23
A lot of the time, it’s the farmer approaching the NRCS and saying, hey, I think this might work. And it goes back and forth. There’s processes, or there’s projects that we’ve designed with the end in mind that the farmer has wanted said hey, I want to build a I want to do a water quality process, whether it’s a bioreactor, saturated buffer, wetland, whatever, and we design around that. One project that I’m involved with this coming summer, it’s a great public private partnership between Polk County, the Iowa Department of Land & Ag, NRCS, a lot of different groups understanding that this is needed. The Polk County individuals, they went out and they identified multiple different places that could be could work with a saturated buffer. They approached the farmer, they got the farmer to sign on. They did all the paperwork, all the cost sharing. And then the farmer pulled the trigger said Yes, let’s go. So that’s going to be 40 saturated buffers and 11 bio reactors through the Polk County area that cleans the water coming off these ag fields that goes directly into the largest water source water usage area in Iowa. It’s going to be a lot of great publicity on what farmers are doing and what we’re doing right. And how drainage contractors and drainage tile can be benefit in that. The water is going to go into the stream somehow. And it’s going to do, they’re going to run off over top and carry soil particles with it, or we’re going to create that sponge through tile drainage, and we’re going to be able to manage that. And in my mindset, it’s a lot better to manage something than just to let it go and find its own course.
Yeah, that’s really significant. And when will that be completed? all those 40 plus?
Jacob Handsaker 25:34
At the end of this summer, we hope to have it completed. We’re going to be starting here in the next couple of weeks and start start getting these, they’ve all been engineered, we’ve got all the all the products, the control structures coming from them, and we’re going to get rolling with them here pretty soon.
Now fantastic, we’ll have to keep an eye on that, and maybe, you know, later on next fall or winter, have an update on that on the water table podcast, that’d be great.
Yeah this is a really interesting project up in Polk County. It’s really makes just tremendous sense to do this on a watershed basis, where you can go out and and identify the best spots to put bio reactors and saturated buffers and it’s gaining and garnering a lot of attention. I’m on the atmc board and we’re working pretty closely on the design and the organization of these projects. It’s a really, really attractive way to do things. It’s much more appealing to a contractor like yourself to come in and do a large scale project, not just one small bioreactor here and there, or the occasional saturated buffer. So it makes great sense on that, but also from nutrient reduction strategy, it addresses the most vital areas to do that. And that’s what drainage water management is really about is water quality. And we have a lot of practices that people really don’t understand. But this one, like I said before, is really attracting a lot of tension. And this must be good for your workload in the summer, Jacob.
Jacob Handsaker 27:13
It is. It’ll look it’ll keep us going and going for a great cause and to help people understand that this is, that future projects can work with, future drainage projects can work with this as well.
Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see, you know how this becomes a model for other watersheds. But you know, probably first in Iowa, but then beyond Iowa. And one of the one of the podcasts I’m going to be doing here in the near future is interviewing someone, executive director from a watershed and just educate people a little bit more on what watersheds do, and how they operate, where they get their funding from all of that kind of thing. But, you know, this is just a perfect example of things you can do with the right partners and people that understand it and how to implement it on a larger scale. So, super exciting.
You were just you were just recently on a radio program from WHO I think in Des Moines, talking on Water Quality Wednesday, and talked about this project. How did that go, Jacob?
Jacob Handsaker 28:27
It went great. There’s, my phone kind of blew up, as they say, during and after that process, there’s it’s all about relationships. And this industry is a very tight knit and in Ag and drainage as well. But I had nothing but good response and working with the Ag drainage management coalition and the people that does all the designers of this project. They said that people have kind of come out of the woodwork now that they got a little glimpse of what can be done and the partnerships that we are all building. It’s been nothing but hey, how can I get involved or I’ve got this spot along this stream where I’ve got a tile outlet and I got my neighbor’s water coming down to me and I think it’s going to its laying an excellent groundwork for what we can do next and how this can expand and really, really make some differences as we move along.
There’s also another project that you’ve been pretty closely involved in. I don’t know exactly how much work you’ve done on the Kalser modern farm experiment over a Bill Kalser’s farm. I know you’ve done quite a bit of that work. What’s going on over there, Jacob?
Jacob Handsaker 29:48
So that is a, we’ve been fortunate to partner with the Kalser Family and complete the majority, well all of the work drainage work has been done over there. The Kalser Family over there has a very interesting landscape and how they describe it as it kind of shows the different sections of Iowa all in one area. We have a, I believe it’s a mid 80s CSR flat blackfield, about an 80 acre patch on the north side of the road and then on the south side of the road, there’s about a 60 acre patch that has some highly erodible soils and some, some rolling hills. It’s got get natural gas pipeline through it. But it all runs down to a stream. And there’s there’s a man made drainage ditch on one side of it, and then a natural made meandering creek on one edge of the field. And so the project, how we done that, and then there’s another there’s two other parcels as well. And our goal for this project is, and this goes back to public private partnerships of who can be brought in and who’s interested in this water quality conversation. And truly, it’s everybody. We’re working with people with the NRCS, the EPA, just a whole host of people, State Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Soybean Association, Prinsco has been involved with with assistance with us, the Environmental Defense Fund, I mean, the list can go on and on with people who are interested in how we can do a better job of of creating a higher quality water source for everyone and it affects everyone. So we have we laid this field out we we work together on a design that every different part of the different fields is drained as different quadrants. And the Kalser Family is is keeping very close track of how they are farming and what land use practices they use, whether it’s what type of fertilizer or if it’s cattle manure or manure from pigs, or synthetics or what they do on these projects. And then at each outlet, we know which outlet comes from which part of the area and how it was farmed and we continually, we work with Matt Helmers at Iowa State University in his group, and monitor what the water quality is coming out of those different outlets. And we have saturated buffers and bio reactors. There again, we have two more bio reactors and three saturated buffers to complete this project. And it’s just gonna be a great study of actual farming practices that are that farming to make money and to make a profit and how drainage is one how drainage is affecting that. Because the year before we tiled this farm, the South farm barely got farmed, because it was so wet and it was it was a very, very difficult farm to produce anything on. And so we came in, we tiled pattern tilled it on 50 foot centers and, and are managing it from there. So it’s, we’re seeing some great results. 50% or better nitrate removal through some of the bioreactor that is there and working with the Iowa State University folks. And really understanding how these farming practices can make a difference and what what is the difference between different practices?
It’s so interesting to listen, and you can get excited really fast around all the opportunities that are out there to continue to grow more, continue to produce more, but yet do it with the environment in mind, do it with, you know, all the practices that are before us and trying to figure out a way to combine them to really produce and you know, like you said earlier a win-win for all stakeholders, not just just one or two, you know, as you talk about that, it makes me wonder, you know, what is like the most satisfying part for you in installing a system for a landowner? What, when you’re done, what gets you going and saying, boy, I do that again? Because that was I really enjoy that part of the business.
Jacob Handsaker 34:33
Well, I’d say the most satisfying is take the words right out of your mouth. Jamie, when the landowner comes to me and says, Hey, we’ll do that again. We’ll find the next field and we’ll improve that next acre and we will, we’ll continue this process that can be done to effectively and safely improve this farmland. You know, I tell guys that you’re always gonna have a wettest part of your field. It can be one year, it’ll be one area and we’ll go in, we’ll fix that. And, you know, area A gets fixed because we were mudding through there your last 10 years. But then Area B is still muddy, but it wasn’t quite as bad, we fix area A, now Area B is going to come to the top of the list. Gosh, this has never been that wet before. Well, it’s it’s always been that wet it just comparatively to the other wet spot, you know, just the land improvement and the ease of operations in the productivity that we can the farmers, Midwestern farmers, can use to feed the growing population and the growing demand, you look at our demand that we have, and it’s higher than it’s ever been. And our supply, as you know, through some factors of last year, and the last few years of just things out of our control, we can’t control losing hundreds of 1000s of acres to a inland hurricane. But what are we gonna do that we can get ourselves back out of that and continue to provide this safe, effective food source for the world, that’s what really gets me and the process of doing it the process of finding the existing tile and understanding where that existing clay is, and how that can work into a new system and give the farmer the biggest return on his investment is really, really exciting.
Yeah, for sure. And, you know, I’ve said it so many times before, I think people get sick of hearing me say it, but it’s, I feel so grateful to be in an industry and I know, I’ve talked to you enough too Jacob and Kent and I talk about all the time but in an industry where, you know, we’re providing a product and you’re installing a product that’s going to create wealth for generations to come, you know, for families. And we talked about this earlier on the podcast today of you know of century farms for generations and centuries to come. And those that income and that wealth, you know, does a lot on the rural landscape. It’s amazing what that does from the standpoint of providing jobs in these more rural communities for tax base for schools and hospitals. And it just goes on and on the local grocery stores and hardware stores and we’re at the beginning of that we’re at the tip of that, that spear and then it just goes from there. And so it’s really a gratifying business to be in. And I want people to know that will we do, like you say, you know, sometimes you farmers get a bad, bad rap for things, and your first love is agriculture. Well, I didn’t have the opportunity for my first love to be agriculture, I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my first love is helping the agricultural community be more profitable and for generations to come for those families that want to be there for generation to generation that we can be part of that is pretty neat. So Kent, where do you want to go from here?
Oh, boy, we’ve we’ve talked about an awful lot of stuff. And as we work toward kind of wrapping this up, Jacob, I’d like to ask you a question about how do you think we can approach all these best management practices for drainage water management? How can we, when you, when a farmer comes up to you and says he wants to tile his field, how open is he to listening to solutions to reduce nutrient runoff or to manage the water on that farm? It seems like we have such a great story to tell. And we have so many answers and I think part of the problem is sometimes it’s so difficult to get it permitted in a timely function and fashion. So the drainage contractor can come in and do the work and not have to wait. Just that’s kind of a morass of a credit question there, Jacob, but how would you, how do you think we can tell our story better in this industry? With all the good things we have to offer on drainage water management
Jacob Handsaker 39:32
Kent, I would say that the first thought that comes to my head is just openness, being open with with how these projects work in and being open with our knowledge about them. There’s a lot that we still don’t know and a lot of advancements being made all the time through research it at different universities and private research as well. That you know, we don’t have all the answers. We’re never going to have all the answers, there is no silver bullet to fix everything in one faill swoop. But if we can be, if we’re if we’re in there doing a project for a farmer, whatever size of project that is, he has trusted us as a contractor with a pretty good job. He has trusted us to do the best that we can and he expects us the farmer expects us to do, to deliver them a good product. And being open with how we can improve that being knowledgeable of who to contact. The the first question a lot of these guys have is, well, who do I contact? How do I get more information? And we as contractors, especially with the drainage water management, need to have those answers the local NRCS, the local Universities, partners have who who does processes and designs things like this, you know. Here in central Iowa, we work with idols, and there’s cost share and a lot of these projects don’t have to cost the farmer much of anything, but it takes some time. And the farmer to understand that this will cost some time and then maybe a little bit of, depending on the practice, it might be a little bit of ground that you have to farm around, depending on placement and things. And just being open. I don’t, you know, none of us want to come in and try to promise the world to a farmer and then leave shorthanded, because that’s not going to make any contractor look good. It’s probably not going to get that particular contractor back on that individual’s farm. And it’s also going to make it difficult for the next contractor to come along because they’re going to have that taste in their mouth, if you will, of what the company is that they’re dealing with. So to get farmers to adopt these practices, understand the benefits of them understand what they take to put in, how they how they get put in, and who we can partner with to get them put in.
Yeah, and it’s just what your what you said they’re really good Jacob and it really comes back to, at the beginning, just being open and understanding that we don’t, there’s so much that needs to that we still need to learn and that we are learning every day about these practices. And so being open to learning, being open to questions from customers, and then also having contacts for them and stuff that we don’t know. Just to paraphrase what you said there, as you said that, it just led me back to, that’s what we’re trying to do here to at the water table podcast is be an educational source and ultimately to have a library of information where you know, people can come back and look through it and say, Oh, this looks interesting, I can learn something here from the water table podcast on this episode that Jacob was on 2,3, 4 years from now. So that’s our goal is to continue to help people by being open to education, we don’t know everything, but we hope that we can point people in the right direction so they can. And we’re just thankful that you were willing to be part of that today and be on here today with us to help educate people on what we’re doing and where this industry is going. I believe very strongly that you know our industry is going to change a lot in the next 5 to 10 years and that’s not scary to me that’s exciting. How it’s gonna change is we’re gonna have our hands in that change but it’s going to be a lot of positive changes for a lot of opportunity for win-win for all stakeholders involved. I could keep going and going but we we don’t have time for that. So what we’d like to do here at the water table is is allow you to to end the podcast with kind of your water table takeaways for what would you like to leave our listeners with, Jacob?
Jacob Handsaker 44:32
Well first off, guys, thanks for for having me on and allowing me to share my story. I guess my takeaways and, to push for other contractors that might be listening and other people who aren’t in the business, whether they be farmers or landowners or just not involved at all but just want to get some education as to, just be open and ask these questions and there’s a lot of knowledge out there that we can get and give. At the same time that we find a reputable contractor that you trust if you’re out looking for somebody if you’re the contractor be that reputable contractor that people who trust. And let’s do it right and let’s they, we keep doing it right sharing our story and working with the people we need to work with, we’ll continue to grow as an industry.
Well there you heard it from Jacob Handsaker of Hands on Excavating. For those of you listening down in the Radcliffe, Iowa area, or in central Iowa, a lot of knowledge here from Jacob and reach out to him with questions. If you don’t know how to get ahold of him, reach out to us at the water table and we certainly will put you in touch and try to answer any of your questions you might have about our industry. So thanks a lot for the time today, Jacob and Kent, and we’ll talk again soon.
Jacob Handsaker 46:03
Sounds great. Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.
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