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Pavlicek family keeps up to date with technology

DICKINSON - A lot has changed in Lee Pavlicek's time on his family farm north of Dickinson, but one thing remains constant: Pavliceks continue to farm the land originally homesteaded in 1905.

Pavlicek said farming just came naturally and it was something he always wanted to do.

"I've always been intrigued by equipment, being out in the field, being outdoors," Pavlicek said.

"It's in his blood," said Lee's wife, Corrine Pavlicek.

Pavlicek has spent most of his life on the farm and took the reins from his father, Isadore, in 1989.

Isadore still comes out to check on things and Lee is happy to show him the improvements they've made.

"We've improved the farm a lot over the years and he likes to see that," Pavlicek said.

It means a lot to Pavlicek that he's been able to improve on what his ancestors built, but said it probably won't sink in until he's older.

Lee and Corrine live on the farm with their three children, Ashley, Parker and Karlee.

"It's a great place to raise a family," Pavlicek said. "A lot of kids in town, they don't know what they're missing."

While they like the idea of their children staying in the area and possibly taking over the farm, Lee and Corrine said it's up to the kids.

"Sure it would be wonderful for them to be here," Corrine said. "But wherever life takes them, as long as they're happy, that's what matters. You can't make someone a farmer; it has to be in their blood."

The Pavlicek children, like their father, have witnessed several technological advances in the time they have been on the farm.

Lee remembers his father doing a lot of the work with horses, and years from now the Pavlicek children will probably look back on a time without auto-steer tractors and yield monitors.

With this year's agriculture economy more volatile than most in recent memory because of record input costs, the Pavlicek family has invested in technologically advanced equipment in an effort to mitigate their risk.

"The technology is expensive, but it pays for itself," Pavlicek said. "...If you slack off and don't update on a steady basis with the can't catch up financially."

Among the pieces of equipment that Pavlicek uses is a sprayer that maps what part of the field has been sprayed to help cut down on spraying the same part of the field twice.

Yield monitors are also used to maximize the impact of the fertilizer so more is sprayed where it will do the most good, such as low lying areas, and less is sprayed where it won't do much good, like hilltops.

With fertilizer having doubled in price in most areas in the last year, Pavlicek said it's important to capitalize on what you do use.

Worldwide demand for agriculture products has driven up the price of many commodities, but Pavlicek said that's just part of the business.

"Right now it's not just the United States, it's a global marker," Pavlicek said. "What happens overseas, it affects the U.S."

Pavlicek added the agriculture professionals in the area who share their expertise with others, like those who work at Southwest Grain, are vitally important to the producers in the area.

"It's very important when you can count on them," Pavlicek said. "If you need help, they're a phone call away...In a matter of dollars and cents, it's critical."

Lee and Corrine said they get frustrated by people who believe farming is simply just going around and around in a field.

"It may look like it's just her and I and the spring and summer help," Pavlicek said. "But there's a lot of planning that goes into it."

The Pavliceks said if people truly understood what went into a yearly budget for a farm operation, the stereotype of the "dumb farmer," would be a thing of the past.

Crunching the numbers is an important part of the operation and in that area, Lee is happy he has Corrine. She doesn't help by spending hours in the tractors or combines; she helps manage the day-to-day life of the family.

"It's probably not the farming," Corrine said. "It's the rest of our lives that I take care of."

"If it wasn't for her, the books would probably be a mess," Pavlicek said with a laugh.

Pavlicek said even with the hard work and the risk involved in the everyday operation of their farm, he's happy with the choice they've made to continue the farming legacy.

The best thing? Not having to worry about butting heads with the boss.

"That is probably the biggest benefit of farming, being your own boss," Pavlicek said. "You make a mistake and you have to live with it. You can't fire yourself."