At Dakota Country Ag Services, the coffee is always on and there’s cold pop in the fridge. But this Friday and Saturday, if you... Paul and Dawn Vander Wal Plant Deep Roots in Milbank

At Dakota Country Ag Services, the coffee is always on and there’s cold pop in the fridge. But this Friday and Saturday, if you want to talk shop, you’ll have to head to the Grant County Farm and Home Show.

Paul and Dawn Vander Wal, owners of Dakota Country Ag Services, will be at the show to chat about Pioneer seeds and tell you how their new product, Generate, was so exciting they decided to rename their company to include it.

Paul says he has been approached to sell a lot of products, but Generate was —pardon the pun— outstanding in it’s field.

Dawn agrees, “Generate gives growers a better return on their investment by consistently increasing crop yields. You can see the plants are greener and healthier.”

In short, Paul explains, “Generate liberates the nutrients in the soil to make them more available to the plant, and, in turn, produce greater root structure and larger, more robust plants.” He even has the pictures to prove it. But watch out! He might slip in a photo of his first grandchild born just ten days ago on New Year’s Eve.

You see, farming and family go hand in hand for the Vander Wals. Dawn (Liebe) grew up on a dairy farm near Milbank. Today, she works alongside Paul at Dakota Country Ag. Paul says Dawn does the books, helps with deliveries in the spring, loads seed, and even runs the forklift. “In fact,” he says, “she’s a better forklift driver than I am.”

Paul and his two brothers were raised on a livestock and grain farm near Volga. Their uncle owned a feed store there and Paul says, “I learned a lot about customer service from him.” And although Volga is just a hop and a skip from Milbank, Paul says, “Farming today is a completely different world from when I started. Everything is much more technical and farmers are able to produce more efficiently. One example is field mapping. I started field mapping three years ago and determining why these 10 acres are not doing as well as those 10 acres really helps. There’s not a lot of room to make mistakes in farming.”

That’s why he says he also chose Pioneer for his stable of products. Pioneer, founded in 1926, has come a long way in developing their corn and bean hybrids. They invested millions of dollars in research and testing and even do local testing. Paul says, “In the end, it has to work for the farmer. I feel confident that will happen with the Pioneer hybrids we offer.”

“Agriculture has always been in my blood,” Paul says. Paul and Dawn’s three children – Michaela, Riley and Katie- have also been immersed in agriculture since they were knee high to a grasshopper. The entire family was involved in 4-H. Paul and Dawn, both who grew up participating in 4-H, spent hundreds of hours helping their kids with their projects and taking them to cattle, pig, and sheep shows. Paul said it was worth it. He believes 4-H forged a bond between the siblings which continues to keep them close. He says, “I really appreciate how strong the 4-H program is in Grant County and how much the county supports it.”

It’s one of the main reasons the Vander Wals have manned a booth at The Farm and Home Show for 11 years. “The community helped us raise our family and supported our business,” Paul says. “We want to show them how grateful we are.”

Staff Writer

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