Despite being the sixth generation to live on his family’s land, Austin Heil didn’t have much passion for agriculture while he was growing up. Lots of people in his part of Northwest Ohio had farms, so being a part of the industry and growing corn, soybeans, and hay with his father didn’t really make him stand out.
The opportunities and excitement of farming didn’t set in until Austin landed at The Ohio State University.
“Through college and seeing the advancements that we were making with technology, I saw the opportunity to start my own business,” he said.
He’s never felt hemmed in by the “way things were done before.” Austin, 32, pushed to use data and technology in the ways that so many young farmers do. He spent a few years after college working for a farm machinery dealer, during which he took note of things that he would like to help farmers do differently. In 2014, not long before his 30th birthday, he pulled all of those ideas together with the hope of improving Ohio agriculture.
And that’s when Homestead Precision Farming was born.
“Homestead Precision is all about solving the unsolvable,” he said. “Farming is so variable — there’s always a variable to solve.
“By utilizing technology, we can start to understand those variables.”
His services include data aggregation and strategies, water-management solutions, UAV applications, and custom farming. Austin and his father even refurbished a used John Deere corn planter, installing current planting technology to better its productivity.
Austin knows that there are so many different nutrients and factors in the soil that it’s imperative farmers study the data and see what’s going on.
The Heil farm was founded in the 1830s when Nicholas Heil came to the U.S. from Germany. He chose this land in Hardin County because the variety of trees on the property suggested that it was particularly fertile for crops. The operation has thrived, and it now officially classified as a Century Farm.
The opportunity for business growth is almost always there. And young ag professionals such as Austin often face the challenge of introducing technology to the previous generations on their farms.
Austin is the kind of person to embrace such as challenge (not only does he farm, but he has also competed for several years in half Ironmans). Helping every generation in the ag industry improve their productivity is a one he accepts happily.