Indiana Grown loves to tell the story of our members and help connect what they do in the fields with what consumers find on grocery store shelves, restaurant menus, school lunch trays and more! We recently had a chance to learn more about Elaine Gillis and her 5th generation family farm. You may have never heard of Gillis Farms, but we’re willing to bet you’ve used at least one of the products their soybeans go into without even realizing it!
I grew up in a 5th generation farming family. My dad and uncle still have a farming partnership and the 6th generation is now working with them in that operation. I’ve been married to Craig for 21 years and we farm together in the 4th generation of his family. Craig started his personal farming experience at the age of 15 when he rented his first 70 acres. Craig and I look forward to the 5th generation taking over in the years to come.
We farm row crops, commercial grade yellow corn and commercial soybeans. We farm around 3000 acres and typically have close to a 50/50 split of corn and bean acres planted. We do plant a little bit of wheat for straw, crop rotation and cover crop for overwintering. Additionally, we plant a Winter Rye and Rapeseed cover crop mixture to help with the White River Watershed program.
The soybeans that we plant are generally planted around the middle of May. We no-till most of our soybeans (this means keeping last year’s corn residue on the top of the soil). The residue left on the top of the soil gives the soybeans an extra boost of organic fertilizer and nutrients. The beans grow through the summer months and then start to turn yellow mid to late September/early October. The leaves drop from the plants and the beans begin to dry in the pods. At harvest time, usually mid-October we take the combine to the field and harvest the crops. The harvested soybeans are very dry and quite hard if one tries to chew or bite into them. We want them dry so they can be stored at the farm in grain bins (silos) or taken to the elevator to be shipped out quickly.
Most of the soybeans from our farm are delivered directly to the grain elevator or stored right in grain bins on our farm for later delivery to the elevator. The soybeans that we sell to the grain elevator either directly from the field or after we store them on the farm are then put on railcar and shipped to a crushing facility for processing. At the crushing facility the soybeans are crushed for oil which goes into products like vegetable oil, or separated further to use in home cleaning products, candles, hair care products, clothing, etc. Much of the grain of the soybean goes into livestock feed where it is enhanced with vitamins and minerals that help with animal health. Livestock that benefit from soybeans are pigs, cattle, and poultry. While we don’t deliver our soybeans directly to a facility that creates soy biodiesel, the soybeans from our farm may be transported from one of the elevators we deliver to go into soy biodiesel production.
Ranking fifth nationally in soybean production, Indiana farmers contribute to many products you use or see every day like mayonnaise, non-dairy coffee creamers, frozen items, frying oils, and biodiesel.
We recently shared another great example of the crops growing in Indiana fields becoming the name brand products you know and love! Check out our Indiana Grown on the Road video featuring one of our favorite snack combinations – chips and salsa!
To learn more about Indiana Grown members, their products and more, visit www.indianagrown.org!
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Photo Contest credit:
Sharon Cords from Medaryville