Many young Irish people have participated in the 2000-mile harvest in the US, but few get the chance to see crops through from one end of the year to the other. Well, the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society (ITLUS) has just launched an opportunity to spend a crop season as an intern in the American midwest.

The opportunity is being provided thanks to regular Irish Farmers Journal columnist Kevin Rosenbohm and his family. Kevin farms on the western side of the midwest, a region famous for growing maize and soyabeans.

Kevin and his family will host the lucky winner for the full growing season, which will be roughly from March to November.

There are only two main restrictions to entry. You must be a member of either ITLUS or the Ulster Arable Society (UAS) and you must have some basic qualification in agriculture. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to enter and be capable of getting a visa to the US.

Entry forms will be available on and and they must be returned to the secretary by 8 January 2016.

A selection and interview process will follow to select a person who will benefit from the experiences gained and who will be a good ambassador for ITLUS and UAS, and for Irish tillage farming.

During the internship, the winner will be accommodated by the host family and will be provided with transport during the stay. The winner will be expected to be involved in normal farm work and operation and to work the hours deemed necessary by the season. The winner will also be paid.

The Rosenbohm farm grows maize and soyabeans, like most others in the region, so the winner will get a chance to experience these different crops. The experience of managing a farm that does not have the cushion of an annual farm payment, but does have the option of a range of crop or income insurance options, will make for an interesting experience.

The objective is to provide farming experience in a different country where different market pressures and policies apply. Experience of other farms and other countries can help when it comes to taking over or managing a farm back in Ireland and this is part of the objective.

During the year the intern can take advantage of opportunities to see other farms and farming systems and to get a feel for what drives farming decisions in the US.

As well as operating big machines, the winner will also learn about seed processing and witness the decisions that make American farming. Speaking at the launch of the internship award, ITLUS president Stuart Goodwin said that the society was delighted to be in a position to afford this opportunity to some talented Irish person.

He thanked all those who had helped to make it happen and in particular the Rosenbohm family in Missouri for their kindness in hosting the award winner. “Without their co-operation, this award could not happen,” he stated.

The internship process is being promoted by ITLUS and UAS to help foster a new experience of foreign farming systems among the Irish farming population.

While neither of the two main crops is likely to be important in this country, the challenges of commercial farming will provide useful experience for the longer term.

ITLUS continues to work on behalf of tillage farmers in general. It is run by a council which organises a workshop or seminar in spring, generally on a single focused topic or theme.

In summer, it organises a field trip to some part of the island of Ireland with particular interest in farm visits, farm diversification and local land use.

Many of these trips have been reported in this paper over the years, with the most recent one to the north Kildare area this past summer. These visits provide both an information and social outlet for farmers.

Each year, the society organises its winter conference in conjunction with its AGM. The conference is generally planned under one or two themes and this year’s event will focus on land mobility issues and the challenge of grass weeds.

Many will be aware of the ITLUS foreign study tours which have taken farmers to many corners of the globe. This takes place every second year and next year’s tour heads to the US midwest and the Dakotas for two weeks.

ITLUS is a very active society, so it is hardly surprising that it is now launching this US farm internship award. The hope is that award winners will remain active in the society following their return and continue to contribute to the debate around the evolution of tillage farming.

The UAS is a broadly similar organisation in Northern Ireland. The society is a co-organiser of the spring conference, along with CAFRE and the UFU. It also organises a summer field tour taking them either to Britain or remaining in Ireland in alternating years. UAS is also a representative group for arable growers in Northern Ireland.

Rosenbohm – the host farm

We welcome the opportunity to take an Irish person onto our farm for a season to learn how the business of farming is conducted, at least here in Graham in Missouri. My wife Michele and I farm here in conjunction with my parents and our two sons and their families.

The project will be with Rosenbohm Family Farms and their employees. This is a fifth-generation family farm located in North Missouri in Nodaway County. Our two sons work and manage the farm and Matt’s wife, Kylie, manages our trucking and seed plant production offices. Michele is chief financial officer of the farming companies and operations manager of Graham Seed. I am president of all our companies and am responsible for all company operations.

Rosenbohm farms grow two types of corn/maize. One is yellow dent for the ethanol and feed /export markets. The second is high starch or waxy corn, for which we are a contractor.

This latter type is delivered to and processed by a company called Ingredion in Kansas City to make starches for the food and consumer industry.

All the crops we grow are currently what you call GMO. The newest GMO traits are in soyabeans and the intern will learn all about these, plus others that are being brought to the global market.

Most of the soyabean acres we grow are for seed production in our seed plant and only a small amount goes to the commodity markets.

Field work will tend to begin around mid-April 2016 so we will need our intern here well before that. And our growing season will wrap up once harvest is complete, around mid-November.

The farm is predominantly used for the production of row crops – specifically corn and soyabeans. The cropped area is around 1,825ha (4,500 acres) and roughly half this area is sown to each crop. There is a small cow and calf enterprise also, which is operated by Matt and Kylie.

It is my hope that the intern will be involved in the planning and preparation for our corn planting. This will mean fertiliser application, seedbed preparation, planting, herbicide application and post-emergence treatments. The same will apply for our beans and planting of this crop will begin around 1 May.


We run a lot of big gear by Irish standards. Our planting equipment includes:

  • A 9430 John Deere four-wheel drive with a 13.7-metre (45ft) field cultivator.
  • A 9330 John Deere four-wheel drive with a 10.1-metre (33ft) field cultivator.
  • An 8320 front-assist tractor with 12.5-metre (41ft) Kinze planter.
  • An 8430 front-assist tractor with 12.2-metre (40ft) Great planes planter.
  • A Case IH sprayer with 27.4-metre (90ft) boom. Possible John Deere 4830 sprayer with 30.5-metre boom.
  • Two seed tenders to support planters.
  • Two water trucks to support sprayers.
  • After the crop is planted (June and July), crop care products are applied and we then move to deliver grain that was previously sold. This generally ceases around late August when we start on pre-harvest work.

    Mid-September is corn harvest – soyabean harvest generally begins around 1 October. Sometimes we need to harvest corn and beans at the same time and this adds extra pressure.

    Our corn will be delivered to our farm elevators (storage facilities) and our beans will be delivered to either our seed plant or our elevators, depending on the genetics and specific contracts.

    Harvesting equipment includes two John Deere 9670 combines, plus a John Deere 9230 articulated four-wheel-drive tractor and a 1280 bushel grain cart (34t).

    The cart is used to move grain from the combines to our semi or articulated trucks. The farm has five semis (Kenworth and Peterbuilt), with each one hauling 12.8 metre (42ft) hopper-bottom trailers.

    We also have our own construction equipment for use on the farm.

    This includes a Cat dozer, two Cat excavators, a John Deere excavator, wheeled loaders and side and end dump semi-trucks. This equipment is generally used between harvest and planting in springtime for the maintenance of river levees.

    Elevator operations

    Rosenbohm Farms has four elevator (grain storage and intake) sites for use. The management and marketing of the corn and soybeans, along with delivery to terminal elevators or processors, will form part of the experience the intern will encounter.

    We also have a trucking company and our trucks move farm produce at times of the year, as well as moving grains to our sores at harvest.

    And during the summer, they move materials for a concrete plant, which we also have interests in.

    At Graham Seeds, we process seed under license for subsequent sale. So our intern will learn about seed processing and the new soyabean genetics currently being brought to the market. The person will also learn about working with contract farmers who grow the seed for the company, as well as learning about the operation of the seed production facility.

    What the recipient needs

    All we ask is that the recipient come ready to work and learn. This is a working position with management and all employees need a positive, friendly attitude and a willingness to get along with others.

    We have a nice house located on the home farm close to our residence. The house is fully furnished, with internet, and we will provide a vehicle as needed.

    We really want to assist our intern to have a good and enjoyable learning experience here with us in the US.

    Other interests

    If a recipient has other specific interests, as well as grains, we will do our best to enable them to get some experience of these topics on neighbouring farms or businesses also.