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Daily farming challenges energize David Dickson

Pinto beans are an integral part of David Dickson's farming operation near Gilby, North Dakota, both because of the diversity they add to his crop rotation and, how well they fit in it.

A man wearing brown boots, blue jeans and a gray shirt and cap stands in a field.
David Dickson grows edible beans on his farm northeast of Gilby, North Dakota.
Contributed / Erin Dickson
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GILBY, N.D. — David Dickson enjoys the business of farming.

Dickson, a University of North Dakota business college graduate with a degree in finance, raises grain and row crops, including edible beans, on his farm northwest of Gilby. Pinto beans are an integral part of his farming operation both because of the diversity they add to his crop rotation, and, at the same time, how well they fit in it.

Dickson helped his dad, Mark, farm when he was growing up, and after graduating from Midway High School in 2001 and graduating from UND with a bachelor’s degree in 2006 worked as a grain buyer at the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks for eight years.

Ten years ago, Dickson began farming full-time with his father, and spent the first four years of that commuting from Grand Forks to the farm where he grew up. In 2018, Dickson, his wife, Erin, and their children moved to the farm.

The Dicksons raise wheat, corn, sugarbeets, soybeans and edible beans. David plants all of the row crops and Mark seeds wheat. Both of the farmers run combines during harvest.

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The 2022 pinto bean crop, despite getting in the ground later than average because of cold, wet conditions this spring and then dry conditions after planting, yielded surprisingly well.

“The best we’ve ever had,” Dickson said.

A former Northarvest Bean Growers Association board president, he also takes pride in bettering the edible bean industry through service to the organization. He ran for a board position at the urging of Gary Paur, a former NBGA board member.

Dickson represented District 2 on the NBGA board from 2013-22 where he served on six committees, including legislative, policy and marketing and promotion.

“I really liked the promotion committee,” Dickson said. The goal of the committee is to find new ways to market edible beans, and during his time on it he and other members worked with Food Network star and cookbook author Molly Yeh, who lives near East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, to promote using edible beans to make healthy meals.

His service on the legislative committee, meanwhile, gave him additional insight into how government policy is made and how that input from agricultural organizations can help shape it.

Dickson also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the production challenges that edible bean farmers in other areas, such as southern Minnesota, face and to hear the concerns and suggestions throughout the Northarvest region.

Agronomic challenges, such as white mold, fertilizer efficiency and whether rolling the ground is beneficial are common concerns that farmers contacted him about or told him in person, he said.

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With the 2022 crop year behind him, Dickson is looking forward to 2023, making fertilizer and seed purchases and hiring employees. Finding employees remains challenging, and that, along with transportation uncertainties and delays, are two of the issues he and other farmers are facing.

Being responsible for solving the problems that come up is one of the things he likes about farming.

“I am my own boss. I like how every day it presents a different challenge,” he said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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