Farmer Spotlight: Johnny Granstrom

Farmer Spotlight: Johnny Granstrom

The Evolution of the Modern-Day Farmer

At five years old, Johnny Granstrom farmed alongside his dad and grandfather on horseback during the 1940s. Seventy-five years later, he still farmed the same land he grew up on in Holstein, NE, with his business partner and son, JJ Granstrom. Johnny has countless stories to tell about his lifelong career as a farmer – not to mention the wealth of knowledge and experience he has accumulated. He’s witnessed a continuous evolution of agriculture over the years, including something he never thought he’d see in his lifetime – self-driving tractors.


Johnny Granstrom (right) pictured with his son JJ Granstrom.


Johnny had his own tractor at just 10 years old. He fondly recalls learning to drive his Ford 8N with an umbrella shade, pulling a 14” plow behind. Four short years later, Johnny’s neighbor came to him with an unexpected offer that served as a pivotal moment in his life. His neighbor offered to rent him 100 acres of farmland when he was 14 years old. Johnny and his dad discussed the offer, and decided he was ready to take on a farm of his own as a young teenager. He relied on his strong work ethic, willingness to take big risks, and learned from those around him as he worked to scale his own farm over the next several years.


“You know how you get smarter? Making mistakes – that’s how you learn.”


“You know how you get smarter? Making mistakes – that’s how you learn,” admitted Johnny. He learned by doing and learned many hard lessons along the way.


Over the years, Johnny raised conventional cattle, corn, and alfalfa hay and later transitioned to organic farming, specifically blue corn. He was fortunate to have his son, JJ, join him on the family farm, bringing his own new ideas and implementing new technologies.


When asked about what led him to being an ealy adopter of new technologies, Johnny replied, “All the technology on the farm was a product of working with JJ. He was very quick to adopt it, and I was receptive to trying it out and seeing how it worked.”


JJ’s forward-thinking and readiness to bring new technology to the family farm is what led the Granstroms’ to their relationship with Sabanto. In 2021, Johnny and JJ allowed Sabanto to autonomously farm 1,000 acres of their land. Sabanto used this opportunity to plant, rototill, cultivate and tine weed using Sabanto Steward™. Johnny noted working with Sabanto was a success and seeing self-driving tractors on his own farm was “unbelievable.”


Johnny Granstrom is the epitome of someone who embraces change. To him, it’s a part of life that you have to learn to accept. He has witnessed an evolution in the mechanization of agriculture and watched how technology has transformed the way farmers do their daily work. What started as a young child performing fieldwork on horseback, progressed into a successful lifetime farmer, building the legacy of Granstrom Farms.


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