It all starts with a seed.

Economic growth

Planting a single seed in the soil starts an entire economic movement that reaches far beyond one plant in one farmer’s field.

It grows into what becomes an entire industry — agriculture, the number one economic contributor in South Dakota.

And agribusiness helps generate growth in related industries that have global connections. For example, corn production relies on the transportation industry to travel by trucks, railroads, barges, and even by container ships across the ocean when exported to other countries.

What’s more, our state’s farmers and ranchers also directly and indirectly help support small businesses across the state to raise funds and volunteer for our churches, schools, sports teams, and other organizations doing great things.

Profits grown from that seed are reinvested back into the local community, our state’s budget, the country’s infrastructure, and our global economy.

And it all starts with a seed that grows into corn here in South Dakota. This is farming.


As the seed grows into a corn plant, the bushels of corn are then harvested by a combine in the fall. More than likely, it will become ethanol or animal/livestock feed to be used right here in South Dakota.

One bushel of corn turns into 2.9 gallons of ethanol and 15.2 pounds of a co-byproduct called Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), which is an economic and efficient protein source included in livestock feed.

So that bushel of corn fed to livestock converts into about 8 pounds of beef like steaks and burgers, 15.6 pounds of pork like ribs and bacon, or 21.6 pounds of chicken. Don’t forget about eggs, turkey, and dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream!

Harvested corn may be stored in large grain bins across the state, or it could become one of more than 4,000 grocery store items, such as shampoo, marshmallows, pet food, and crayons to name a few.

And yes, a small percentage of corn is turned into the items you may think of first — cornflakes (breakfast cereal), corn starch, corn cooking oil, and corn syrup (sweeteners).

South Dakota Corn’s mission is to continue seeking out new and improved uses for our state’s largest crop, as well as investing in research to benefit the productivity and profitability of our state’s growers.

Promising new careers

Farming practices of today and tomorrow rely on advanced science and technology to further improve the efficiency and productivity of this age-old livelihood.

In fact, the latest farm equipment runs on software, sensors, and satellites. Farmers are starting to take advantage of auto-driving tractors, crop-scouting drones, and weed-zapping lasers.

The ag industry creates lucrative jobs both on and off the farm, including high-tech careers in engineering, data science, biology, software development, and precision ag.

Other high-demand careers that may not seem directly farm-related include marketing, conservation, water quality, aquaponics, forestry, finance, and nutrition.

You don't need to grow up on farmland to land a job in ag!

132,105 JOBS IN AG IN SD

What starts as a single seed planted in the soil travels from our farm fields and rural communities into the streets and suburbs of our larger cities and urban areas.

Its impact makes its way…

  • into our convenience and grocery stores…
  • into restaurants and school cafeterias…
  • into the food we enjoy eating,
  • as well as the food we serve our pets and livestock…
  • and even into our vehicles as economical ethanol blends of fuel like E10 and E85.

And it all starts with a seed that grows into corn in South Dakota. This is farming.

A more sustainable tomorrow

No matter where you live, we all want healthy, productive soil and access to clean water.

Protecting the vital resource of soil is necessary for our planet’s survival, and for the livelihoods of our state’s 29,000 farm and ranch families.

Whether it’s for recreation at our beloved rivers and lakes, irrigation for crops or for livestock to drink, clean water is an essential part of the equation as well.

Farmers and ranchers of today are adopting practices to replenish soil fertility, reduce water loss, manage crop diseases and pests, and boost yields.

The farmer of a century ago (or even a few decades ago) cannot produce enough to feed our planet. Feeding the world’s growing population requires continual changes to advance with technology. To accomplish this lofty goal, farmers are using cover crops, advanced seed genetics, and high-tech helpers like satellites and drones. What will the farmers of tomorrow need?

Instead of making decisions that blanket an entire field, farmers can now focus in on every inch of soil, applying exactly what is needed, when and where it’s needed. This is best for the soil, the crop, and the farmer’s bottom line.

By making decisions based on detailed data, farmers and ranchers conserve water, reduce inputs, and capture carbon to help the environment.

That’s right, the ag industry also plays a key role in providing solutions to address climate change concerns.

In fact, corn is being turned into low-carbon jet fuel right here in our state!

Thanks to our state’s quality corn production, 16 biorefineries currently call South Dakota home. They turn millions of bushels of corn into millions of gallons of ethanol, a biofuel that benefits us all with 46% lower greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles.

Because the earth depends on us to care for the soil, the air, and the water.

And it all starts with a seed that grows into corn in South Dakota. This is farming.

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