From an automatic gate entry to an airplane, this South Dakota farmer makes it all
Sitting on tailgate with a deer rifle against his shoulder, Jared Schott peered down the scope while watching a hired hand climb up a rocky outcrop, dwarfed by a backdrop of buttes rising like badland castles. Majestic scenery notwithstanding, the skittish hand clambered gingerly upward and glanced back at rapid intervals, well aware of the scope’s focal point. With bearings anchored by a railroad tie corner post, Schott guided the hand along the sight line to lay down post markers. Welcome to yesterday’s fence building at Schott Ranch.
Today’s fence line at Schott Ranch is far straighter, with a rifle replaced by a GPS. Schott has one foot firmly planted in history and the other in a constant toe-tap toward technological innovation. Equal parts farmer, rancher and tech cowboy, Schott is hard-wired to improve the mechanical components of his operation.
Schott Ranch is a picturesque jumble of knobs and ridges tucked just west of the Missouri River (West River) and north of the Grand River at the north-central tip of South Dakota. On some of the same ground originally owned by his great-grandfather, Schott, 49, raises crops and cattle. His parents have an adjoining ranch seven miles to the south. He grows 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, sunflowers and wheat near Mobridge, S.D., that rubs against the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the Dakota Access pipeline protests. (The largest water tower in the U.S. is on Schott’s property and supplies much of the reservation.)
As a child, Schott rode bulls and counted the days until the National Finals Rodeo each year. Each time the finals rolled around, with few exceptions, the family television went…