A Minnesota Farmer’s Agricultural Roots Run Deep

Nathan Kosbau rounds out his custom harvesting fleet with a restored Massey Ferguson® 760 combine.

By Jenny Bryant

Despite not growing up on the family farm himself, Minnesotan custom harvester Nathan Kosbau, 31, has agricultural roots that run deep. His great-great-grandparents were immigrant farmers from Norway and Germany, and his great-grandparents on both sides were dairy farmers. The next-generation Kosbaus were also the first growers ever to successfully raise a non-shattering cultivar of wild rice in the early days of growing wild rice as a cultivated field crop.

Nathan Kosbau

Nathan Kosbau

In 1968, when planning to harvest the high-moisture wild-rice crop, the Kosbaus purchased two new Massey Ferguson 510 combines and were pleased with the quality of grain and the exceptionally clean sample. When they began to grow small-grain seed, they purchased a 1980 Massey Ferguson 760 combine as the flagship of their grain-production equipment. The Kosbau agricultural tradition seemingly came to an end when Kosbau’s grandparents retired from the farming business in 1997 and auctioned off their farm equipment, including theMassey Ferguson 760.

Upon graduation from the University of Minnesota, Nathan Kosbau found himself involved in the agriculture industry, working in precision ag business development at CHS Inc., based out of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

In 2011, looking to honor his family tradition and aid local growers during harvest, Kosbau started a custom harvesting business, Kosbau Brothers LLC, named after the brothers who were his grandfather and great uncle. According to Kosbau, “my family was extremely instrumental to the success of the wild rice industry. They developed many of variety, thinning, harvesting, and processing techniques used today, and I wanted to honor and remember their pioneering spirit.”

To complement the three Massey Ferguson 860 combines that constituted his custom harvesting fleet, in 2014 Kosbau found and purchased the same 1980 Massey Ferguson 760 that his grandparents sold at auction over 17 years before. “When thinking to expand my fleet, I really wanted to find the grain combine my great uncle and grandfather were so proud of,” says Kosbau. “I used the combine for the last fall’s harvest, and again was impressed with its capacity and grain-cleaning ability.”

Kosbau anticipates harvesting with five combines this fall and personally runs the restored 760, which he plans to keep up and running for future generations.

See the restoration of the first Massey Ferguson 760 combine ever made: Click here to watch the video, “She’s Number One.”