Farm Press Blog

Opera star, farmer, innovator all rolled into one


Zach Sheely has two unique talents. He loves to sing, and he loves to farm

Zach is a professional opera star with the Golden Gate Opera in California and farms several crops, including cotton, with his father Ted Sheely.

Zach created a iPhone app that allows him to keep up with what's going on at the farm while he's away peforming for the opera.

Opera and farming. Rarely have these two callings been mentioned in the same breath. In fact, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say after the Man Upstairs handed out these particular talents to Zach Sheely, he broke the mold.

 Zach loves to farm and loves to sing. What a remarkable combination.

Actually, to say that Zach sings is like saying Eli Manning is a guy who plays football. Zach has reached for the pinnacle of the vocal arts. He is a professional opera star with the Golden Gate Opera in California.

How accomplished is Zach? According to the California Opera Web page, the young tenor has performed a number of leading roles included B. F. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. His performance was televised in the role of American painter William Keith in the American Masters national series, which was to have aired last year.

Zach is reaching for the stars in the field of precision agriculture as well.

Back home, Zach is a partner in the farming operation of his father Ted Sheely, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. They produce upland and pima cotton, tomatoes, wheat, pistachios, wine grapes and garlic. Ted is a past chairman of Cotton Incorporated and is a Farm Press High Cotton alumnus, having won the award for the Western states in 1999.

Zach, speaking at the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants annual meeting, in Reno, Nev., got into precision agriculture on the family farm when he started singing opera professionally, a job that often took him halfway around the world. “While I was away, I still wanted to have contact with the farm and be involved in management decisions. Working on the farm is what pays my bills, and I love it.

“While I was gone, I noticed that things would happen, and I didn’t understand why they were taking place. I asked my dad if we could put some remote sensing units out on the farm.”

Zach, who majored in biology and chemistry in college, thought if he had better information from the sensors he could make better decisions on the farm.

But Sheely didn’t stop there. He took his passion for digital information up another octave and developed an intuitive iPad and iPhone app that will not only provide information about what is happening on a farm, and what needs to be done, but will connect a farm’s management team on a real-time basis. For more on Zach’s app, see

Farming and opera are two professions that seem as different as night and day to most. But thanks to Zach Sheely’s determined bravado to excel at them both, this is one time when they’re in perfect pitch.


Discuss this Blog Entry 1

A-Man (not verified)
on Jan 31, 2012

Great story. Thanks for providing the "human touch." In the midst of all the "professionalism" of writing appropriate stories - your readership no doubt enjoys a nice insightful story like this. Breaks the monotony; especially for the non-farmer types like me!

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Farm Press Blog?

The Farm Press Daily Blog

Connect With Us

Blog Archive
Continuing Education
Potassium nitrate has a positive effect in controlling plant pests and diseases when applied...
This online CE course details sound mechanical irrigation design and management practices to...