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Julius Degen was born in 1876 in Worms, Germany. At the age of nineteen, he emigrated with his two half brothers to the United States, eventually settling at Sibley, Iowa. He soon moved to Manitoba to work for H.L. Emmert as a farm manager of La Salle Farm, one of the three Emmert farms. The H.L. Emmert Land Company was established by the wealthy banker, H.L. Emmert. He bought vast holdings in the Red River and Assiniboine River valleys in hopes of selling to American farmers. Emmert's three experimental farms were visited by faculty from the Manitoba Agricultural College, E. Cora Hind, American farmers on educational tours, and by local and district farmers. Through these experimental farms, Manitoba farmers gained a richer knowledge of their trade, and benefited from new crops and from new procedures, such as summerfallowing.