Ralph Lents, Adair County

Farms: Corn, soybeans, hay and a cow-calf operation

Conservation practices used: No-till, cover crops, buffer strips, terraces, waterways and headlands

Slowing the flow of water: Protecting the soil on the rolling ground is important. Terraces and buffer strips help to slow the water, especially from a heavy rain event. No-till and cover crops have added soil health benefits for the longevity of the farm.

Benefits multiply: The longer cover crops are used the better the soil becomes. Adding organic matter and improving water-holding capacity has benefits throughout the growing season. It supports machinery and keeps nutrients on the farm. We also use cover crops as a feed source for our cattle.

“I keep my mind open to new practices and a better way to farm. I use conservation practices because I want to leave the farm better for future generations.”

Nutrient management: Split-applications of nitrogen – two or even three times – provide corn with the amount it needs, when it needs fed. The same applies to other nutrients like P and K. Based on sampling, we apply only the amount of fertilizer the crop needs to maximize growth. This has water quality benefits and has a positive economic impact on the farm.

Monitoring fields: After a large rain event I take a look around the farm to see if terraces and buffer strips did their jobs. It’s important to fix small problems before they become bigger problems. It’s important to inspect fields to find the areas that need a conservation practice to preserve the soil.

Advice for farmers: Try a new practice on a few acres, and as you have success, expand to more acres. You will gain a lot of valuable information from meetings, field days and talking to other farmers and experts. Have a mindset that you will be successful trying something new.