“I have a son farming with me and we want to keep the land in the family and be a good-quality farm. We want to leave the ground in a better place than it was when I got it through conservation practices.”
Conservation practices used: Cover crops, no-till, terraces, pond, buffer strips
When did you start these practices? Back in 1979 we had a huge spring rain event, and there was a lot of dirt running off the fields because of the moldboard plowing and chiseling that went on back then. We were losing soil, so I started going to field days to learn as much as I could about no-till. Before long I was hosting field days. Now, we have cover crops on all but about 30 of our acres.
Benefits: Erosion control is our greatest benefit. No-till farming holds our soil in place. There are time savings and cost savings in terms of equipment and labor as well. I also have a lot of livestock, so the less time I spend in the tractor, the more time I have to spend with my hog operation.
The manure from the hogs provides the most important source of fertility for our crops. We inject all of the manure so the soil holds the nutrients for the crop, and it works well with the cover crops. As the cover crops come up in the fall, it sequesters some of the nitrogen from the manure and holds it there for next year’s crop.
Benefits of the Soil Health Partnership: We have learned a lot about the soil health side of conservation from the partnership, as it has given us the opportunity to focus more on the data that is being collected.
Advice for other farmers: Don’t start a new conservation practice like no-till or cover crops on 100 percent of your acres. Talk to somebody who has successfully done it and find out what has worked and hasn’t worked on their farms.