Wes Zylstra, Jasper County

“I try to keep an open mind in recognizing that there‚Äôs always more to learn, and the answers I had today may not actually be right tomorrow.”
Farms: Corn, soybeans, hogs

Conservation practices used: No-till and cover crops

Benefits of cover crops: In the early 2000s we transitioned out of having cattle. We also took hay out of our crop rotation on our rolling ground. As a result, we started to see deterioration in the soil. Using cover crops has helped us to build the soil back up and helps with weed control. Also, we know we are sequestering nitrogen for the spring.

Unexpected benefits: I thought having pigs would be a barrier. We use the manure on our fields and I was afraid that applying it would damage the cover crop. But the two work well together. The cover crop firms the ground and that has improved the application process for the manure.

Soil Health Partnership: We decided if we were going to add cover crops to our conservation efforts we wanted to partner with someone that would give us answers and provide us with benchmarks. The Soil Health Partnership has helped us find answers to our questions and fine-tune our management practices.

Advice for others: Start small and study what you want to do. Then be committed to it. You will not see benefits to most practices you try the first year. It takes a couple of years to change your soil.