Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District
My wife, Kendra, and I work with the Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District and NRCS to provide training for new employees across the United States a few times a year. We also hold conservation field days on our farm and cooperate with Ohio State University’s Piketon Research Facility to provide on-farm research. I am also a member of the Ohio Student Career Experience Program.
Soil Health Practices
Beginning in 1971, I began no till practices with cereal rye or hairy vetch as a cover crop. Our yields began declining, so we tried other monoculture cover crops with some success. In the mid-90s, we began using multiple mixes of cover crops and this was the “oh my” time! We were able to reduce inputs for crops and now use buffer strips, sod waterways, and windbreaks.
The journey has been a trial with some errors, but no till with cover crops has been a great benefit. We have seen some improvement through the use of multiple species cover crops: water run-off is controlled; nutrients have become more available to crops through the soil; we’ve seen more beneficial insects; and we’ve seen better livestock under the soil.
The biggest challenge is changing the mindset of producers so they understand the soil they are working with. This challenge is still there, but I continue with field days, research, and speaking on the topic of soil health.