Hollis, New Hampshire
Hillsboro County Conservation District
Adrien Lavoie owns and operates a fourth generation family farm where he grows “a little of everything,” including fruit on 40 acres of orchard, sweet corn on 60 acres, pumpkins on 30 acres, and a mix of other fruit, vegetables, and rotational land on an additional 100 acres. He uses a long list of proven soil health practices on his land, including crop rotation, multi-species cover crops, zone tillage, and no-till. He terminates his cover crops without using chemicals and seeds into heavy residue, too, he told NACD.
“My experiences (using conservation best management practices) have been 80 percent positive over the last six years,” Lavoie says. The remaining 20 percent can be spilt into categories. “About 10 percent weren’t so positive, but they were my fault and I’ve learned to fix them,” he continued. “And the other 10 percent – that was Mother Nature and I’m learning how to beat her more and more with new methods.”
Lavoie says that if it were not for the soil health practices he uses, “2016 would have been a complete bust because of the drought.” That being said, he also encountered some challenges by using cover during the drought. “I let my cover crops grow so large they sucked all the moisture out of the ground and there was nothing left for my crops to germinate. In a normal year, this would not have been a problem,” he said. “You live and learn every year.”