Knox County, Tennessee
Harvey Young lives in Knox County, Tennessee, and raises cattle on a farm he purchased almost 20 years ago in New Market, Tennessee. The farm’s soils are predominately Dewey and Decatur silt loam and the slopes range from nearly flat to approximately 12 percent. Originally, the property was 98 acres, but Harvey recently purchased 30 acres of unimproved forestland he plans to convert to grassland for his 50 cow- 40 calf operation.
Young has about seven fields – between 4.5 to 14.2 acres large – for grazing, and another three hay fields he harvests once per season. He also grows an organic garden, owns two draft horses (black Percheons), and cultivates five to seven bee hives, chickens, guineas, and ducks. Mr. Young said the latter do an excellent job of controlling insects around and in the garden.
Harvey rotates families of vegetables every year in his garden, uses strips of grass between the garden rows, and composts horse manure. He also uses different types of cover – including plastic, straw, and a cover crop of cereal rye annually. All nutrients he applies are in accordance with a comprehensive nutrient management plan; and he follows a prescribed grazing schedule designed by NRCS. His cattle are predominantly crossbreeds of Black Angus, Charolais, and Gelbvieh. He turns them out into pastures with grass at 12 – 18″ inches and grazes the forage down to approximately 4″ inches in height before he moves them (usually after about six days) and lets the grass rest for 20 to 30 days. From December through February he grazes closer to 3” inches on stock-piled fescue. Young also produces about 150 1,000-pound bales of hay. By stock-piling his fescue during late fall and early winter, he’s able to graze the land and save the cost of about 100 bales of hay each year.
Soil test results from 2012 showed 3.6, 3.6, and 4.2 percent in soil organic matter (SOM) and estimated nitrogen release (ENR) that is from decomposing SOM, at 105, 98, and 110 pounds per acre. Soil pH was 6.4, 7.0, and 6.9, and phosphorus was very high and potassium was very low, very high, and medium. In 2014, the same areas showed 11.2, 10.7, and 8.5 percent in SOM. The ENR was 150, 150, and 150; and the soil infiltration had improved, earthworms are plentiful, and the soil structure is granular. According to Young, there were no signs of erosion and the soil’s pH had fallen to 7.1, 6.5, and 6.3 respectively. Phosphorus is very high and potassium is low, very high, and high.
Harvey has worked closely with NRCS to design three individual four-hole and two individual two-hole Richie water tanks. He has fenced off his large pond and planted an assortment of trees in the riparian zones. He has also participated in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s cost sharing (TDA) program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Like most East Tennessee grazing farms, his pastures are dominated by Kentucky-31 fescue. Harvey interseeds into the fescue to dilute the fungus effects of Kentucky-31 fescue and to provide summer growing annuals when the fescue is dormant. In one nine-acre field, he interseeds buck wheat, sunflower, Sorghum-Sudan grass, soybeans, and cow peas directly into standing fescue. In other fields, he interseeds Sorghum-Sudan and Pearl Millet into standing fescue and promotes natural stands of Dallas grass, Johnson grass, crab grass, and common bermuda grass by resting it for 30 days or more.