Jefferson County, Tennessee
Jay Moser has been in the liming business since 1978. He owns Mossy Creek Mining and markets his lime through Tennessee Valley Resources across the state of Tennessee and five other southeastern states. He also owns and operates a 2,000 acres farming operation in Jefferson County, Tennessee, with a three-central-pivot irrigation system. He can extract water at 2,500 gallons per minute easily applying 3/4″ of water per hour.
In the early 1970s, Jay and his father were farming on the contour and strip cropping with the help of USDA SCS (now NRCS). For years, the strips were a landscape marker for highway goers. In 1984, the Mosers began using no-till exclusively and the strips slowly disappeared. In 1988, the Mosers began flying on hairy vetch in a corn-soybean rotation, later seeding cereal rye prior to soybeans and barley prior to corn. Jay has been in continuous cover crops with corn and soybeans since 1984 – likely the longest continuous use of cover crops and no-till in the state of Tennessee.
Jay has studied adding wheat to his rotation and does grow some cereal grains as cover. Although he prefers vetch, Jay is always looking at ways to improve his farming operation. He currently plants his covers soon after harvest by broadcasting 2,000 acres of seed with a spinner truck using diammonia phosphate (DAP) fertilizer as a carrier. He uses a Phillips Harrow (30′-wide) at the least aggressive angle to provide seed to soil contact.
Jay terminates cereal rye and barley at knee-height about two weeks prior to planting. He has two 12-row Kinze no-till planters equipped with a lead coulter, double disk openers, seed firmer, and spike closing wheels at 30″ rows. For soybeans, he uses a splitter row at 15″ with v closing rubber wheels. Jay does not use row cleaners.
A recent farm that Jay purchased (referred to as the Manley tract), Jay planted 400 acres in the fall 2015 with sunflower, daikon radish, rye grass, vetch, and crimson clover, and despite a dry growing year and 1.5% soil organic matter content, averaged between 50-60 bushels of soybeans per acre.
Jay has also applied gypsum (calcium sulfate) on 1,500 acres of the Manley tract. The gypsum flocculates the soil which has helped to improve aggregation and soil structure, resulting in better water infiltration.
Jay’s 400 acres under pivot irrigation averaged 268 bushels per acre. In 2015, his dry land corn averaged 220 bushels per acre, even though they missed applying nitrogen (N) on 12 rows of corn. On the corn that received no N, the yield was still 159 bushels per acre, which is amazing. In 2016 when there was little rain, the farm averaged 125 bushels in corn and 50 bushels in soybeans, which is exceptional given the circumstances.
Jay soil tests on 10-acre grids. For the last five years, his pH has been stable at 7.0 and he hasn’t needed to apply lime or potassium. His soil organic matter levels average between 3.5% to 6.2% and his yields are consistently high as a result.
Jay’s commitment to not disturbing his soil, keeping the soil covered, keeping a live root growing, and adding some diversity to corn-bean rotation has radically changed the soils. Jay’s farm and his soil changes set the bar for what others may achieve using the same principles. It takes time and persistence with no-tilling and cover crops to achieve the levels of soil health that Jay Moser has achieved. His soils are making a difference in his profit margin too.