Henry County, Alabama
Fourth generation row crop farmer Myron Johnson knows good soil health plays a vital role in a farmer’s economic bottom line. Johnson grows cotton, wheat, rye, oats, and peanuts on 1,400 acres and manages an additional 100 acres of hay and 500 acres of pasture for his cow/calf operation.
Johnson is convinced growing and planting into a heavy cover of rye increases his soil’s fertility. “I can visually see the soil is healthier than it had been in the past. My increased crop yields confirm that fact,” he said. Having more crop residue on the soil’s surface has helped him improve his yields during droughts, increased water infiltration and beneficial soil microorganisms, and lowered soil erosion, evaporation rates, and weed pressure. He knows first-hand that conservation tillage also saves fuel, time, labor, and machinery.
Originally, Johnson planned to use a drum roller to flatten his rye cover for planting; but after studying the head-high rye, he designed a tool to flatten the cover and prepare the soil in one pass. Not only did the design work, but it worked better than he had expected. Ever since, Johnson has planted all of his acreage using conservation tillage.
He also developed a new device he calls a “coupling plow” to terminate cotton stalks and shred them in one pass, allowing him to better manage the cotton residue and reap the soil health benefits of doing so. He hopes once he has received a patent on the plow, it will be ready for the market this fall.