Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District (Vice Chair)
My wife Jennifer and I have three daughters and one son. We currently farm 1,950 acres of corn and soybeans. In November 2015 I was elected to my second three-year term as Vice Chair of the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. I am active in the Farm Bureau being a 21 year member, and also a county 4-H advisor. HyR Brix is our fertilizer business. We sell fertility and soil amendments to specialty growers, truck farms and backyard growers.
Soil Health Practices:
I started no-till/strip tilling and banding fertilizer in 2001. We have been able to cut fertility rates by 1/3. We only use dry fertilizer, soil amendments and micro nutrients. I feel that these are the only ones that build soil health and correct deficiencies. We twin-row all of our soybean and half of our corn acres. We raise all non-GMO corns and mostly non-GMO soybeans. Strip tilling along with the no-till has really increased the organic matter in our soils. Drainage is better and crops withstand stressful weather conditions better. We address soil health through balanced fertility. Our crops don’t need the additional application or expense of fungicides and insecticides. The test weight and quality of our corn and soybeans have improved. These crops are healthier and more resistant to disease, fungus and insects.
The last couple of years we have been applying nutrients during the growing season on both corn and soybeans to maintain energy in the soil. This assures me that there are available nutrients at the end of the growing season. This application also enhances microbial activity and keeps them active. This fertility is applied when there is a growing crop that can utilize it and not run off or have time to get tied up in the soil. Our tile plow keeps us busy after harvest. Good drainage is essential in our soil types. Saturated soils restrict root development and air movement. We found using both practices helps to maintain good soil health and produce more consistent yields.
Some of our challenges are adverse and extreme weather, including too much rain early in the season. Inconsistent growing seasons and no real good data on yield performance from year to year. We have overcome the challenges through proper drainage and balanced and available fertility.