Kay County Conservation District
Rick Jeans has served on the Kay Country Conservation District board for over 25 years. He is also the NACD executive board member for the South Central Region, and serves as chairman of the association’s Communications and Finance Committees. Rick and his wife Dianne operate their farm together in northern Oklahoma. They have a daughter, Amber, who recently graduated from Oklahoma State University.
Rick has no-till farmed for over 20 years. He grows wheat, soybeans, alfalfa, and sorghum in a crop rotation; and in 2013, introduced cover crops into his operation with the assistance of Kay County CD and Oklahoma NRCS. The cover crops have improved his soil health and provided forage for his cow-calf operation and stocker cattle. Jeans says cover crops have taken his soil health to “a new level,” and are a great addition to his CSP program. The benefits of this rotation are continuing to be evaluated, he told NACD.
“My first year of planting cover crops was a very dry fall,” he said. “Planting was delayed due to the drought, so we didn’t experience a good growing season. Grazing was limited, too, during the dry winter and spring, so we couldn’t make a fair assessment of the cover crops.” During 2014 and 2015, Jeans had good levels of soil moisture, which allowed for early planting and excellent growth. “Our crop yields after cover crops have been better than normal and we are continuing to learn how to tweak our mixtures to maximize our returns,” he explained.
His biggest cover crop compliant is the smell – “the smell of rotting radishes.” Jeans uses chicken litter as part of his fertilization program and the smell is “really bad,” and only improves after a week or so. “Dead radishes can smell for months and you get to know your neighbors really well,” he said.
The Kay County Conservation District is the number one county in Oklahoma for no-tilling systems. “My county producers understand the importance of protecting our natural resources,” Jeans said. “Progressive farmers are always looking for new ways to protect the environment and improve their bottom line. My district board, district staff, and NRCS staff have shown their support by sponsoring Soil Health tours in our area so we can reach out and educate local folks about these practices and what they can do for the land.”