Brian and Bill TaylorBolivar, TN

Brian and Bill Taylor

Hardeman County Soil Conservation District and Madison County Soil Conservation District

Bolivar, Tennessee

Brian Taylor, a fourth-generation farmer, has been farming with his father, Bill Taylor, for 10 years. Both work off the farm as well, Brian at the Jackson Fire Department and Bill at the Jackson Energy Authority. Their farming operation, which stretches between Hardeman and Madison Counties, consists of approximately 1,600 acres of corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton.

Bill began no-till farming 15 years ago, prior to Brian joining his operation. Now, they are a 100 percent no-till operation, other than the occasional ground-leveling when they obtain new land. Much of their land has been in their family for generations, with most of their new land coming out of pasture or the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Four years ago, the Taylors decided to introduce winter cover crops to their operation. Through the NRCS, they learned that this practice would have many benefits for them, including the improvement of water infiltration. They now grow a multi-species mixture of wheat, cereal rye, crimson clover, Daikon radish and purple top turnip. To save time, they broadcast their cover crop mixture through aerial seeding.

Benefits of this new practice include increased infiltration, improved corn yield response and decreased erosion. They frequently see quail visiting their field and find far more soil life, especially earthworms. Even though they haven’t been able to cut back on herbicide and fungicide applications, they are seeing some weed suppression from their cover crops.

Although the father-son duo is very happy they chose to start using cover crops, they do tell other farmers to start slowly because it can be challenging. However, even after just four years, the results for the Taylors are astounding, and they encourage other farmers to join in on this practice.

Updated June 2019.

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