Humphreys County Soil Conservation District
Claude Callicott, a third-generation farmer from Williamson County, runs a 700-acre operation. He farms 575 acres of corn and soybean, with his remaining acres in pasture for a cow-calf operation of over 50 heads.
Callicott grew up farming with his brother and father. After earning his degree in mathematics and a few years of teaching, he realized he wanted to go back to farming. In 2002, Claude began his farming operation with his father.
His dad was the first to bring soil health practices to the farm. In 2005, they started planting crimson clover as a cover crop. At first, Callicott did not understand its purpose, as he was concerned with spending money on something that they wouldn’t harvest. After three years, however, he became a believer. He saw more life in the soil, with less weeds and runoff.
Callicott now plants a mixture of cover crops. Before corn, he plants a mix of crimson clover and oats or wheat. Before his soybeans, be plants a mix of cereal rye, oats and crimson clover. He also practices no-till.
His soil health practices have provided many benefits. The cover crops have helped anchor the soil and protect it when flooding occurs on his fields at the bottoms of the Duck River. His soil tilth has improved significantly due to increases in soil organic matter. He sees less runoff following rain events, with any runoff being much clearer. He has also seen the soil become more resilient during short-term droughts due to improved infiltration and water holding capacity and has seen weed pressures from Marestail and Palmer Amaranth decrease.
Callicott plants his cover crops on 300 acres; however, he hopes to one day plant covers on all 575 of his cropland acres. Locally, his farm is known as “test plot farms,” because he is known for trying new practices. He is interested in grazing his cover crops and plans to continue experimenting with different soil health practices to further improve his farm.
Updated July 2019.