Corby BrownLafayette, TN

Corby Brown

Mason County Soil Conservation District

Lafayette, Tennessee

In Tennessee and Kentucky, Corby Brown grows Burly tobacco in a three-year rotation of tobacco, corn and soybeans. He personally grows 250 acres of tobacco but grows a total of 1,000 acres when combined with his son Christopher and nephew Elliot.

Tobacco, a crop that does not normally improve soil health, is typically grown with traditional tillage practices. Brown’s operation is unique, however, because he does not till at all. He became drawn to this practice four years ago, after his switch to strip tilling didn’t provide any benefits. He wanted to see his soil health improve because a lot of his fields were washing away and ending up in the road. To him, no-till was the right thing to do, and he sticks by his decision.

He has worked with Checci and Magli, an Italian company, to design a four-row no-till tobacco setter to help with this practice. After a few modifications, the planter works perfectly for his operation.

No-till is not the only soil health practice Brown utilizes on his farm. He has been using a cover crop with his tobacco for over 15 years. His acres receive either a wheat or cereal rye cover crop. Up until 2016, he was broadcasting his cover crop seeds with a light disking to cover them. Now, he drills his seeds into his tobacco.

Brown has seen his soil structure improve significantly. His practices have reduced erosion, improved yields, allowed for more soil retention, and have protected his tobacco from drowning during intense rain events.

Moving forward, Brown is considering using a cover crop mixture that includes legumes and brassicas to further improve his soils.

Updated July 2019.

Latest News

Calendar of Events

Find your Local District

Accessibility Toolbar