John MooreBradley County SCD, TN

IMG 3419John Moore

Cleveland, Tennessee

Bradley County Soil Conservation District

John Moore is a sixth-generation farmer of Moore Farms at Rattle Snake Springs in Bradley County. The farm has been in the family since 1850 and 41 acres of the land is designated as a historic site, part of the beginning of the Trail of Tears. With his son, Moore has a 65 cow-calf operation and milks 120 Holstein cows. Besides producing corn-silage behind cover crops, he plants wheat in orchard grass for hay. He also plants some wheat-Marshall rye grass for pasture. His current cropland is broken down as follows: 90 acres in corn silage, 215 acres of total acres in corn, and 55 acres in soybeans.

Moore began farming with his father as a teen. He became a Bradley County Soil Conservation District (SCD) Board Member in 1977 and had been on the board since 1968. To this day, he remains an active  board member and currently serves as chairman of the board. Moore also has served as the Tennessee Association Conservation Districts’ (TACD) East Tennessee Divisional Vice President.

Moore has been practicing no-till since 1975 thanks to the influence of former SCD Chairman Joe Harris. He began by using a Birch four-row no-till planter and has bought three drills over the years. Moore would also subsoil and harrow for wheat; they were growing wheat as a cover crop prior to silage.

In 2013, he began using cover crops other than wheat. His first cover crop mix consisted of cereal rye, Daikon radishes, hairy vetch and crimson clover. Since 2014, his mix has been approximately 41 pounds cereal rye, 18 pounds triticale, 2.5 pounds Daikon radishes, 5.1 pounds of crimson clover, 1.3 pounds hairy vetch and one pound of buckwheat, all on a per acre basis. Moore kills his covers in early April and plants approximately 14 days later. He also plants in standing cover crops.

Many of the fields in Bradley County are sloping, and the parent material is limestone soils. In early 2015, erosion had taken effect and Moore’s soils were not aggregard. Since going to cover crops and no-till, the soil has turned from a red color to dark brown and are very aggregated with good soil structure. Earth worms are also prevalent. Moore has noticed clearer water runoff, indicating less erosion, and sees greater weed suppression. The cereal rye is definitely giving good weed control due to choking out weeds and through allelopathy.

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Soil testing on one field in April of 2017 revealed a good pH balance for nutrient cycling and increasing soil organic matter. Moore’s fields are infiltrating almost all water with little overland flow. Water is more available for plant growth due to better infiltration rates, less erosion and runoff. Soil carbon, soil biology and soil nutrients are all increasing and are more prevalent, meaning means less inputs and better profits. Moore is making great strides and his soils will continue to improve with continued use of cover crops and no-till.

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