Hickory, North Carolina
Catawba County Soil and Water District
JRH Grain Farms LLC
I am a first generation farmer in the foothills of Hickory, North Carolina, where I farm JRH Grain Farms, LLC with my wife, Tara, and daughter, Emmalynn. I serve as a member of the Catawba County Extension Advisory Board and travel with NRCS as an Earth Team volunteer, speaking about conservation and how to implement those practices on a farming level.
Soil Health Practices:
JRH Grain Farms operates on eight hundred acres, growing non-GMO corn, non-GMO soybeans, white wheat, black oats, triticale, and barley, and raising pasture cattle, pasture Katahdin sheep, and pasture Berkshire pigs. We operate Southern Seeds and Feeds and partner with Seventeen Twelve Distillery.
We implemented cover crops the first year to reduce erosion concerns and winter weeds. We found so many more benefits like nutrient cycling, reducing fertilizer herbicides and weed suppression during the cash crop season as well as an increase in the brix levels in our plants and reducing the need for insecticides. After several years of multispecies cover crops, and going from three species blends up to eleven species blends, we have some organic matters over five percent.
When you implement multispecies cover crops in your operation, it can be a scary thing to plant in the first year. We have had really good success using sharp coulters and double disc openers. One of the best things we did for the economics of the operation was to introduce animals with our cash crops. We not only extended the time that our ground is earning us money but also increased the biology of the land from mob grazing.
A challenge to our region has been trying to establish year-round ground cover to reduce erosion but planting shorter day varieties of cash crops.
You can read more about Russel Hedrick and his soil health practices at the links below: