Scotty and Jack OggDresden, TN

Scotty and Jack Ogg

Weakley County Soil Conservation District

Dresden, Tennessee

Brothers Scotty and Jack Ogg run a diverse operation of beef cattle and swine, with a crop rotation of corn, wheat and soybeans. They also grow crimson clover and oats for seed to sell as cover crops. Their grandfather, they say, was “old-school conservative” and was never willing to try cutting-edge technology. Jack and his brother, however, understand the power of investment in modern equipment and the importance of stewardship. Jack began no-till in 1970; Scotty joined the operation later on.

As West Tennessee has loess soils which are easily eroded, the brothers are extremely concerned about erosion and for that reason added cover crops to their operation. They also hoped that cover crops would fix their problems of runoff, weeds and lost soil organic matter.

They have indeed seen these benefits. Their soils have become less hard and easier to plant into, helping to improve their yields. They see far less soil erosion and better water infiltration. With their improved water holding capacity, any droughts they experience are far less detrimental. Not only have they reduced soil degradation, but they’ve also improved their soil function, allowing their carbon storage to grow.

The brothers are experimenting with different cover crop mixes to see if they can further improve their benefits. Recently, for example, they added a six-species mix consisting of oats, crimson clover, Austrian winter peas, vetch, purple top turnips and Daikon radishes to a few of their fields.

In 2017, all but 100 acres were covered. Scotty’s goal, with Jack’s support, is to have 100 percent of their fields growing a crop or cover crop in the winter.

Updated June 2019.

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