Willis JepsonSpringfield, TN
Robertson County Soil Conservation District
Willis Jepson, a seventh-generation farmer in Robertson County, is not new to the concept of conservation. In fact, his family has been utilizing no-till systems for over 25 years. However, conversation practices on his farm do not stop there. Jepson has planted cover crops on over half of his acreage for the past five years.
Utilizing these conservation practices for such a long time has allowed workers at Jepson Family Farms to readily see their benefits. These practices have allowed for a strong soil structure with a soil organic matter of over three percent. Jepson also claims that the use of multi-species cover crops has severely suppressed mare’s tail, pig weed and other pesky weeds on his fields.
Jepson implements these practices across the wide variety of commodities he grows, including corn, wheat, soybean, tobacco and indigo. He continues to try new things, experimenting with double-cropped watermelon and pumpkin in 2018. Reduced erosion, a benefit of his conservation practices, has allowed him to experiment by granting him the flexibility to grow crops that couldn’t be grown previously.
His practices have even had benefits off his farm. Due to the work of farmers and others in the community, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation found the Red River to be the cleanest it has been in 30 years. Major problems of erosion and runoff into the river have severely decreased as farmers, like Jepson, utilize conservation practices that allow for better water infiltration on their fields.
While Jepson and his family have seen many benefits, he is not done on his soil health journey. He aims to continue using cover crops and no-till practices to further increase his soil organic matter and improve water infiltration. He hopes to one day have 100 percent of his fields covered during the winter by either winter wheat or his cover crop mixture.
Updated June 2019.