Mentor Categories: Corn / Soybeans, Cover Crops, Grazing, Livestock, MAWQC, No-Till, Organic, Perennials, Reducing Fertilizer, Reducing Herbicides / Pesticides, and Small Grains
I currently manage about 400 acres of open pasture land for cattle, 300 acres of woods for meat goat production, and about 460 acres of row crop/hay production. We practice adaptive managed grazing with cow/calf pairs, owned stockers, and goats. Raise pastured pork mostly in our wooded areas while strategically moving them around to manage invasive specifies such as multi-flora rose and also raise pastured poultry. We recently bought into the family dairy where we’ll be starting to do more managed grazing as well. On the crop side, we currently raise corn, soybeans, hay, and cover crops either before, after, or during cash crops. We have also done full-season cover crop mixes for grazing while in transition to organic.
I started my soil health journey after I acquired my first rented farm that I switched over to organic row crop production in 2015. I started learning a lot about cover crops and all the benefits that went along with them. I watched a lot of YouTube videos on everything I could find related to soil health. This eventually led me to the Soil Health Summit in Bismark, North Dakota, where I listened to a lot of really good speakers that inspired my wife and me to go home and buy our own herd of beef cows. This is when we also got into the pastured pork and poultry as well. Basically from that point on, we’ve truly seen the value in getting the livestock on the land. With the right management, you see some amazing things happen to the soil, livestock, and your whole ecosystem! I had a few organic row crop failures that led me to graze cattle on them. With higher stock densities and good rest into the next year on the crop fields, I noticed a lot of perennial grasses coming on early in the spring. After seeing the grasses come on their own out of the seed bank I transitioned the whole farm to grass out of organic row crop production and just started grazing and it’s been an absolute blast seeing all the diversity just erupt out that farm! Some of the species that came were Orchard grass, Timothy, perennial ryegrass, Smooth Bromegrass, red clover, white clover, sweet clover, chicory, plantain, dandelion, daisies, and more.
I have experienced my share of failures and feel I can share those experiences with others as a mentor for the Soil Health Coalition and they can learn from my mistakes. It’s fulfilling to be able to help others who may be just as passionate about soil health as I am. It’s exciting to be able to help others down their soil health journey as well.
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