Managing for Profit

Maintaining soil health is profitable

Believers in sustainable farming practices say their methods conserve resources and add to the bottom line.  About a year ago, southwest Iowa farmer Karen Seipold and her husband Bret were intrigued by research in soil health and decided this past fall to join the Soil Health Partnership.

“We’ve just started with cover crops,” said Karen Seipold, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News at the Soil Health Summit in Des Moines.  “We’re hoping that it brings the kind of results that would bring us some better health for our soil and better bottom line.”

Iowa farmer Roger Zylstra committed years ago to no-till farming, but decided only a couple of years ago to use cover crops, thinking there was a need to apply technology to that part of his production.

“We’ve used technology in our seeds and in our fertilizer and in our equipment and I think that we need to apply the same kinds of technology to our soil,” said Zylstra.

When Mike Long decided to do no-till farming, he committed to the extent of selling every piece of tillage equipment he owned.  The Indiana farmer tells Brownfield that ridding his place of the iron was to avoid the temptation to resume tillage.  He says that, and now his inclusion of cover crops has benefits.  Chief among them is to his bottom line.

“I like to say we farm ugly,” he said.  “We always have something growing out there, something’s always not appealing to tillage farmers.  They like to see that nice clean field, the green rows.  To me, I like to see the nice green rows with brown in between.”

AUDIO: Karen Seipold, Roger Zylstra and Mike Long (3 min. MP3)


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