Michael currently operates a 100 acre conventional crop farm located just south of Jordan, MN. He farms alongside his father and together comprise the 3rd and 4th generations of our family who have made a life on this little corner of the world.
About 70 acres of the farm is in cropland, with the balance being pasture, wetland, and homestead. Their field operations consist primarily of a corn and soybean rotation but are quickly moving towards a more diverse offering. Each year, they’re stepping outside their comfort zones and trying new things to see if they can find a methodology that is not only regenerative and sustainable, but also profitable and personally satisfying.
They’ve made a switch to no-till practices and are using cover crops as much as possible. They’ve reduced their fertilizer and herbicide applications and are trying to leave the maximum amount of undisturbed space for soil microbes, fungi, earthworms, and the myriad subterranean dwellers that comprise a healthy ecosystem.
Currently Michael and his father use cover crops in several ways. They interseed a diverse mix between the rows of standing corn and also seed winter covers into the corn and soybean residue after harvest each fall. As part of their no-till practices, they plant their corn and soybeans green into those standing winter covers each spring.
They always have one alfalfa field in the past and now increasing that to two fields in an alternating two year pattern of establishment and termination. This is part of a strategic plan to give them more saleable forage, decrease weed pressure, and prepare for one subsequent corn field each year that will require very little fertilizer and herbicide. In 2020, they grew teff grass for the first time and will be bringing oats back to the farm in 2021 as a field crop after a 30 year hiatus.
Michael recently completed the Soil Food Web Foundation courses and starting in the spring of 2021 will be taking regular soil samples and examine them under a microscope in an effort to track and understand the changing biological conditions in their soil throughout the year. Also, they’re planning to begin making compost and use it to inoculate the parts of their fields that are the most degraded.
Michael and his wife are hoping to get livestock back on the farm in 2021 looking at laying hens or pasture broilers as integrating livestock is an absolutely critical aspect of both soil health and a properly diversified farming operation.
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