Oklahoma Farmer Gets More than He Bargained for Switching to No-Till, Including More ProfitabilityWed, 07 Feb 2018 11:44:28 CST
During the recent No-Till on the Plains Winter Conference in Wichita, Kan. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn spoke with Russ Jackson, a no-till farmer from Mountain View, Okla., about his operation and how implementing no-till has benefited him and his business. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
As a third-generation farmer working his family land, Jackson had always employed conventional practices up until a few years ago. He began, working with the Noble Research Institute to develop a plan for his farm using a mixed crop, pasture and livestock system. He started the process in 2016 with the decision to plant cover crops.
“We were kind of afraid that we didn’t have the moisture to do it,” he admitted. “But, we soon found out that we could actually save water, if we kept something growing on the soil and help rebuild the soil.”
He also discovered that grazing the cover crops in the summer could help to rest his pastures, and with that started a herd of stocker cattle for the purpose of rotational grazing. Once Jackson overcame his anxieties of breaking old habits, he said he came to realize how efficient his new system really is. What inspired his switch to no-till, Jackson says was indeed his first visit to No-Till on the Plains’ Winter Conference.
“I came up here wanting to know how I could make my crops better and I was strictly thinking about inputs,” he said, but explained how his eyes were opened to the many other benefits no-till offered after attending a seminar on how to improve soil’s water infiltration and holding capacity. “That was kind of the aha moment for me. I figured out I had been doing it wrong all my life.”
By implementing his no-till system, Jackson says he has stopped erosion on his land, improved his soil’s health and rejuvenated its biological activity. But, he says perhaps the best thing he has seen that’s improved as a result of no-till farming, is his bottom line.
“We’re still in the beginning phases of it, but yes, that was the goal,” he said. “We’re here to cut costs. That’s the only way I can actually make money is to take something away. I can’t create yield but I can cut cost.”
Jackson’s advice for farmers dealing with similar issues, is to certainly consider no-till as an option. However, he says before you “jump off the bridge, have a plan.” He warns that without one, a farmer may be unprepared for the growing pains that will inevitably occur. The worst thing he says is to put in all the work, only to get scared enough to go back to the plow.
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