When Wayne Scholljegerdes started farming in 2013, like many farmers he was forced to take prevented plant due to the wet spring. Prevented planting provisions in insurance policies can provide coverage when extreme weather prevents expected plantings. With no crop planted that spring, Wayne decided to try his hand in the fall with cereal rye cover crops. Cover crops have been part of his crop rotation ever since.
Wayne saw the benefits of having year-round coverage on his soil and has since expanded his soil health practices, including:
- Integrating cover crops on all his acres. He started with cereal rye but has diversified the species, with about five-to-seven species planted each year now.
- Grazing his cattle in the fall on his cover crops, which reduces feed costs and helps fertilize the soil.
- Using no till practices, which keep nutrients in the soil and reduce labor and equipment costs.
The biggest hurdle has been waiting for warm enough weather in the spring to terminate the cover crops, but the health and wellness of Wayne’s soil far outweighs the challenges. Water used to sit in certain places in the field but it now infiltrates much quicker into the soil, an improvement Wayne attributes to cover crops and no till practices. The healthier soil has also led to healthier crops, decreasing chances of disease.
Wayne advises farmers who are curious about these practices to try planting cover crops on a few acres first to see how it goes.
Hilltop Farm is an 100-acre dairy operation with about 50 heads of cattle. The name “Hilltop Farm” was coined by Wayne’s father because the farm is on higher ground compared to the area around it.
Conservation practices at work
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Talk to Wayne
Want to know more about how Wayne made changes on his farm? Contact him to learn more about cover crops, prescribed grazing, and no till practices on his farm.
Connect with technical experts
Learn more about these practices and financial and educational resources available to make changes on your farm. Contact Eric Gulbransen of the Steele Soil Water and Conservation District at 507-451-6730 ext. 3
Learn more about what other farmers in the region are doing to build soil health by exploring the rest of the tour.