Farming with: brothers Derek and Rob and staff
Working on: awesome Huron county soil
How have you been making progress on your farm?
“We’ve been strip-tilling for five years now. We got into it for economic reasons but there are so many other benefits we’re getting. I feel like I’m losing problems. I’ve got neighbours that are spraying for bugs and everything but I don’t have to. “
“The first year with strip tillage was a bit of a struggle but now we wonder why we didn’t do it 20 years ago, it makes farming so much simpler. The technology has come so far now that it is a lot easier to get on to something like this than it was years ago. Aside from economics, we’ve noticed improvements in the soil as well and so I keep getting more interested in that. Coupled with cover crops, organic matter levels are climbing faster than we thought possible and that’s rewarding. In this field, organic matter levels have gone from 4.3 to 4.7% in the last five years. Our yields are on the rise, so that’s encouraging as well.”
What does success look like to you?
“A decent goal, as a farmer, is to be able to withstand an economic downturn. I feel that soil health and economic sustainability have a parallel line here. With poor soil, you’ll always be at the mercy of the weather and markets. With this system, we’re cutting back our nitrogen rates successfully, reducing fuel, labour and equipment costs so we’re saving on inputs. We can weather the markets… and the weather. We’re glad we are where we are today and look forward to a future with this system. “
Any advice to other farmers?
“Test your soil often. If your organic matter isn’t going up, you’re going backwards.”
~ Rick Kootstra