Planting Cover Crops, Improves Soil Function in West Tennessee
Our Profiles of Soil Health Hero number 47 is Brian and Bill Taylor of Hardeman and Madison Counties. It was October 3, 2018 when I met Brian Taylor at the Jackson Fire Department. Brian is a fireman, and he farms with his dad, Bill Taylor. Bill also works off the farm at Jackson Energy Authority (JEA). Their farm is in Hardeman and Madison Counties. As I was interviewing Brian, I was accompanied by field office staffs from both Hardeman and Madison Counties, Brad Denton, District Conservationist and Joey Ferguson, Soil Conservationist, NRCS, Jackson, Tennessee and Adam Willis, District Conservationist and Nearlene Bass, County Soil Conservation Technician, Bolivar, Tennessee. The day was unusually hot for October, reaching the low 90s. Later that day, I met Bill on the farm.
Brian has worked at the Jackson City Fire Department for seven years. He has been farming with his dad for 10 years. The Taylors produce grain crops of corn, wheat, soybeans, and they also produce cotton. Brian is a fourth-generation farmer. He said both of his great-grandfathers farmed. Brian and his dad farm some of the same land that his great-grandfathers farmed. The cropping operation is approximately 1,600 acres. Brian said that they have no-tilled the entire time that he has farmed. Bill began no-tilling about five years prior to Brian joining the operation. Brian says, other than leveling new ground that they obtain, they are 100% no-till. Brian said they obtain many farms that come out of pasture and CRP. From the last few years they would proceed from grass then disk and do-all for leveling and plant no-till for the following 4 years and then transitioned the following 4 years with cover crops.
Their nutrient management consist of soil testing on 2.5 and 5 acres of grids. They hire an agronomist to sample every other year. They apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and lime by variable rate. If prices are lower they apply sometimes by straight rate. For cotton and corn they apply urea in granular form near planting and follow up with 32% liquid nitrogen when cotton germinates and corn is at approximately v-5 to v-6 growth stage. So far, there are no changes with their previous weed and disease control regiment after using cover crops.
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Farmer from Benton County Increases Moisture in Gravely Soils by Growing Cover Crops
I visited the farming operation of Brian Inman on June 28, 2018 along with NRCS District Conservationist, James Woodall. Brian is our Profiles of Soil Health Hero Number 45. Brian farms predominantly in Benton County with a few acres in Decatur County. Brian's grandfather was a share cropper. His dad moved away from Tennessee for work, but moved back to Tennessee in 1960s and began farming. Brian began farming with his dad as a boy and teenager. Brian farms now with his brother, Wade Inman. Brian and Wade worked the ground originally as most farmers did during that time frame. They began experimenting with no-till in the 1990s. Brian previously worked at local Truck Service Center and farmed part-time for many years. He became a full-time farmer in 2002. His farming operation is approximately 2,500 acres.
Brian said that they converted from tillage to no-till due to labor, was easier to plant with more moisture, and to reduce erosion. His planter is an IH vacuum planter with no coulter with lead disk opener. He said it is essential to frequently check the bearings and to keep the disk opener sharp. He uses floating Martin row cleaners. The key, Brian says, is to barely see where row cleaners have been. Too much pressure results in bare soil. Bare soil loses function. On wet soils, he uses a very light pass of Philips harrow to lift crop residue and careful not to disturb soil. Brian uses Yetter closing rubber wheels for firming seed bed.
Read more: Brian Inman