Success Stories Blaine Baker - Lenawee County | Michigan
Success Stories: Blaine Baker - Lenawee County | MichiganShared Top Border
Michigan Success Story
Blaine Baker – Lenawee County
As a long-time director on the Lenawee Conservation District board, Blaine Baker practices what he preaches.
“There’s only so much land, we have the responsibility to maintain or improve it before we pass it on to the next generations,” said Baker.
Baker farms 1,600 acres and has a 400-cow dairy operation. Baker’s involvement with NRCS continued from when his father ran the operation. He has implemented a variety of erosion control practices on his farm and updated his waste storage facilities.
“He would be kind of the model for implementing conservation in production agriculture in this area,” said Tom Van Wagner, NRCS district conservationist for Lenawee County.
Every conservation concern on his operation is addressed, Van Wagner said. NRCS has worked with Baker to install cover crops, grassed waterways and other erosion control practices. Anytime he adds land to his operation Baker has made addressing any conservation concerns a priority, said Van Wagner.
Baker also is an innovator, constantly looking at new technology that will improve production and conservation. He was one of the early users of no-till in his area and today uses no-till on all of his farm land. In the late 1980’s many Lenawee County farmers were becoming discouraged with no-till after six or seven years and returning to conventional tillage. This led Baker and other no-till supporters to organize the Lenawee County Center for Excellence.
The Center for Excellence allows producers to research and develop new methods of production while at the same time maintaining the highest level of conservation. New technologies and practices are tested locally under real farming conditions and the results are shared with area farmers. Baker has been hosting the Center for Excellence’s annual field day for several years.
Baker offered land for use in test plots comparing results from different methods of tillage. Over eight or nine years of test plots the no-till corn has come out on top in production six times, said Baker. The Center for Excellence results demonstrate to farmers that no-till is viable, especially with higher fuel costs.
Although most farmers in his area now only use no-till for their soybeans, Baker continues to exclusively use no-till. “We don’t see that it’s hurting us,” said Baker.
Baker also received a conservation innovation grant from NRCS to test a sub-irrigation system utilizing liquid waste from his dairy operation. The system uses a constructed wetland and a sub-irrigation system to treat liquid waste. The system was completed in 2005 and has resulted in increased yields while effectively treating dairy wastewater.
Liquid waste from the dairy operation and silage leachate is kept separate and stored in a separate waste storage facility. From there the waste goes to a two-celled constructed wetland for initial treatment and then sent through a sub-irrigation system covering about 20 acres of farmland. The water and nutrients in the wastewater benefit the crops which remove nutrients from the water before it is released. So far the results have been encouraging for treating the waste and increasing crop yields on the irrigated acres.
As long as Baker farms, he will no doubt look for better ways of farming that also help the land.