A growing number of farmers and ranchers from across the country are using cover crops and soil health management systems to improve the health and productivity of their soil. You can learn more about how some of these farmers are “Unlocking the Secrets in the Soil" here in Illinois.
Cover Crops Pay
The Bremmer family has farmed land in Northwestern Illinois for 110 years. This fourth generation operation began with Ross Bremmer’s great grandfather in Stephenson County. He has been a key player in their row crop, forage and livestock operation for the last 13 years.
John Carey is a busy man. He has a day job but in his spare time he has transformed 300 eroded acres of degraded land into a profitable grazing operation. How'd he do it? A vision. Good partners. A lot of hard work. And EQIP.
Starting Out Smart
Dahmer Farms, LLC has been no-till farming since 1983. Adam Dahmer, his father, Terry, and younger brother John, farm 1,300 acres in Williamson County, Illinois. This year, they planted cover crops on 75% of their farms. Next year? They will plant 100% of their farms in cover crops.
Old Ideas, Good Ideas
Jack Erisman farms 2,000 acres of farmland in Christian and Shelby Counties. He’s been farming since 1963. Erisman is all about sustainability, ecological issues, and socially acceptable farming techniques. He has found a way to achieve all this and be profitable. His most important tool? Cover crop
Roy Peterson runs a 1,300 acre corn and bean operation in Central Illinois. His parents always had rotations and diverse crops, which included cover crops like oats, hay, pasture and corn. Maybe that’s what prompted Roy to try a little experiment with cover crops.
Not Your Average Joe
What do a Technical Service Specialist at an international aerospace manufacturing corporation and a conservation farmer in Central Illinois have in common? Not much, unless you are Joe Rothermel from Broadlands, IL.
A Brave, Bold Move
Andy Shireman may be the bravest man in Morgan County, Illinois. He’s a true believer. And when Andy believes in something, he completely dives into it. Andy believes in cover crops. Last year he made the big switch on 2,400 acres and went ‘all in.’ And he couldn’t be happier with the results.
Cover Crops Work
Ralph Upton began farming full time in 1964 at age 18. Known locally as “Junior,” Upton currently has 1,800 acres of no-till corn, soybeans, and wheat located in Hamilton County, Illinois. He has used soil conservation solutions for decades and is known locally for his commitment to stewardship.
WANTED: Open-Minded Farmer for Organic-Minded Landlord
When asked what she really wanted to do with the farm, Jaci Davis smiles. “You’re afraid to even say the word ‘organic,’ but that’s what I wanted. My goal was to get away from all the chemicals and rejuvenate the soil. But the word organic was practically taboo around here.”
Farm Improvements Help Local Water Supply
Darrin Thies farms 900 acres in Jackson County, right in the heart of the Kinkaid Lake watershed. With a local effort by landowners and some extra support from USDA, Darrin says his farm will contribute less sediment and fewer nutrients into Kinkaid Lake.
Doing His Part to Make a Difference
Greg and his two brother-in-laws have an outdoor lifestyle that takes them far from the city and into a very special place in Southern Illinois. That lifestyle has given Greg an important role to play in the future of a lake and a drinking water source for about 30,000 southern Illinois citizens.
An Oldie, but a Goodie
In early winter, local producers, soil scientists with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and seed specialists with ProHarvest Seeds held a Cover Crop Field Day in Streator, Illinois to show curious farmers how well cover crops can affect soil quality.
5th Generation Improvements
Russell Wire, now 28, lives in Northwest Illinois. At eight years old, he knew he liked agriculture. His family farming history dates back to 1850, making Russell a fifth-generation farmer who now rents ground from his parents and is building his own sustainable operation.
Conservation, It Must Be Done
Things are always changing in life, especially in agriculture, according to Jefferson County farmer Jerry Seidel. He’s seen changes on the family farm—good, bad, natural, and man-made.
If I can do it here, you can do it anywhere
Cade Bushnell farms 1,200 acres in Northern Illinois in Ogle County. His son Ross farms alongside him, with his own 300 acres and a small livestock operation.
A Different Kind of Farm Expansion
With 640 acres in Central Illinois, Rick and Kathy run a diverse and sustainable farm. They grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and now they have chickens, feeder cows, and sheep.