Brian is a 6th generation farmer from Washington County. Brian farms with his son Mitchell and the Hora family have been practicing no-till since 1978 and cover crops since 2013. Brian is involved with Agriland FS, Growmark and is on the farmer advisory board for OCP. He also has the state soybean yield championship belt and, along with his son, has been deemed "soil health champions" by the National Association of Conservation Districts.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
Our primary focus is to improve soil and water quality by utilizing cover crops. This is our third year of cover cropping the entire farm, other than a couple of check strips. We are enhancing our cover crops by increasing application rates, diversifying with multiple species ahead of corn, and prolonging the impacts by planting corn and soybeans green. Late termination of covers in soybeans and relay cropping with rye and soybeans also provide great soil and water improvements.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
Our area has good adoption of cover crop usage. There are still many that can start, or restart, now that they see neighbors' success. Those using cover crops could stretch to planting green, using rye as a weed control system, and more commitment on the same acres year to year. Multiyear impacts on soil water and crop consistency are dramatic with well-planned cover crop use.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
Some of the better funding/ acre cost-share programs available statewide include a participation limit on acres. Funding for more acres, stacking some programs, and maybe even an enhanced stacked payment for non-farming landlords and the farm operator would build more awareness. Enhanced funding for extended cover crop growth periods and covers where high levels of biomass are left on the field to build soil and protect water quality also need more support.