Fairfield County farmer Dave Brandt believes in the benefits of cover crops, and the proof is in his soil.
CARROLL, Ohio — The fields that belong to central Ohio farmer David Brandt are easy to spot.
He grows the same crops as most grain farmers: corn, soybeans and some wheat. But when those crops are harvested, his fields look very different.
During the off-season -— fall through early spring — his fields are still growing with plants like sunflowers and radishes, mixed with various kinds of grasses that form a layer of vegetation over his soil.
It’s called cover cropping — and the concept is nothing new. In fact, with all of today’s concerns with water quality and nutrient loss, cover crops are arguably more popular now than ever before.
Brandt, 69, has been using cover crops in his no-till operation since 1978, about five years after he went 100 percent no-till.
He needed a way to break up the soil compaction and, not wanting to go back to tillage, he decided that maybe he could use the root action of cover crops to help break up his soils.
“It seemed to loosen the soil; it eliminated the compaction we were having from the surface,” he said.
His way of farming was criticized at first, he said, and some still don’t understand it.
“They (other farmers) thought we were crazy,” he said. “‘Farming in the weeds — he’ll never make it.’
”In truth, Brandt’s fields do resemble a bit of....(To read more...click the link below):