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There is a lot of talk these days about the power of “influencers” – people on social media that drive conversation and action. For Bryan Boyle, though, being a positive influence in the community was important long before the arrival of Instagram.

Bryan is the manager of Deerfield Farms in Deerfield, Ohio and is also active with their sister company, Deerfield Ag Services, which provides inputs and other agricultural supplies to local farmers.

 

According to Bryan, the two businesses are symbiotic. Deerfield Ag Services can focus on providing high-quality products and expertise to its farmer clients, while the farm can try out new practices and products before offering them to customers. By experimenting with new approaches on the farming operation, the team brings leadership and influence to their neighbors and community members – assuring that every recommendation is made with confidence.

In 2015, Deerfield Farms began working with Soil Health Partnership in an on-farm research project. Bryan took this leap on the recommendation of a colleague who pushed him out of his comfort zone and encouraged him to try new practices that were working for other farms similar to theirs.

“We decided to take part in SHP because we wanted to see economics over the long term to see how soil health is beneficial to us. Changes in the soil take time and we think we need to be in it for the long term,” said Bryan.

The Deerfield Farms SHP plot is looking at long-term no-till and cover crop practices versus vertical tillage and no cover crop production systems. In addition to evaluating the economics of the conservation approaches, they also want to be part of creating solutions for the water quality issues facing Ohio over the last few years.  

Now, five years later and having signed a new five-year contract with SHP, they are grateful for the partnership via expertise, some cost sharing, and assistance teaching other farmers about their results. Collaborating with SHP has only expanded Deerfield Farms’ ability to influence farmers in their area to consider less tillage and more cover crops.

“We, as growers, feel responsible. We are stewards of the land that we farm, so we obviously feel responsible for leaving it better than how we found it and we want it to continue being efficient and profitable for future generations,” said Bryan.