Ryan and Carrie Sanders are the owners of Grains and Greens Family Farm, located in Angola, Ind. As the parents of two boys and farmers passionate about sustainability, they are often thinking about the legacy they will leave behind – and that includes soil health.
“If we’re not taking care of the soil now, what’s it going to look like when they take over?” Carrie says, referring to her sons. “We as farmers have a social responsibility – not only to do the best job we can to have the highest yields possible with the fewest inputs possible. We also have a responsibility to care for the natural resources, and that’s really important to us.”
This sense of responsibility to learn and share is a big reason why Grains and Greens Family Farm has collaborated with Soil Health Partnership (SHP) for the past six years. Their trial is focused on the use of cover crops. Using 120-foot strips with cover crops alongside 120-foot strips without cover crops, Ryan and Carrie are evaluating various mixes used year to year and the data measuring the long-term impacts of those rotations.
According to Ryan, the farm is already seeing changes.
“We’re seeing some statistical differences in organic matter. Aggregate stability is a big thing we’re looking at. Also, some of that water retention is something that we’re already starting to pick up in some real numbers and tests.”
SHP helps Ryan and Carrie by providing expertise, data analysis, pictures of their fields and more. And, for Grains and Greens Family Farm, this is only the beginning.
“We’re going to continue keeping this plot just to see what it does in 10 years,” Carrie says. “We’re starting to see differences now, but – in 10 years – I can’t imagine what the differences will be.”