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More than a Flash-in-the-Pan
Their year of success with cover crops sparked their interest in seeing what else was possible, and the pair became active in the Soil Health Partnership in 2014.
“The big driving force for me with the Soil Health Partnership is that it isn’t a one year flash-in-the-pan,” said Chase. “We will have to do it multiple years to see how this is going to go.”
On the Brown farm, the SHP test plot is laid out in strips 120 feet wide alongside crops grown in a conventional manner without cover crops or no-till. This will allow the SHP and the Browns to compare side-by-side results over a five-year period of the same crops growing in the same field under the same conditions—but using different methods.
“At the end of the five years, hopefully we can say we do have just the right amount of nitrogen in the soil, a good yield bump and improved organic matter in the soil,” said Chase. “I want to see if these claims are true and I want to see it for myself on our land.”
David agrees: “We want to put it to the test. But farming is never a one-year story. We know it won’t be right away. Its going to be a generational thing.”
David says farming is “very aggressive” in Illinois.
“Land is expensive and we pay high cash rents. We believe this research and our investment in it will be worth it to learn how to improve our soil and make it better for the future.”