Andrew and Jeff Reuschel of Reuschel Farms in Golden, Illinois grow primarily corn and soybeans on 1,200 acres, some of the same acres that have been in their family for five generations. The family first experimented with cover crops and no-till in the 1970s, then again in the early 1990s. Now, 20 years later, they are returning to cover crops and no-till practices across their farm.
Since 2016, Andrew has tried about 30 different cover crop species at various planting dates to reach specific goals. He is especially interested in growing cover crop “cocktails,” a mix of varieties that often includes buckwheat, cereal rye, clover, and radishes. The cocktail mix provides diversity that Andrew likes to see in his soil ecosystem.
The father-son team joined the Soil Health Partnership in 2017 to gain a better understanding of the effects of cover crops on their farms’ soil. Since using cover crops, they report much less soil erosion, but the Soil Health Partnership will help them understand the impact on their operation through scientifically collected data. The partnership also supports the Reuschels in learning best management practices and agronomic techniques specific for their farming goals.
“We’ve been here for five generations,” Andrew said. “We’re looking to have another five generations to be on this farm, and so we’re putting our soil first and yield second, and hopefully our soil will come back and repay us, as well as future generations.”