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Brent Bible has practiced no-till farming and the use of cover crops for several years on some of his nearly 3,000 acre farm. But it has been a scattershot approach without measurable results. By joining the Soil Health Partnership, he takes a more disciplined approach, looking for a better understanding of soil health, improvement in his operation’s efficiencies and enhancement of his bottom line.
Growing up on a small farm in Indiana, Brent Bible never saw farming as a career option. He studied Agriculture Economics in college, thinking he would enter an ag-related field. Instead, he ended up as a highway patrolman. After an on-the-job injury and early retirement, Bible found himself “young and wondering what to do.”
“I owned some ground as more of a hobby, and I thought I might play around with that,” he said.
A long-time friend, Brandon Moseley, was just starting in farming, and the two decided to partner up their land and resources and work together. Bible and Moseley formed Stillwater Farms.
Bible takes a strategic approach to farming to improve efficiency and the business’s bottom line. Five years ago, he began using cover crops on several fields. He also implemented precision farming—grid soil sampling and applying fertilizer using GPS.
“We are more precise about fertilizer placement, timing and quantity,” he said. “We don’t want to waste money or harm our soil by applying too much fertilizer.”
Cover crops capture nitrogen left in the soil and help build organic matter in the soil as well. For Stillwater Farms, the practice has its challenges and its payoffs. The cover crop combined with no-till sometimes means Bible has to plant later in the season to allow the soil to warm up and dry out.
“We have tried several different blends of cover crops, looking for the right combination,” he said. “It has had its challenges sometimes, but it has been a good experience overall. Our costs are lower, plus we have less erosion and run-off.”
Bible hopes that with the focus and discipline of the SHP, he will be able to compare and contrast his soil and crop performance and really learn something that makes a difference.
“Being in the partnership will allow me to look at trends over time that improve my soil’s health,” he noted. “It’s a more disciplined approach that forces me to focus on cover crops and no-till over a five-year period.”
Even early in the program, Bible began to see a difference with the cover crop implementation and how his soil looks and behaves.
“We are doing something unique and exciting with the Soil Health Partnership that will keep these fields sustainable and pumping out great yields long beyond my lifetime,” he said.