For Kevin Ross, soil conservation is about more than helping the environment today – it is also a priority to ensure that his farm will stay productive long into the future. He hopes his young sons will continue his family’s long-term interest in agriculture and their Western Iowa operation. As an enrolled farmer in the Soil Health Partnership, Kevin takes part in measuring the economic and environmental outcome of his soil conservation practices, which he believes will help his farm stay productive and profitable for years to come.
“We want to protect water, soil and air, and grow more with less. And, if we can make our business more profitable through sustainability – that’s a win for all of us,” he says.
Kevin is a sixth-generation family farmer from Minden, Iowa, where he and his family grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and operate a 140-head cow/calf operation.
Kevin grows corn almost exclusively using no-till methods. Over the past several years, he has also used different cover crops to prevent soil erosion, take up extra nitrogen and phosphorous in the field and provide forage for the cattle.
“As with growing any new crop on the farm, cover crops have a learning curve, but the important thing is to get started, even if it is just a small area,” he says. “Cover crops are part of my long-term strategy for soil health because I recognize that visible changes will take time to understand and evaluate. We are hoping they come with profitable outcomes as well.”