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Name: Benjamin & Mikayla Tabert and David & Peggy Miller
Farm Name: Trinity Creek Ranch Inc.
Location: Red Lake Falls, Minnesota
Year Joined SHP: 2019
Type of Operation:
Mikayla and her husband Benjamin are the third generation of Trinity Creek Ranch, which her grandparents started in 1952. They farm alongside her parents, David & Peggy Miller. Together, they have a cow-calf operation that consists of 150 beef cows along with a small feedlot. Their diverse grain operation includes raising corn, soybeans, wheat, peola (field peas grown with canola), alfalfa, turfgrass, cereal rye and sunflowers. They also sell forage and cover crop seed.
Views on Soil Health:
The family enjoys experimenting with new practices and constantly challenges themselves to find ways to improve soil health and profitability. This often leads to fun internal competition about what they should try next with each family member having their own idea. Currently, they are considering testing 60-inch corn to increase interseeded cover crop growth and growing corn with interseeded cover crops for winter grazing that will not be harvested. They plan to continue to reduce the use of strip-till in order to become 100% no-till, expand their use of complex cover crops for grazing and to grow multiple crops together through polycrops and relay cropping.
Reason for Joining the Soil Health Partnership:
Trinity Creek Ranch has been involved in hosting local wheat organization trials. The family believes cover crops improve soil health and profitability so they wanted additional help collecting data to prove the practice and track changes in the soil. They would like to see fellow farmers adopt conservation practices, so they plan to use their data and experience to encourage others to consider utilizing cover crops.
Trials Partnered with SHP:
The trial on Trinity Creek Ranch is cover crops versus no cover crops. In 2019, they tested a 14 species cover crop mix that was interseeded into the corn at the v4 growth stage. The trial will last 5 total growing seasons, using a rotation of other crops. Cover crops will be used in the treatment strips every year. Soil sampling is being done on one-acre grids to track changes in the soil.
Other Soil Health Practices Being Implemented:
David started no-tilling and strip-tilling in the early ’90s to reduce soil erosion and increase organic matter. In 2012 he began utilizing cover crops. The ranch uses cover crops on almost all their non-perennial crop acres. They also strip graze cover crops for improved profitability in their beef herd and to improve the health and fertility of the soil through livestock integration.
Advantages Experienced Using New Soil Health Practices:
While they have not yet recorded a change in organic matter, water infiltration has improved. They have seen a decreased need for weed control and inorganic fertilizer, which has increased profitability. Fields that are long term strip-till/no-till are consistently yielding better with fewer inputs. They have also been able to graze their cattle outside much longer, improving their feed efficiency and saving time hauling manure.