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05. Mike Jordan – Growing Cover Crops In Difficult Places

Cover crops

Mike Jordan, a wheat farmer in Kansas, joined the Soil Health Partnership to gain access to expertise and see if he could make cover crops work on his farm after a few years of trying it on his own with only minimal success.

Jordan has long been interested in conservation. During his interview with John Mesko in this podcast, he explains his dad’s interest in conservation that began when he gave up the plow in the early 1960s.  In later years, Jordan says that he was building terraces and waterways long before farm programs required him to.

It stands to reason that he’d also be interested in increasing his soil health.

“I’d like to think that there’s more to improving yields than just waiting on a new variety or using more fertilizer and more inputs.  I’d like to find additional ways to improve things without just doing more and more of the same thing,” Jordan said.

On Jordan’s SHP wheat trial and all over his farm, moisture is the limiting factor.  He’s interested in planting cover crops to understand how they can impact moisture availability for his cash crops by shading the soil during the harsher parts of his growing year.

Mesko is enthusiastic about the project. The two discuss that much of the published cover crop information for farmers to learn from are results from Ohio or Iowa where cover crops are working very well to capture nitrogen and reduce erosion.  Jordan’s looking to cover crops to solve different problems in different areas of the country and hopes to prove success over time.

Mesko shows his excitement when he says, “You definitely have some challenges and that’s what’s exciting about having a research site on your location. We have a lot of examples where farmers are saying, ‘Well it won’t work for me because of this or that,’ but if we can figure out how to make it work at your place, we will have a pretty compelling story to tell.”