Many farmers would look at Jason Lay’s operation in Bloomington-Normal, Ill. and count him as one of the lucky ones. Rich, productive soils. Supportive landowners. Neighbors who are interested in what he’s doing on his farm. But, according to Jason, that doesn’t mean he can get complacent.
“I’ll just start it off by saying this isn’t our grandfather’s farm anymore. It’s not cows and plows. We’re a lot more complex. We’ve got a lot more technology. We’ve got a lot more tools at our disposal,” he said in this conversation with SHP Senior Director John Mesko on The People of Soil Health Podcast. “And with that said, our consumers are a lot more educated as well. So we not only need to be telling our story – [we need to be] doing the right things and being sustainable to make sure that we’re leaving the ground in a lot better place than when we found it.”
For Jason, that means implementing conservation practices like no-till and strip-till, as well as working with Soil Health Partnership on a cover crop trial. Throughout all of his approaches, he’s looking for ways to feed a crop and build soil health most efficiently.
“The main reason behind the strip-till is to band the nutrients and be absolutely as efficient as I can possibly get with where I put those nutrients. And I don’t want that corn plant trying to search for its groceries per se,” he shared. And when it comes to his SHP trial, “What I’m trying to do is basically analyze, through the use of cover crops: is it changing the soil health of that field relative to what would have been my more conventional practices?”
Jason knows he’s fortunate, which is why he continues to invest in improving his land and making the most of what he has.
“I use a very simple motto: do more with less. It’s so simple, but yet it’s so true. Why do you need to make your life any more complex than it already is? I have to wear I don’t know how many hats throughout the course of the year and I needed to learn how to do more with less.”
To listen to Jason’s and John’s full discussion, check out The People of Soil Health Podcast in the player above or subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.