AUTO FEED. A diverse cover crop mix that includes multiple legumes, brassicas and grass species provides steady nutrition to the following cash crop as they break down. Legumes release nitrogen roughly 2 weeks after termination, while cereal rye holds fast to protect the soil and provide a later flush of nutrients. Photo: Aaron Krueger

Planting Green Consistently Delivers $100 of Fertility to Next Crop

No-tiller builds on family’s conservation tradition with addition of cover crops

“God has made a good Earth, and it’s my responsibility to help protect what God has given us.” That was a quote from my great-grandfather, Walter Krueger, in an article written about him when he was named Indiana Master Farm Conservationist in 1994. This quote defines the culture of conservation that has run strong in our family for generations

Our farm in Owensville, Ind., was home to the first Water and Sediment Control Basins (WASCOB) in our county. My grandfather, Ronald, and his father installed grass waterways, filter strips along ditches, drop box structures, gradient terraces and grade stabilization structures. They used every mechanical conservation practice available. 

No-till was also implemented by my great-grandfather and father. My father was in the process of taking over the farm when he passed away in 2011. My grandfather couldn’t continue farming on his own at the end of the 2012 season and had to lease out our land until I returned from college. Our tenant didn’t have the desire to use no-till or cover crops to the level our family had been using those practices. As a result, our land had a brief pause from the aggressive conservation practices we would have preferred. But as promised, the keys to the tractor were waiting for me when I graduated from Purdue University in fall 2018.

I was eager to take them and implement the farming strategies I’d developed on a small acreage over the years. Starting in high school, I was given the responsibility…

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Martha mintz new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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