SMOOTH OPERATOR. Cover crops interseeded at V4 corn roll out a green carpet for harvest equipment. They help hold heavy machinery, minimizing impact on the soil and making for a smooth, clean harvest that uses less fuel than a harvest spent bogged in the mud. Photo by: John Gibner

Add Covers, Subtract Inputs & Multiply Profits with Systems Approach to No-Till

Multi-species cover crop mix improves soil health, cuts herbicide bill by as much as $83 per acre

 By John Gibner As interviewed by Martha Mintz

A visit to the late David Brandt’s farm in Ohio turned my idea of farming upside down. I was in complete awe of what he was able to achieve. His use of cover crops and other strategies to build a healthy, thriving soil biome allowed him to attain excellent production with minimal commercial inputs. It was a system that made sense financially and ecologically. I was hooked. I was inspired by the visit and immediately determined to turn that inspiration into action on my own operation near Port Elgin, Ontario.

I’ve never been one to wait. I bought my first tractor at an auction at 14, a White 4-150, officially launching my farming career. Throughout my teens and early 20s, I rented farm ground and bought a few heifers from my father to start my herd. My family had 800 acres of owned and rented ground in Cambridge, Ontario. My parents raised cash crops, beef cows and some hogs. I helped them and managed my smaller enterprise at the same time. I bought my first 50-acre farm in 2000 near Paisley. My wife Christy and I bought another 100-acre parcel in 2011 outside of Port Elgin and then another 100-acre farm in 2015.

No-Till Takeaways

  • If something is always green, energy is always being pumped into the soil.
  • Cover crop residue reduces erosion and limits weed, insect, and disease pressure.
  • Visiting other farms can provide multi-generational input on how to improve or…
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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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