NET GAIN. Having wheat in the rotation opens a slot for a multi-species diverse cover crop on Ben and Grant Moest’s Winslow, Ill., farm. The practice may not seem profitable when only considering 1 year of the rotation, but a longer-term, more comprehensive evaluation reveals value added to the subsequent crop in nutrients and long-term soil health improvements. Both can reduce the need for applied input and build a more resilient farm. Ben Moest

Rapid Management Changes Prioritize No-Till, Soil Health

Farm's “re-diversification” includes going entirely no-till, adding wheat, focusing on soil health & adopting cover crops

I’m not the patient type. My brother Grant has more patience, but he’s not slow to act. If a farming practice makes sense to him, he’s game to implement it. As a result, we’ve been highly aggressive in the changes we’ve made since buying the equipment and grain operations of our family’s Winslow, Ill., farm

In the brief time since our joint return in 2019, we’ve switched to all non-GMO crops, seed cover crops to every acre, added wheat to the rotation and transitioned to full no-till from a mixed no-till/strip-till system. Our driving goals are profitability first with conservation as a close second, although the two goals are well intertwined. 

Achieving diversification — or, more accurately, re-diversification — is critical to meet both goals. Our father’s generation was encouraged to specialize. USDA Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s famous words of “get big or get out” was the message that many farmers have followed since 1973. Pick one commodity and grow very large. It worked. Our father started with a 50-sow farrow-to-finish business model. He grew that business to 5,200 sows and finished 130,000 pigs per year for more than 30 years. Specialization is a business model that has run its course in my opinion. Our generation’s challenge is to re-diversify. The boom-and-bust cycle of having just one commodity is too risky with sky-high input costs. It’s not a direction in which we wanted to continue. 

Check The Specs...

NAME: Ben & Grant Moest

LOCATION: Winslow, Ill.

ACRES: 2,800


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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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