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Maximizing Solar Efficiency for Higher Profits, Better Soil Health

Gaston, Ind., no-tiller Jason Mauck captures maximum sunlight and carbon through relay intercropping cash crops and cover crops and integrating manure.

On Twitter one day, Jason Mauck revealed that his wife asked him if he thinks in complete sentences or not. “No,” he told her, “it’s more like spectrums — abstract and non-verbal.” Talking with him, he often seems tangential but then manages to knit concepts together, creating a wholistic picture from seemingly disparate parts.

The Constant Canopy system Mauck has implemented on his a 400-acre portion of his farm seems like a natural extension of his thought process. As he looked at the constraints, bottlenecks and hurdles his operation faced, his ideas coalesced. Mauck saw how he could utilize the voluminous amounts of manure created by his operation’s 12,000 hogs while making better use of available water and sunlight to grow crops in somewhat surprising ways.

Like any disruptor worth his salt, he’s heard many times that his ideas won’t work. But year by year he continues to tweak his approach and has zeroed in on a system of polycropping that captures sunlight and carbon while suppressing weeds and managing water and nutrients.

Water, Water Everywhere

After several years of working in landscaping, Mauck came back to his family’s 3,100-acre farm near Gaston in northeastern Indiana and quickly found himself questioning the traditional farming methods…

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Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is managing editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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