baling switchgrass

New Market Opens Up for No-Till Switchgrass

Pictured Above: NEW SOLUTION FOR MARGINAL GROUND. While switchgrass is often used for erosion control, grazing or hay, Tennessee-based Genera is now contracting farmers to grow it on marginal ground as biomass that will be made into wood-free compostable food containers and packaging

DIVERSITY is an important concept for no-tillers, both in terms of cropping systems as well as marketing streams. In terms of marketing, many farmers are finding they’re able to boost their bottom lines by finding different avenues for selling the crops they grow instead of selling into the commodities market, like selling grain directly to distilleries or breweries. In terms of adding diversity to cropping systems, studies have shown that growing multiple species in a cropping rotation can improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration.

Putting these two concepts together can be a real win-win for farmers, but rarely does that happen without substantial effort.

Managing Marginal Ground. Perry Philpott and his father, Dale, have embraced both types of diversification on their 2,000-acre farm near Englewood, Tenn., that includes a 200-head cow/calf operation, stocker cattle, Angus bull leasing, pasture where they grow a fescue/orchardgrass mix to feed their cows, as well as about 350 acres of row crops.

Former tobacco farmers, the Philpotts grow soybeans, corn, sweet corn, pumpkins, watermelons and wheat. They use a 6-row Kinze planter to no-till the corn and soybeans into wheat stubble in the spring, usually in March or April. Yields usually average about 150-175 for corn, though Philpott says they sometimes…

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Julia gerlach web

Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is the former Executive 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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