Farm Conservation Efforts

Farm Conservation Efforts

Rick Worthington
Rick Worthington
Brian Johnson was just a boy when his dad bucked the trend and adopted no-till farming practices. Now, Johnson is following in his father's footsteps promoting sustainable agriculture.

The Johnson Farm snagged the 2019 Leopold Conservation Award, given to private landowners who practice an ethical relationship with the land.

He says his is one of many no-till farms and it's all part of a bigger farm conservation effort.

One of the big things with this family is, 'Take care of land, it'll take care of us.' So, you have to change your mentality, going from conventional to no-till, 'cause there's gonna be hiccups,” says Brian Johnson. “But I think there's enough resources and enough people doing it nowadays that it's not like you're reinventing the wheel now."

After the family gave up conventional farming and adopted no-till practices, Johnson says it took about five years to see real improvement in the soil.

"It was the way that we could cut costs but still be productive, but also do what's right for the soil,” says Johnson. “It just works. If you've got the right machinery, and the right mindset, you can make it work. And it will work, it'll be profitable."

Johnson acknowledges that no-till isn't the right option for every farm, but the combination of cover crops and a herd of cattle to graze them is the better option for his cropland.

"By growing cover crops, it's another feed source, but it's also a way to just really invigorate the system on your fields,” says Johnson. “And then, having livestock come through, we're finding that we can almost wean ourselves off of commercial fertilizer after a few years, if we do it correctly."

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