Not All Acres are Created Equal: Weller Farms - Taylor County, Iowa

Chase Weller, of Weller Farms in Taylor County, is helping encourage other producers that not all acres should necessarily be farmed.  “Not every acre that is farmed makes money. Just because those acres have been farmed year after year, it doesn’t mean they should be farmed. A farming operation, especially in southwest Iowa, needs diversity to succeed.  The Taylor County WQI program allows the possibility to expand a livestock herd and preserve the soils and encourage a working lands alternative to farming those unproductive acres.” 

Chase and Jess Weller operate Weller Farms, consisting of 1,492 acres.  1,000 acres in corn-soybean rotation, 400 acres in pasture/hay/alfalfa, 92 acres in CRP, and a 150 cow/calf pair operation.   

Their original 120 acres of the farm is over 108 years old and has been recognized as a Century Farm. The rest has gradually been added over the years, specifically the last 30-40 years.  “As a Century Farm, management practices need to happen to help preserve the soil and operation as a whole so it can be successful for the next 100 years.”

Over the years, The Wellers have worked hard to implement conservation practices. They are open to new practices and ideas and encourage soil health.  Their corn-soybean rotation is farmed along the contours and soil samples are taken every 4 years to ensure proper fertilizer is applied (local liquid hog manure applied in the fall). All soybean acres are now no-tilled and corn acres are minimally tilled, if at all.   HEL ground is seeded down to pasture and not farmed.  Through all of their hard work, they recently received the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in 2017.

The soil conservation plan developed several years ago with NRCS is maintained and has recently been updated to include the new WQI project cropland acres being seeded down to pasture and hay.

Weller Farms was one of the first operations to participate in the Taylor County WQI project. Driven by open mindedness, curiosity, and a passion for conservation, it was no surprise they were on board from the beginning.  “When I heard about this program, I knew I wanted to be involved and help advocate the project. It just makes sense to seed down those acres you aren’t making money on.”

When participating in the Taylor County WQI project, Weller provided his combine yield data; it was processed, analyzed, and displayed in AgSolver’s Profit Zone Manager ™ web-based tool. Based on what his yield data revealed, Weller decided to seed down 22 acres to pasture and hay. In doing this, he was able to improve his Return on Investment along with improving soil and nutrient loss.   Soil and tile outlet samples are being taken to monitor any changes throughout this new seeding.

“I hope others will see the benefit of what AgSolver has to show and how it can help in their operations.”  

Will Myers