Gary Johnson from Emerson, Iowa is taking cover crops and soil health to the next level

Gary Johnson from Emerson, Iowa is taking cover crops and soil health to the next level.  On Thursday, July 12th he harvested his first thirty-acre field of wheat.  The wheat yielded an estimated 100 bushel to the acre and was hauled to Hancock for a price of $5.50 per bushel.  Gary says, “That’s easy math….good for the pocket book as well as the soil!”.  Gary plans on leaving the wheat straw in the field because his soil needs the carbon.  In two weeks, Gary will spray the field with roundup and plant a diverse soil building cover crop mix which he plans to paddock off with hot wire and mob graze throughout the fall.  Grazing will not only build organic matter, it will also return nutrients to the soil.  Gary doesn’t foresee needing much nitrogen next year when the field goes back to corn.

Over the past five years Gary has experimented with cover crops on his farms and believes in them whole heartedly, planting over 300 acres every year in the Walnut Creek Watershed as a part of the Water Quality Initiative project,.  This year, along with his wheat, Gary planted cereal rye which he will harvest and use for cover crop seed on his own land.  If the rye yields like the wheat, it won’t take many acres to supply seed for his 300 acres this fall.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service recommends flying on Cereal rye or wheat at a seeding rate of 1 bushel per acre.  This equates to him only needing to raise rye on three acres to supply all his cover crop needs this fall!  This makes sense all the way around: financially, logistically, and is great for the soil.

Congratulations to Gary for leading the way and not being afraid to try new things to better his land.  His soil will return the favor!

Will Myers