“We’re learning so much from it,” said Brown. “When the opportunity presented itself, I thought ‘we have to do this’. It’s a learning opportunity for us and if you don’t learn, you’re standing still.”
Brown is involved in the Conservation Stewardship Program with the USDA in addition to the Soil Stewardship Program and says the stewardship program is a true partner in the research and data collection that comes out of the field trials.
When asked about what he looked to gain from the program, Brown said, “I hope to find out that we should have been doing this all along. This is not new.” As a young child he asked his father why there were drilling alfalfa seed on a certain field. Even then, he was hearing words like fertility, soil health, and other benefits like getting a crop off as well with cover crops. “I hope we find out that this is what we should have been doing all along; improving our assets.”
Central Illinois land values have climbed over $13K/acre and Brown offered a unique look at why farmers should place value on soil health in their operations. “Where the farmstead sits, that 80 acres is worth over $1M. When you get your envelope from the stockbroker every month you open that to see how your stocks and assets did. Every day we on television we hear how NASDAQ and Dow Jones are doing, yet we walk across that farm and we don’t think about what is underneath our feet and the asset that is there. How am I taking care of that? Am I improving it? Am I making it worth that 13K/acre? It’s an asset, and I’m here to learn if this is what we need to be doing,” he explained.
Brown emphasized that the partners in the Soil Stewardship Program are knowledgeable and more than willing to share their experiences and information. David encouraged growers to try a few acres if they were unsure. “Just see what you can do. It’s kind of fun to watch things green at a time of year when things shouldn’t be green.”
Learn more in this interview: Interview with David Brown, Illinois Farmer