Last year at Commodity Classic, John Maxwell was introduced to the idea of soil health. From there, he became excited about it and signed up to become a demo farmer with the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) to learn how cover crops could impact the soil on his farm.
Years ago, Maxwell originally got into cover crops years ago to feed his cattle and livestock.
With approximately 4000 acres to farm, a robotic dairy milking 250 jersey cows where they also make their own cheese, raising beef cattle and hogs, and have chickens, Maxwell’s operation is definitely unique. They offer tours of their farm operations with over 1500 kids, 1500 visitors from the US, and 3000 foreigners visiting each year. Participating in the SHP project is beneficial for Maxwell, but it’s also beneficial for the Partnership to get one of their research fields in front of a lot of people ready to ask questions.
“Soil Health Partnership has helped me become aware of all the possibilities I can receive from cover crops,” Maxwell explained. “One of the things I’m really interested in is composting. Taking that manure with the carbon, such as the cornstalks,and mixing that together to have a better product to put out on the field at times when it would be most advantageous to the crop.”
Maxwell grows high production corn, typically 250-300 bu/ac, leaving a large amount corn stover in the field. He’s left asking how he can get a really good stand of cover crop with a high density of residue in the field. Maxwell has chosen this as his focus area during his field trials with the Soil Health Partnership.
For more from Maxwell’s interview: Interview with John Maxwell, Iowa Farmer