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No-Till and Cover Crops from a Farmer's Point of View

Posted by Kate Zook, USDA Office of the Chief Economist in Conservation
Apr 23, 2015

Jamie Scott participated in a roundtable on climate change and agriculture with USDA Secretary Vilsack in East Lansing, Michigan on April 23rd, 2015. Mr. Scott is the Chairman of the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District and currently serves as the Vice-President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Alongside my father Jim, I operate JA Scott Farms. Together we grow approximately 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Kosciusko County, Indiana. One-hundred percent of those acres are planted using a no-till conservation cropping system that incorporates cover crops every winter.

We use this approach to take advantage of the soil health benefits of no-till and cover crops. We have higher yields, richer soil, and improved water holding capacity. I am also encouraged that these practices can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. We have found that these benefits outweigh the added expense of labor and cover crop seeds.

Once I realized the benefits of no-till and cover crops, I decided to try and spread the word to my fellow farmers. I host cover crop and soil health field days at my farm on a regular basis. In 2014, I spoke at the National Cover Crops and Soil Health conference in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 2012, I decided to turn my passion into a separate business by starting a turn-key cover crop service called Scott’s Cover Crops. We serve over 400 farmers in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, providing cover crop seed for over 100,000 acres and cover crop planting on over 50,000 acres. We constantly try to expand our knowledge and understanding of the benefits and challenges of cover crops, planting a variety of different test plots to calibrate the best seeding rates and mixes.

What is right for soil health and cover crops in my part of the country is not the right prescription everywhere. I encourage producers to work with their local USDA office or soil conservation district to learn about the best way to improve soil health in their area.

Learn more about Jamie Scott by watching this short video profile.

Category/Topic: Conservation