Soil Health Track
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
OACD State Meeting
Embassy Suites Downtown/Medical Center
$100 Registration for one-day Soil Health Track and lunch
Tuesday session offers 4 CEUs for Soil & Water Management and Crop Management
Cotton Plant, Arkansas
Adam is a fourth-generation farmer, operating 8,000 acres in partnership with his brother, Seth Chappell. Following in their father’s footsteps, the Chappell brothers farm cotton, corn, soybeans and rice. They have also re-introduced livestock to their operation to complete the regenerative farming circle.
Adam returned to the family farm in 2005 after attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree in botany from Arkansas State University and a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Arkansas. While in college, he developed an interest in research and ecological principles that led him to question the conventional methods of farming. Recognizing the shrinking margins in southern row crop agriculture, Adam looked for a way to cut costs through cultural means. This combined with the need to control herbicide resistant weeds, such as palmer amaranth, led to experimenting with cover crops and a passion for soil health. They now have 7,000+ acres planted to covers and utilize a no-till system. The change from conventional tillage and traditional southern row crop farming to no-till and covers has allowed them to maintain top yields in the area and reduce input costs significantly.
Adam believes that the most dangerous phrase in our language is “We’ve always done it this way.” With this mindset, he continues to try new things and push the envelope of no-till and cover crops.
Steve spent his childhood summers working on his grandfather’s farm, and after college returned to the farm, which had been a strictly wheat and summer fallow operation. Steve began to integrate eco-fallow corn, as well as adding proso millet and no-till into the operation. After seeing the effectiveness and efficiency of these ever-changing farming practices, additional crops were added to diversify the rotation. Sunflowers, hay millet, oats and the recent addition of field peas are now part of the farm’s no-tillage rotation.
The transition of the farm away from conventional methods of tillage to a complete no-till system was not easy. Adding new technology, after 70 years with the same methods, came with a steep learning curve. Steve studied and experimented along with his grandfather to find methods that worked on the farm that only averages 14 inches of moisture a year. It didn’t take long to see that no-till farming practices were going to help increase efficiency, soil quality, reduce erosion and increase the bottom line. Steve is passionate in sharing his story of how he discovers opportunity and a unique method of marketing his products. Prepare to think differently after listening to Steve's presentation.
Forester and Wildlife Biologist
Dan serves on the staff of Delta F.A.R.M. (Farmer’s Advocating Resource Management), a nonprofit conservation organization representing over 300 farmers and 1.3 million acres in Northwest Mississippi, where his work involves advancing sustainable agricultural systems through on-farm research trials and demonstrations. His approach is characterized by the goal of maintaining or improving profitability and production while practically integrating principles of soil health and regenerative agriculture into farm scale production systems. Prevost is also a partner in PO Farms, a grass-based cattle operation in central Mississippi. Dan and his wife Jessica, along with their two children, reside near Leland where they are members of First Baptist Church and active supporters of music and arts in the community.
Brendon raises specialty potatoes and quinoa on 500 acres under irrigation at 7,600 feet above sea level using a biotic approach. Brendon chooses to use biological inputs like companion crops, livestock, green manure and flowering strips instead of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Biotic management supports a healthy, diverse pollinator population as well as a healthy farm and healthy consumers.
Rockey Farms has received multiple environmental stewardship and conservation awards for its biotic practices. In 2016, the National Association of Conservation Districts named him a Soil Health Champion.
State Conservation Agronomist
Lee previously served as NRCS state conservation agronomist for Mississippi. He has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a master’s degree in plant, soil and environmental science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. In addition to his work with USDA, he manages his own row crop farm in Lee County, Arkansas.
“Southern farmers cannot simply rely on the tried and proven management techniques that the Midwest employs to manage cover crops and improve soil health,” said John Lee, USDA NRCS state agronomist in Arkansas. “Conditions in the South are different, and we need to plan to improve soil health according to southern agricultural farming practices and conditions farmers are facing here in the South.”