The HAT Soil Health Podcast: Economic Opportunities Outside the Box

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Ag News, HAT Soil Health Podcast, Indiana Agriculture News, News Feed

Thinking outside the box can lead to economic opportunities, say the guests on the latest episode of the HAT Soil Health Podcast. Hans Schmitz is Conservation Agronomist for the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative and Michael Morrow is a farmer and the executive director of the Indiana Farmers Union 

They dive into adopting climate-smart strategies on the farm, from carbon markets to cover crops.  

Schmitz explains, “There are multiple different things that are considered climate smart, and they all go back to the four soil health principles: minimize disturbance, maximize living roots, maximize soil armor, and then maximize diversity.” 

Michael Morrow standing in hemp field.

Michael Morrow, farmer and Indiana Farmers Union Executive Director, in hemp field

He says that these strategies can reduce volatility and risk, pointing to last year’s growing season. 

Hans Schmitz

Hans Schmitz, Conservation Agronomist for the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative

“Early planting, being able to get canopy closure before we turned dry in June, made a huge difference. Now, if we didn’t plant early, but we had cover crop, maybe the ability to plant green, something like that, you achieved the same effect of reducing direct sunlight hitting the soil surface and reducing how quickly that soil dried out.”   

Morrow says keeping farm income in the area is key.

“When we’re looking at different commodity prices right now, whether it’s corn or bean, you see a lot of volatility in that market place. And when we look at anything to bring income into the farm, whether it’s solar fields or hemp or anything, you want to make sure that that money and that production is staying in and around the area.”  

When it comes to economics and soil health, Morrow encourages farmers to think outside of the box. 

“You’ve got to look at what the industry is doing to your bottom line and saying, ‘How can I do something different on my farm to make sure that the industry’s not impacting my bottom line as much as they can?’ We talk about cover, we talk about different things, but really, what we’re doing is we’re improving the soil health so you don’t have to do as much of spraying, as much of the different things.” 

Click below to hear this episode of the HAT Soil Health Podcast, which was recorded live at the 2022 Indiana Farm Equipment and Technology Expo.

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