And How We Grow It
Our corn fields start each year with soil samples taken from each zone in a given field. These zones are created and tweaked based on similar agronomic properties such as soil type, topography, electroconductivity and historical yield. Those sample results are then run through a model which is translated into a prescription for the needed fertilizer. Each zone very often needs widely varying nutrients, so in this way we ensure we only put fertilizer where it is needed to reduce waste.
Next our cover crops are removed to make way for the corn planter, taking special care to never till or work land. We plant around 20 different varieties of corn, making sure each variety is well suited for the type of land. We take advantage of precision technology to provide perfect seed placement and not waste any seeds.
Once planted, we pay close attention to the growing plants. We monitor the growth, watch for noxious weeds, harmful bugs, and debilitating diseases. We want to make sure the plant and the soil has everything it needs to be healthy.
Lastly, when the time is right, we harvest our crop. This takes a couple months and culminates with the majority of the corn stored in grain bins on our farm. The grain is hauled to local buyers throughout the next few months. These fields are immediately planted back in cover crops which will grow all winter and keep soil biology active.
Our soybean crop begins much like our corn. Every acre is fertilized based on each field's individual needs. We make sure to only put what is needed, where it is needed.
After our cover crop has reached maturity, we plant one of our dozen soybean varieties chosen to best suit our climate and agronomic profiles of the soil. No tillage is needed, and, like the corn planter, our soybean planter is designed for precise placement of seeds to minimize waste.
Soybeans, by their nature, need to be monitored closely. In our area, certain weeds and plant fungus pose a challenge to control. We spend a lot of time in the summer checking and scouting fields, so we can stay timely with any applications.
As fall approaches, we harvest the soybeans and haul them to our grain bins. They are air cooled and dried to a specific moisture content so they can be hauled to a processing facility in the coming months. These soybean fields will be corn fields next year, so soil sampling and planting cover crops happen as soon as we harvest.
Our cattle are a big part of what we do. We focus on quality genetics, meaning certain breed crosses that work well for our land and produce healthy, resilient calves.
We operate on a semiannual schedule where only half of our cows have calves at a time. This allows us to take greater care of our animals and the pasture they call home. Our pastures are treated much like our crop land. We soil sample and fertilize only as needed, relying mostly on a natural nutrient cycle of animals grazing.
We strive to treat our animals with patience and respect. We don't like to see them stressed nor do we give growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. In the winter, we let groups of cattle graze the growing cover crop wherever possible so both crops and cattle work together to bolster each other.
All of our animals are GAP (Global Animal Partnership) level 4 certified. We take pride in the way we treat our animals and the way we are able to foster a wholistic approach across our acres.
Our barley is grown as a specialty product. In our area only higher elevation, well draining soil grows barley well. We pick a set of 100 acres of well suited land, and as soon as the previous crop is harvested we begin preparing the land to plant barley.
Barley is a relatively uncommon crop in southern middle TN so variety selection is important. We plant a variety specifically suited for malting and plant it at the optimum seeds per acre to produce high quality barley.
Barley grows all winter and is harvested the following summer. Throughout the growing season, we check on the crop to make sure it is not experiencing any threats that might reduce quality.
Like our other grains, after harvest it is stored on site and after a few months in storage is hauled to a malt house where it will be transformed for use by brewers and distillers around the southeast.
Wheat is among the most commonly grown crop around the world. We typically grow two hundred acres for grain and hay. Wheat performs well on the same type of land as barley and we treat it largely the same.
We plant it in the fall after a corn crop, and monitor it throughout the winter. In the spring we make sure there is no fungus or insect pressure and harvest it just as summer begins.
After harvest, our wheat is stored and sold to local facilities that process it further. However, we keep a portion for ourselves to sow with our cover crop especially if our cattle are going to be grazing it during the next winter.