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December 29, 2023
Regenerative ag and soil health have been hot topics in agriculture for many years now, and the uptick in adoption of sustainable farming practices proves it is more than a mere trend. Farmers who plant cover crops and reduce tillage on their operations are seeing a wide spectrum of benefits and a boost in profitability.
Yet, implementation of these practices is unique to individual fields and varies by region. Without the right support, introduction of regenerative practices can be net negative as farmers attempt it through trial-and-error.
Now, there is a company taking a regionalized, precision-level approach to help farmers accelerate the transition toward regenerative ag, and they are based right here in the Mississippi Delta.
Vayda was established in 2020, and their team is diversified and interdisciplinary with over 100 years of combined experience in agronomy and farm operations. The company maintains a farmer-first objective and works directly with producers to identify regenerative practices that work on their farms and align those practices to meet specific production goals.
Timothy Bradford Jr., (T.J.) is the director of agronomy at Vayda with a passion for precision agriculture and conservation. As a fifth-generation farmer with a lifetime of experience in Midsouth ag, Bradford understands that regenerative agriculture is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
“At Vayda, we create a regen transition plan for farmers based on the needs of their operation and the resources and equipment they have to meet those needs,” he said. “Practicality is key in the transition process, and we want to influence regenerative practices that are both sustainable and practical at the same time.”
To ensure that recommended practices are suitable to the regional production system, Vayda farms several thousand acres in the Mississippi Delta which allows them to prove their practices at-scale where their customers are.
Bradford said, “We are farming the land to be profitable. This is also where we conduct research that ranges from small plots up to full-scale trials to verify these practices work before we recommend them to farmers.”
Vayda agronomists quantify the ground truth data through soil sampling and testing, precision agriculture, and use of the Cool Farm Tool software. This verifies the feasibility and effectiveness of practices before recommending them to Midsouth farmers.
Producers can start or advance their regenerative journeys by teaming with Vayda to take advantage of the agronomic services the company offers.
The program begins with a full-farm diagnostic assessment to better understand the current state of the operation. This includes factors like field history, crop rotation, soil sampling, and environmental elements that impact production acres.
Diagnostic data is then used as a baseline to create a farm-level conversion plan, keeping production goals in mind while transitioning the farm toward regenerative practices. For producers interested in a more intense, precision-level approach, Vayda can customize field-level management plans to prescribe cover crops, tillage, and variable rates.
Once the plan is set, Vayda specialists are available for on-the-ground support. This ongoing technical support includes implementation, field monitoring, and in-season adjustments to help ensure the success of the regenerative transition.
Vayda understands there is an up-front expense and risk associated with adopting regenerative practices, and they are available to help navigate the intricate details. In addition to agronomic recommendations, Vayda can also connect farmers to government grant incentives and cost-share opportunities to alleviate expenses associated with implementation.
Alinga Jiang, strategy and operations manager at Vayda said, “One thing we have seen with some of these incentives is they provide the dollars but not necessarily the agronomic expertise or support in making that transition.
“That is the gap Vayda is trying to fill,” she added. “Even though the dollars are there, we want to make sure that growers are able to implement these practices successfully so that longer term they are incentivized through soil health improvements and profitability on their farms.”
Vayda started partnering with growers in 2023 on over 20,000 acres and has already received a great response to their program offerings. Jiang said, “We have had tremendous enthusiasm from farmers. They resonate with our message, and the response we have seen proves that farmers in the Delta are looking to regenerative practices to remedy issues like soil health, soil moisture preservation, drainage issues, and profitability.”
Vayda is looking to expand the number of growers they are working with this year. If you are interested in participating, you can reach out by email at [email protected] or check out their website at Vayda.com.
The company will also make appearances this winter at upcoming trade shows, with plans to attend the 27th annual National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference in Jonesboro, Ark., and the 2024 Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn. So, keep an eye out for their booth, and stop by to meet the Vayda team to learn more.
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