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Michigan farmer says it’s time to try cover crops

Field Snapshot: There has been no extreme weather to date, but cold has delayed planting.

Jennifer Kiel, Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

May 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Brad Kamprath standing in front of planter
UPDATE: With a different corn planter, Brad Kamprath is hoping it will handle the residue from the cover crops he plans to plant this year. Photos courtesy of Kamprath family

During a May 10 interview, Brad Kamprath had just broken ground and planted his first 2.8 acres of soybeans in Ida, just west of Monroe in southeast Michigan.

Cold delayed planting, as well as dry field conditions early on. “But it didn’t change any of our acres or maturity dates,” he says. “We’re expecting warmer weather and a nice stretch of dry weather in the next week, so that’s a bonus.”

Kamprath has been able to no-till more acres this year due to not having to fix problems from some of the extreme wet weather events of a few years ago.

He’s a fourth-generation farmer, working with his father, Richard, raising 380 acres of corn, 375 acres of soybeans, 270 acres of wheat and 20 acres of hay — and what he calls the Ronald McDonald farm of a couple horses and goats, a few chickens and an alpaca. “Most of those are my kids,” he says.

Kamprath, 51, plans to make the leap this summer and follow 150 acres of his wheat crop with a cover crop of rye and radishes. “With carbon sequestration becoming a bigger issue, I thought it might be time to try it,” he says. “I bought a different corn planter, which I think will handle that residue better. It’s one of the reasons I hadn’t done it before, as well as the challenge of managing a second crop.”

The planter was updated with electric drives and hydraulic downforce versus chain or cable drives.

As farmers make investments, they look ahead to see what profit margins look like and that has Kamprath a bit worried. “Fertilizer prices are down, but so are crop prices, which is a major concern,” he says.

“Marketing is going to be my biggest challenge.”

Kamprath and his wife, Tammi, are raising three daughters, after losing another daughter about three years ago. He says there’s limited interest on the farm at this point. His youngest, Ruby, 15, is probably the most active on the farm, he says. “She does 4-H calves,” he adds. “And my oldest, Darby, 22, shows horses and has the alpaca.

The best part of 2023, Kamprath says, “It’s just beginning.”

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.

Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.

Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.

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