Jason Stucky is a big believer in healthy soil.
As the owner of a cover crop seed business, he works hard to get out the message on how cover crops can help farmers achieve the goals of healthier soil and higher yields.
He says he grew up on a farm but left to pursue landscape work in Wichita.
Two things combined to cause a career change. The severe drought of 2012 and 2013 caused problems in the landscape business, and one of his dad's landlords decided to sell a half-section of land.
"Dad wasn't in a position to buy it, and it ended up going to someone else to farm," he says. "I decided to sell the lawn and landscape business and jumped into cover crop seed with both feet."
His Cover Crop Club business in Valley Center has thrived as more and more farmers are starting to use cover crops.
"One of the things that has been a major driver is the arrival of herbicide-resistant weeds," he says. "Cover crops can be a big help with preventing those weeds from growing and in the end can be more cost effective than repeated spraying that may or may not kill them."
Cover crops can improve soil health by keeping microbial activity at higher levels, which in turn helps make nutrients more available to crops.
They can also provide added organic material and help soil store more water.
Healthier soil means healthier plants, he says. Healthier plants are less susceptible to diseases and pests, which means less need for use of insecticides and fungicides.
Stucky has recently been working with farmers interested in aerial seeding to get fall cover crops off to an early start, including Barber County farmer Chris Boyd, who seeded winter wheat and tillage radishes into his cornfield several weeks before harvest.
"I think we are just beginning to learn how much we can gain from cover crops and companion crops," Stucky says.
You can learn more at covercropclub.com.