One couple named as Master Farmers this week are Jack and Rita Maloney. They live at the edge of Brownsburg, a growing community, which puts them farming on the edge of suburbia. Jack says you get used to it, but it does take special care when you move equipment on the road.
"One thing it does is give us a lot of utility easements we pay attention to and work around," he says. "We have 14 easements on our farm for various utilities. We have to take them into account when we're doing something like tiling a field. It can affect how we lay out the tile pattern."
Although they live near a developing area, The Maloneys still practice soil conservation to save their soil resources and prevent water erosion on Little Ireland Farm. The farm is named after the Irish settlement where their farm is located. "It's 'farm' and not 'farms' because we only own the one farm," Rita adds.
Jack has no-tilled for many years. He's also been a leader in introducing cover crops into his system. His common cropping practice today is to seed cover crops in the fall, often aerially but sometimes by drilling after harvest, and to no-till into them in the spring.
Maloney has also cooperated with Bob Barr, a professor at IUPUI in Indianapolis who has been studying water quality on land leading into Eagle Creek Reservoir for eight years. Part of the land that Jack and Rita farms lies within the Eagle Creek Reservoir. The reservoir is located along I-74 just a few miles west of Indianapolis.
The Maloneys also rent 50 acres to a chemical company that does research on the farm. Jack says it gives him a chance to know what companies are working on and what farmers might be seeing down the road.
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