If my car had auto-steer, I could just say, "Mike Starkey's farm" and it would take me there. It's been there several times in the last several years. Each time I leave with several stories and a lot of food for thought that I didn't have before I went.
Starkey, named a Master Farmer with his wife, Karen, last week, is noted for opening his farm shop for all kinds of activities. As long as it is for the good of agriculture, he's more than happy to sweep the floor, tell the local Hendricks County Soil and Water Conservation District to bring refreshments or lunch, and put out some chairs.
Starkey has held meeting on everything from a ceremonial signing for an increase in a state conservation program to a roundtable on no-till discussion amongst farmers. He has also hosted hundreds of dealers and guests, including me, when John Deere chose his farm to introduce one of their largest new equipment line-ups ever a couple of years ago, and he's hosted a sincere discussion with Senator Joe Donnelley about the farm bill last fall. Supposedly the press wasn't allowed, but I snuck in the back door. Thanks, Mike!
He also holds an annual planter clinic every year. And one of this best meetings was an impromptu meeting last summer when Barry Fisher, an agronomist and precision technology specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, postponed his fishing trip for a few hours to sand in two pits Starkey dug and talk about the effects of cover crops on improving the ability of crops to root deeper.
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Fisher also talked about the benefits of soil health, and about which cover crops go best before which other crops. He is a believer in cereal rye, but not ahead of corn in case conditions turn nasty and it's hard to cut the dying rye stems.
Keep your eyes open. Starkey will have another field day. Count on it. You're invited, and it will be worth your time!
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