Northeast Iowa Farmer Shares His Formula For Success
As a fifth-generation farmer, Jack Smith is invested in finding ways to reduce inputs and costs in his operation. How? By raising cover crops and grazing cattle.
Smith runs a beef operation in the Bankston area of Dubuque County. His family has been farming the land since 1853.
We're fortunate to have one son that is full-time with us and then another who helps us quite a bit, so I feel pretty good about those two guys taking over our operations someday.
Smith is a firm believer in regenerative agriculture. He says the key to his success in this style of farming is cows, cover crops, and no-till.
We made that commitment about 15 years ago that we were done until on because our topsoil is our most valuable resource in the Midwest, or maybe in the world, I guess it's really bothered me to see any kind of erosion.
The cows in Smith’s operation are constantly grazing on the land. In the winter and spring, the cows graze the cover crops planted on row crop acres.
We feel like our corn yields have increased quite a bit… we feel like we're able to do it because the cows allow us to reduce our inputs by quite a bit and thus be more profitable.
Smith says his go-to cover crop is cereal rye because of its cold tolerance. Other cover crops Smith will plant include clover, sorghum sudan, and camelina.
But becoming a steward of the land was not something that happened overnight for Smith.
We started on a small scale and then we decided that we really liked it. And then, just went all in.
Smith believes his operation’s system of cover crops, no-till, and cows allows them to be profitable and farm in an environmental way.