By ACAM Partner - The Nature Conservancy

Photo credit:© Katie Schuler for TNC

What’s on Your Back 40? Experimenting with new regenerative practices is key to creating a resilient farming operation.

December 21, 2021

What’s on Your Back 40?

Experimenting with Regenerative Practices

Experimentation has been at the heart of agriculture since humans first started cultivating the soil many millennia ago. And farming in the 21st century is no different.

Farmers continually strive to find ways to build soil health, ensure profitability, and contribute to a resilient global food system—all while safeguarding the natural resources we all share. Yet, farming practices are not one size fits all. The challenge is finding out which regenerative practices work best on individual farms by testing them out.

Fred Yoder, chairman Yoder Ag Services LLC

“Every farm should have a back 40 on it where we try something different, something that maybe makes us uncomfortable,” says Fred Yoder, chairman Yoder Ag Services LLC, in Plain City, Ohio.

Elyssa McFarland, an Iowa farmer, explains that the back 40 doesn’t have to be 40 acres. “It’s where you try stuff out, where you experiment with new practices that you maybe don’t want to put along the highway if you’re not sure it’s going to turn out the way you thought.”

Testing out various cover crop mixes, for instance, can help a grower determine which species grow the best, build up the most nutrients in the soil, and most effectively control erosion.

On one plot, Yoder is testing 18 species of cover crops seeds and found that the most prolific is the sunflower.

“Each cover crop brings something different,” says Yoder. “Thirty years ago it was estimated that over a five-year period we could be losing up to 100 tons of top soil per acre. Whether you have wind erosion or whether you have water erosion, keep the ground covered and all of a sudden, we’re [not losing soil]. In fact, we’re building. Regeneration of soil is something we better pay attention to.”

To learn more about how you can experiment with cover crops or other regenerative practices, please contact your local NRCS Service Center.

Additional News and Resources

Climate-friendly Beef System

time icon

January 12, 2022

Ranchers can help create a more climate-friendly beef system, according to a new study. Beef Industry Can Cut GHG…

New Grassroots Opportunity For Farmers Will Advance Climate-Smart Conservation

time icon

January 11, 2022

I’m thrilled to share a new opportunity that America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM) is announcing today: a request for…

Recruitment Period Now Open: Apply To Be A 2022 Conservation Steward Farmer – America’s Conservation Ag Movement

time icon

January 11, 2022

America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM) convenes farmers, agribusinesses and the conservation community together around the future of farming by…

Reflections On 2021 U.S. Sustainable Ag Progress

time icon

December 20, 2021

As in 2020, life this year has required plenty of resilience. As sustainable ag professionals, we have continued to…

Trust In Beef Joined By U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

time icon

December 14, 2021

U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and Trust In Food sign letter of agreement to collaborate through Trust In Beef Program to empower beef producers. Lenexa, Kan.,…

ACAM Executive Q&A: Dr. Brett Kaysen, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, National Pork Board

time icon

November 22, 2021

Throughout 2021, Trust In Food is inviting leaders of the Foundational Partners of America’s Conservation Ag Movement to share…

We appreciate you contacting us!

We’ve received your message and we’ll be reaching out to you shortly!

— Your Trust in Food Team