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Cover Crop Users Now Grow To Sell
David Brandt started using cover crops to boost production of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Now he uses a third of his fields to produce cover crop seed to sell to others. He and his son Jay started Walnut Creek Seeds to meet the demand for cover crop seeds created in part by the family’s success using cover crops themselves.
  “I started no-tilling corn and soybeans in 1971, but within 4 or 5 years I started seeing compaction problems and reduced yields,” recalls David. “University extension advised mechanical tillage to correct it, but a friend suggested a cover crop of clover and vetch.”
  The cover crops worked so well that Brandt’s story has become part of cover crop history, and he has become a sought after speaker and advisor to others considering cover crops.
  “We found that the cover crops not only took care of compaction, but they also reduced erosion, which we had with fields going from soybeans to corn,” says Jay.
  As a test farm for Chevron in the 1980’s, David experimented with rye for fields going into soybeans and legumes for fields going into corn. The impact was clear, with greener, darker crops and better yields.
  “People would come to field days, see the difference, and ask us to sell them some seed,” says David. “I didn’t want to be a seed salesman, but I started selling anyway.”
  Starting in 2010, the seed mix the Brandts planted for their own cover crops and what they offered customers began to expand. When Jay and his wife Ann started farming with David and his wife Kendra, they bought a split planter, allowing them to plant peas and radishes in split rows.
  “Dad knew farmers out west who were planting more diverse species after harvest,” says Jay. “As we saw the benefits, we started expanding what we planted and what we sold.”
  Today, Walnut Creek Seeds offers more than 50 varieties for use as cover crops including buckwheat, oats, rye, barley and triticale that they grow themselves. Plans are to add legumes including peas and clovers.
  The business has changed too. Initial demand for oats and rye led to the use of an old antique Clipper grain cleaner. That has since been replaced, and production practices have changed as well.
  “Weed control is a priority, and timing for fertility is a little different for seed than when growing for grain,” says Jay. “We made a big investment in our seed cleaning business and are state inspected. That allows us to be accepted as members of the Ohio Seed Improvement Association.”
  The Brandts now sell single seeds, mixes and custom mix seeds for customers. Mixes are specially-designed for gardens, grazing and production agriculture. Although their primary market is Ohio, the Brandts sell in more than 20 states.
  Check out Dave Brandt and his use of cover crops at FARMSHOW.com
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Walnut Creek Seeds, 6100 Basil Western Rd., Carroll, Ohio 43112 (ph 330 475-6352; jay.brandt@walnutcreekseeds.com; www.walnutcreekseeds.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5