For Indiana farmer Jason Mauck, nothing is off limits. He’s experimenting with intercropping in new and creative ways that challenge even the most forward-thinking farmers.
He starts every new farm experiment, and there are a large number of them, with these questions:
“What can I do today that will make more time tomorrow? What can I do that will delegate a job or replace a cost?” Mauck asks. “What will add value next year?”
Prior to rejoining his family farm, Mauck worked in the landscaping business where he was accustomed to dealing with multiple plant species in one seed bed—a practice he saw naturally carry itself into farming.
“How do we collect more sun?” he asks. The more sun you farm, the more you’re getting out of the land. While yields might not be ‘maximized’ his acre profits are.
For example, he plants corn and soybeans in the same field, or wheat and soybeans in the same field. He’s had to rework some of this machinery in creative ways, but he’s not going back to single crops anytime soon. He’s getting yields from both crops that put money in the bank, sees healthy soils and sees cost savings benefit.
“[When it came to multiple crops] I was first intrigued by the herbicide side of it,” he says. “I used to manage 100s of acres of turf where you had to keep a canopy—so there were no weeds.”
He applied those principles to cropland and has seen savings in herbicide costs already.
Don’t be afraid to try.
Mauck takes big risks—but it’s not on a huge number of acres to start. He’ll perform manual labor for the first trials on new practices to see if it works, then scale up.
His next big project?
“I want to try using chicken tractors in fields,” Mauck says. “Can we have chickens that move 50 feet per day, eat weeds and leave manure [and see benefit]?”