Soil is where our corn journey begins. But decades of destructive farming practices have stripped nutrients from the soil, increasing carbon emissions and contributing to climate change.
Tilling has pros and cons. Tilling mixes organic plant material into the soil and keeps weeds at bay, but it also releases carbon into the atmosphere, and decreases the amount of nutrients available to plants. Our farms till sparingly, never going too deep or in too large of an area, keeping weeds away without too many negative effects.
PLANTING VARIED COVER CROPS
Between corn harvests, our farms plant cover crops. Cover crops act like armor for our soil; they reduce erosion and deposit carbon from the atmosphere into the soil for microbes to consume. In exchange for the carbon, the microbes provide nutrients for the crops. After fully grown, the cover crops are incorporated into the soil, contributing to more carbon sequestration. Zack’s Mighty farmers plant a variety of cover crop species, resulting in an abundance of different nutrients for the microbes and the crops.
Crop rotation is just that - rotating the type of crop grown in a given field. It keeps pests guessing since they never have a permanent source of their favorite crop. It also increases soil nutrients like nitrogen, which is key for corn.
We use composted poultry manure to fertilize our corn. It doesn't harm soil microbes or pose waterway runoff risk like other fertilizers do. In fact, the compost incorporates additional beneficial microbes into the soil. It also adds organic matter, increases the water holding capacity of soil, and recycles waste.