Producer Gail Fuller Offers 8 Lessons From His Career in Cover Crops

Instead of maximizing yields, Gail Fuller made the decision to base his profitability and success on the health of his soil. “Soil is life and life is soil,” he said to a crowd at his annual Fuller Field School in Emporia last month. “We have 60 years of topsoil left and that was as of 2012. If we continue this current production model, we might not be able to feed the world by 2050 because we might not have all the soil left to do it.”

Twenty-Six Years Later: How One Kansas Farmer Became a Convert and Saved His Soil

Joe Swanson realized the erosion issues on his Kansas farm would continue if he kept tilling. “I said, that is it. We’ve been no-till ever since.” On a May morning, Swanson stood in that same field that converted him 26 years ago, talking to a group of farmers during a No-Till on the Plains field day. His mission is to eliminate erosion and rebuild soil health. The journey, he said, hasn’t been easy. But Swanson sees changes across his fields. He uses fewer inputs. His soils are healthier.

Grow Life in the Soil

Soil is filled with living, breathing, hardworking creatures – it’s a natural commodity more important than any cash crop. When soil is alive, it’s teaming with macro- and microorganisms, ranging the gamut from highly visible beetles and worms to microscopic viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Each of these soil citizens provides a service to the healthful functioning of the broader community.