Long-time Holistic Management practitioner Kevin Fulton from near Litchfield, Nebraska has been able to increase land productivity and decrease input costs so that he can net $1,000/acre on his corn cropland. He has made as much as $1400/acre in net profit on his soybean fields using a combination of Holistic Management and regenerative organic practices. He has also been able to right-size his farm to 800 acres from the original 2,800 acres because of that increased profitability.
The key to Kevin’s increased soil fertility and profitability is using livestock and cover crops on a rotation with cash crops and marketing at a premium. He has been able to increase stocking rate from 10-80%, often running 100,000 pounds/acre in stock density with both his own livestock as well as contract grazing.
Because Kevin can sometimes triple crop a field by raising a cash crop then running cattle on the stubble and weeds that follow while seeding in another cover crop for the cattle to graze later in the year, he can increase soil fertility with little cost while getting the financial return of multiple crops from the same piece of ground in a given year.
“Every 1% increase in organic matter is equal to about 40 pounds of commercial nitrogen. This along with the legumes planted in our pastures allows us to do mob grazing and never add any other fertilizer to the pastures. All we add is water on our irrigated pastures,” says Kevin.
Because of improved soil fertility Kevin irrigates about half as much as his neighbors because his soil holds the rain water they do get, about 20 inches a year. He also has gotten twice the yield of wheat from his fields compared to his neighbors, even though he isn’t putting any purchased inputs on the soil–inputs that have tripled or quadrupled in recent years.