“Using Holistic Management practices, I now produce more on 1,000 acres than I did on 2,800 acres.”
Kevin Fulton of Fulton Farms in Litchfield, NE grew up on a conventional family farm; leaving to pursue a higher education, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology; spending his post-collegiate years working as an athletic coach.
About 20 years ago, Kevin decided to give farming another try; he made the choice to change from the livestock operation his father had to raising crops. But he soon became disenchanted with the lack of control he had over the operation. During this time, Kevin also amassed a lot of debt; due to high input costs for seeds, chemicals and equipment. Seeking more control over his operation and the realization that he wanted to produce food – not commodities, Kevin took a series of classes from the late Terry Gompert, who was a Holistic Management Certified Educator.
As a result of those trainings, Kevin began practicing Holistic Management; transitioning much of his land from crops back to pasture, while adding animals such as cattle, sheep, and poultry to his operation.
“The training I received was important and very instrumental in my path towards independence, profitability, and sustainability,” says Kevin. “Holistic Management has allowed me to drastically decrease my input costs, increase my production, and allowed me to get into value-added markets. Using Holistic Management practices, I now produce more on 1,000 acres than I did on 2,800 acres,” says Kevin.
The Holistic Management decision-making framework has also helped Kevin, particularly during rough times. “The framework takes into account that not everything is black and white, allowing me to remain flexible and really think things through.” For example, during a recent drought, Kevin understood that practicing Holistic Management on his land had resulted in built-up nutrient levels in his soil. Kevin made the choice to temporarily eliminate the custom grazing he offered on his land, using the pasture to cut hay instead. “I made more from that one cutting of hay than had I kept the animals on the land,” says Kevin. Once the drought subsided, Kevin was again able to offer his pastures for custom grazing.
Kevin knows that Holistic Management is more than grazing planning and moving fences. “Focusing on the land and animals isn’t enough; you need to focus on people too. Holistic Management carries over into parenting, personal decisions, and other business ventures as well,” says Kevin….
“Once you change your mindset, it’s incredible what you can accomplish.”
Kevin also has some advice for new farmers: “The key to success is remaining flexible and open-minded. It also helps to pursue low-input farming; keeping as debt free as possible – investing only in assets that will increase income or increase in value.”
Kevin also cautions that having a succession plan is important for any farmer or rancher.
“My greatest crop is my three children – who all plan to stay on the farm. You’re not fully sustainable unless you have planned for the next generation.”