L. Garrabrant Farms currently produces GMO commercial corn. The markets we serve are typically an end user type market which means upon delivery, the corn will be converted into a different form or blended into a different product and used/resold. Those type markets specific to our operation are Heimerl Farms for hog feed and Trillium Farms for chicken feed. Occasionally we will also sell to ethanol plants too. We currently haul our crop directly to market upon harvest. We plan to design and build a grain handling/storage facility on our farm in the near future to aid in harvest timeliness and allow us to better market our crop.
When available and as much as possible, we use chicken litter as our primary nutrient source for our crops and soil. Chicken litter is considered an organic form of fertilizer and is packed full of valuable nutrients as well as organic matter and biology. When applied to our fields, it has both immediately available nutrients for the crops as well as a slow release type component that over time will build soil nutrient levels. In addition to the nutrient component, the organic matter and biological component work to increase soil biological activity and overall soil health.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to farming. We make our decisions and plans based around a farm/fields specific needs and goals. We keep a conservation mindset and work towards the goal of building long-term soil health. As much as possible, we practice no-till, but with manure application it is important to make sure the nutrients are not leaching or running off and therefore some level of tillage is performed. We primarily use vertical tillage; a form of conservation tillage. We are working towards implementing living cover crops into our cropping plan to allow us to accomplish no-tilling and keep our nutrients where we need them. There are other challenges that arise with the use of cover crops we are learning how to manage: insect pressure at planting, nutrients being tied up (unavailable) at planting and terminating the cover crop effectively.
Something that is on our farms radar is experimenting with organic production if we can secure a guaranteed manure supply and integrate cover crops successfully. So long as the profit margins prove to be beneficial.