Ed Carmichael didn't marry his wife Jo Ann until he was 62. He's 68 years old. That gave him plenty of time to do things that people with a family don't sometimes have the time or money to do, including a stint as a national competitor in tractor pulls. Perhaps his most adventuresome activity during those years were his trips to South America. He not only saw the world, but also leaned lessons that he brought back and shared with his neighbors.
"We have benefits here as people and especially as farmers that others don't always realize," Carmichael says. "The biggest benefit is that compared to South America, we have a stable government. That makes a big difference when you're trying to plan and farm."
There is plenty of land that can produce crops in South America, he notes. That's why their total production has moved up over the years. But another thing they lack is educated farm labor. Many of the workers simply don't have the education that farm workers in the U.S. tend to have. That could make a difference as the world, and equipment in particular, becomes even more sophisticated, and has precision farming becomes more a part of everyday farming activities.
One thing Ed has done to make his farm more productive to take advantage of both opportunities to protect his soils form soil erosion, and tile fields that need tiling. He works with Lisa Holscher, a watershed quality specialist in Sullivan, as he plans improvements for his land that will cut down on sediment loss, the number one pollutant in streams and lakes, and improve overall water quality.
His farm has grass waterways, buffer strips, and a large number of water and sediment control basins. Where conservation tillage alone can't handle the concentrated flow of water during peak rains, these practice help, he notes.
Congratulations to this world traveler and down-to-earth conservationist on becoming a Master Farmer!