Along the shores of Chesapeake Bay, farmers like Temple Rhodes, of Centreville, Md., are proving that farming can be productive and profitable while preserving the Bay. In fact, they have systems in place that prove farming can be environmentally sustainable almost to water's edge.
Rhodes, for instance, employs cutting-edge precision ag technology to substantially reduce crop nutrient needs while increasing crop yields. His system confirms USDA's latest Conservation Effectiveness Assessment Project report for the Chesapeake Bay.
Rhodes has multiple reasons for intensively managing nutrients he applies to grow corn, soybeans and wheat. As a businessman, he doesn't want to spend his fertilizer dollars ineffectively. As a grower, he relies on fertilizer to enrich soil productivity. And as an avid outdoorsman and hunter, he's serious about taking care of the soil, water and wildlife resources that enhance his life.
To achieve his objectives, Rhodes works with Willard Agri-Service, a Maryland-based agribusiness to implement the 4Rs – apply the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. He relies on the Willard Agri-Service for crop protectants, variety selection, nutrient testing plus RTK ag data support.
Modeling for the future
Willard Agri-Services has worked closely with Rhodes for many years and believes his farming practices represent the direction many Bay-area farmers are headed. On crucial part of Rhodes' system is strip-tillage teamed multiple-level fertilizer placement. No fertilizer is surface-applied at Rhodes' Chestnut Manor Farms.
Embracing best fertilizer management practices improve yields and profitability, says Mike Twining, Willard Agri-Service's vice president of sales and marketing. "These same practices also reduce the loss of nutrients to the Bay by converting ever-higher percentages of applied nutrients into healthy food and fiber for human consumption."