ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

What is the cost of production for your no-till field crops?

Posted November 9, 2006

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Click here to send it to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

I am considering no-till organic field crops, soybeans and grains. Do you have any cost-of-production records for these?

Thank you,
Reg Rogan
New York

Dear Reg,

I'm glad to hear you are interested in the concepts and ideas of using our roller technology and intensive cover crop management to grow organic row crops. In answer to your question, I don't have real accurate economic data on this technology from a production standpoint since most of our work has been geared towards perfecting the biology and mechanics of the system. I can tell you that the farmers we are working with for on-farm research and demonstration plots are quite happy with the cost savings. Bill Mason down in Maryland has just begun harvesting a 120-acre field of rolled rye soybeans and said to me yesterday it looks great (it looked good three weeks ago when I saw it). We have successfully reduced the number of trips the tractor makes over the field from nine to two (saving money, time and fuel), we’ve eliminated most fertilizer (using legume cover crops) and don't use any herbicide (we are, of course, organic). We market our grain at premium prices, so we know the economics will look good. We are working now on getting some grant funding to expand our work to include both economic and energetic analysis to provide farmers like yourself the detailed information you need to make the transition.

Thanks again for the inquiry.