Robert Pridie has 60 head or organic grass-fed cattle. Farming since 1981, Robert farms 300 acres for himself and 400 acres for his father. Most of his corn-soybean acres are under minimum tillage which he defines as one-pass field cultivation prior to planting. Robert has farmed for over 30 years and has been certified organic since 2003. In switching to organic, the greatest challenge was figuring out his income during the three years of transition.
“I am doing organic on some of my corn acres and all of my pastures,” Robert said. “Even though I till the soil, I have good soil health because I don’t use any chemicals and I leave a lot of residue on the ground.”
Robert is satisfied with the balance he has established between his organic operation and his conventional operation. Instead of going to a no-tillage system, he has constructed grass waterways, terraces and stream buffers. This has allowed him to reduce the amount of chemicals being used. In 12014, he tried cover crops for the first time, planting turnips and flying cereal rye onto his cornfields. The stream on his property is mostly buffered by organic pasture and recently he planted nearly 2,000 trees providing windbreaks and shelterbelts.
Building a Culture of Conservation
“We control erosion by using terraces. If terraces can’t fix it, you probably shouldn’t have row crops on it. My father’s farm (that isn’t organic) has a lot of terraces and very little water run-off.”