Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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December 26, 2012

Under-cover Operation

Rebounding from drought is hard work, but can be done

(Continued)

“Going no-till has changed my life,” he says. “My wife is a school teacher and I actually have time to go on vacations with her in the summer now.”

Six years ago Henderson began plowing, or tilling, his land as minimally as possible. Three years of minimum-till, followed by three years of no-till has resulted in significant improvement in the soil health in his fields, according to Henderson.

The Root of his Plan

As the NRCS saying goes, ‘Healthy soil is productive soil.’ Henderson’s three years of no-till management, which leaves the previous crop’s plant residue in the field, has already improved the soil structure on even his hardest clay soils, making it easy for plant roots to penetrate deep and find new moisture and nutrient layers to keep them alive.

Always interested in the relationship between soil health and plant production, Henderson obtained a degree in agronomy from Texas A&M in 1975. He became a full time farmer near his home town of Byers, Texas that same year and has been a continuous student of the land ever since.

After researching and attending several workshops on ways to improve soil health, Henderson took another leap of faith and made an additional change in his farm management program this year: he planted summer cover crops.

“I planted guar beans and sesame in my wheat fields this summer,” he says. “I wanted to plant something that would shade my soil and also be a cash crop I could hopefully harvest.”

With Henderson’s farm straddling HWY 79, a major thoroughfare from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Waurika, Oklahoma, the unusual crops attracted quite a bit of attention and generated a lot of talk in the local coffee shops.

“I am always willing try something I believe in,” Henderson says. “But it’s usually different than what everyone else is doing, so that’s why I’m so glad to have my farming buddy Dewayne Davis along side of me doing the no-till and cover crops on his place. It’s always easier, mentally, for two people to do something like this.”

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