Blair Farms is a diverse non-irrigated farm that is comprised of deep soil and a 20-24 inch annual rainfall which is ideal for growing the many crops we do. Our limitation for crops is due to the terrain and rolling hills that we farm. Harvest needs to be done by the middle of September so the days needed for crops like corn or soybeans are not enough to grow them.
Blair Farms utilizes minimum tillage practices, Best Management Practices (BMPs), and good environmental practices to grow crops since 2001 when they were implemented. Erosion control structures, contour farming, and precision ag technology have also been adopted to reduce our impact on the environment. In 2007, Blair Farms was accepted into the Conservation Security Program (CSP) that rewarded the best farmers in the United States that practice conservation.
We use commercial fertilizer (which are naturally occurring elements found all over the planet) to maximize yields of grains. It is not cost effective to apply more fertilizer than what is needed, and the adoption of Variable Rate Technology (VRT) allows us to place the proper amount of fertilizer to different areas of the field; reducing costs and our impact on the environment. We supplement the soil nitrogen by raising legumes. Legumes take nitrogen out of the air and store it in nodules that the grain crops can use later.
Some tillage is used on our operation because of our climate and wet, clay soils. Since we have high wheat yields, managing stubble is a priority. We break the remaining standing stubble down in the fall and chisel plow to obtain better contact with the soil to help decomposition. By opening up the ground in the spring with a light tillage practice the ground is able to dry out and warm up creating a nice seedbed. By having healthy crops, we can reduce erosion because the plants break up rain and help keep soils in place during heavy wind events.
Chemicals are also used to control pests such as weeds, diseases, and insects that attack the crops every year. Ag chemicals are not bad and go through a more rigorous review than antibiotics that your doctor gives you because they are used in the food chain. Think of ag chemicals as medicine for plants and farming. Without the use of fertilizer or ag chemicals there would not be enough food in the world to feed everybody.
A three year rotation, 1/3 winter wheat, 1/3 spring grain, and 1/3 legume is incorporated on the farm. This means that 1/3 of the acres each year is in that type of crop. This rotation helps to build up the soil, reduce erosion, and limit the chances of chemical resistance to pests. It is not the most profitable rotations, but Blair Farms believe in long term solutions and sustainability for future generations.