AJ Adkins shows a tour the equipment on the Starkey Farm in Brownsburg, Ind. Adkins tweaks the equipment by taking parts of machines and putting them together how he wants them to run.
AJ Adkins shows a tour the equipment on the Starkey Farm in Brownsburg, Ind. Adkins tweaks the equipment by taking parts of machines and putting them together how he wants them to run.
BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Two Hendricks County farmers know the importance of conservation and have been practicing it for years.

Mike Starkey has had no-till beans and no-till corn since 2000. In addition to that, 2,800 acres have had cover crop for the past 10 years.

Jack Maloney no-till farms 2,700 acres of corn and soybeans and uses annual ryegrass cover crops.

Both farmers have received recognition for their conservation efforts and have hosted different events, including field days, tours and meetings. Most recently, a farm tour was held for attendees of the two-day National Association of Conservation Districts’ Soil Health Forum and Conservation Tour.

Visitors were able to hear about the importance of cover crops, healthy soil and precision farming.

Healthy soil means living soil and cover crops are a part of that, Starkey said.

Although no-till is the foundation, it is not enough. Cover crops are needed, Starkey said.

“The hardest part is trying to educate neighbors on what I’m doing,” he said. “Cover crops make them nervous, but when I explain it, they understand.”

Starkey showed the different kind of cover crops that he has tried to mix together. Although he changes the cover crop mixture, his goal is to stay below $30 per acre.

Starkey started with 20 acres of cover crop and slowly increased it. The process is trial and error to see what works best, he said.

“There will be bumps in the road, no doubt about it, but that’s part of it,” he said.

AJ Adkins, with Starkey Farms, showed visitors the equipment used to farm. He showed the tour both a 16-row and 32-row planter used to plant corn and how it is used for precision agriculture.

Adkins sets the planter up the way he wants it to perform. He also takes parts of machines and puts them together to get each machine to run just how he wants it to run.

“I’m always trying something new,” he said.

The two farms also are located in the Eagle Creek Watershed, which is part of Indianapolis drinking water system. Many years ago, because of the watershed, researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis noticed the farms didn’t suffer from flooding or runoff.

Because of this, the farms assisted the researchers and today still have an ongoing relationship with the universities in field monitoring. Water coming out of drainage tiles is collected in a bio-swale, analyzed and filtered before release into the stream.

Both farmers plan to continue to tweak their practices as they continue their conservation efforts.