Building Soil Health as a First Generation Farmer with Ryan Bivens

It’s always neat to hear of farms that have been with a family for generations, but is it still possible for a first-generation farmer to get started? Ryan Bivens is proof that it is possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. First generation Kentucky farmer Ryan Bivens talks about his path to getting started in farming, why wheat is his favorite cover crop, and how he manages 88 different landlords in his area of central Kentucky.

“Just because somebody says you can’t do that, try it yourself. Do it on a small basis. You have to figure out what can and cannot work for you. You can’t break the bank doing it. If you’re going to screw something up, do it on a small trial. Try it out there. And who’s to say, if it works, then next year expand it but you know what’s best for your own soils.”

Ryan farms soybeans, corn and wheat on about 7,600 acres, 1,200 of which he owns, and the remaining he leases from 88 different landlords. Ryan grew up around agriculture and started farming in FFA. After college his wife took an ag teaching job in the community they now live in so he had to start over. He searched for farmland to rent through an ad in the local newspaper and built from there. Ryan shares how he got his start, his approach to soil health, and a whole lot more.

“We can’t tell each other how to farm. There is not one right way or wrong way to do it. Everybody has to know their own land, they have to know their soils, and they have to know what works for them. If I don’t go out and learn something every day, that’s the day I need to hang it up and quit. Because that’s the day when you’re done as far as I’m concerned.”