Nancy Kavazanjian and her husband Charlie Hammer farm in the south-central part of Wisconsin where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat in rotation. Over the years they have been innovators in no-till and strip till farming and were the first in their area to regularly use cover crops. We’ll talk about her farm and her soil health building practices, but we also get into things like how she looks at soil biology and what prompted them to want to implement prairie strips and pollinator habitat and the experiments she’s still conducting on the farm.
“We’ve been farming together for over 40 years, and when we started farming, we took a motto for our farm and it was “our soil is our strength.” Because we knew as crop farmers here in the middle of dairy country that what we could do best was to grow good crops. And we knew to grow good crops, we needed good soils. And what that has involved has evolved over the years. So, we were early adopters of no-till, and we’re now mostly either no-till or strip tillers.”
Kavazanjian talks candidly about what has worked and what hasn’t worked on their 2,000-acre farm, and the questions they’re still asking themselves about how to be the best stewards of the land they can possibly be. The area they farm historically was glaciated leading to lots of rocks and inconsistencies in their soil types.
“I think maybe because I didn’t know what I didn’t know I wasn’t afraid to try things. I didn’t know that women weren’t supposed to go to those meetings 45 years ago; the crop meetings and the machinery meetings. You know, a lot of times I was the only woman. There wasn’t a woman on staff, but I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be there, so I was always there. I didn’t know that we shouldn’t be trying things.”