For Trey Hill, the ag industry is about evolution. To succeed as a farmer, a solid ROI is always the priority, but it’s inevitable that new adaptations hold the power to set a farmer apart from the rest. Take a moment to step into Trey’s shoes and learn how SOURCE has enhanced his business while giving him hope for future generations on the farm.
Harborview Farms is an impressive mosaic of corn, soybean, wheat and barley in Rock Hall, Maryland. Navigating a temperamental climate, high nutrient demands and the many natural and human variables around the farm requires expert leadership, and the man tugging the strings backstage at Harborview is Trey Hill.
Trey took over Harborview from his father, and he hopes that one day it will pass on to his daughter. While determined to preserve the generational touch that makes his farm unique, Trey is also concerned with soil health, maintaining business stability, addressing environmental health concerns, and striving for a better food system for all.
With so many definitions threatening to pigeon-hole his practices at every turn (neither ‘sustainable’ nor ‘regenerative’ quite fits the bill) it’s really quite simple from where he stands. “We’re trying to increase biodiversity in our soils and the environment while growing food in a way that could still feed the world, and be very practical.”
An Ecological Balance
Trey is aiming for what he calls an “ecological balance.” He’s aware of alternative strategies such as perennial pasture systems, which might work for some but not his own. “I can’t recreate the food system by myself, nor do I want to. Working within the parameters of a good corn, soybean and wheat market, with good profitability, a good future for farming, and less risk” is where he’s headed. “Ecology’s kind of looking at how nature is balanced and how things interact, which I think describes farming.”
Trey is constantly iterating on that ideal balance through trial and error. Today that means 100% cover crop, 100% no-till, and carbon credit sales which go hand in hand with his improved nutrient tracking and efficiency. Even before erratic weather threatened harvests, the entire family was shocked to see how dramatically cover cropping affected soil quality. “As we start to build healthier soils, we’re getting better mineralization rates, we’re holding nutrients better, we’re getting better release times.” More advanced technology is now the next step, and nothing is off the table. “We’re trying everything, just seeing what works.”
Choosing between this method or that requires the “five pillars” of any good farming operation. Trey defines these as “financial stability, agronomic stability, environment, climate and social.” The pillars overlap, Trey explains, especially when it comes to nutrients. “Part of climate change is reducing nitrogen, part of the environment is reducing nitrogen, and obviously part of societal impacts is reducing nitrogen. The better ratio we can get of nitrogen to bushels, the better it is. Financially and agronomically, too.”
Trying out SOURCE was a logical decision, and comparatively easy when looking at all the other strategies Trey’s invested in. Since the farm already runs aerial fungicide passes, there’s no additional application cost when SOURCE is mixed in. Applying the chemistry with sprayers is nearly just as feasible.
Harborview’s biggest expansion since adopting SOURCE has been in yield– 10 – 15 bushel bumps in pivot-irrigation plots and 4 – 6 in conventional plots when it comes to corn and soy. Wheat has been a bit more of a juggling act, but Trey hopes that the already high local yields of 100 bu/acre can reach as high as 120 or 130 to an acre with help from SOURCE.
“We want that high yield. We want healthy soils, but getting that balance requires some things to be unlocked. I’m hoping that SOURCE is one of those keys.”
Moving forward, farmers are likely to continue facing the question of how sustainability and new technologies align. Trey believes healthy soils are in need of an innovative boost, and getting those soils to perform at the level of conventional competitors will support wider adoption.
Ready to learn more about SOURCE?
SOURCE improves nutrient availability to your crops by stimulating nitrogen fixing and phosphorus solubilizing microbes. The result is more macro and micronutrient availability leading to healthier, more productive plants. A foliar application of SOURCE provides 25 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus per acre.