A year has passed since Michael Thompson was talked about his plans for the future on his family’s farm. In the past article Thompson talked about his struggles and goals for the upcoming years. He now shares what has happened in the past year.
In terms of farming practices, not much has changed for the family farm. Thompson works with his father Richard and his brother Brian. They formed an LLC and rent the ground each person owns to the LLC. “It helps with our planning for the future as far as estate planning and dividing it up,” he says. “We aren’t worried about who gets what.”
They did, however, start experimenting with cover crops this year. The farm is going on a decade of no-till practices. Thompson says they are looking to expand their cover crop use in the upcoming years in conjunction with their beef cattle operation.
Thompson says cover crops have been embraced after experiments with chemical fallow didn’t turn out like he wanted. “It dried the ground out and didn’t help from a biological standpoint,” he explains. With the cover crops, Thompson’s goals are to reduce input costs for nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as improving the soil biology. “We want to make our farm profitable but also make it healthy and productive,” Thompson says.
Continuing his education has been an important aspect of Thompson. He recently finished a master‘s program in education. In his time off, he teaches himself agronomy. He keeps an eye on bulletins that come from universities around the area, and is particularly interested in no-till techniques he can bring back to the operation. “I try to educate myself and be the best I can be,” he says.
When it comes to expansion of the operation, Thompson explains it’s a mater of what’s feasible at the time. While Thompson is teaching school, Brian is working as a CPA. The time has to be right for have enough land to be full time farmers. “I really have to give credit to my brother. He is essential during the fall harvest,” says Thompson. “He has done wonders with helping with our farm taxes, planning strategies, and setting up the LLC. He really has really helped our farm out dollars and cents wise with every acre.”