The warm winds of early May whipped across Elizabeth City, North Carolina, reaching gusts of more than 20 miles per hour.
The 492-foot-tall wind turbines that dot the landscape don’t seem to mind.
Neither do the fields of quick-growing ryegrass that local farmer Owen Peele planted as a cover crop to control erosion and reduce fertilizer and herbicide needs.
Sustainability has become quite the buzzword around agriculture. But it’s old hat to Peele, who has been planting cover crops for the past 15 years.
“We like to think that we are the curve and everybody’s trying to catch us,” he said.
And being ahead of the curve sure catches a lot of local attention. For example, Peele said his farming neighbors were amazed when he used an airplane instead of a tractor to seed this year’s ryegrass crop. Seed was dropped directly onto the residue from a previous crop.
The practice of leaving residue from past crops instead of tilling it back into the dirt is called no-till farming – another sustainable practice that Peele has used for the past 15 years to improve soil health.
“We do it because less equipment cost, less labor cost, and it provides us the opportunity to farm more acres with less equipment, fewer people,” he explained.
Peele said he’s always on the lookout for new technologies and techniques to deploy, and he’s happy to have formed such a lasting partnership with a landlord like Farmland Partners.
“I have been able to expand my farm because of Farmland Partners,” he said. “The land that we have from them is top-quality land…and I’m actually blessed and privileged to be able to farm the land that we farm with them.”
The land that we have from them is top-quality land…and I’m actually blessed and privileged to be able to farm the land that we farm with them.