The return on investment approach is crucial to the soil health plan, says Indiana producer | Dave Bergmeier

Regardless of your approach to growing crops, Indiana farmer Rick Clark believes that every grower must find their own way to be profitable.

Clark of Williamsport, near the Illinois border, grows about 7,000 acres and, as a fifth-generation farmer, is engaged in an operation with non-genetically modified organisms that includes No-till and cover crops.

“You don’t realize how much chemistry does for you until you remove it,” Clark said. “In the past, when we were still using chemistry, I probably wasn’t just crazy about everything having to be just perfect, because this chemistry omission will come and clear up any problem we have. We don’t have that chemistry pass anymore. “

Regardless of the approach, there are unique challenges each year, he said. Earlier this year, the weather was wet and cold, and in this region of the country, roof crops are making it difficult, Clark said. Biomass is also reduced.

Basically, what he did to combat Mother Nature’s curve was add acres of soybeans, which he planted using a 7 1/2-inch row spacing with a population of about 230,000 to 240,000 plants per acre as a way to add to the money crop and suppress weeds.

Increasing the rate of soybean planting, he hopes to help, but adds that once the weeds start, it is difficult to control and he has raised it to a higher level.

Clark uses a weed clasp with a copper rod that pulls a generator block behind the tractor and generates 10,000 volts of electricity. When the tape hits the weeds, the process causes the cells in the plant to explode. He says that when the water hemp plant is hit, it falls within 5 to 10 seconds and it has a similar approach to other deciduous plants.

The copper rod is used as long as the weed plant is taller than the soybean plant, he said. However, he does not want to rely too much on him.

Clark wants his agricultural practice to take care of soil health and human health. In his case, he does not want to be exposed to corrosive chemicals that could affect his health, his children and the health of their children.

He uses an organic approach with roof crops in his operation without tillage. “We are not here to carry out mass destruction of the soil. We try to save the soil and do it with the least possible means. At the moment, the only entrance we use is a “rooftop cocktail” and the seed itself. “

Organic farming is in its fifth year and it considers its regenerative process to be in its 12th year. He believes that while renewable farming can improve soil health, he also recognizes the need for success. Its main goal is to build soil health and achieve balance with Mother Nature. His approach is a systematic approach with a set of conservation practices, including planting money crops directly in roof crops, uncultivated practices, rotational grazing of livestock and reduction of investment and the use of energy for its activities.

Clark’s definition of success is not based solely on comparable returns, but rather on return on investment. He maintains that his return on investment is higher due to reduced front load. In addition, it has production years in which it has actually exceeded production expectations.

“Too many times a farmer’s success is based on yields, and that’s a shame because it’s not about that. This is not about maximizing yields. It’s about increasing the return on your investment. ”

Each acre should be maximized on a cost basis, he said.

Information about this story came from the Soil Solutions podcast with Jessica Gnad, CEO of Great Plains Regeneration and soil health content consultant for the High Plains Journal. Visit to hear podcasts. Sign up to receive the HPJ Direct Monthly Soil Health Newsletter and Soil Solutions podcast notifications by visiting and checking soil health.

You can contact Dave Bergmeier at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier.

Leave a Comment