Smith is so impressed with cereal rye’s anchoring of soil and nutrients, building soil structure, and extending the microbial growing season that he hopes to add it as a third crop (for seed) in rotation on some of his ground. “I’d like to have the flexibility of having seed on hand to optimize planting for the weather,” Smith says.

 “Once farmers see strip-till done well, you can’t turn them away from it. You have to like applying nutrients at planting and having such an ideal spring seedbed. Being able to plant and apply fertilizer in one trip makes sense.

“Even with the wet spring we had in 2013, I wasn’t any later to plant than any conventional farmers nearby.”