Add the livestock component
The wildlife also are benefitting from cover crops. “I have one landowner that only owns the land because he likes to hunt deer,” Fuller says. “He has been trying to establish food plots for the last several years. I finally convinced him that we have 80-acre food plots; he doesn’t need to be planting the one-acre food plots anymore. These diverse mixes are just a buffet for deer, turkey and quail.”
One of Fuller’s initiatives is rebuilding the quail population. “We are starting to see bobwhite quail numbers come back in all of our fields. The cover crops do an outstanding job of bringing in a wide array of insects, helping the quail to thrive.”
He’s also adding a livestock component to the farm, using some of the cover crops as forage. “I think livestock are a really important part of this equation,” Fuller says. “The buffalo roamed the prairies centuries ago, but we have really gotten away from having livestock on our ground. I think livestock are a key element in nutrient cycling.”
His farming philosophy emphasizes the importance of stepping back and looking at the big picture. “I want my kids to hand this farm to their kids in much better shape, and with much more pride, than I am handing it to mine.”
To accomplish that, Fuller says we need to focus less on sustainability and more on the soil. “What good is sustainable when we’ve lost 40% of our topsoil in just over a hundred years?” he asks. “We need to regenerate, we need to rebuild our soils.
“Life begins and ends with soil,” he says. “Without healthy soil, we can never have healthy water, healthy air, healthy food or a healthy life.”