CSS Alumni John Burk puts learning into practice on his family farm

Education, experience and connections come together to promote sustainable farming in Michigan

My experience has greatly helped me. I have a Masters in weed science and a ten -year experience being a MSU Extension Educator. My education and work experience has given me valuable information on growing crops differently. I know who to go to for information on cropping systems. I farm 4500 acres of corn, soybean, dry-edible beans white wheat and Sugarbeets. We use cereal rye as a cover crop after sugar beets and soybeans are harvested. After wheat we use oil seed radish along with winter peas the radish helps with soil compaction and sugar beet cyst nematode suppression. After dry beans are harvested we no till wheat for harvest or spread spring barley and radish for a cover crop. MSU has a wealth of information on utilizing cover crops on my farm. Weed control and termination of cover crops is challenging. Fertility management is being reduced from cover crops and the way the fertilizer is applied has changed. MSU offers many resources to and staff to help find solutions to those questions. I have been utilizing cover crops for 23 years my yields have gone up, I have reduced my fertilizer usage, my soil does not blow away or run off into waterways due to large rain events. My soil is healthy and the crops are responding to that. Plus I am capturing carbon from the atmosphere. In closing if it was not for my experience at MSU the great staff of researchers and professors I know I would not be here writing this today. MSU gave me the education and the excitement I have in trying new things. I feel very humbled to have had the educational experience that I had and I still to this day talk to folks on campus about new cropping systems. I now give talks on cover crops and folks look to me for answers on utilizing cover crops on their farms.  Without a don't in my mind I know if I had not had my education at MSU my farm and it's success would not exist.

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