Carter Morgan, alongside his father Brian, brother Brent and uncle Darrell, has long implemented stewardship practices on the Morgan Brothers LLC farm in Cayuga, Indiana. Sustainability is a foundational pillar of their operation, which sits on 2,700 acres and stretches 20 miles end-to-end. Now, with help from their ag retailer Ceres Solutions, their family’s long-time commitment to sustainability is motivating their entire community.
Carter’s father and uncle began implementing no-till practices on their soybeans in 1993 to boost productivity and profit on the farm. “To be able to keep farming, they both had to get jobs off the farm, which caused a labor shortage,” Carter explained. “No-till became an option to solve the labor problem by saving time.” While they initially implemented no-till to solve this labor issue, as Brian and Darrell learned more about no-till, they liked the concepts and results they were seeing, and eventually transitioned their corn fields to 100% no-till in 2006.
In 2011, Carter and his family got involved with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program and were recommended to try cover crops to help with erosion. They started by implementing cover crops on certain farms that were most vulnerable to erosion, but then began seeing additional benefits including weed suppression and soil moisture management. “Each benefit just kept building on each other,” Carter said. “Now, we are trying to get cover crops on every single acre.”
Morgan Brothers LLC was one of the first members of the Truterra LLC program at their ag retailer, Ceres Solutions Cooperative, through which they began using ag tech tools like the Truterra™ Insights Engine to measure and track the impact of each conservation practice, acre-by-acre. And because the Morgan Brothers farm has multiple soil types and landscapes, the entire family has helped to provide valuable feedback on the Truterra™ Insights Engine and helped Ceres to improve sustainability offerings for all of their customers.
Carter and his family “are willing to share their experiences and time with Ceres Solutions Cooperative to help us help our other customers,” Ceres Solutions said. “They share their data willingly if they know it can help guide our other customers to stick a toe in and try some different sustainable cropping practices.”
Ceres Solutions has also provided Carter with a network to connect with other farmers in the community. “They have been able to tie us to some good farmers in the area that are doing similar things to us,” Carter said. “I have been able to learn a lot from others and I really appreciate that.”
To further strengthen this network, Carter and his family hold a cover crops field day each August, where they invite local farmers and the community to share their experiences with no-till and cover crop practices. Carter also uses Twitter to share his farm’s story with a broader audience.
Carter and the Morgan Brothers LLC farm were recently recognized as an honorable mention for the Outstanding Sustainability Award at our 2019 Partners in Excellence Summit. Carter was nominated by Ceres Solutions for the farm’s implementation of no-till, cover crops and other sustainability practices such as filter strips in fields that border rivers and streams, side-dressing nitrogen on corn and variable rate phosphorus and potassium applications.
Looking ahead to the next ten years, Carter wants to build on his stewardship practices by adding diversity to their operation so they can continue to strike the balance between economic health and soil conservation. “We need to stop soil erosion, reduce tillage and find a way to cut inputs,” Carter said. “To me, the components of on-farm sustainability that are most important is that we have to be financially stable and we have to keep our soil in the fields.”