Farm: Brock Family Farm
Location: Monticello, Jefferson County
Date of Origination: 1949
Commodities: Corn, soybeans, peanuts, cotton
Gene and Kirk Brock own and operate the Brock Family Farm. Gene has been farming the land for six decades. His son Kirk came back to farming in 2000 after studying agriculture at the University of Florida.
The Brock’s know how important it is to keep up with the changing technology on the farm. Gene’s vast knowledge and experience, coupled with Kirk’s education with soil science and new agricultural techniques, gives this partnership the confidence and ability to adopt innovative methods.
The Brock’s transitioned to no-till farming, resulting in minimal disturbance of the soil and less erosion. By using cereal rye for a cover crop, they are able to use biomass to enrich the soil. Increasing the organic matter content of the soil produces more nutrient and water retention. The rye acts as a dam that decreases water runoff. Retaining this water also means more will be absorbed into the ground nourishing the growing crops.
“We chose the cereal rye for a cover crop, because it produces a tremendous amount of biomass, to enrich the soil. These soils of the southeastern United States are highly weathered soils. So we’re attempting to reverse that process and increase the organic matter content. Also, any time you increase the organic matter content, you have more nutrient retention and more water retention and it’s just easier to grow a crop.”
The Brock’s high-residue farming approach has decreased the amount of insecticides and herbicides used and provides increased habitat for many types of wildlife, from the microscopic to birds and small mammals.
Meticulous record keeping on data, ranging from soil sampling to crop yields, has helped improve the productivity and profitability of the farm. As leaders in the agricultural community, the Brocks have gone beyond adopting innovative conservation practices; they actively share what they’ve learned with other producers.
When asked why he is a farmer who CARES, Kirk said that he loves the challenges of farming and “has a goal of making the land more productive with fewer man-made inputs and has seen firsthand the benefits of letting nature do the work.”
Source: FreshFromFlorida.com – 2008