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Tom Cotter

Tom is a fourth-generation farmer from southern Minnesota.  In 1875 the land was first plowed and had continued in one way or another for the next 140 years.  Tom grew up doing full tillage on all their acres.  In the late 1990’s Tom’s Dad bought a tile pile and started trying cover crops.  That is when Tom and his Dad Mike's journey began, 4 feet below the surface.  The differences in the soil were drastic from covered fields compared to full tillage fields.  They started putting cover crops on all canning crop fields only.  During the early 2000’s they had successes and failures with covers and really had nowhere to look for help.  He was only planting winter rye as his cover and terminating with tillage.  In 2010 he bought a used strip-till bar to try and reduce his tillage practices.  When he put Reduced tillage, cover crops, and livestock grazing together, soil health exploded. Currently, he uses multi-species cocktails after canning crops, interseeds 4 to 8 species into his corn in mid-June and grazes every acre. They were the first to get certified a Clean Water Farm in Mower county in 2016. Cover crops have also helped him to transition some acres to Organic cash crops and grass-fed beef.  When he is not raising corn, soybeans, sweet corn, peas, alfalfa and oats he is out promoting soil health.  He has spoken at many events in Minnesota and Iowa as well as the national scene at the National No-Till and Strip-Till Conferences.  Tom’s father was a nationally known storyteller and always said: “Everybody has a Story to tell”.  Tom is carrying on the tradition and sharing his story of soil health.

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