Jordan: Build Soil Health is Farm's Number One Goal

posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Jordan in a field at harvest.The number one improvement we’re trying to make to our family farming operation is to build our soil health,” said Jordan Vansice, a third-generation farmer near Melbourne, Iowa. “How we’re going to get there is through year-on-year use of hog manure.”

Jordan farms with his wife, two children, his parents and grandparents. He’s one of the 1,700 farmers we partner with to advance the health of Iowa’s farmland.

In 2017, they were looking for ways to diversify and add more profitability to their farming operation—goals for building organic matter, addressing the rising costs of fertilizer and considering the benefits of adding livestock were playing a significant role in the decision-making.

Jordan’s family had a sow herd of their own when he was growing up.

“I remember helping mom farrow sows and then seeing them go into outside lots to be finished for market,” explains Jordan. “It was always hard in the winter because the weather provided a difficult environment for the pigs to perform.”

In 2018 they welcomed a 4,800-finishing farm back to their operation. The Vansice family receives the manure from “Hog Heaven,” and Jordan and his family also manage the farm.

“We enjoy having them under a roof now,” said Jordan. “It’s better from an animal welfare standpoint, but the manure is much more valuable to use on our row crop acres.”

They are three years into having the manure available for the fields. Jordan says the soil samples are beginning to show results through increased organic matter and other micronutrients the hog manure supplies.

“The soil health is building as we had hoped,” said Jordan. “With the manure and implementing cover crops, our goal is to reduce the passes across the field and reduce commercial fertilizer rates on the ground that isn’t getting hog manure that year.”

As his dad and grandpa did, Jordan has welcomed his son into the business and wants to ensure this same ground is prosperous for him.

This year they will be implementing rye cover crops on all their corn stalk acres to continue the momentum. They use minimal tillage on their bean stubble and no till with their corn stalks.

“It will take some trial and error to understand how we want it to work for our operation,” says Jordan, “but we are excited to see the results.”