Love and Care for the Land

Jan 16, 2024

C & C Farms leans into conservation and precision ag

Sara Clausen
Director of Communications

WE’VE ALL HEARD GEORGE WASHINGTON’S famous statement at Mount Vernon in 1797: “Agriculture is the most healthy, the most useful and the most noble employment of man.” Can you imagine what Washington would think about the practices of today’s modern farmers? Agriculture looks nothing like it did in the 1700s; however, farmers’ love and care for the land remains strong.

Brothers Corey and Craig Damman (C & C Farms) began farming their grandfather’s land in 1998. Since then, they have continuously looked for opportunities to grow their operation and cultivate the land. They purchased their first truck in the early 2000s to begin custom trucking. They expanded their acres in Jasper and Marshall Counties, added a cow/calf operation and began to custom feed pigs. This diverse operation may sound like many in Central Iowa, but over the past few years, Corey’s interests have led him to try different practices and incorporate more precision ag technology.

“I started implementing cover crops about three years ago,” said Corey. “I took advantage of Key’s custom drill service, and I had about 400 acres of rye applied this year, which included one of my seed corn fields. On the end rows, I also planted some radishes and oats myself.”

Conservation practices like cover crops can be traced back to the Roman empire, but they have gained more and more popularity in Iowa because of the value they bring to the soil. Today, many farmers consider cover crops an annual agronomic decision that is part of each field plan.

“Corey and Craig have used cover crops in a fantastic way,” said Key Sales Agronomist Matt Hill. “By using the drill, they were able to protect their topsoil from erosion.” Cover crops have many benefits—erosion reduction is one, along with building organic matter, competing against weeds and promoting water retention. “People do not like to be forced into practices like cover crops,” acknowledged Corey. “Even if they are beneficial, there should be incentives to help offset the investment it requires to add them into your conservation plan.”

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are two common cost-share programs that farmers turn to today to help implement practices like cover crops. PFI is a private program and NRCS is public; a farmer can apply for one private and one public program each year. “Through these programs, C & C has been very successful at capturing the incentives from their cover crop investment,” said Matt.

It doesn’t stop at cover crops for C & C Farms. Other practices, like variable rate planting and fertilizer application, are both good for the soil and ensure they are only investing in the necessary product. This past year, Corey turned to the CENTROL team at Key for a full planter rebuild.

“Key Cooperative needs to and has been able to evolve,” said Corey. “I look to them for better recommendations and the best precision equipment!”

Pictured: Corey Damman. Corey Damman and his brother, Craig, have been farming their grandfather’s land since 1998. With help from Key Cooperative’s custom drill service, they’ve been planting cover crops for the past three years.

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