Through their nearly 30-year partnership, Trey Hill and Joe Hickman have shown that no-till farming, cover crops, and nutrient management can dramatically improve soil health — leading to a cleaner environment, a healthier financial bottom line, and climate change mitigation.
Black Horse Flag Farm: A Productive Partnership for Healthier Soils and a Cleaner Environment
Trey Hill is a man of many talents. As a seasoned farmer, he collaborates with 60 landowners to increase the productivity and the sustainability of their land.
Since 1992, Trey has leased land from Joe Hickman of Black Horse Flag Farm in Maryland. By working together to improve soil health and effectively manage nutrients, their successful partnership has shown that farms can be productive, profitable and environmentally sustainable. “It’s really a collaboration between the farmer and the landowner,” says Trey. “If we fail with the crops then neither one of us makes any money.”
Trey and Joe have reaped the benefits of implementing a no-till system, managing nutrients, and planting increasingly diverse cover crops. Not only has their work saved them money by reducing fertilizer costs, they have improved the soil health and water quality of the land and locked more carbon into the soil. Natural Climate Solutions have been a win for both Black Horse Flag Farm and for the environment.
Like a ripple effect, the biodiversity of the region has flourished too. Large fish nurseries, horseshoe crabs, and dolphins are now a part of the ecosystem, heralding a healthy working relationship between the farmland and nature.
Most landowners do not even meet the farmers working on their land, but Joe Hickman has realized that close collaboration is the key to success, both for nature and sustained success. “Farms are a long-term play, the more you keep at it the more you realize you have to care about soil health, conservation and the environment,” says Hickman. By working together to understand the processes and practices that keep the farm healthy and vibrant, Joe Hickman and Trey Hill are headed for an even brighter future.
Learn more about Black Horse Flag Farm
Link to video: www.nature.org/mdruralsolutions
Did you Know: According to The Nature Conservancy’s reThink Soil report, each 1% of U.S. cropland adopting an adaptive soil health system could deliver $37 million of on-farm value through greater productivity.