Pasture Management, Field Crops and Maintenance

The Berea College Farm’s commitment to sustainable agriculture is evident in the pasture management and soil health practices on the Farm. To preserve the land, soil, and water and ensure the best quality forages for livestock, the Farm is fully Organic Certified. The transition to Organic production began in 2009 and completed in 2019.  Practices such as no-till or conservation tillage reduce soil erosion and livestock groups graze in a way that reduces stress on the soil and adds fertilizer to pasture lands. Students working or learning on the Farm can learn about each of these practices and how they benefit the Farm enterprise.

In addition to livestock, the Berea College Farm also produces some row crops. Corn, oats, and wheat are a few examples grown for human consumption. Products grown on the Farm are processed and marketed through the Farm Store. Other crops are grown as forages for livestock or hay and haylage production. These include a wide range of winter and summer grasses and legumes. This diversity helps improve and maintain soil quality while also providing nutrient-rich forages for grazing animals. About 600 rolls of hay/haylage are produced on the farm annually. The cattle herds consume most of this during the winter months.

Each enterprise on the Farm relies on safe and reliable equipment and machinery. From mowing, planting, feeding hay, and moving feeders and huts, the use of large equipment is essential. Students learn to use tractors and attachments such as mowers, seeders, and tillage implements.  With staff training and supervision, students can also learn maintenance and basic repair techniques that keep each machine or attachment running safely and efficiently. Students using equipment become familiar with practices commonly used in agriculture. Maintenance of small equipment, such as weed eaters, chainsaws, and farm vehicles, is also performed regularly to ensure the safety and efficiency of each machine.