A small group of agricultural journalists from Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and the UK recently visited Harborview Farms in Rock Hall, Maryland. Their visit was part of a USSEC-sponsored tour focused on sustainability and sustainable soybean production.
Trey Hill and his family have been farming on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for almost 100 years. They currently produce corn, soybeans, and wheat on 13,000 acres in the region. The corn and soybeans are for the local livestock industry and the wheat is marketed in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Hill is “creating his own way of farming” and says he does not worry about calling it sustainable or responsible. He is focused on improving the relationships between species and their environment and aims to increase the “resilience of the soil” through a combination of cultivation and innovative practices, including the increased use of cover crops. He said that satellite imagery confirms the soil improvements from using wheat, rye, radishes, clover, and rape as cover crops. His longer-term objective is to increase the carbon sequestered in the soil.
The journalists asked Mr. Hill about GM vs non-GM and organic vs conventional. They sure got a response. They appreciated his honesty in saying that GM crops are more profitable due to lower costs and that organic production has serious questions when it comes to sustainability and related issues like land use and greenhouse gases.
Earlier this year, Bayer recognized Mr. Hill’s and his family’s commitment to the principles of sustainability by naming Harborview Farms as its first Forward Farming operation in North America. Harborview is now one of 12 innovative and independent farms which represent practices that are both productive and environmentally friendly. These farms share their commitment to sustainable, holistic and scalable practices that are good for them and for the environment. With Mr. Hill’s and Harborview Farms’ commitment to the principles of sustainability and more importantly, their daily application to crop production, it is easy to see why they have gained such recognition.