So my second visit was to Keith Berns. Keith farms with his brother and between them have twelve children and already some grandchildren. So he has lots of mouths to feed. In 2006 they started to look at diversifying into cover crop seeds to add another income to the farm business. In 2009 they started selling seed and sold enough seed for 2000 acres and this year have sold enough for 500,000 acres. Quite incredible growth. They now have 25 employees and are spending lots of money updating and automating their system.
Below is a picture of Keith in his shed with all the different seeds. There must have been about 40 different tubs of different seeds.
One of the reasons for their success is that they do custom mixes for individual customers. Below is an example:
As I said they are currently installing and expanding their operation. Below is what will be their new mixing plant
Outside were some holding bins that were being built for bulk materials
They are also testing some coated seeds which are designed to be broadcast and the coating absorbs moisture and gets the seed to germinate
Keith also showed me an interesting spiral separator
The idea is that two seeds of different shapes and sizes go down the spirals and the round heavy ones go faster and fall off the spirals and the other seeds stay on, so they are separated. The are no moving parts on this separator.
Keith is also now doing on farm trial plots. He has over 200 different plots to test to see what works
Many thanks to Keith for his time. Luckily for me it was the works evening barbecue this evening and so I managed to get invite and had food with all his family and workers. Keith is a very generous man and has achieved some great things in a very short time frame. Good luck of the future Keith. From seeing the amount of soil erosion in the US, America needs cover crops!