2017 Recipient: Dennis Francis Farm

Dennis Francis, Dennis Francis Farm

$6,000—Seed Drill for Hay and Pasture

Dennis has invested in a seed drill to renovate his hay fields and pasture without tilling. Much of his grass died off during the droughts of 2015 and 2016, and weeds replaced it. He currently has 312 acres in hay.

If Dennis tilled all his fields, he would lose existing desirable grasses and need to spend more time operating equipment than he does with the seed drill. The specialized equipment has already saved him in fuel costs and in grass seed as well as reduced the threat of soil erosion during the establishment period. He has successfully seeded multiple acres and has new growth.

New grass growing through dead weeds.

“In addition, no-till seeding conserves moisture already in the ground because I would not have to tear up the ground,” Dennis said, “Moisture conservation and reduction in water run-off will increase the water supply to the new seedlings and improve their viability.”

Dennis will also save on fertilizer once he has established the fields. He interseeds nitrogen-fixing legumes because they are higher in crude protein content and digestibility compared to the current grasses. The increased nutrient value of the hay raises his yields and his selling price. He can also feed this high quality hay to his 150 head of beef cattle.

Dennis currently cannot produce enough hay to meet demand. His largest customer is Biltmore Farms.

Dennis grew up on a third generation farm and has raised cattle for 35 years. His sons, Andy, 32 and Blake, 27, assist him on the farm.

Haywood County

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