What is in this article?:
- South Carolina grower started operation from scratch
- Paid off operating loan
- Tough to find good land
• In 2009, armed with about 350 acres of land, 1970s vintage farm equipment, and a small tractor, Jimmy Taylor started farming.
• He didn’t have enough good land; he didn’t have the right equipment, and admittedly didn’t really know what he was doing that first year.
Paid off operating loan
“I simply couldn’t have gotten the money to start farming without Thad’s help. He was nervous that first year, I was nervous, but we got through it. We paid off our operating loan, but not much else from that first crop,” Taylor recalls.
I remember telling Wade, “I don’t know whether I can make a living farming or not.” “I talked to Thad about it, and we restructured some things and made the decision to try it one more year.”
Between his first crop and his second one things began to fall into place. He acquired some additional land, which helped provide more leverage for funding. A part of that funding allowed him to buy new no-till equipment to replace the 1970s vintage planter he used his first year in farming.
In 2010, he planted about 700 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat and a year of experience made a big difference he says.
“I was able to plant a better crop and take better care of the crop, and probably as important as anything, do a better job marketing the crop,” he explains.
A neighbor farmer let him use some grain bins to hold his soybeans, which he sold for a higher price. Things like that just clicked in 2010, and with good prices and a better crop, Taylor was well on his way to doing what so many people had told him he couldn’t do — be a farmer.
“Farmers will help you and without the advice I got from neighbor farmers and the physical support, like hauling grain and storing grain, I don’t think I would have made it those first two years,” he says.
Going from conventional to no-till was a big reason for his success in 2010, Taylor contends. “That first year, with the equipment I had, I couldn’t get across enough land to get things done timely. And, the old planter I had skipped and clogged and I got behind and never caught up.
“I talked to one of the larger and better farmers in our area about no-till, but I was determined to do it my way — a more conventional approach to tilling the land. He told me, you will go to no-till, and he was right,” Taylor says.
Some of the land he farms is prone to washing and with heavy clay soils, Taylor was skeptical at best as to how no-tilling would work. On one particular 50 acre field, the ground was so hard, he says, he had to keep his seat belt buckled on the tractor to get across it.
“We planted that field in corn, so we had some money invested in it, and I was really worried about how it would work no-till. The corn came up in a nice, full stand and produced 110 bushels per acre across the whole field,” he notes.
Planting that same field in 2011, he says there is already a big difference in the soil — just from one year of no-till. A skeptic at first, now he is a firm believer in no-till and working mostly on his own, it has given him the timeliness he needed to produce good crops.
For anyone thinking about going into farming full-time without family land or equipment to get started, Taylor has some good advice.