Though rye is his cover crop of choice, he has extensive experience growing other covers. For instance, his farm was the site of a three-year test involving black oats, a cover crop widely used in Brazil. The project showed that black oats helped control pigweeds by shading germinating weed seedlings. Information from this study helped secure funding for a USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service pilot project aimed at controlling glyphosate-resistant pigweeds.

Black oats, however, are easily killed by frost. “This far north, black oats don’t produce the biomass we get from rye,” says Martin.

He’s a bit more optimistic about crimson clover cover. In the fall of 2010, he planted AU Robin crimson clover on a small acreage. Early in the following spring, he used herbicides to kill strips of clover, and then planted his corn into the killed strips.

He allowed clover in the row middles to grow and produce seed before killing the stand 21 days after corn emergence. He believes this system will encourage clover reseeding. Clover also contributes nitrogen to the soil and may allow Martin to reduce nitrogen fertilizer costs.

Strong commodity prices in recent years have allowed Martin to market his crops at a profit. He doesn’t use a market advisor but relies on Georgia Farm Bureau market news reports that he receives several times each day. In previous years, he sold cotton through the Autauga Quality Cotton Association.

Recently, he started marketing his cotton, corn and wheat through a local company, Heart of Georgia Peanut and Gin.

A few years ago, he contracted some of his cotton at prices up to $1.39 per pound. For this year, his cotton contracts will pay him 91 to 95 cents per pound. He contracted 2011 corn at $7 per bushel and 2012 corn at $6 per bushel. A contract on his 2012 wheat crop will pay $8.25 per bushel.

He markets his peanuts by contracting with Birdsong Peanuts. The contract price for this year’s peanut crop is $750 per ton.

Martin grew up on his family’s farm. After high school, he joined the National Guard, and in 1972, his mother helped him buy a few pieces of farm equipment. He started farming that year on 150 acres of rented land. This land had grown pine trees in the old Soil Bank program, and Martin cleared it to be able to plant cotton and peanuts.

His dedication to conservation and sustainable farming earned Martin recognition in 2011 by the Planters peanut snack food brand, a division of Kraft Foods. Co-sponsored by the National Peanut Board, this honor designated Martin as the first winner from the Southeast of the Naturally Remarkable Planters award.

As the 2011 recipient, Martin received $10,000 to donate to a community project of his choice. He designated the Pulaski County Cooperative Extension Endowment as the recipient.

Martin serves as board president for the Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corp. He has been a member of its board since 1972. Since 1994, he has served on the Pulaski County Farmers Appreciation Committee. Also starting in 1994, he has served as an advisor on agricultural and natural resource issues for the Pulaski County Extension office.

His wife Alice played an important role in his farming career. Her income as an elementary school teacher paid most of their bills during his early years of farming. She retired from teaching in 2004.

The Martins have three adult children. Marc is an assistant vice-president at the Bank of Perry. Monica is a teacher at Pulaski County Elementary School. And Mitzi is a registered nurse who works at a dialysis center in Hawkinsville.