Sustainability

Water Drainage, Soil Highlighted on Mark Eck’s Maryland Row Crop and Poultry Farm

Mark Eck built his first chicken house in 1977. While he and his family have expanded beyond poultry over the years, much of the soy produced on Mae-Vue farms today is still used as chicken-feed.

Below, a closer look at a sampling of conservation practices Eck uses to promote water quality and soil health on his row crop and poultry farm in the mid-Atlantic state of Maryland.

  • “Every five years, we ‘rip’ the soil somewhat at 11 inches deep without spading it,” Eck says.
  • Crop rotation and cover crops are used to retain soil health and prevent erosion.
  • Cover crops also help reduce the growth of weeds.
  • Smart sprinklers and GPS technology on farming equipment help limit the areas and amounts of pesticides and fertilizers used.
  • Concrete floorings around the chicken houses reduce the runoff of manure.
  • Riparian buffers along water streams reduce the runoff of nutrients into the water; they also provide a good habitat for all kinds of species.
  • Two systems for water drainage and water sheds retain water in ditches. This secures healthy groundwater levels and allows nutrients to sink before the water floats further.

These are just a sampling of conservation efforts underway to improve water and soil health on Eck’s Maryland farm.

Pascal Kuipers

Senior Advisor/ Communications Specialist

Schuttelaar & Partners

Communications professional in food / food manufacturing with over 20 years of editorial experience in food in the Netherlands and worldwide.