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How Farmers in Northeast Michigan Practice Sustainable Farming

Farmers are always looking to use the best practices for their farms. That kind of farming is called sustainable farming, a process that allows farmers to maximize their resources and be easy on the environment.

At Byelich Farms in Harrisville, Boyd Byelich and his family use sustainable practices for his livestock and crops.

“What we try to do is pick pastures that we think had lower productivity the previous grazing season, and so this is a way to concentrate some additional nutrients and carbon in those pastures with the idea that next year, this will be a more productive grazing unit,” said Byelich.

The process of bale grazing concentrates the nutrients to allow the pasture to grow efficiently while conserving nutrients for the cows as well. The manure then gets spread around by the cows, which fertilizes the soil.

Byelich Family Farms has been utilizing sustainable practices for over 40 years.

“We’re in the cattle business, but really, we’re in the sunshine business,” said Byelich. “So the plants harvest sunshine, that’s where the energy comes from to make the plants grow which feeds the cows or makes the hay that they’re eating right now, and so really, we’re trying to manage the leaf area because they’re like solar panels.”

While other farms in northeast Michigan may not have livestock, they still use sustainable practices because it’s environmentally friendly and it makes them more money.

“It’s one way to put more money in your pocket, and so things with reduced tillage, more ground cover, using cover crops, rotating their crops around so that some crops will actually put nitrogen in the soil, and then others take it out, so things like that are also what we would consider to be sustainable practices,” said Byelich.

Byelich says even with winter coming, these practices still allow him to operate the same way year round.