Harvey Young is the twelfth in the series of Profiles of Soil Health Heroes. Harvey lives in Knox County, Tennessee. He is retired from AT&T. Harvey was in the market for a cattle farm in Jefferson County for twenty years. His dream became reality in 1999 when he purchased a farm in New Market, Tennessee. The farm's soils are predominately Dewey and Decatur silt loam. Slopes range from nearly flat to approximately 12% slope. The original acres were 98. Harvey recently purchased and converted some unimproved forestland to grass making the farm 128 acres. Mr. Young operates a cow/calf operation, and he currently has 50 cows and 40 calves. He produces forage for grazing and for hay. Three fields are designated as hay fields and are harvested once in the season, and grazed the rest of the year, as stock-piled pasture. The remaining fields are designated as pasture. The fields range from 4.5 to 14.2 acres. He has approximately ten fields dedicated to hay/pasture. Harvey also grows an organic garden. There are also 5-7 bee hives on the property. He produces honey from apple, poplar, and clover. Besides the cattle, he has two draft horses on the farm, a couple of black Percheon horses. There are a few chickens, guineas, and ducks near the garden. Mr. Young said they do an excellent job of controlling insects around and in the garden.
Harvey uses a balanced rotation system in his garden to assure that families of vegetables are not grown in the same area in consecutive years. He rotates families of vegetables every year. He also uses strips of grass between his strips of garden, and he uses composted horse manure for the garden. Mr. Young uses different colored plastic, straw, and a cover crop of cereal rye annually.
Mr. Young contracts with Syngro SW LLC to apply bio-solids from Knoxville's municipal sewage plant. All nutrients are applied according to a comprehensive nutrient management plan. He follows a prescribed grazing schedule designed by NRCS' Natalie Freeman. His cattle are cross bred between predominantly Black Angus and Charolais, with some Gelbvieh. He turns his cattle into pastures at 12 - 18" and grazes the forage down to approximately 4" in height. Harvey then removes the cattle off of the forage and rests the grass for 20 to 30 days minimum. He grazes his livestock on a pasture field for approximately six days. On stock-piled fescue in December - February, he grazes closer to 3 inches. We discussed with him about increasing intensity and using more temporary cross fencing and smaller paddocks. Mr. Young is not ready to commit to that intensive grazing schedule as of yet. His current system is working for him.
The farm is soil tested in three major areas combining many fields. Soil test results from 2012 showed 3.6, 3.6, and 4.2% in soil organic matter (SOM) and estimated nitrogen release (ENR) that is from decomposing SOM, at 105, 98, and 110 pounds per acre. Soil pH was 6.4, 7.0, and 6.9. Phosphorus was very high and potassium was very low, very high, and medium. In 2014, the same areas showed 11.2, 10.7, and 8.5 in SOM. The ENR was 150, 150, and 150. This indicates very high SOM and the corresponding increased available nitrogen. The soil infiltration has improved according to Mr. Young's observations. Earthworms are plentiful. The soil structure is granular. There are no signs of erosion. The soil pH is 7.1, 6.5, and 6.3. Phosphorus is very high and potassium is low, very high, and high. Mr. Young is monitoring his phosphorus and other elements annually. Soil health has improved due to the grazing schedule and the amendment of bio-solids. Care needs to be taken to not apply too much phosphorus in the future.
He has also worked closely with NRCS to design strategically, five total, three individual four-hole, and two individual two-hole, Richie water tanks. He has fenced off his large pond and planted an assortment of trees for riparian zones around the pond. Mr. Young has the water tested on a regular basis. The water is clean and produces excellent poundage of catfish and blue gill. Mr. Young has participated in Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Tennessee Department of Agriculture cost sharing (TDA), and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
In his recently cleared fields of cedar, locust, and other small trees, he recently seeded wheat, annual rye-grass, and Kentucky-31 fescue. He will follow-up in late February to over seed with orchard grass, white and red clover. These fields will be grazed intermittently this winter and late spring.
Like most East Tennessee grazing farms, his pastures are dominated by Kentucky-31 fescue. Harvey inter seeds into the fescue to dilute the fungus effects of Kentucky-31 fescue and to provide summer growing annuals when the fescue is dormant. In one nine-acre field, he inter seeds buck wheat, sunflower, Sorghum-Sudan grass, soybeans, cow peas directly into standing fescue. In other fields, he inter seeds Sorghum-Sudan and Pearl Millet into standing fescue on 39-40 acres. In the remaining hay and pasture fields, he manages to promote natural stands of Dallas grass, Johnson grass, crab grass, and common bermuda grass to thrive through resting for 30 days or more and grazing down to four inches and then resting to allow for recovery. Harvey's management provides him plenty of forage for the 50 brood cows and their calves on approximately 128 acres. His diversity of species benefit both the soil and the livestock.
In 2014, many of the fields were inter seeded with cereal rye and annual rye grass. In fall of 2015, three fields were inter seeded with annual rye grass and orchard grass. Harvey continues to improve his existing stands to create more forage during different seasons. The winter annuals provide excellent early growth in late winter and early fall.
Mr. Young produces about 150 of 1,000 pounds bales of hay. With stock-piling his fescue during late fall and early winter, he is able to use more grazing to harvest forages and save approximately 100 bales of hay if he was not prescribed grazing and stock-piling fescue pastures. Mr. Young's goal is to keep his cattle at a body condition of 6 or 7 during winter. His cows calve in the fall, September - November. He opens all pastures in December - February.
Harvey Young bought his dream place less than twenty years ago. He has practiced prescribed grazing with a normal moving of livestock every six days. He has divided his water and placed his fencing to move the cattle into 10 large paddocks. He applies bio-solids according to a CNMP. He uses multi species annuals and manages for natural warm season grasses to extend his growing season in the summer. He also uses less hay by stock-piling and rotational grazing. He opens all of his fields up for grazing his pastures in December through February. Harvey fenced off his surface water and protected from grazing around it. His soil has shown improvements, and his grazing system is producing a profit.