Josh's Story: Understanding How Cover Crops and FarmLogs Fit Our Farm

June 08, 2017

Hello to all at FarmLogs, my name is Josh Hiemstra. I farm in partnership with my wife, two children, and father in East Central, Wisconsin (near Brandon). We milk 180 holsteins, finish 120 angus cross cattle, and own 275 acres while renting an additional 280 acres.

We plant corn, soybeans, winter wheat, alfalfa, grasses, and cover crops for forage and soil health. I am very passionate about being a good steward of the land, and like to share what we’ve been working on for cover cropping and other sustainable farming practices with fellow farmers.


My family at a Green Bay Packers football game
My family at a Green Bay Packers football game 

We started simple with rye for spring forage. Now, we’ve progressed to a simple mix of species to help our soil hold the manure that our cattle provide for crop production. These covers also provide erosion control, improve infiltration, increase valuable biomass to help us improve organic matter, and reduce crop inputs. We plant Winter wheat, cover crops, and soybeans using the no-till method. Our corn and alfalfa are established using only reduced spring tillage. We are excited to integrate more species and cover mixes into our crop rotation to help improve our soil health.  


Tillage radish field on our farm
Tillage radish field on our farm


Understanding Soil & Crop Health

FarmLogs Crop Manager helps us with soil health by providing Nitrogen Monitoring and Crop Health Imagery. We need to know how much N is available in our fields for the corn to use, and FarmLogs provides us with this information.


What my Nitrogen Monitoring tool looks like for one of my fields
What my Monitoring tool looks like for one of my fields 

Crop Health Imagery
 helps us gauge the biomass production of our covers, aiding in species selection and determining best practices.


Crop Health Imagery of one of our fields
Crop Health Imagery of one of our fields


FarmLogs also integrates well with our Nutrient Management Program, called SnapPlus. Both software programs can import and export shape files and Excel spreadsheets. This really improves efficiency when producing documentation for conservation compliance, planning rotations, and overall crop management. 


Where our farm is headed

In the future, our farm will be focused on soil quality and increasing yields. In order to survive we will be required to document our practices and verify our numbers to comply with the ever increasing regulations that will be placed on us. FarmLogs is going to help us comply with these increasing regulations through their record keeping tools, helping us keep better maps and reports of activities.

I also see our farm being asked to do more with less. Nitrogen Monitoring will be a valuable asset to help us evaluate when the crop is using nitrogen and to let us know if we can use less N while still maintaining high end yields. As demands on our time increase, the Crop Health Alerts will help reduce time needed to scout by sending me to a site specific location. The FarmLogs imagery will also help us measure biomass to help refine our cover crop mixes and hybrid selections.

As for our family, my wife Bobbie has been a great farm partner and we look forward to setting our farm up for success for our children. While not directly involved in the daily farm tasks, this converted "city girl" has learned fast. As far as farming goes, there are many long days and also weekends and holidays that are spent getting it in the ground or getting it in the silo. I know I can always count on her to be supportive. Our son Mason is just starting to take on daily farm chores and is being called upon to help fill the silos and empty the lagoon, while focusing on his studies and playing baseball, football, and basketball. Our daughter Cassandra is a very accomplished figure skater, so when she’s not competing at state-level competitions, it’s been a pleasure having her help on the farm, too.


Soil Health Event

On August 24, 2017, The Fond Du Lac County Land and Water Conservation Department is hosting a field day at my farm. The focus is on soil health. If you’re a grower in Wisconsin and would like to learn more, I recommend that you attend. I will be giving a presentation about how cover crops are fitting into our operation. Thanks for reading!


Want to learn more about Josh Hiemstra’s farm and how he’s incorporating cover crops? Send us an email and we’ll connect you!



More Info: Fond Du Lac County “Soil Health Leads to Water Quality”

Event to be held rain or shine. For more information please call (920) 923–3033

Date: August 24, 2017

Time: 10AM – 12 PM

Location: Hiemstra Dairy LLC, W10972 County Rd. T, Brandon, WI 53919


Josh Hiemstra


Josh Hiemstra runs a farm in Brandon, Wisconsin where he grows corn, soybeans, winter wheat, alfalfa, grasses, and other cover crops.