Greg Baltz operates Running Lake Farms in Randolph County, Arkansas. He explains why corn and peanuts are the perfect crop rotation policy that allows him to farm sustainably whilst minimizing his use of fertilizer.
Unlike tree nuts, peanuts grow underground. They are technically classified as a legume but have similar characteristics to other nuts. But as legumes, peanuts have nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit the soil, which is why they are often planted in rotation with other crops.
Greg Baltz from Pocahontas, Arkansas has been farming for over four decades. He typically grows rice, soybeans, and corn. About nine years ago he added peanuts to his farm as a sustainable part of his crop rotation.
“We’re really excited about peanut production,” said Baltz.
“It’s a crop that fits very well into our rotation on our sandy soils. We see that the legume adds a lot of nutrients back into the soil. It helps the corn crop which follows it by bringing nitrogen back into the soil, and vice versa. The corn takes different nutrients out of the soil than peanuts so we’re able to reduce our fertilizer cost simply by keeping these rotations going.
“It’s a challenging time in farming. We have good years, and we have lean years, but in general, we want to do the best we can and grow the best crop for the consumer. We will see these cycles work through and we’ll all try to be profitable from it.”
Peanuts have been a positive experience for Baltz, but he never thought about growing the crop until he was approached by members of the peanut industry who were searching for irrigated land.
“We started farming peanuts in 2011 and it was pretty exciting,” said Baltz. “When the industry came to us, they were running out of water in west Texas and Oklahoma, and they were looking for new peanut ground…with the right soils that suited the environment correctly. We had developed our land for irrigation and that’s what the industry was looking for. So, we jumped in feet first, I guess, and have been growing peanuts ever since.”
Indeed, peanuts have contributed to Baltz’s farm by allowing him to conserve fertilizer for his other crops. The impetus for growing peanuts, however, came at a time when Southwestern peanut growers were experiencing a long and stymieing drought.
Now with his peanut enterprise growing, he can look back and see the decision was exactly the one that was needed to maintain a sustainable and profitable farming business.