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Bayer: Heartbeat of the Farm

Planting Progress | Episode 1: Soil Health

Bayer: Heartbeat of the Farm

Planting Progress | Episode 1: Soil Health

Published 06-01-23

Submitted by Bayer

Nurture everything around you — from your loved ones to what’s beneath your feet. That’s at the heart of the success on Kalb Farms, at least.

In the breezy hills of southeastern Indiana lies a farm teeming with life, both within the soil and between the among the family. Cover crops and worms mingle in anticipation of the planting season, and Kevin and Shawn prepare for warmer days with hopes for even better yields than seasons before.

The Kalbs, as well as their children, are known for their award-winning corn yields and healthy soil practices. Kevin himself boasts double-digit national awards from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest, just to name one competition. But the family would never keep the methods behind their successes a secret. It’s quite the opposite — for what’s good for one farmer now can be beneficial for another, with impacts that last generations.

Watch above to meet the Kalb family and learn more about how they prioritize soil health in their operation.

Healthy soil is the heartbeat of our farm. 
- Kevin Kalb, 5th Generation Farmer, Kalb Farms

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NCGA awards for Kevin, Shawn and their children line the walls of the Kalb Farms office.

The foundation of a farm must be nurtured to produce at its best. It all starts in the soil.

When it’s done right (and the weather, machinery and etc. cooperate), prioritizing soil health can be easily seen in better yields and bottom lines. But it’s also evident in the scent of the soil, and the life that thrives within the roots. Those factors are further proof of a healthy farm now, but also a healthy future of farming.

We're learning as we go that we can do a lot more with less. You want the earthworms in there. You want that biology. 
- Shawn Kalb, Farmer and Manager, Kalb Farms

But it’s a challenge to try new things in agriculture — that’s why the Kalbs started Midwest Advanced Crop Consulting (MACC), to consult with farmers around the world. With it they’re helping farmers find new solutions that produce results in the near future, and for the next generation.

At Bayer, we’re also striving to find new solutions for farmers, so together we can cultivate a healthy planet for generations to come.

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Kevin tests soil samples around the farm to see if current practices are working, and can adapt instantly if they’re not.

Inspiration comes from farmers, like the Kalbs, as we keep innovating for better.

We’re focused on helping growers do more with less on their operations, this season and beyond. While they help feed the world, we’re right alongside them, driving toward a carbon-zero future for agriculture that benefits farmers and tackles climate change.

These positive changes happen from within the soil. Three major healthy soil practices can propel this forward: conservation tillage, carbon farming and biologicals.

Hands in soil

Conservation tillage

With an integrated weed management system in place, many farmers use no-till or reduced-till methods, which can help restore balance to the land and let nature do its work.

More on conservation tillage:

  • Glyphosate enables farmers to reduce or eliminate tillage, keeping soil undisturbed. No-till practices allow organic material, nutrients and beneficial insects to build up in the soil, and can also help reduce erosion and run-off — keeping moisture in the ground and available to crops. 
  • No-till and low-till practices have been found to have a greater percentage of organic matter and water intake than conventional tillage methods.
  • Our Bayer Carbon programs further encourage these efforts by working with farmers to accelerate the adoption of cover crops and reduced tillage practices. The programs also encourage collaboration throughout the value chain.
Farmers talking
Frequent soil testing is key for Kalb Farms. 

Carbon farming

While growers’ plants naturally pull carbon from the atmosphere and into the soil, carbon-smart agricultural practices keep this invisible, yet highly important element from escaping in the first place.

More on carbon farming:

  • Carbon-smart practices include several techniques,  including no-till and low-till farming, and cover cropping.
  • With the platform ForGround by Bayer, farmers can benefit from expanding regenerative agricultural practices on their operations, opening potential new revenue streams and helping them capture more carbon in the soil.
  • Bayer’s plant breeding methods produce innovative crop genetics that require fewer inputs like fertilizer and crop protection agents, allowing growers to pursue no- and low-till farming.
2 farmers talk on a truck bed
Kevin regularly collaborates with other farmers


Biologicals are beneficial crop production and protection tools that are largely created from living organisms, derived from natural materials, contain them, or use naturally occurring processes. They help put nature’s own defense systems to use, complementing traditional crop protection tools.

More on biologicals:

  • Bayer’s collection of more than 125,000 microbial strains allows us to use genetic diversity to develop new and beneficial products for farmers all over the world.
  • Biologicals can complement farm technologies — such as traditional crop protection, seeds, traits and digital tools — in an integrated crop management system to help growers achieve the best results in their fields.

If you're going to do the job, do the job right. The work you put into it shows. 
- Shawn Kalb, Kalb Farms

Shawn and Kevin are a team both on and off the field

Listening to farmers is key to helping them operate more efficiently, now and into the future.

As evidenced by the Kalbs, healthy soil practices can help farmers produce more with less. That’s why we work with farmers to accelerate the adoption of more regenerative agriculture practices and digital technology, developing new solutions for what many different farmers need today, and for their seasons beyond.

For Kevin, it’s also about the next generation. “I want the farm to be better than what it was when I received it,” he says. “Everything around our farm depends on how healthy our soil is. I know if it's going to be in that kind of shape, then I know that it's going to make it past the sixth generation. They'll be able to pass it down.”

Special thanks to the Kalb family for sharing their story with us.

View original content here

Three kids sit on steps
The tight-knit Kalb kids pitch in on farm work. 


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Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2015, the Group employed around 117,000 people and had sales of EUR 46.3 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.3billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on October 6, 2015. For more information, go to

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