Adam Chappell was a slave to pigweed. In 2009, several years prior to the roller coaster rise and fall of commodity prices, he was on the brink of bankruptcy and facing a go broke or go green proposition. Drowning in a whirlpool of input costs, Chappell cut bait from conventional agriculture and dove headfirst into a bootstrap version of innovative farming. Roughly 10 years later, his operation is transformed, and the 41-year-old grower doesn’t mince words: It was all about the money.
How does a farmer pull the handbrake on an agronomic system, toss pride out the window, and start again? Ask Chappell. Maverick, contrarian, skeptic, trailblazer, or pragmatist, the tags fit Chappell to a T. Blessed and cursed with a manic mind in constant motion, he conducts a symphony of wide rows, public varieties, low planting populations, non-GMO production, cover crops, livestock, intercropping, and more—all with a keen eye fixed on savings. “Money fuels my engine,” he says. “Call it soil health, conservation, sustainable, regenerative, or any other buzzword of the day—frankly, I don’t care. My savings have been incredible and I just call my farming what it is: survival and profitability.”