Today we review some fascinating examples of advancing soil health. One individual farmer interested in these new practices will find a lot of obstacles to being successful. Most of the farmers we have interviewed have formed collaborations with other farmers, worked with an independent agronomist, and communicated with research and extension professionals. Collaborations can’t be forced. It takes honesty and passion for achieving an end goal. These collaborations often foster deeper relationships.
“It’s fun. It seems like every day, we can talk about something new and exciting…..It’s made farming fun in my eyes.” – Tyler Zimmerman (Season 2: Episode 4)
Anthony Thilmony and Dr. Dave Franzen also shared the successes their collaboration has produced. This farmer and extension soil scientist have worked together for decades. They show the revelations both sides can have when they work together.
“Finding this information, seeing the yield, seeing the variability is what led to “boy, can we manage this?” And I have to say so far in my experience. Yes, you can.” – Anthony Thilmony (Season 1: Episode 3 and Episode 4)
Next we move on to an unlikely duo in Tim Becker, a farmer and former extension agent, and Jason Vollmer, a farmer and full time agronomist. Over a cup of coffee, Tim and Jason started to discuss local crops and weeds. As word got out, a group of farmers started to join in and benefit from the expertise of these two.
“We’d field a lot of questions together, and you know what he didn’t know I’d know and vice versa and it just seemed like we got a good working relationship that way” – Tim Becker (Season 2: Episode 1)
The next successful collaboration we shared is from the Olsons of no relation. Mark Olson is a farmer who has worked closely with Matt Olson, an agronomist. They highlight how they have both learned from each other and have been able to share those benefits with those around them.
“I know farmers that have the attitude of, I’m not going to share with my neighbor, but I feel I’d teach everybody that you know because our neighbor is not the guy who is going to take us out in this whole game. It’s going to be something bigger like mother nature or the banker.” – Mark Olson (Season 2: Episode 8)
Susan Samson-Liebig and Mark Liebig represent an entirely different collaboration as a married couple that work in two different agricultural agencies. Mark is a Research Soil Scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Susan is a Soil Quality Specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. They epitomize the team effort that goes into supporting the farmer. Mark describes the agriculture process as three integrating circles involving innovative producers, trial or demonstration farms and researchers.
“The important thing is that those three circles overlap and there’s interaction among those three groups that is I think really powerful and finding these transformational sort of solutions that we need in agriculture.” – Mark Liebig (Season 2: Episode 13 and Episode 14)
Brad Brummond has worked in extension for 38 years. This National Association of County Agricultural Agent Hall of Fame Winner has focused his efforts on bringing agencies and organizations together to collaborate for everyone’s benefit. He had these guiding words to share with our listeners.
“What you need to do is find the passionate people and get them to leave “me” at the door and get “we.” And we start doing things together….it’s all about bringing interested people together and multiplying your effect.” – Brad Brummond (Season 2: Episode 12)