In this episode we are joined by Mark Huso of Huso Crop Consulting based in Lakota, North Dakota. After working in ag retail, Mark decided to start his own company over a decade ago doing independent crop consulting. This year has been especially challenging for Mark’s producers. He was really happy with the way things were looking with cattails and with the fields in general last fall, but 2022 snow and rains really have made things difficult. He shares about some of the unique challenges his farmers have experienced, how they have approached prevent plant acres, and how he wishes more people would look at tillage.
“We had a lot of fall tillage done, fields were in really nice shape. We were gonna get a lot of acres back. And then towards the end of fall right before freeze up, we had a fair amount of rain. Then we had a lot of snow and then we had a lot of rain coming into March, April and into May. And so, very challenging, very late start, awfully wet….So what we were hoping was going to be a tremendous 2022 in terms of acres, production and efficiency did not happen.” – Mark Huso
In difficult times like this in North Dakota, we end up with a lot of prevent plant acres. Initial considerations involve weed management, cover crop selections and residue management followed by what crop will they pursue in 2023. And this is an important consideration for cover crops in general. Before deciding what to plant it’s important to make sure it’s compatible with whatever you’re hoping to plant into that ground the following year.
“I would try to let that (cover) crop go as long as you can. The benefits of cover crop and radish and turnip is letting them grow in the soil and get a nice established root system. So if we do get a lot of rain again, this fall and winter, it has somewhere to go…When we put a soil probe in a prevent plant field that has a full season radish, turnip and rye mix. I mean, there is no compaction. Those roots are doing what they’re supposed to do, and they’re providing a nice root structure for that soil, allowing for water to drain through that. We can smell it. We can feel it. You can see it. There’s something real to those cover crops being in the soil.” – Mark Huso
Over the years, Mark has seen the pros and cons of a variety of farming practices. His overall advice to farmers is to experiment with what works best for your particular operation and to use tools such as tillage in a way that’s as needed rather than applied generally across the farm.
“Not jumping in with both feet. That has hurt more than it’s helped. I mean I’m all for trying new things. My brother Scott would say, “You can’t swim if you don’t dive in.” And sure, that’s right for a lot of applications, but you know, this year for example, to be honest…the straight up no-till was some of our most troublesome fields….And so you don’t need your great-grandfather’s tillage. You need your type of tillage for 2022…I’m calling it tillage by assignment.” – Mark Huso
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Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.