Welcome to the Soil Sense Podcast

We believe that building healthier soils is not just a prescription, but rather a pursuit. This journey requires collaboration, curiosity, and communication among farmers, agricultural researchers, agronomists, consultants, and extension. You’re going to hear their stories and discover how and why they’re working together to make sense out of what’s happening in the soil.

– Tim Hammerich, Future of Agriculture Podcast Host

searchie logo

Season 3 Episodes

Episodes 1-15

Season 4 Episodes

Episodes 1-15

Season 5 Episodes

Episodes 1-15

Season 6 Episodes

Episode 7: Soil Health Assessment with Jordon Wade, Ph.D.

“Soil Health Assessment with Jordon Wade, Ph.D.”


Dr. Jordon Wade is an assistant professor of soil health and soil fertility at the University of Missouri. Wade is also the director of the Soil Health Assessment Center, which is one of the few places in the US that offers the full gamut of soil health measurements. The USDA and Soil Health Institute have both put together lists of relevant soil health measurements. And these empirical ways of measuring soil health is what this episode explores from aggregate stability to organic matter to microbial biomass and beyond.


“We really want to be able to get that holistic picture from around the state, you know, all of our ag producing regions…You know it gives us a lot more insight into that context specificity than if we were to be referencing a national database or something like that. We just have so much information, so much granularity from those samples that are coming in.” – Dr. Jordon Wade


Wade explains the wealth of data the Soil Health Assessment Center is acquiring and how they are enriching it with surveys, trials and collaborations. The results are “truly decision support tools.” Measurements help producers pivot and track their efforts to improve their soil health. Wade shares that one of the measurements he finds most impactful is aggregate stability which “integrates the chemical and physical components” of the soil leading to benefits like less erosion potential.


“We’re really at a crossroads here in Missouri in terms of climate and soil types. I always say that farming in Missouri is playing the farming game on hard mode because shallow soils and drought prone weather is tough.” – Dr. Jordon Wade


This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Jordon Wade, an assistant professor of soil health and soil fertility at the University of Missouri as well as the director of the Soil Health Assessment Center
  • Explore the significance and value in the operation of the Soil Health Assessment Center for the state of Missouri

Episode 6: Soil Health Challenges with Josh Hammond

In this episode we are joined by Josh Hammond who owns FarmAssist Consulting where he works with farmers mostly around the Beach, North Dakota area. Josh talks about some of the challenges his farmers face in that area including pH challenges, residue management, strip till, livestock and compost. Josh is also a member of the Trusted Advisor Partnership that you’ve heard about in earlier episodes of this season.


“I grew up in an area that was one of the pioneers of no-till, so a lot of those farms started back in the eighties. I was just a young kid when that got started, but everything was changing from a lot of wind and water erosion every spring and full tillage to switching over to managing for erosion and conserving moisture. So I just grew up with that being normal.” – Josh Hammond


Josh shares the common conversations he has with his clients and how he approaches some of these challenges including cover crops, no-till and livestock. As with anything, no-till has its advantages and consequences. Josh shares some of the issues his no-till producers are facing including stratification of soil nutrients and managing soil pH. One unexpected mitigation for these issues is permitting some weed growth to simulate a cover crop in saline stressed areas.


“For so many years guys have thought we just keep working up the saline seep areas and it’ll get better. Well, it never does. That’s what grandpa did, that’s what dad did. And the areas never improve. And once guys have turned into, whether it’s mowing the kosha, let it regrow, something like that, then we start shrinking it down and we keep getting a little smaller each year. And then we control the weeds.” – Josh Hammond



This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Josh Hammond who owns FarmAssist Consulting where he works with farmers mostly around the Beach, North Dakota area
  • Understand his background and how it influences the advice he offers his producer clients
  • Discover some of the challenges no-till producers face that were previously not a concern

Episode 5: Practical Soil Science Research with Brady Goettl

In this episode we revisit Agronomy on Ice for another great conversation this time with NDSU extension soil health research technician Brady Goettl. If you’ve benefited at all from extension soil health work in recent years, you’ve probably been the beneficiary of Brady’s work in some form or another. Brady discusses his research, what led him into the soil science field, his extension work which includes direct interactions with farmers regarding soil health, and his quest to better understand soil fertility and nitrogen management.


“In order to get a full picture of what’s happening when you plant that cover crop, you have to do a really intensive sampling and through a ton of different avenues. So what I’m doing with my research is more of a traditional approach where we’re looking at nitrate, ammonium and non-exchangeable ammonium in the soil.” Brady Goettl


Brady hopes to “develop some sort of either nitrogen credit or recommendation” for producers based on the cover crop biomass produced. The research is ongoing but could lead to less input needs based on “credits” attributed to different practices after determining how they all interact with each other.


“We know that there’s a lot of these microbes that can fix nitrogen and do it symbiotically. So we don’t necessarily need a legume, for example, to fix that nitrogen… If we can harness the power of those guys to help us fix nitrogen, that’s gonna be a game changer if we don’t have to rely on synthetic nitrogen anymore.” – Brady Goettl


This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet NDSU extension soil health research technician Brady Goettl
  • Explore his research interests and the benefits and insight he hopes to be able to provide producers in their nitrogen needs
  • Understand the focus Brady has taken in his approach to address the problems producers are most concerned about


Episode 4: Salinity Management with Darren Dunham

In this episode, crop consultant Darren Dunham shares about some of the soil related challenges farmers are facing in his area of North Central North Dakota. Darren lives in Maxbass, and has worked there for Centrol Crop Consulting for the past ten years. He grew up on a farm in the eastern part of the state and those early experiences have stuck with Darren and informed how he gives advice to the farmers he works with. Unfortunately soil blowing away is still an issue in many areas. Where Darren is now, north of Minot, minimum till and no-till have been really common pretty much since the advent of the Concord Air Seeder. That’s not the case in the Red River Valley, where Darren grew up.


“As they were pulling these fence posts out of the ground, they realized that they were on top of an old fence. That the old fence had been covered by soil from wind erosion…That’s four feet of soil that had drifted in there…..but that was back in the day of plows and pony drills. Everything was tilled black and lost a lot of soil. It’s heartbreaking to think about it. Just the massive amount of soil, nutrients, organic matter that is rearranged for one, but gone, period.” Darren Dunham


Darren finds himself addressing a different issue with a lot of his clients. Salinity issues have become a significant problem for North Dakota producers. The right answer for how to handle salinity is not always straightforward or quick. Moisture management and getting saline-tolerant crops established in some of these spots is easier said than done. All of this salinity management gets back to a fundamental principle of soil health of keeping a living root in the soil as much as possible.


“Salinity is a water issue. You have to manage the water. So other than putting tile into the field, we’re gonna suck the water through plants and alfalfa is the number one water user crop that we have in North Dakota…. So the alfalfa is hopefully intercepting that water that is moving by capillary pressure to that salient spot, intercepting it before it has a chance to percolate to the top of the soil, evaporate and leave its salt as precipitate on top of the soil.” – Darren Dunham


This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet crop consultant Darren Dunham from north central North Dakota who works with Centrol Crop Consulting
  • Explore his personal history with wind erosion and adjusting tillage practices
  • Discover his process for addressing and managing salinity issues that are faced by the majority of producers in North Dakota

Episode 3: Talking Tillage at Agronomy on Ice

In this episode you’ll hear from four different farmers and one crop consultant about their individual perspectives and experience with tillage. To use tillage or go no-till is sometimes controversial and often treated as a form of identity. This discussion explores a more practical approach from people trying to reduce the harmful effects of tillage, but still keeping the necessary tools in their toolbox that their operation needs.


In order of appearance, you’ll hear from:



“One thing I’ve really struggled with lately is labels…You know we try a no-till, and that’s our philosophy but I’m not afraid to run our vertical till out there if we have to.…I’m a conservation minded farmer…. I will do what I have to do to get a crop. You know, the labels be damned pretty much.” – Greg Amundson


Agronomy on Ice was a great place to capture different perspectives on soil health. Every one of these farmers and consultants in Lee’s case is finding the tillage practice that optimizes soil health and productivity for each individual field and each individual circumstance. It’s not helpful to apply labels or identities around these practices. Rather, producers should find the best approach for their situation with soil health in mind as a consideration for the overall system.


“That’s what Greg’s doing. He’s doing something that doesn’t fit the quote unquote no-till marker, but it’s getting his soil health journey because now he’s fixed that field, let it repair, rebuilt it again in that spot, which is a little frustrating, but it’s better than leaving that wound wide open… I support diagnosing the challenge, finding the right solutions, putting them in the practice at the right timing, whatever they may be. That to me is more of a soil health thing.” -Dr. Lee Briese



This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Listen in on a discussion of real world tillage experience with four farmers and a crop consultant as they navigate how to prioritize soil health in a practical approach to field management
  • Explore the limitations created by labeling practices and operations as no-till or reduced tillage


Episode 2: Soil to Cereal with Dr. Steve Rosezweig of General Mills

Dr. Steve Rosenzweig is a soil scientist and the agriculture science lead at General Mills. General Mills is a leading American producer of consumer foods, especially flour, breakfast cereals, snacks, prepared mixes, and similar products. Along with co-host Dr. Abbey Wick, we discuss how General Mills is looking at soil health and regenerative agriculture, how they view their role in agricultural sustainability, and what insights they’ve learned from being involved in soil health initiatives for several years.


“We wanted to be out there helping to figure out how do we conduct on-farm research with farmers to really understand what they’re learning and what they’re seeing on their farms. So that’s kind of where we started, was really on that research side. And then it’s really just been about forming partnerships with folks that are in the communities that we are sourcing these ingredients from and really understand that local context.” – Dr. Steve Rosenzweig


Steve joined the company in 2017,after earning his Ph.D. in soil science at Colorado State University. He says his role is to help find scientifically-driven ways to increase adoption of soil health principles in the areas where they source key ingredients for their products. He also works on the science side to see how to measure things like soil health, biodiversity, water, and farm economics at scale.


“Our entire business is resting on the resilience and ability of farmers to keep farming essentially. So increasingly our leadership investors really want to make sure that we are investing to make sure that General Mills is going to be around for another 150 years… And really forming these kinds of partnerships and really helping to support farmers and increase their viability, longevity, and resilience is what we’ve realized is a business imperative. Their business is our business essentially.” – Dr. Steve Rosenzweig


This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Continue the discussion and explore some of the support behind the Trusted Advisor Partnership program
  • Meet Steve Rosenzweig, a soil scientist and the agriculture science lead at General Mills and learn about the purpose behind their involvement in the TAP program
  • Explore the role General Mills will play and the initiatives they are taking to promote soil health
  • Visit Trusted Advisor Partnership to learn more and sign up for more information

Episode 1: Trusted Advisor Partnership

Many food companies have become increasingly more interested in what part they can play in building healthier soils. If they’re in it for the long haul and truly want to develop partnerships with farmers, it will take an intentional and dedicated approach to collaborating with growers and their trusted advisors to figure out what might be right in each individual situation.


“What if we all just worked on this together and used this great organization out of Vermont called the Sustainable Food Lab that works with all these companies regularly? How about we bring all these ideas together and come up with one program for the entire state of North Dakota? And let’s not base it on these ideas of just paying farmers to adopt practices, but let’s actually make those practices stick.” – Dr. Abbey Wick


That’s exactly what the Trusted Advisor Partnership is seeking to do. In this episode you’ll hear about how a group of food and beverage companies is working together with the mission of introducing new soil health building practices on 500,000 acres in North Dakota in the next five years. To make that happen, they have enlisted the help of Dr. Abbey Wick, the Sustainable Food Lab and crop consultants like Dr. Lee Briese and Jason Hanson, to lead certified crop advisors through the process of trying these practices. This is a great episode for understanding how food companies can work together with farmers to create lasting change.


“I think if we can get these companies to work together like they are, the CCA has the knowledge of all those programs and can pick the best one for the grower, take it to them, then the grower signs up for it and then the company now can say we’ve influenced “X” acres in North Dakota.” – Dr. Abbey Wick


This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Discover the Trusted Advisor Partnership program and how this may impact soil health in North Dakota over the next five years and the benefits it offers producers beyond improved soil health
  • Learn how the program hopes to gain traction over time towards its initial goal of influencing soil health practices over 500,000 acres in North Dakota
  • Explore the roles crop advisors Dr. Lee Briese and Jason Hanson will play in creating content to deliver to participating CCAs
  • Visit Trusted Advisor Partnership to learn more and sign up for more information