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

Season 1

Episodes - 1-16

Season 2

Episodes 1-15

Season 3 Episodes

Episode 1: Systems Thinking for Healthier Soil

 

Woody Van Arkel - Farmer
Dr. Lee Briese - Independent Crop Consultant

Very little in this world is all or none and soil health protocols are no different. There is no one size fits all for every operation. “There’s a grey area in between that needs to be addressed” says Woody Van Arkel, a farmer in Ontario. Woody shares that some crops, specifically vegetable farming, require special handling and field management that cannot exclude all tilling practices. This resonates well with Central Crop Consulting Agronomist Dr. Lee Briese.

 

“I work with enough farmers that do a lot of different things and you understand right away that there’s more than one way to do things. ….The goal here is to produce a  crop and do it well while protecting the resources.” – Lee Briese

 

Lee recommends having producers create well defined “clear and attainable” goals such as managing water, managing soil or reducing erosion. While profitability is the underlying mission that isn’t specific enough to focus your efforts. A well-framed goal will create a measurable benchmark to better evaluate for change and success. Lee also cautions producers from “painting themselves into a corner” by prematurely picking the cover crop they would like to start with. He recommends considering what herbicides you want to use and how the residue will be managed and then determine the cover crop that best fits that program. Being flexible and considering long term planning with outcomes is critical to the success of new practices. While using these recommendations, Woody has been persuaded to choose a different cover crop mix than he would have otherwise.

 

“The goal is maybe not so much cover crop diversity as getting the living root system established that works. A practical system that works for the biggest part.” – Woody Van Arkel

 

The collaboration of Woody and Lee has created a healthy dynamic of seeking advice and not just validation. Because every situation and operation is unique they bounce ideas off of each other in order to decide what would be the best fit towards Woody’s goals.

 

“Using my scientific background and my experiences to try to…reduce his risk is really the way I see this for growers is just trying to make things fit so that it fits their farm, their machinery, their timing, their goals, to reduce their risk.” – Lee Briese

This Week on Soil Sense:

Meet Woody Van Arkel a farmer in Ontario.
Explore the collaboration created between him and agronomist Dr. Lee Briese. Learn the philosophy these two share in regards to soil health practices

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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Episode 2: Stories of Soil Health with Gil Gullickson

 

Gil Gullickson - Crops Technology Editor at Successful Farming Magazine

Gil Gullickson is the Crops Technology Editor at Successful Farming Magazine. Over the last three decades he has reported on agriculture in multiple publications. He has the benefit of having years of experience studying and discussing movements and changes in agriculture. Gil grew up on a farm in South Dakota. That background has greatly influenced his reporting style.

 

“So I kind of try to put myself in those shoes, in that neighborhood I grew up and ask those questions that my neighbors would want to ask.” – Gil Gullickson

 

Gil has been able to watch, reflect and report on the incorporation of soil health building practices into operations. Apart from the soil health benefits he has seen farmers gain more financial flexibility by pursuing soil health initiatives with year round cropping and calls it a “phenomenal impact.” Gil said he has observed that many of these soil health changes made over time have been a welcomed by-product of a focus on better water management practices.

 

“It’s not about no-till, it’s not about cover crops. It’s not about diverse rotations. It’s not about soil microbes. It’s not about bio-engineered soil. It’s about water management and these are all tools that enable farmers to better manage water.” – Gil Gullickson

 

Some operations not only improve their soil health but can save money from the onset in some soil health practices. Gil shares the significance of a great idea or movement taking time to marinate, develop and grow. He uses the example of an article he published calledSurefire Ways to Sustain Your Farm that evolved overtime by gathering different farmers’ perspectives. He maintains that when evaluating technology the bottom line has to be prominent in the decision making.

 

“When you’re adopting technology make sure it’s going to return investment on your farm.” Gil Gullickson

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Gil Gullickson a seasoned agriculture journalist who currently works as the Crops Technology Editor at Successful Farming Magazine
  • Gil reflects on the changes and trends in soil health over the last few decades
  • Explore the many reasons farmers get involved in soil health practices that extend beyond the benefits to the soil itself

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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Episode 3: Interseeding Cover Crops for Livestock Forage

 

Dr. Marison Berti - Professor of Plant Sciences at NDSU
Dr. Yvonne Lawley - Assistant Plant Science Professor at University of Manitoba

“We wanted to harness all of the potential of corn as  a feed crop but then use intercropping to overcome some of its weakness.” – Dr. Yvonne Lawley

 

Today we focus on interseeding cover crops with forage quality in mind and exciting areas for ongoing research. We are joined by Dr. Marisol Berti, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University, and Dr. Yvonne Lawley, an Assistant Professor in the Plant Science Department at the University of Manitoba.

 

“When people want to get into cover crops….we can’t really give you a recipe. We need to know what do you want the cover crops for? You know, if you want forage in the fall or forage in the spring, you’re going to have to change some practices.” – Dr. Marisol Berti

 

Dr. Berti found that intercropping corn with legumes such as alfalfa will provide a good forage and from a behavioral standpoint encourage the cattle to graze the field for longer periods of time in the winter because of a windbreak provided by the corn stocks. Unfortunately, there was not evidence of usable nitrogen left in the soil for the next crop. So if there isn’t the added benefit of nitrogen with interseeding, how do producers recover the added expense of cover crops while still providing forage?

 

“One way to get it back is when you raise cover crops, animals gain weight and that actually pays for the cover crops. So integrating with livestock really pays for the cover crops.” – Dr. Marisol Berti

 

Dr. Lawley shares that “science is exciting because one idea leads to a new question.” Many were surprised about the lack of nitrogen fixation after adding a legume to the corn crop. She shares that the research is ongoing and we are learning more about these fundamental processes which allow us to recommend agronomic adjustments. That in turn will allow for more accurate predictions of benefits and risks for producers.

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Dr. Marisol Berti and Dr. Yvonne Lawley
  • Explore the benefits of interseeding corn with forage type cover crops and find out how to get the most benefit out of the process
  • Learn about ongoing research to understand the processes involved in this technique in production

 

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Listen Now!

Episode 4: Cover Crops: Science, Practice, and Mindset

 

Greg Amundson - 4th Generation Farmer from Gilby, ND
Greg Endres - Cropping Systems Specialist with NDSU Extension

We have talked about cover crops a lot on this podcast. Today we speak with both a farmer and an extension agronomist about the decision-making required to introduce cover crops into an operation. Greg Amundson is a 4th generation farmer who farms with his dad near Gilby, North Dakota. Amundson began his venture with cover crops through an EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) with the NRCS. He explains how he approaches farming from a strict bottom line perspective when he says “I probably am a lower cost producer than anyone around. I don’t push for top yields. I push for the top return.”

 

“You don’t learn from your successes, you learn from your failures. So if you don’t fail, you don’t know if what you’re doing is right or wrong.” Greg Amundson

 

We are also joined by Greg Endres, a Cropping Systems Specialist with NDSU Extension. Endres focuses his efforts on bringing more data to cover crop decision making as cover crops are generally new to many productions. He hopes to make the information available to producers in order to make the most informed and beneficial decisions.

 

“If we have university data for people as a starting point for cover crops, that’ll give them a better chance of being successful with their cover crop and soil health program.” – Greg Endres

 

Endres shares that there is not a “one size fits all” to success with cover crops. Environmental factors and crop rotation considerations must be taken into account when making decisions about what cover crops to plant and when. “It all boils down to the amount of moisture and especially timely moisture,” explains Endres. While a cover crop can provide many benefits to the soil he cautions producers from discounting the amount of soil moisture the rye or other cover crop will take up and eliminate from any interseeded crops. One study is exploring the measurement of soil moisture to determine the rye termination date with the understanding that a poorly timed killing of the rye can adversely affect the yield of the main cash crop. While interseeding with a cover crop can present this risk of limited resources for crop yield, as always there are many apparent benefits to be factored in.

 

“The winter rye can serve as a substitute for a pre-emergence soil applied herbicide. So in other words, you can either use rye as a suppressant and terminate the rye when appropriate. That rye will hold back weeds quite nicely. And it can be a substitute for a soil applied herbicide…..So you’re trading management with herbicide usage.” – Greg Endres

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Greg Endres, a Cropping Systems Specialist at NDSU Extension and Greg Amundson, a fourth generation farmer in North Dakota.
  • Explore how Amundson approaches the addition of cover crops to his operation and the improvements he has observed
  • Learn from Endres about ongoing research and factors that affect your cover crop selections and management

 

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Listen Now!

Episode 5: Rock and Roll Agronomy with Jason Hanson

 

Agronomists play a significant role in following the progressive research in agronomic practices and assisting farmers in their operations. Jason Hanson is an Independent Crop Consultant with Rock and Roll Agronomy based in Webster, North Dakota. Jason has a long history of providing objective agronomic information to farmers and today he shares his take on what the role of his agronomist is. He also shares his perspective on cover crops which are slowly gaining popularity in his area.

 

“It’s about managing sunlight on the ground. It’s that simple. When it comes to weed control, that’s where a cover crop can come in and provide you part of that deal, so you don’t have growth. It’s just a different way of doing it. You’re not dumping something in the sprayer, you’re putting something in the air seeder to do that.”            – Jason Hanson

 

Jason shares the importance of networking and forming relationships with scientists and producers in your area to learn about new ideas and technologies. He is forever learning and forever adjusting his recommendations based on the environmental circumstances producers are presented with.

 

“Logistics beats agronomy seven days a week.” – Jason Hanson

 

Jason adjusts his recommendations and expectations based on many factors just as the goals and opportunities of his producers are also dynamic. If a planting window shifts plans are adjusted to accommodate it. He sees the future of agriculture being an interest in inputs with regards to carbon levels and biological activity. “Everyone wants the quick easy answer…..and it’s complicated,” shares Jason.

 

“To me, that is the next step where ag is going. It’s going to be finding those things that we can use to enhance disease control, nutrient uptake, and yield potential, that are naturally occuring.” – Jason Hanson

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Jason Hanson an Independent Crop Consultant with Rock and Roll Agronomy
  • Learn about his approach to agronomy with his clients and with staying on top of ongoing research and developments
  • Hear about what he thinks is the most significant benefit to cover crops
  • Explore “Agronomy on Ice” and learn how to join your agronomic community

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast

Listen Now!

Episode 6: Educating the Next Generation with Ag Teacher Whitney Landman

 

Agriculture teachers are responsible for not only teaching agricultural principles to the youth of today but also for encouraging their experience in agriculture and to promote leadership in whatever field they choose. Whitney Landman joins us from Larimore High School in Larimore, North Dakota. Whitney teaches both junior high and high school classes starting with introductory classes and ranging all the way to ag mechanics and community development.

 

“We always try to start with that intro level and exploring….so that we can bounce up into other concepts as well when they are older.” – Whitney Landman

 

Beyond the classroom, Whitney is also the FFA advisor. Her students are encouraged to participate in career development events and leadership development events. These events promote public speaking, leadership roles, agronomy identification and business management skills.

 

“The mission of agriculture education is to prepare students for successful careers and choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource system…..So my goal, and I think a lot of teachers’ goal as they lead the ag ed program, is that our students find a career that they love, whether that’s in ag or not.” – Whitney Landman

 

Whitney highlights the importance of hands on experience for her students and the significant impact that can have on her students’ interest and concept understanding. She likes to see them “get active with the content” to encourage curiosity and excitement. Support from the NRCS helps her achieve these goals in allowing students to experiment with different soil health protocols including the effects of wind erosion and conventional tillage. She happily uses resources including local farmers to give her students more opportunity to see agriculture in action and learn skills they might not be able to gain otherwise.

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Whitney Landman, an agricultural education teacher from Larimore High School in Larimore, North Dakota
  • Learn about the many classes her program offers to its students
  • Explore what she finds most effective for teaching new concepts to students
  • Hear about the many collaborations she has engaged in to give her students the most opportunity to learn

Connect with Soil Sense:

 

Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Listen Now!