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

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Season 1

Episodes - 1-16

Season 2

Episodes 1-15

Season 3 Episodes

Episodes 1-15

Season 4 Episodes

Episodes 1-15

Season 5 Episodes

Episode 15 – Agronomy on Ice featuring Jason Hanson, Kyle Okke, Rob Sharkey, Nikki Bylin and Scott Bylin

In February we attended Agronomy on Ice to host conversations about soil health. This is an annual event on Devils Lake, North Dakota. Picture several ice houses and hundreds of people on a frozen lake in below zero temperatures who all just want to talk about agriculture and have a great time, and you’ll have the basic idea.

 

“If you’ve ever been to an ag show and they have booths and you walk down the alleys and you can stop and talk to people, think of that same concept only you’re on a lake in North Dakota, in February, and instead of booths, you’re in an ice house…..And the whole point is to treat it like a meeting, you come in see what is in the house and you start making connections.” – Jason Hanson

 

The folks at Anheuser Busch were kind enough to let us set up shop in their ice house and host a series of casual conversations about soil health. We hear a few highlights from three of those conversations in this episode, which include Agronomy On Ice founder and Rock’N Roll Agronomy independent agronomist Jason Hanson, his Agronomist Happy Hour podcast co-host, Kyle Okke, the one and only Shark Farmer Rob Sharkey, Anheuser Busch Agronomy Manager Nikki Bylin, and Scott Bylin who farms in Northeast North Dakota also happens to be Nikki’s husband. The day was filled with laughter, great conversation, food, and a whole lot of fun.

 

“It’s absolutely great. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain…You look at it from the outside and you say, we’re drinking beer, we’re eating food. It looks like you’re tailgating. I don’t really see a lot of handouts or actual seminars… but the reality is you show up and you start meeting people, you start talking and you get into conversations…You make connections with people. You probably wouldn’t have made in other settings and you probably learn more than you realize.” – Kyle Okke

 

Throughout the day, we kept having people like Jason and Kyle pop in and sit down with us for a few minutes to talk about soil in their areas. Because as we know everyone’s area and farm is unique. Our speakers shared what soil health means to their operation and customers.

 

Soil health is everything and it means a lot of things.….if you’re not paying attention to your soil health, and you’re not doing things to maintain good soils and good land, you’re going to fall behind and you’re not going to be profitable. You’re not even going to be economically sustainable at where crop prices are.” – Kyle Okke

 

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

 

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

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Episode 14 – Planes, Grains, and Cover Crops with Blaine Kummer

In this episode we find another great example of a farmer experimenting with new ideas and figuring out what works best for his farm when it comes to soil health. Blaine Kummer farms with his wife and parents south of Fargo in Colfax, North Dakota. They raise corn, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat and occasionally some barley. The soil is really variable in his area, from silty sand areas to Fargo silt clays. He came back to the farm after graduating from NDSU and over the years he has since tried a variety of techniques to figure out how to build healthier soil. Blaine said as an industry there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to soil health.

 

“We had severe crop damage, I would say this year due to blowing soil. And there was a few days in June this year where we’re talking 30-40 plus mile an hour winds. There was a week in there where you could see it 30 miles away. The whole horizon was just covered in dirt, blowing, hung up in the air and it was like this train coming through.” – Blaine Kummer

 

If there’s one overarching theme for today though, it’s experimentation. Blaine emphasized that he is still figuring things out and always trying something new to see what works best for him. That’s definitely been true when it comes to cover crops. Blowing soil is one major concern with the wind. Another concern is that it can blow sugar beet seedling plants right out of the ground. One thing Blaine has found works well for this are rye strips.

 

We’ve tried several things…. And the next spring, when we went to plant soybeans, the conditions were beautiful. The ground was nice and mellow. The moisture for a seed bed was perfect.” – Blaine Kummer

 

One of the biggest challenges to cover crops, especially in a place like North Dakota is timing. The logistics are challenging enough to grow one crop, squeezing in a second one before winter comes can be tricky. Flying on cover crops makes a lot of sense from a logistics standpoint. Blaine walks us through the economics of this decision.

 

“When you think of crop dusters, you think of a guy who’s spraying herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or whatever by air in the growing season. Our aerial applicator, we utilize them for both fertilizer and cover crops. So we’ll spread urea by air, into a standing corn crop, into a standing wheat crop and also spread cover crops.” – Blaine Kummer

 

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Blaine Kummer, a producer from south of Fargo in Colfax, North Dakota
  • Discover his journey with cover crops and the benefits he has experienced even with adverse weather conditions.
  • Explore the process of flying cover crop seeds onto a field and hear why Blaine has used it on his operation
  • Follow up with Blaine on Twitter @thek2bk

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 13 – Agricultural Career Training with Anissa Hoffman and Chandra Langseth 

In this episode we get a chance to feature one program that is doing incredible work to train the next generation of farmers, agronomists, consultants and other ag-related professionals. The North Dakota State College of Science, based in Wahpeton offers two year programs designed to help prepare students for agricultural career paths and connect them with employers who are looking to hire. The options for students to focus on include animal science, ag business, agronomy, precision agriculture, farm management, ranch management, and ag transfer for those who want to go on to complete a four-year degree.

 

Joining us are Anissa Hoffman and Chandra Langseth. Anissa is an associate professor in her 16th year at NDSCS working in the soils and agronomy coursework. Chandra is a second year instructor at the college who teaches all of the precision ag courses as well as some basic agronomy. There are some really compelling reasons for NDSCS’ 2-year model of postsecondary education to fit the needs of both students and hiring companies, especially in agriculture. We talk about the types of students and employers that are getting involved with the program, their hands-on teaching philosophy, and how they’re preparing the next generation of agricultural professionals. The two year program is a great opportunity for these students, but it’s also in high demand from agricultural employers.

 

“I think it’s safe to say we have way more demand than students that we have to offer industry….. We always have continual calls, continual emails from places looking for people….They want someone that’s got a good work ethic, maybe some knowledge about basic agricultural things, but if they are a motivated person, willing to work, be there, show up, be somewhat self-directed, they’d be a great candidate for most of our employers.” – Anissa Hoffman

 

Anissa and Chandra are in a unique position to hear directly from employers who tell them what skills exactly employers are looking for. They have the opportunity to foster not only the work ethic and attitude that Anissa mentioned earlier but also the knowledge and skills to lay the groundwork for a successful career.

 

“We focus on the fundamentals, the things that are going to be consistent from one operation to the next, but then within that, every operation is going to be a little unique. So there’s always a really steep learning curve, wherever our students end up. But if we can provide some of that foundation in two years, that’s not a very long time. So we’ve got a lot to kind of get through.” -Chandra Langseth

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Anissa Hoffman, an associate professor in her 16th year at NDSCS, and Chandra Langseth, a second year instructor at the college.
  • Explore the programs offered at North Dakota State College of Science and the benefits they offer their students
  • Discover the teaching goals and techniques they employ and the value that adds to the education they provide

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 12 – Passing Along Better Soil to the Next Generation with Mike & Phil Faught 

Mike and Phil Faught are a father/son partnership who farm in Absaraka, North Dakota. Mike has been working with minimal till and no till since 1980, but he says his father first tried no till as far back as the 1930s. Phil Faught is in his first year of fully taking over the operation. He had a career in sports medicine before this that allowed him to take time off and farm in the summertime, and for the past four years he has been back on the farm full time.

 

In today’s episode, we talk about the history of conservation on their farm, their experiences in trying to minimize tillage and keep residue and cover crops on their fields, why they’ve decided to go back to banding fertilizer, and a lot more.

 

“Farmers have always done the best they can with what they had, whether it be the plow or learning to adopt the use of fertilizers, all of those things. And you do the best with what you can, but when we see erosion, both wind and water, I don’t feel as there’s any excuse anymore…We have tools to use to keep this going. To keep the land going and keep it healthy. So it’s a very dynamic time.” -Mike Faught

 

Not every farmer in the area is approaching things the same way that Mike and Phil are, but Mike says that’s nothing new. Over the years they’ve been able to connect with other like minded farmers to learn from and share ideas with. Phil says his neighbors are more curious than cynical, and want to know more about what they are doing.

 

“The traffic ability on the heavy clays, you see that right away, you may not see all the benefits, the worms, the mineralization….And that’s probably the thing that most people that are getting started are worried about is I can’t go across that field. We were on that field and nobody else was, and we’re generally not first. We’re not last, but we’re not first.” -Phil Faught

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Mike and Phil Faught are a father/son partnership who farm in Absaraka, North Dakota
  • Explore the journey the Faughts have taken and are taking in improving their soils
  • Discover the introduction of no-till and cover crops to the Faught family operation

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 11 – Farm and Ranch Safety with Doug Bichler, Angie Johnson and Emily Leier

 

In this episode you’re going to hear a first hand account of a farm accident. It’s a jarring reminder of how so many tasks on a farm or ranch that seem routine, can be extremely dangerous. Doug Bichler is a rancher from Linton, North Dakota. He has agreed to share his story with us of a day in 2017 that changed his life forever. Doug is the 3rd generation on his family’s ranch where he owns a seed stock operation, and raises registered Simmental Cattle and Dorper sheep. He also does custom feeding for others in the area: mainly backgrounding for feeders and replacement heifers.

 

You’ll also hear from Angie Johnson, who is the NDSU Extension Farm & Ranch Safety Coordinator, and Emily Leier, who is the Emmons County Extension Agent. They’ll talk about impacts of farm accidents on local communities and the resources available for both prevention and support.

 

“I actually even used to teach farm safety. I used to be an extension agent. I’m very aware of what to do and what not to do. I think there’s a disconnect though, when you’re in the tractor and you’re doing it versus when you’re in a classroom and you’re teaching. It’s really easy to say things, but it’s a whole other thing to actually do them and practice them.” -Doug Bichler

 

Doug has discovered that not only are there a lot of people with stories of close calls who can relate, but there is a whole community of people whose lives have been affected by firsthand experiences with farm accidents. As you can imagine, this whole experience has created a new set of challenges for Doug, but it hasn’t changed his resolve to work on the ranch. His attitude and empathy for what others might be dealing with, is something we should all aspire to.

 

“Your attitude is just such a key factor in overcoming whatever obstacle you’re facing, whether it’s an accident or something else. We all have things we deal with. People can just see what I’m dealing with, but sometimes we can’t see what people are dealing with. So I think that’s an important thing to remember.” -Doug Bichler

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Doug Bichler, a rancher from Linton, North Dakota
  • Hear about the farm accident in 2017 that changed Doug’s life and learn how he has used that experience to help others
  • Learn about the far reaching effects of farm accidents in surrounding communities and operations
  • Explore the resources provided by NDSU Extension to help make farming practices more safe

 

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 10 – The Soil Health Snowball with Jon Bertsch

 

We have another great episode with a farmer who has been on a journey over the past seven years or so to try to build healthier soils on his farm in Hillsboro, North Dakota. Jon Bertsch is a third generation farmer who grows mainly corn and soybeans, but he says he is looking at adding back some wheat and sunflowers this year.

 

Jon discusses his soil health journey both in cover crops and tillage. He has some really practical advice about getting started where you are with what you have, and he shares openly about what is working for him and what is not. Jon’s interest in cover crops all started while attending a conference in which Abbey Wick spoke.

 

“I can manage moisture in a different way, I can manage fertility in a different way, and I can manage my weeds in a different way…. I was like this is outside the box and something different. I like the concept, I like the long term and I like what it does for the soil. It was just checking all of these boxes.” -Jon Bertsch

 

One practice leads to another practice and there is a snowball effect there, but what does that snowball effect look like in soils? Jon says he could see signs in the soil itself, and he really felt the snowball when he could consider reducing or eliminating some of his other practices.

 

“In those drier years, we’ve conserved moisture. We got this last year absolutely without a doubt. My solid seeded soybeans that went into cereal rye did awesome on a year that we needed to conserve moisture.” -Jon Bertsch

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Jon Bertsch, a third generation farmer in Hillsboro, North Dakota.
  • Discover Jon’s journey in incorporating cover crops and changing his crop management practices
  • Explore the influences that have helped Jon along this journey

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 9 – Barley for Malting Premiums and Soil Health with Dr. Dave Franzen and Anthony Thilmony

 

One of the things we’ve learned over the years of doing this podcast is that we love episodes that feature both a farmer and a researcher to really capture both the complexity and the practicality of farming and soil health. That’s exactly what we have today, specifically talking about barley, and the work being done to make barley a more desirable part of the rotation to build healthier soils.

Anthony Thilmony is a 4th Generation farmer in the Valley City, North Dakota area. He has a masters in Weed Science and has worked in both research and sales before returning to the farm full time. Joining Anthony is  Dr. Dave Franzen, a Soil Scientist with North Dakota State University in Extension. Dave and Anthony talk about the advantages of barley, why it hasn’t won more acres in the past, and the research that’s being done to help farmers grow more marketable barley for malting.

“I think this is exciting because barley does have a fit with the soil conditions we have in this state. Especially as you go into this rolling territory where we have the variable soils. We have saltier soils and barley is a crop that is very agronomically acceptable, but we quit raising it because we got tired of the marketing side.” -Anthony Thilmony

For farmers like Anthony, barley used to be a common crop before corn started taking over acreage in the area. But Dave says barley still has a lot of advantages over other crops if some of the disadvantages can be mitigated, which is what his research is all about. This win-win between capitalizing on the soil health benefits of barley while still raising a quality crop that can make grade for malting premiums could allow more farmers to have their cake and eat it too.

“The overriding thing was the soil health benefits of a short season crop. And it certainly did that. We could grow a ton of dry matter or so after barley compared to a few hundred pounds in the corn and soybeans. So if you’re wanting to draw down on the water in a system so that you don’t get salts, you mitigate salts so that you can get in there a little bit earlier in the springtime, the barley is probably part of that.” -Dr. Dave Franzen

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Anthony Thilmony, a fourth generation North Dakota farmer, and Dave Franzen, a Soil Scientist with North Dakota State University in Extension
  • Discover the historical context and future potential for the use of the barley in North Dakota operations

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 8 – Sugar Beets and Soil Health with Dan Vagle

 

We often talk about corn, soybeans, and small grains on this show, but those are far from the only crops focused on improving soil health. This episode is a unique look at sugar beets, and what sugar beet farmers in the Red River Valley are doing to improve their soil health. Over 11 million tons of sugar beets are harvested from the region every year, making it the number one area for the crop in the country. The soil and climate make it an ideal area for this unique crop, but also can present its own soil health challenges.

 

Dan Vagle is a senior agronomist for American Crystal Sugar in the northern part of the Red River Valley along the Minnesota/North Dakota border. Dan grew up on a sugar beet farm near Hallock, Minnesota, so he has very real experience in every aspect of producing this interesting crop. We discuss what’s unique about sugar beets, how soil health practices have changed over time, and how they’re using techniques like nurse crops and strip tillage to build healthier soils while still maximizing their revenue per acre.

 

“Sugar beets are expensive to raise. Sugar beets are expensive to harvest and the whole name of the game is being able to get your revenue per acre up. And that’s your sugar percentage and that’s your tonnage. It’s yield, but not even yield. They get paid on the sugar that they produce as being a part of a cooperative.” – Dan Vagle

 

Dan suggests being very flexible with your operations to find what variables work best for your production. He is a huge advocate for pursuing sustainable practices. But he believes it’s important to share both the successes and the failures. That way farmers, agronomists, extension, researchers and consultants can all support each other through the challenges. 

 

“There’s going to be a few truths that hold through on strip till and sugar beets. Our job is to find out not so much where it works, but where it doesn’t work. And that’s the same way with all this stuff that’s coming out right now, strip till, no till, cover crops, double cropping. The value is in the failures, not the successes….. it’s the all or nothing mentality that I have to battle against. So it’s the nuance. Every person is nuanced. Every farm is nuanced.” – Dan Vagle

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Dan Vagle, a senior agronomist for American Crystal Sugar
  • Discover the process and unique characteristics of sugar beet production in the Red River Valley
  • Explore Dans approach to sustainability, soil health and introducing new practices on an operation

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 7 – Disease Management with Andrew Friskop, Ph.D.

 

Disease Management with Andrew Friskop, Ph.D.

 

This episode focuses on a topic that we haven’t talked about too much before: disease management. Specifically, we’re talking about a couple of diseases in corn and in small grains to be aware of, challenges with fungicide resistance, how soil health practices affect disease management, and what it looks like to take an integrated pest management approach to these diseases.

 

Dr. Andrew Friskop, cereal crop extension plant pathologist at North Dakota State University, joins us to discuss his research in disease management strategies for North Dakota producers. He says he’s always looking at both what the research says and what’s executable on the farm level. To accomplish this he partners with farmers and other regional research extension centers around the state to plant test plots every year.

 

“There’s never a one size fits all approach, but be aware of what you’re worried about during the season and put as many tools as you can in place to make it work.” – Dr. Andrew Friskop

 

Crop rotation and genetic resistance are the initial steps Dr Friskop suggests to mitigate disease risk. Besides Goss’s wilt, he recommends monitoring for evidence of tar spot. Fortunately it is currently not present in North Dakota but could be soon and needs to be scouted for. Ongoing research is working to provide best management practices for targeting this Tar Spot fungal concern. This emerging disease highlights the concern researchers and producers alike have for chemical resistance in regards to disease management.

 

“When you get a pest out there and you start using the same crop protection product on it for several years or decades, you’re going to be able to start selecting for some of those resistant populations.” -Dr. Andrew Friskop

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Andrew Friskop, cereal crop extension plant pathologist at North Dakota State University
  • Learn how to identify the threshold for instigating disease management practices
  • Explore what it means to take an integrated approach to field disease management and where Dr. Friskop recommends starting your efforts as a producer

 

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 6 – A Practical Approach to Soil Health with Mark Huso and Scott Huso

 

“A Practical Approach to Soil Health with Mark Huso and Scott Huso”

 

In this episode we are joined by two brothers from Northeast North Dakota who have each been on their own soil health journeys while supporting and pushing each other to keep getting better in farming and agronomy. Scott Huso farms with his wife Elizabeth south of Aneta, North Dakota. Mark Huso is the owner of Huso Crop Consulting where he works with and consults for many different types of farms across Northeast North Dakota. The Husos come from a farming background, but didn’t inherit the family farm, which was sold in the 1980s.

 

Together they share their soil health journeys, how they are staying true to principles but not necessarily individual practices and how they are constantly pushing each other to explore different ways to maximize both productivity and soil health. Neither Scott or Mark are really dogmatic about no-till. “I am all about soil health. I’m not all about no-till,” shares Mark. They are fully committed to soil health, but also recognize that they need to use every tool at their disposal to produce a good crop no matter what mother nature sends their way. For Scott, soil health is about increasing infiltration and building soil biology.

 

“We’re trying to increase the pockets in the soil that have air because they need to be there to allow water to flow through rather than holding the water up. And then we’re trying to get more microorganism activity to create these pathways and whatnot. What we’re also trying to do is place the fertilizer where the crop is going to get it. And so rather than spreading it all over, it makes a lot more sense to put it where the crop needs it.” -Scott Huso

 

This practical approach takes into consideration what can be done when something happens and a particular practice is not the right thing for those conditions. Because as Mark says, you just can’t ignore the logistics of it all. While these logistics can often impact the individual practices, it doesn’t change the principles.

 

“So much of what we’re trying to provide answers for with farmers is pick variety A over variety B or pick this fertilizer over that fertilizer. And truthfully some of the biggest yield advantages happen simply from mechanics, from row spacing, from tillage, and from different drill types.” – Mark Huso

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet farmer Scott Huso and agronomist Mark Huso from Northeast North Dakota
  • Discover their journey into soil health practices and their approach to implementing new techniques to maximize yield
  • Follow Mark @husocrop and Scott @scotthsuo on twitter

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

Listen Now!

Episode 5 – Engaging Food and Beverage Companies with Elizabeth Reaves

 

One thing we try to stress on this show is that your soil health journey is going to look different from others based on your goals. Those goals may include trafficability, weed suppression, water infiltration, livestock integration or a whole host of other potential and very worthwhile goals.

 

Keeping these goals at the forefront of your mind is helpful in determining which practices may be right for you. It’s also nice to see incentives popping up from government, organizations, and companies to help assist farmers in building healthier soils. While these incentives shouldn’t take the place of the goals you have for your farm, they can help de-risk the process of pursuing more soil health building practices. Today’s guest works with large food and beverage companies that want to do their part to improve the soil of the farmers that produce their raw ingredients.

 

Elizabeth Reaves is the Senior Program Director for Agriculture and Environment at the Sustainable Food Lab. She works with large multinational food and beverage companies to help connect the commitments they’ve made to climate, regenerative agriculture and/or alleviating poverty in their supply chains to direct investment on the ground with farmers. She shares insights into how they’re viewing soil health and what approaches they’re taking to support farmers on this journey.

 

“The place that we most often like to start is taking our company partners to visit farmers in a particular place. And those are often some of the most powerful learning experiences because they get to have a real conversation with farmers and they get to not just hear what the farmers’ challenges are, but also what farmers have already done and tried and what they’re testing and innovating.” -Elizabeth Reaves

 

Hosting stakeholders on the farm “are often the most transformative moments for our companies in terms of really understanding….the things that we need to provide in terms of program support” to producers. For all of the talk about soil health, it’s so incredibly vital that the people who are offering incentives and voicing their opinions and visions have those grounded in what’s actually executable at the farm level. For Elizabeth and the Food Lab, they need to take these teachable moments and convert them into both short term and long term outcomes.

 

“What we know doesn’t work is pushing a set of standards. And I think most of the companies, at least the ones that I work with, really want to figure out how to pull a whole system to change at scale. So I’m really optimistic that through partnerships, between companies, with organizations like NDSU, the farmer networks that they’re building and the farmers that they can reach, that we actually start to see some of that real tide change.” – Elizabeth Reaves

 

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Elizabeth Reaves, the Senior Program Director for Agriculture and Environment at the Sustainable Food Lab
  • Explore the different tactics the Food Lab uses to bridge the gap between corporate partners and producers in the name of sustainable agriculture
  • Discover the initiatives and efforts taken by the Sustainable Food Lab to support producers in regenerative and socially conscious food production

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

Listen Now!

Episode 4 – Weed Management and Soil Health

 

We’re very lucky to have on the show two well-respected agronomic experts to talk about current weed management challenges. They share with us the weeds that have been the most difficult to manage, how high prices and supply chain challenges are impacting the tools farmers have at their disposal, and what the future of weed control looks like.

 

Joining me today are Joe Ikely, extension weed specialist at North Dakota State University, and Jason Hanson, owner and operator of Rock N Roll Agronomy. Joe’s work includes both extension and research in weed control with an emphasis on corn soybeans and dry beans. Jason is an independent crop consultant working directly with farmers as well as consulting with ag retailers on a contract basis.

 

“Kochia, that’s definitely from my perspective, the top weed issue of this year….kind of a reminder for those who haven’t had to battle kochia for a while, that once we get dry conditions, there’s still plenty of plants around producing seeds, spreading them around.” – Joe Ikely

 

What makes Kochia unique is the ability to develop an “aggressive root system” that will reach and take advantage of any moisture available. When the climate is dry, the crops struggle to compete with that root system. Compounding the issue for producers is herbicide resistance limiting the efficacy of inputs. These factors have impacted farming practices this year and are expected to continue next year.

 

“Now I’ve got a higher (kochia) population. There’s definitely more kochia that has been cut, harvested and is rolling and tumbling around the countryside on some of our windy days. So we’ll definitely have more pressure to deal with in 2022.” – Jason Hanson

 

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Joe Ikely, extension weed specialist at North Dakota State University, and Jason Hanson, owner and operator of Rock N Roll Agronomy
  • Discover the most significant weed pressure exhibited in 2021 and how that may affect weed management in 2022
  • Explore the many factors affecting weed populations in North Dakota and the mitigating practices producers can adopt
  • Hear more from Jason on the podcast “Agronomist Happy Hour
  • Follow Joe Ikely at the “War Against Weeds” podcast

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

Listen Now!

Episode 3 – Carbon Economics with Dr. David Archer

 

In this episode we dive into the economics of carbon credits. Specifically, how should farmers approach the emerging markets that are popping up for carbon offsets and credits. We are joined by Dave Archer, an agricultural economist at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory. His specific research interests include risk management, simulation modeling, decision aid development, bioenergy economics, and decision making to achieve both economic and natural resource goals.

 

Dave is going to answer some of the most asked questions about these carbon markets, such as:

  • What questions should a farmer be asking before they get involved with one?
  • Why are they not willing to compensate for the previous decades of soil health building practices?
  • How should this influence farm management decisions?

 

Dave highlights three important components in this discussion: additionality, permanence, and pricing.

 

“The value of these credits goes up and down and will continue to go up and down. So it’s important to understand how those price changes are handled in any contract, whether you can get the benefits of any price increases or whether you have losses with price decreases.” – Dave Archer, Ph.D.

 

While these carbon programs can be great incentives to try soil health building practices, Dave says it’s important to keep them in perspective and consider first and foremost how incorporating new practices will impact the bottom line. As an added benefit, practices that build soil health and sequester carbon can also be more profitable over time.

 

“I think the most important thing is just understanding the system impacts. If you’re thinking about adopting practices that may build carbon, there are potential economic benefits associated with that. Carbon credits and carbon markets may be a way to get additional incentives and help you make that change.” – Dave Archer, Ph.D.

 

Watch the Capturing Carbon Workshop Here!

 

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Dave Archer, an agricultural economist at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory
  • Explore the economic impacts of the carbon credits market for producers
  • Discover the questions producers need to ask and the answers they need to understand before pursuing a contract based on carbon credits

 

Connect with Soil Sense

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

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Mark Liebig with the USDA ARS and Dr. Caley Gasch a soil ecologist with North Dakota State University
  • Explore the different types of carbon present in the soil
  • Discover the strategies in maintaining and encouraging carbon storage in the soil
  • Learn how increasing soil carbon takes a long time and there are many variables at play
  • Visit the “Catching Carbon” Workshop to see more on this topic

Connect with Soil Sense

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

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Episode 2 – Catching Carbon

 

Soil health has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent years, and no topic has been drawing more attention than the concept of soil carbon. Specifically, can farmers optimize the amount of carbon they pull from the air and store in the soil based on farming practices? And can that carbon sequestration reach levels where it’s part of the solution to climate change?

Much of the exuberance surrounding these topics glosses over the science involved. To put this concept into perspective we have on the show Dr. Mark Liebig with the USDA ARS, and Dr. Caley Gasch who is a soil ecologist with North Dakota State University. The audio was recorded at the “Catching Carbon” live workshop put on by the North Dakota Corn Council, NDSU Extension, and USDA.

“It’s no surprise that when we think about dealing with the challenges in the future, we’ve got to look to the soil…It’s going to be a really big part in how we create systems that are robust and resilient to these extremes. And so this is why I think soil carbon and soil health are often a pretty good partnership.” – Dr. Mark Liebig

Soil has always been a sink for carbon, but over the decades as more land has been converted to cultivated cropland, we’ve released a lot of that stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Dr. Liebig goes on to make practice suggestions to best support carbons sequestration.

“Increase your biomass production, that’s number one, maintain that soil cover, apply organic amendments. On the loss side, we want to minimize that soil disturbance as much as possible. If we can, don’t burn that crop residue. That’s a really good way to lose a lot of carbon.” Dr. Mark Liebig

Dr. Gasch explains the origin, cyclical nature and different types of carbon available in the soil. Another prominent variable in the success of carbon sequestration is the weather and its effects on the soil. Because of all of these factors, changing and verifying the soil’s carbon material is a slow and involved process.

“A 1% increase in organic carbon takes between 10 and 15 years….and that would be under best management practices, minimal tillage, and maximum plant productivity.” – Dr. Caley Gasch

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Mark Liebig with the USDA ARS and Dr. Caley Gasch a soil ecologist with North Dakota State University
  • Explore the different types of carbon present in the soil
  • Discover the strategies in maintaining and encouraging carbon storage in the soil
  • Learn how increasing soil carbon takes a long time and there are many variables at play
  • Visit the “Catching Carbon” Workshop to see more on this topic

Connect with Soil Sense

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

Listen Now!

Episode 1 – A Legacy of Conservation with Bob Radcliffe

 

We often talk on this show about soil health being a journey. Well today’s guest has been on that journey as a farmer for over 75 years. Bob Radcliffe grew up on a farm near Lennard, North Dakota in the 20s and 30s, then served in the United State Marine Corps during World War 2 and returned full time to the farm in the 1940s. Since that time he has been farming and raising livestock for over 75 years. Now at age 99, his grandson, Chris Walberg, has taken over the farm. It was really a treat to get to sit down with both Bob and Chris for this episode.

“We had a love for the land. It’s been in the family for five generations. We have 1891 tax returns for this land…..and so there’s not many farms that have stayed in one family that long… if you love what you’re doing, it’s never work. And that’s really been the story.” – Bob Radcliffe

In his lifetime, not only has Bob witnessed the mechanization of agriculture, but he was very early in the adoption of soil conservation practices. We talk about his history on the farm, the challenges of taking care of the land, innovations and changes that have happened over the past seven decades, and what wisdom he’d like to share with other farmers interested in soil health.

“(He has given) me a lot of advice and his wisdom over the years of what he’s experienced in his lifetime. It’s really been a benefit to me, particularly in soil…. We’re doing a lot of different things trying to improve our soil health and make the land better for the next generation and hopefully make a profit at the same time.” – Chris Walberg

This Week on Soil Sense:

Meet Bob Radcliffe, a North Dakota farmer with a lifetime of stories to share Explore the many advances and adaptations Bob has incorporated into his operation Discover words of wisdom that only decades of experience can offer

Connect with Soil Sense

Soil Sense Initiative

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

Listen Now!