Soil Sense

Taking Off with Soil Health with Matt Nelson

An episode of Soil Sense

By NDSU Extension
Welcome to the Soil Sense Podcast, where 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.
More places to listen

More places to listen

Managing Salts with Allie Slykerman
Today we hear from Allie Slykerman. Allie works as an independent crop consultant at Centrol Ag Consulting. One of the most significant issues faced by North Dakota farmers is salinity management. The primary crop struggles to grow in these areas resulting in opportunist weeds gaining a foothold in the field. Possible management practices include using salt tolerant plants for cover and assisting the soil in moving the water through the soil profile via tile. Depending on the location and salinity levels these options may not be available. The effort then becomes to try to limit the saline spots spread to reduce lost ground. Allie says one of the biggest concerns she gets approached about is weed resistance. She discusses the challenges faced by farmers and the progression of resistance she has observed. Roundup is no longer a “silver-bullet” for all things weeds. She shares different recommendations she has made in the last year to mitigate this growing threat. “Our chemistry is still working but I think in the future we need to start considering the what if’s….We really have to start being really careful and protecting these chemistries and start to think outside the box and using all the tools in the toolbox.” - Allie Slykerman “Figuring out how these guys tick is one of my favorite aspects of the job and getting to work with all different sorts of personalities is one of the most interesting things I think a crop consultant deals with on a day-to-day basis.” - Allie Slykerman This Week on Soil Sense: Allie Slykerman shares the most significant issue she sees with her clients Learn the different techniques available to battle salinity issues Allie shares her concern for weed herbicide tolerance Explore the relationship between a crop consultant and their client farmers Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
October 17, 2019
Integrating Cattle and Cover Crops with Luke Ressler
What can integrating livestock do for soil health? Luke Ressler joins us from Hillsboro, North Dakota where he farms with his father-in-law, Randy Lemm, and his wife Elli. Luke was raised on a farm in Cooperstown and worked for the NDSU Extension and Dr. Abbey Wick after completing his studies at NDSU.  Luke was able to participate and host some of the Cafe Talks Abbey organized while working there. Luke shares the rotational grazing pattern he is using for his cattle. The biggest obstacle for them in using this technique is providing access to fresh water every day.  The goal of this process is to gain the benefit of the cover crop for the soil and then convert that growth into nutrition for the cattle which will add manure back to the soil to further fortify it and reduce the time spent in the feedlot for the cattle. We check in with Luke to see his experiences between the original interview in June 2019 to today (October 2019). Spoiler: it’s been a tough year weather-wise. “My goal is to always try to go to as many field days and events that NDSU puts on as possible because you’re going to learn something new every time you go and meet someone new.” - Luke Ressler “Research is helping out a lot of guys who don’t know where to go, who don’t have good resources available to them. They can go online and get really good information especially from NDSU. I have nothing but good to say about it and I’m really excited to be involved more.” - Luke Ressler This Week on Soil Sense: Luke Ressler introduces us to incorporating cattle into your soil health practices Learn the benefits to the soil and cattle when combined as part of your land management Feel Luke’s excitement to be involved with upcoming research Explore Luke’s process to getting answers when questions arise with his new practices Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
October 10, 2019
Soil Physics and Soil Biology with Dr. Aaron Daigh
Explore the scientific principles forming the foundation of soil health. Dr. Aaron Daigh of North Dakota State University joins us to discuss the impact of movement and distribution of water, heat, and nutrients in the soil. Dr Daigh draws an analogy between pores in the soil and plumbing in a building. Through the natural processes of freezing, wetting, drying, and thawing pores are developed in the soil. These pores are crucial to nutrient and water retention. He shares the effect that tillage practices have on heat transfer and retention within the soil as well as to the pore size and distribution. Understanding these scientific principles can lead to more informed decisions on farming practices. Dr. Daigh shares the ongoing research in this field and where the focus is shifting. “It’s kind of like taking all the piping in your house or the building or in a chemical plant and rearranging it to the way that you want…..When you go in and you till a soil you are kind of homogenizing everything. You’re making all the pipes kind of very similar to each other at least in the depth that you’re tilling at.” - Dr. Aaron Daigh “When you go into a no-till or reduced till system…. you have a whole bunch of small pores and those pores are what can really hold onto water longer. They can hold onto nutrients longer and keep it available in a spot that the plant can use later on.”  - Dr. Aaron Daigh This Week on Soil Sense: Meet Dr. Aaron Daigh and learn what it means to be a soil physicist Explore how tillage disrupts the natural pores in the soil and affects the movement of water and nutrients Dr. Daigh teaches us how the different sized pores are developed in the soil and the benefits they provide. Discover the up and coming research in the area of Soil Science Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
October 3, 2019
Building Soil Health on Your Toughest Field with Doug Toussaint
Doug Toussaint from Wahpeton, North Dakota discusses his shift toward soil health building practices. Doug shares what inspired him to make these changes and the decision to start with his most difficult field. Doug was able to slowly integrate these new techniques including inter-seeding and reduced tillage by using equipment that he already had on hand. He has noticed a significant difference in his fields with “how different they worked (and) how much easier they were to plant.” Doug shares that going to seminars, talking to other farmers and reaching out to consultants and the extension have all helped him find the answers and learn about new practices. He emphasizes the importance of networking with neighboring farmers and helping to foster the discussion about reduced tillage and cover crops. “Cover crops is not where to quit spending money….I’d rather have a cover crop that failed than a cover crop that I didn’t do.” -Doug Toussaint “There isn’t a recipe here. You’re going to put your own recipe together and how its going to work. You just have to be open-minded and look at different things and be willing to change immediately.” - Doug Toussaint This Week on Soil Sense: ● Hear from Doug Toussaint a Farmer in North Dakota ● Learn what inspired him to experiment with new farming techniques ● Meet the difficult field he started with and why he started there ● Explore some of the benefits Doug has experienced by adding cover crops to his rotation ● Doug shares what resources he reaches for to help answer his questions as they arise Connect with Soil Sense: ● Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
September 26, 2019
Salinity & Sodicity Issues with Naeem Kalwar of NDSU Extension
Naeem Kalwar is an extension Soil Health Specialist in the Langdon Research Extension Center. His expertise is shared today in facing sodicity and salinity issues in your soils. The term salinity refers to the potential for high salt levels in the soil which can decrease water absorption at the root-level resulting in drought stressed crops. Fortunately salinity does not affect soil structure allowing for the smooth movement of water and air through the soil despite the increased salt content. Good drainage and improved soil water infiltration can help manage salinity concerns. Sodicity, on the other hand, creates an issue that is not as easy to correct. With sodicity, a bond between the sodium molecules and the clay is formed. This directly affects the ability of the water to move through the soil as it will settle in dense layers. With an increase in sodicity you will also have a higher retention of salt resulting in increased salinity.  Amendments like gypsum are required to increase the aggregation and good structure of the soil in order to compensate for the structural changes caused by sodicity. “Our groundwater has very high salt levels, plus sodium. And this sodium i’m talking about is not presented as salt. This sodium gets attracted to the negative charges of clay and hummus soil particles, and causes sodicity or the breakdown of soil we have two different problems: salt and sodicity.” - Naeem Kalwar This Week on Soil Sense: Meet Naeem Kalwar an extension Soil Health Specialist Explore the differences between soils in different regions Learn about the significance of salinity and sodicity in a soil’s health Discover how to identify and address these concerns Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
September 19, 2019
Improving Soil Health Over Generations with Lee Trautman
Lee Trautman joins us today. Lee farms corn and soybeans in Jamestown, North Dakota with his brother and father. Trautman Farms has been no till for over 20 years giving Lee a unique farming experience of very limited tillage. The EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) introduced the idea of cover crops to Trautman Farms. The cover crops they initially chose were based on what seed they had available. Now Lee employs rye and has found that it “fits the bill” for their operation and assists with weed suppression and water consumption. Lee discusses the significant impact his practices have had on his farm and the conversations it has inspired with his neighbors and landlords. “That's what really gets you is when you get somebody who's not around every day or  that sees it every day or maybe has never seen a no-till field. And  they come out and they just can't stop saying good things about your soils. That really means a lot to me.” -Lee Trautman “Sometimes you can just go out in a field and and stick a shovel in the ground and just be like, yes, this is a good piece of ground. And I can do that in all of my fields. I can stick a shovel in the ground and there's always worms. There's good aggregation. There’s structure. There's lots of organic matter. It's just a beautiful piece of ground most of the time. And just knowing that we've helped create that and kind of keep it established that way so…..hopefully the next generation can enjoy it and keep improving it.” -Lee Trautman This Week on Soil Sense: Meet Lee Trautman, a farmer in Jamestown, North Dakota Hear how Trautman Farms manage their farm with three family members running different parts of the operation Explore what program introduced Trautman Farms to cover crops Learn how Lee manages the use of rye and is able to replenish his seed every year Discover what healthy soils means to Lee and how he can demonstrate their vitality on his farm Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
September 12, 2019
Cover Crops with Dr. Marisol Berti
Dr. Marisol Berti spearheads research in the use of cover crops as a professor in the Plant Sciences Department at North Dakota State University. Her most recent projects are focused on cover crops and their uses with crops outside of the more traditional corn and soybean rotations. Among her many successes in this field, her team has also developed a specific planter to better plant a cover crop and beat the oncoming winter. Dr. Berti shares that the hallmark of using cover crops is the benefit of “protecting the soil.” She admits there is a risk with cover crops as there is with any crop when the weather does not support the seed’s growth. The difference with cover crops is that they are not insured, which leads to a total economic loss if the crop is not successful. Dr. Berti discusses the use of Camelina as a broad leaf cover crop and the benefits to its use. As of yet it has not been broadly used but shows great potential. The biggest obstacle she faces is not in its use but in its marketability to create another source of income for the farmer. There is currently a lot of interest in it as a source for Omega-3 Fatty Acids for human consumption but no clear market in the United States.  If a market develops the use of Camelina will not only be beneficial to soil health but also create additional income for the farmer which would help offset its risk. “If you go in a Corn-Soybean rotation with no cover crops the soil is almost like a parking lot. There is nothing. There is no life. You can dig and dig and there’s not one worm. I go to a farm that has had cover crops for 10 years and he puts his shovel no matter where and he gets a bunch of worms.” Dr. Marisol Berti This Week on Soil Sense: Explore the practice of adding cover crops Meet Dr. Berti, a cover crop expert and Professor at North Dakota State University Discover the use, benefit and obstacles in using Camelina as a cover crop Dr. Berti shares the common pitfalls faced by farmers trying to start the use of cover crops Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
September 5, 2019
Taking Off with Soil Health with Matt Nelson
Matt Nelson shares his experiences from his farm in Lakota, North Dakota where they produce small grains, wheat, barley, canola, soybeans, corn and edible beans. While Matt grew up on the farm, he spent the first 15-16 years of his career as a commercial pilot which has influenced his approach to farming. Matt shares the challenges and benefits that come with adopting reduced tillage practices. Another obstacle Matt faces are saline soils that have become more apparent with frequent rainfall. Matt shares his approach to implementing new techniques and what factors create the most viable options for his operation. “Ask your neighbors. Ask your friends. Ask the guys who have been farming for a long time. What's worked for you? What do you see? Are there certain times or certain practices you see that work better or have a negative effect on what you're doing?” Matt Nelson This Week on Soil Sense: Meet Matt Nelson Learn what drew him away from his job as an airline pilot towards being a full-time farmer Discover what are the biggest changes Matt has made to his farming operation Explore the effects of a multi-year wet period and what adjustments needed to be made Matt shares how he evaluates new techniques and what he looks for in choosing which to implement Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 29, 2019
Lessons from 20 Years of Crop Consulting with Dr. Lee Briese
Dr. Lee Briese is a Crop Consultant with Centrol Crop Consulting. He does not sell any products but rather solely focuses on helping farmers make the best decisions for their crops and soils. Dr. Briese checks every field weekly which creates a comprehensive understanding of the individual farmer’s goals, their assets and their obstacles to reaching those goals.  He estimates he has covered over a million acres with his crop consulting resulting in a wealth of knowledge and experience. “There’s no one (size) fits all for anybody,” says Dr. Briese. We learn how many factors play into the recommendations he makes and the timing of the alternative techniques he suggests. “There has to be a distinct level of trust between (the farmers) and I as far as the information I’m giving them, that not only applies to them but is solid information.” Dr. Lee Briese. This Week on Soil Sense: Introduction to Dr Lee Briese, a crop consultant with Centrol Crop Consulting Dr Briese discusses his approach to introducing new techniques Learn how information is shared between farms Discover why farmers in North Dakota use a lower rate of herbicide application and what the consequences are in regards to herbicide resistance Listen to the many factors taken into account prior to making any recommendations Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 22, 2019
Challenges of Building Soil Health in Cool and Wet Climates with Sam Landman
Sam Landman is a fifth generation farmer who manages not only his family farm but also a SHARE (Soil Health and Agriculture Research Extension) Farm. He discusses how his techniques have evolved and how that has impacted his crop rotations and equipment choices. Challenging effective practices for better sustainability and soil health is an uphill battle but Sam is already seeing the benefits.  “I think the long-term benefits will be there for sure. But you know we’re always up against short-term economics anytime you’re transitioning to a new practice.” Sam is perpetually researching and networking to gain as much knowledge as possible. He wants to make the most informed decisions he can. If someone is interested in trying some of these new practices, Sam recommends reaching out and asking questions. Dr. Abby Wick and the rest of the extension have been great resources for him. He also suggests experimenting with some smaller fields first to find the best fit for your operation. “I like seeing green out there. I like seeing living biology out there. When you start digging around in the ground, you start seeing the soil come alive because of the living root out there. It's just kind of an addiction. Once you start it and you start seeing the benefits you want to keep trying it and do more and more.” -Sam Landman This Week on Soil Sense: Meet Sam Landman and hear his story farming in North Dakota Discuss transitioning to reduced tillage practices Explore new soil handling techniques and the effect that has had on Sam’s farm Learn about the challenges faced by those changing farming protocols Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative  Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 15, 2019
Precision Ag for Healthier Soils with Anthony Thilmony and Dr. Dave Franzen
This is the second installment of a two part interview with Dr. Dave Franzen, a soil scientist at North Dakota State University, and Anthony Thilmony, a fourth generation farmer in the Valley City, North Dakota area. In this segment we will be focusing on the precision of soil health. We explore how to identify your individual soil needs and how to effectively and efficiently meet those demands. “The Zone Sampling Concept is the number one site specific nutrient management strategy in the state. I wish more people would do it .” -Dr. Dave Franzen “I had a goal. I didn’t go from here to there. I went five steps in between.” - Anthony Thilmony This Week on Soil Sense: Learn about the development of zone sampling  Discover the benefits and philosophy behind variable rate fertilization application Converting to various precision ag techniques requires a financial and time commitment What factors influence the decision to try a new technique or add new technology Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative  Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 8, 2019
Soil Fertility with Dr. Dave Franzen and Anthony Thilmony
Join us for the first installment of a two-part interview with Dr. Dave Franzen, a Soil Scientist at North Dakota State University in Extension, and Anthony Thilmony, a fourth generation farmer in the Valley City, North Dakota area. These two have collaborated for many years through discussion and trials. Today we explore soil fertility and the effect of a no-till strategy. We learn about some of the benefits including a decreased nitrogen need and increased microorganism activity to name two.  “In order to get somebody to change the way they’re doing things you either have to have an economic tag or an emotional tag.” -Dr. Dave Franzen “My goal is when I quit farming everything is going to be in better shape than I got it and that's what drives me with the no-till.” - Anthony Thilmony This Week on Soil Sense: Discover how Dr Franzen and Anthony began to collaborate Learn about soil loss in North Dakota over the last 100 years Hear about the benefits of performing research on commercial farms  What the advantages are of having a no-till field  Who the “Beach Boys’ of North Dakota are and what they have accomplished Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative  Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 1, 2019
Soil Health Systems on the Farm
Ride along with fourth generation farmer Tony Wagner in Jamestown, South Dakota. Farming has been a lifelong passion for Tony. He took on his first field in the eighth grade and after pursuing college returned to the area to help manage his family’s operation. He has experimented with different cover crops for different fields in order to better the soil he has access to. He joins us today to share his excitement for implementing new techniques and the drastic effect it has had on the quality of his soil.  “You have one shot a year to do this and then you have to wait the whole entire year for it to come around. And that's kind of what honestly really keeps me interested in it…..There's just so many things to do from preparation for equipment in the winter time to all of a sudden you're planting and then from planting you're going on to spraying and then from spraying it starts leading into harvest and next thing you know, the leaves are falling off the tree….. I like working with fields and soil and just anything that I could do to improve our farm.” - Tony Wagner  This Week on Soil Sense: Hear about the heritage associated with the Wagner Farm Learn about the new techniques Tony has implemented The effects rotating cover crops have had on the quality of the soil The collaboration of farmers and extension agents to learn and improve Connect with Soil Sense: Soil Sense Initiative  Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
August 1, 2019
Setting the Stage for Soil Health in North Dakota
Dr. Abbey Wick is an Extension Soil Health Specialist at North Dakota State University. She joins us to share what her role is in promoting soil health in North Dakota. Dr. Wick works primarily with farmers but also coordinates county extension agents and other educators to share what new research indicates with regards to enriching the health of the soil. She encourages networking between all factions of agriculture to best help the farmer in their pursuit of a high quality yield. Her Cafe Talks have become a welcomed forum for farmers to receive, engage with and implement new practices that work best for their individual needs. “Every year is different...that makes it a lifelong pursuit, makes it an awareness that you have to have of your system.” - Dr. Abbey Wick This Week on Soil Sense: How North Dakota coordinates efforts to disseminate information What soil health means to her as a soil scientist What are the obstacles she must overcome to get new ideas and research accepted Why Soil Health does not lend itself to a “one size fits all”  prescription service What happens when she doesn’t know the answer to a farmer’s questions. What is a S.H.A.R.E. Farm Connect with Dr. Abbey Wick: Email Soil Sense Initiative  Soil Sense Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.
July 29, 2019
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