Michael Thomson Talks about Soil Health

(Jamie) We’re back with Duane and Michael.
(Duane Toews) Duane Toews joining you once again with AGam in Kansas and a chance to talk about soil health and cover crops with Michael Thompson who joins us. Norton County area, across the border into Nebraska as well and Michael, you had a chance to talk about your operation and what’s worked for you and here was a chance of utilizing no-till and cover crops that you are able to come back to the farm when dad really didn’t think maybe you should. (Michael Thompson) Yes, basically when I left high school, I was told to go out and get a job in town and basically there wasn’t a spot for me on the farm and I guess that’s how I got interested in the soil health movement and soil health in the first place because it kind of gave me a start. We started with the cover crops and basically replacing, in a wheat-fallow rotation, replacing the fallow with some grazing forages and some high value forages for our animals. Since then, we’ve been able to add more livestock to our operation, we’ve also been able to manage our soil in a better way to help increase the infiltration and get some of the legumes building up nitrogen and some benefits for our soil. We got the soil health benefits as well as being able to recover it in pounds of beef. (Duane) We’re thinking about the environment today from the agricultural economy standpoints. Being able to diversify a little bit, it provides you a second opportunity at capturing some income when others maybe aren’t in a similar situation. (Michael) Yes. The whole thing with the grazing is its just another facet of our operation, it adds some income. Also with the cover crops, we are recovering some of the nutrients that are in our soils, that are naturally in our soils, we’re able to recycle some of those nutrients after our cash crops as well as some of the nutrients that are tied up in our soils. We’re able to make them plain available, therefore, we basically can get more for our fertility dollar from our added fertility. We’re also able to keep more residue on our crops which has led to a few less travels across with the spraying and a little bit more income in our pocket that way. (Duane) We’ve talked about, a lot of folks are concerned about some chemical resistance, herbicide resistance in the weed populations out here, cover crops provides an opportunity to really get shading in the soil and lessen the need for some of those applications. (Michael) Yes. That’s one of the main reasons that we got into the cover cropping. We were no-tillers before, we saw a lot of herbicide resistant issues, the grazing side of things were probably how we got into dealing with some of those resistance issues. The cattle went and grazed some of those resistant weeds, as well as the extra residue we raised kind of did shade the ground and was competition for the weeds so the weeds didn’t get established in the first place. (Duane) And you referenced, given the economy and current crop prices, sometimes it pays more to walk dollars off the farm than to try and haul it off in a grain cart. (Michael) That is exactly true. Basically, that’s how we found, in especially dry times or severe weather events, that the cattle on our operation have been something that diversifies our, that we’re not simply trying to make it in crop yields. We can also get pounds of beef and we can grow forage in these extreme weather events. (Duane) Well, our thanks to Michael Thompson, Almena, Kansas, joining us here on AGam In Kansas. Jamie we’ll send it back to you.
(Jamie) Thanks Duane! Stay tuned for a look at a multi-generational farm.

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