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Soil Sense

90 EpisodesProduced by NDSU ExtensionWebsite

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… read more


Strategies for Keeping Living Roots in the Soil with Paul Thomas

**Join us virtually at the DIRT Workshop December 8th - 9th:**

Finding the best fit for your operation takes consideration, planning and a willingness to try new things. Paul Thomas, a farmer near Velva, North Dakota, exemplifies these ideals. Paul joins us to discuss his experience with no till, growing lentils underseeded with alfalfa, trying an oat/pea intercop and relay cropping soybeans into spring wheat and oats. Paul reflects on what strategies have shown the most benefit for him and his farm.

“I think managing those crop rotations and having the right amount of residue on your soil and the right amount of residue to feed the biology in the soil is probably as important if not more important than even the tillage practice or seeding practice that you choose to use.” - Paul Thomas

Paul took over farming healthy soils from his father’s organic practices and has continued to try to build his soil organic matter, although he chose to do so without keeping all of the organic practices. Through cover crops, intercropping, and relay crops, he is attempting to keep living roots in his system as much as possible.

“If you just try and copy someone else’s system and that’s not where you’re really at, where your heart’s at or where your goals are at, it's probably not going to work for you.” - Paul Thomas

Paul emphasizes the effects of having active root systems in his fields always. He highlights that it doesn’t have to have a lot of growth above the soil to provide benefit below the soil. Cover crops are what has been most beneficial for him. Some of his trials have gone as planned and some have not, relay cropping being one of them. He is rethinking that process and possibly introducing canola. Paul’s focus is efficiency and economics and with that in mind he will always be rethinking and tweaking his process to make his operation the best it can be.

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Paul Thomas, a farmer near Velva, North Dakota
  • Discover how Paul has incorporated different practices into his operation
  • Explore the lessons he has learned and the choices he has made
  • Learn about his philosophy towards farming with a focus on efficiency and economics

Connect with Soil Sense:

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

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