Bill Spiegel is on the show today. You may know him as the Crops Editor for Successful Farming Magazine but he is also a farmer and soil health advocate. Over the last 20 years he has worked to eliminate tillage and incorporate cover crops into his operation in Kansas. Dr. Abbey Wick also joins us from the NDSU Extension to reflect on her collaboration with Bill. When he first started to explore soil health, Bill had to convince his dad.
“No-till just seemed to make sense because we're in about a 24 inch rainfall area and so water was always our limiting factor….. I think at that time I kept hearing anytime you pull a disc through the field, you're going to lose two inches of soil moisture. So…. if that's our most limiting factor and we can reduce our soil evaporation and transpiration then I think we'll be money ahead” - Bill Spiegel
Bill has since added cover crops to his rotation which at the time of his first attempt was considered a very “unique” practice. His hope with cover crops was to increase yields but the surprising unexpected benefits included much better weed control and a significant decrease in soil erosion. Bill found support in his soil health practices in Abbey Wick even though she is in North Dakota and not nearby his Kansas operation.
“The great part of soil health is just the culture of soil health and the ways that farmers, researchers, extension and consultants, like we say, for this podcast, the way they all interact.” Dr. Abbey Wick
Bill echoes Dr. Wick’s sentiment. He found that the support and community he experienced when he started engaging with others involved in promoting soil health practices was “cool” and “unique.”
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