This podcast has always been about collaboration and building healthier soils while promoting productivity and profitability at the farm level. It's definitely a team effort.
Today's episode shines a spotlight on the work being done by Pheasants Forever and why they too are passionate about building healthier soils. Their primary goal is to “conserve pheasants, quail, and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public access education and conservation advocacy.” As part of their mission to create better bird habitat, their strategies and programs for producers and landowners align really well with others involved in soil health management. Joining us are Austin Lang and Emily Spolyar, both are precision ag and conservation specialists with Pheasants Forever located in North Dakota.
“We've seen through research and experience that habitats have been the most effective and cost-effective way to get to that mission.” - Austin Lang
The first step in their process is identifying the goals of the producer and landowner. There are many options regarding limiting public access and various programs to best meet those goals, some of which are specific for certain areas like”watersheds or geographies.” Some programs generate revenue with rental payments while others may allow for grass seed or cover crop compensation. Emily shares that through analysis she can identify acres that are underproducing and may be a good option to support bird wildlife. A collaborative project like this may also provide financial benefit to the landowner and keep the producer from farming acres that are ROI negative.
“I don't need the highly profitable acres to make good habitat. So let's put (habitat) in places that make sense. So (the landowner) is still able to enjoy hunting on those acres and then the producers are able to continue to farm the best acres and put the lower yielding acres into a conservation program.” - Emily Spolyar
They have seen improvements of course in wildlife habitats but also compaction issues, salinity issues, overall soil health and of course financial gains. “Everything that we do is all farmer led. However they want to proceed is what we go with,” shares Emily. Austin was sure to highlight that they are in no way replacing producers’ agronomist relationships but rather aim to add value and offer another resource for producers to have access to.
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