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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


Agronomic Challenges and Soil Health Opportunities with Kyle Okke

On the show today is Kyle Okke, regional agronomist at Winfield United. Most listeners are familiar with Winfield United, the large ag retail network that is part of Land O Lakes, a member-owned cooperative. Kyle is responsible for being a technical resource on anything related to crop protection, which includes employee training, customer education, troubleshooting, and technical advice. His job is impressive both in it’s scope of responsibilities, but also in its geography. Kyle covers from the Red River Valley all across North Dakota and Montana. With his experience of working very different areas of the state agronomically, he’s seen where farmers are generally the same, and where things are different.Today we navigate a variety of topics from tillage to carbon to pH to mistakes he’s seen some farmers make in a dry year like this one.

“I definitely think it doesn't matter who they are as a farmer. I think they all have the same goal in mind and it's passing on what they have to the next generation….You can't just mine your soil, deplete it of all its nutrients, and deplete it of all its resources. ” - Kyle Okke

He is seeing a trend with producers increasingly focusing on balanced fertility programs, better moisture retention, and making adjustments to retain as much topsoil as possible. Whether the producer wants to call it “soil health” or not the objective is to prolong the viability of ground they have available to farm. He has observed a lot of success and increasing popularity with strip tilling practices as a compromise between better agronomics and soil health. He cautions producers from focusing on any one factor as an individual. For example,  increasing carbon levels without adjusting for the carbon to nitrogen ratio. The concern here is that increased crop residue that leads to increased carbon in the soil will also temporarily tie up nitrogen in the soil. So rather than focusing on the carbon by itself, looking at the carbon as part of a system seems to be a better use and adjustment for soil health. He offers his opinion on carbon credits in light of this opinion.

“The big thing is that this is incentivizing good soil health practices. That's what I see behind it is that it's an incentivization to do the right thing, you know, just to start building soil health.” - Kyle Okke

As a final note, Kyle shares that he sees technology as a significant investment that will have a good return in the long term for producers. “I think technology is really going to pay for those guys that are adopting it and utilizing this data that they're collecting.”

This Week on Soil Sense:

  • Meet Kyle Okke, regional agronomist at Winfield United
  • Learn about his experience and observations of trends working across the states of North Dakota and Montana
  • Explore his views on different agronomic practices from a high-level systems perspective rather than looking at one nutrient or factor at a time
  • Be sure to listen to The Agronomist Happy Hour Podcast that Kyle co-hosts. He recommends the episode called Complaints and Cocktails

Connect with Soil Sense:

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

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