PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH: “A SYSTEMS APPROACH”
With Gene and Craig Stehly
Mitchell, SD

“We can’t continue on the same path, we have to start focusing a lot more on soil health. Soil health isn’t just one thing, it’s a systems approach, for us it’s combining no-till, crop rotation, cover crops, and planting native grass species in our sensitive areas.” – Craig Stehly

This Profile In Soil Health, featuring Gene and Craig Stehly, recent winners of the SD Soil Health Coalition Legacy Award, is the first of six videos to be released in 2019. Craig and Gene Stehly were honored as the first recipients of this award for their work to improve soil health and water quality on their farm near Mitchell, SD.

The brothers, who have been partners in the operation since the early 1980’s, utilize a systems approach which includes the use of no-till, crop rotation, cover crops, and the planting of native grasses and pollinator friendly plants in sensitive areas. These videos were produced during 2018 through an agreement of the SD Soil Health Coalition with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and South Dakota’s Conservation Districts.

LARGER TREES AVAILABLE!

We wanted to let you know that we have some larger trees available for a very limited time. First come, first served. If these sell fast, we may add larger trees to our order form for next year.

What’s available:

  • 4-prairie fire crab apple ($72.00 each)
  • 3- pink spires crab apple ($72.00 each)
  • 2- sunburst honey locust ($92.00 each)
  • 4- front yard American linden ($92.00 each)

Please call John Parker at 605-370-3480 with any questions or to make arrangements for purchase and pick up. If he doesn’t answer, leave a voice mail and he will get back to you as soon as he can.

NO WORRIES WITH SWITCH TO NO-TILL
 Past no-till experience and knowledgeable
friends helped ease transition

 

It seems like there could be plenty to worry about when switching to no-till.

Will you be able afford the new equipment you might need? Will you be able to plant on time? Will you be able to seed through the residue? Will you get a good stand? Will weeds get away from you? Will your yields be as good as with tillage?

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
Bart and Shannon Carmichael
Faith, SD

2018 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, South Dakota State University, SD Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and SD Grassland Coalition.

Noem Announces Leopold Conservation Award Winner
Award recognizes landowners for outstanding stewardship

PIERRE, S.D. –  In conjunction with Earth Day, Governor Kristi Noem today announced that Johnson Farms of Frankfort has been selected for the 2019 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold, this award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water, and wildlife resources in their care.

In South Dakota, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. Johnson Farms will be presented with the $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in December.

“Farmers and ranchers across South Dakota know how to balance agriculture production with conservation,” said Noem. “The intentional innovation, stewardship, and land ethic of the Johnsons and other producers ensures that our natural resources will be available for future generations.”

“The Johnsons are demonstrating how crops and cattle can work together to support their multiple-generation family farm while improving their natural resources and the bottom line,” said Steve Ollerich, president of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “We congratulate them as our 2019 Leopold Conservation Award recipients and applaud their conservation ethic.”

“The Johnson’s focus on conservation, while managing multiple enterprises on their family farm, is commendable, and we congratulate them on receiving the 2019 South Dakota Conservation Award,” said Jim Faulstitch, chairman of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. “We look forward to continuing to highlight their conservation story throughout the year.”

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success,” said Kevin McAleese, president and CEO of Sand County Foundation.

Finalists for the award included Bien Ranch of Veblen in Marshall County, Blair Brothers Angus Ranch of Vale in Butte County, and Hefner Ranch of Whitewood in Lawrence County.

Award applicants were judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

About the winner: 
Alan and Mickie Johnson, with their son Brian and his wife Jamie, farm 1,800 acres of cropland and 500 acres of grassland in Spink County. Agricultural conservation practices and raising cattle make the Johnsons more efficient without buying more land.

The farm’s roots trace back to 160 acres that Johnson’s Swedish immigrant grandfather homesteaded more than a century ago. The Johnsons use a mix of old school practices and modern technology to leave the land in better shape for the next generation.

Alan Johnson adopted no-till farming practices in 1986 when abandoning the plow, disk, and cultivator was much against the norm. Despite what the neighbors thought, Alan saw that tilling a field to rid it of weeds was also depleting it of moisture. By mid-summer, if rain was scarce, crops suffered.

By coupling no-till practices with cover crops, the Johnsons have improved water infiltration and soil health, increasing productivity.

The Johnsons also find that a diverse rotation of their corn, soybean, wheat, oat, and barley crops, and leaving crop residue in place, minimizes agricultural runoff, naturally eases pest management, and provides wildlife habitat. To further address soil erosion and salinity problems, the Johnsons enrolled land in the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program.

Realizing that different areas of each field have varying productivity, the Johnsons switched to a variable-rate fertilizer system in 2004. Applying the precise amount of nutrients on the soil saves time and natural resources, and delivers a better return on investment. Since the switch, the Johnsons have won a yield contest held by the South Dakota Soybean Association.

The Johnsons also raise a herd of Angus beef cattle. Whenever possible, the herd is allowed to graze on mature cover crops and corn stubble, creating a cooperative relationship between the cattle and the land. The cover crops provide feed, and the cattle naturally fertilize the soil with their waste.

Grazing used to mean turning the cattle out to pasture for the summer and bringing them home in the fall. It was easy, but it took a toll on the quality and variety of the grass. The Johnsons now rotationally graze their cattle and closely monitor grazing conditions and the timing of their calving season.

While the longtime crop farmers admit that managing grass and cattle requires additional time, the results are healthier land and a stronger bottom line.

For more information on the award, visit leopoldconservationaward.org.

PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH
Donna Adrian, White River, SD

“So many people have this stigma in their brain and think, ‘I can’t garden because I have to have a bigger yard, or a tiller, or access to water.’ I want to show people that they can garden with less land, less work and less water.”

Donna Adrian, or the Garden Lady as many have come to know her, shares the low maintenance, soil-building gardening methods that she utilizes both within her own garden and while teaching others throughout her community. No-till, mulching, water conservation techniques like soaker hoses, as well as pollinator friendly pest control and plantings are all a part of her system. Watch her video to hear step by step instructions on how to establish a new no-till garden plot!

READ DONNA’S ARTICLE

This year’s set of South Dakota Profiles In Soil Health videos were produced during 2018 through an agreement of the SD Soil Health Coalition with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and South Dakota’s Conservation Districts.

EMERALD ASH BORER WORKSHOP
Thursday, May 2, 2019 — 6:30 pm
Clark Senior Center, 120 N Commercial Street, Clark, SD