How To Increase Organic Matter In Your Soil
3 Oct 2335 min 27 sec

Contrary to what you may have heard, you can increase soil's organic matter percentage without taking a lifetime. The key: roots. Darren Hefty joins XtremeAg's Lee Lubbers in an enlightening conversation about the crucial role of roots in boosting soil's organic matter. They explain how reduced tillage, cover crops, and fostering soil biology have significantly increased organic matter on their farms. Higher organic matter means free fertilizer, better water retention, more bushels, and more money in your pocket. It's all about the roots!

Presented by Loveland Products

00:00 How important are roots to increasing the organic matter on your farm? That's what we're digging into in this episode of extreme Ag Cutting the curve. 00:08 Welcome to extreme Ag Cutting the Curve podcast where we cut your learning curve with insights you can apply immediately to your farming operation. 00:17 This episode is presented by Loveland products. When it comes to crop inputs, you need products that are field proven to deliver both results and value. 00:26 For more than 50 years, Loveland products has been providing farmers with high performance value-driven product solutions designed to maximize productivity on every acre. 00:36 Visit loveland to see how their innovative products can help you farm more profitably. And now here's your host, Damien Mason. 00:45 Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extrem Eyes Cutting the Curve. I got a great episode for you today with a, a like a star guest. 00:52 I got Darren Hefty here, Baltic, South Dakota Ag PhD Hefty Brothers Fame, and I got Lee Lubers, our own, one of our founding fathers of extreme ag. 01:01 Here's the topic roots and their role in increasing organic matter. A b, 01:07 can you even increase organic matter B I'm gonna tell you how this all started. I'm sitting there in a meeting a long time ago, 01:16 one of my speaking engagements and a, an alleged agronomist is up on stage and he said, it is impossible to increase organic matter composition in your soils during our 01:25 lifetime. I called BSS on it 'cause it just didn't seem to jive with everything I was raised to believe. Putting dairy farm manure on soils, f f a soils, 01:34 FF based soil judging. And I've been wondering about this for a long time. And then I talk to these guys extreme ag and they say, oh absolutely, 01:39 that's wrong. We've put an extra percentage worth or so of organic matter in our soils and we can tell you how. But then, then I'm at the AG PhD field Day, 01:48 one of the best field days you'll ever go to in Baltic, South Dakota. And there hefty is hosting a panel. 01:53 Lee Lubert is on that panel and they were talking about organic matter and its role for moisture retention for a lot of other things porosity in your soil. 02:02 And Darren said, yeah, but you know what? You won't grow the organic matter if you don't have the roots. And I thought, we gotta cover this. So Darren, uh, take me there. 02:13 Roots. Well, thanks Steven. Organic Matter. Yeah, I appreciate the, the chance to talk more about this and it, it was a fun panel discussion and, 02:22 and of course we had some great farmers there, including Lee. And when you look at building organic matter and sales, my brother and I, 02:28 this has been one of our central goals of our farm our whole career. Uh, 02:34 I know back when we took the farm over from our dad in the early 1990s, uh, dad had said, well, here's, here's what I've done to this point. 02:43 What are your goals going forward? And, and Brandon and I both said, well, we wanna build organic matter. 02:47 'cause wherever our organic matter levels are higher, we can hang on a lot longer in the drought, we get more consistent yields and, 02:55 and our crop just does better to make more money there. So why would we not try to do that? And, and dad said, well, everybody's always said that it's gonna take your whole lifetime to really move 03:06 the needle even a little bit. Uh, I I am really curious to see what you guys can do. And, and we started with no-till. We ended up getting into strip-till, 03:14 worked a little better for our situation. And one of the things that we found was that the above ground organic material, 03:23 only a very small fraction of a percentage of that becomes organic matter in the soil. But what the root system as that decays below the ground, 03:33 a large percentage of that could potentially become organic matter in our soil. And so as we worked for ways to leave that root system intact by 03:43 reducing tillage and, and other things that we're doing on the farm, all of a sudden magically our organic matter numbers started rising and they 03:50 started rising pretty quickly. And as you'll see across the entire state of South Dakota, as reduced tillage became popular, our organic matter percentages began to rise. 04:01 Our yields as a state began to rise. And of course there's some shining stars in our state like Lee that that'll speak here as well, uh, as to what that's done for his farm. 04:11 But we've got a lot of our ground now that was down in the 2% organic matter maybe that we've got up in the fours and even fives right now. 04:20 And it's really helped us with production. Lee, first off, there are still, I'm sure skeptics and including this alleged agronomy expert who is a 04:31 high yield guy who is a guest speaker at this conference I was at that I referenced 7, 7, 8, 9 years ago who says, 04:37 is it possible in our lifetime to increase organic matter? And I just thought it didn't seem reasonable. 04:42 It just went against everything that I thought, you know, was about good agronomics, good conservation tillage, all those kinds of things, 04:48 conservation practices. And here you and I, um, one of our first recordings you did two years ago, you talked about the switch to no-till and you talked about it being a very 04:58 pragmatic thing you said. It is me and my brother trying to cover a lot of acres. We don't have a lot of hired hands. We live in the middle of nowhere. 05:04 We can cover more acres if we don't have to cover 'em as many times. Yep. And then you said there's the benefit of soil, uh, uh, you know, 05:11 erosion reduction because you're not tilling it all the time. There's a benefit of, uh, reduced, uh, diesel usage, uh, less compaction. 05:18 And then we start talking about this thing about organic matter. And you went pretty deep and if you're listening to this, 05:24 you should go back and find that episode. He talked about the earthworms and his gauge on soil health based on earthworms. This has to be something that you've but noticed before. It was a trendy, uh, 05:33 probably went about, uh, Darren and and Brian were starting in on this whole thing about increase of organic matter. You were right there. 05:41 Uh, we were learning it together. And uh, that's the one thing we, we saw too, when we learned how to increase, 05:50 increase our root mass in our no-till program, our, uh, organic matter rates started shooting up a lot faster. And it was, uh, an incorporation of no-till. 06:03 And it was also more balanced fertility, uh, doing the Neil Kinsey philosophy, which I learned actually from Brian and Darren in their seminars in the 06:13 wintertime. And then, uh, proper use of biological products and PGRs. And as we increased our root mass, 06:22 exponentially organic levels just started doing this. Uh, it's like we were defying the odds. We were getting, 06:29 starting to get a lot faster increases on organic matter. Aaron, 06:35 I'm gonna ask you this one because it kind of flies in the face of what your brain wants to tell you. You know, 06:40 there's some things that are counterintuitive. You know, golf is among them, which I just took, uh, but if you wanna hit the ball up, 06:46 you hit down on the ball and all that kind of stuff. It's counterintuitive to the average person, certainly to me and anybody that's in farming that when you said the stuff on 06:54 top of the soil is not the key to increasing organic matter, because I see this huge plant, you know, 06:59 corn plants are 12, 13, 14 feet tall, and only we only take this much of it, right? It seems to me that if you wanna increase organic matter, 07:07 you need more stuff on top of the ground and you're saying no. And that's where I think we really gotta take this whole episode is the roots 07:14 are the key. And it's, it doesn't seem like, wait a minute, but then it dawns on me. 07:18 Maybe it's because the roots are the key to taking that stuff on top of the ground and putting it where it needs to be. 07:24 Well, I'll, I'll start with this. And we do a lot of silage on our farm now, and you're taking off pretty much all the above ground portion of the plant. 07:33 And that's a big concern of mine. Okay. How do we maintain our organic matter if we're going to be taking off all the above ground residue and really, like you say, putting uh, 07:43 putting everything that we're saying here into practice? Well, there's a couple things. We, we mentioned keeping the root system intact, 07:51 but how big a deal is that there was a 30 year study that we looked at that the University of Minnesota had done, I think out of, uh, Morris. 07:59 And they were looking at taking half the ground and doing corn silage, but leaving that root mass intact. And then the other half of the farm, 08:09 they were gonna just raise corn, leave all the residue in the field, but they were gonna do tillage. 08:14 And they saw the organic matter levels be about the same with corn silage vs. Versus leaving all the residue in the field and doing tillage. 08:22 And that was really eye-opening of, wait a second, half the plant is gone, all the, the ear is gone, obviously. 08:29 And yet this is still the result of that. And, and so a couple things that we've found out on our farm too over the last 30 years have been, if we leave that root system intact, 08:39 that's a great thing for building organic matter. Uh, to Lee's point, growing a big root mass is important and that starts with crop selection. 08:49 So if you pick a crop like corn that has a tremendous root mass, it's got five times the root mass of soybeans. 08:55 If you wanna build organic matter faster, raise corn, wheat would be another crop that's got a fantastic root mass. And you can influence that and you can get it to be even bigger. 09:05 Those things are really important. Um, so choosing that right crop reducing tillage, those are good things using manure or compost. 09:14 We were talking before we got started on, on the show today just about wow, I like using manure. We've got access to dairy manure in our farm right now. 09:22 I love that for using manure out there rather than commercial fertilizer. Not that commercial fertilizer's bad, 09:28 but there's a lot more than NP and K in manure when you're putting it out in the field. Lee mentioned the biological side of this thing. Absolutely. 09:37 If we get more microbes working in the soil for us, that can be a great thing too for soil health, soil porosity and, and building organic matter over time. So yeah, 09:47 there's a lot of those pieces that come into play. It's not just one thing. I mean, you could do one thing and still screw this up. You can say, well, 09:55 I'm gonna go no-till and I'm not building my organic matter levels as fast as Lee and Terry are doing. 10:01 Well no you're not because you're not doing all the other pieces too. Lee, he just said something, that whole study from University of Minnesota, 10:10 a field that was shelled corn and left all the residue, a field that was silage corn, which we know if you or been around silage, they take everything but about the bottom six inches of the stalk of the corn. 10:23 And he says that then if you tilled the, I wanna make sure I got this right, Darren, if you tilled the shelled field 10:30 And then Yep, yep. With all that plant residue. Yep. And, and you'd think, oh, that's great. You're tilling all that residue back into the soil good for organic matter 10:39 increases. And you're saying nope. 'cause the field that then was no tilled that had been silage harvested took everything but the bottom six inches, 10:48 it had the same omm that that's what I heard. Right? That's correct. And, and with that tillage, you're also putting a lot of oxygen in the soil in a fast manner, 10:58 and that burns up that residue that much quicker. That's what's really happening. So then it tells me that tillage and as much as we always thought, 11:07 man, you know, get that stuff turned over, it's good because of the introduction of the oxygen, we just oxygenated out the, the value of what we put in. 11:17 Is that kinda what I'm hearing? Yes. All right. Yeah. Now on the other side, Damien, some people will say, well, that can be a positive. I've got a lot of organic material in my field. 11:27 Maybe I also have a lot of organic matter in my soil. If I could burn that up faster, it's gonna release nutrients quickly. And I do hear guys that say, well, I got the plow out and man, 11:39 I had a great crop that first year. And that's why, because you've burned all that up. You've put all the, that nutrition out at one time, but in the meantime, 11:49 your organic matter levels in your soil and your long-term productivity Could be going down. Okay. So it's kind of pay you pay me now, pay me later. 11:57 I just, I just took the big benefit in year one. And if I'm playing the long game, obviously Lee and Terry are playing the long game. They, 12:05 they were out there no-tilling when it was not, when they people drove by and thought they were, you know, before it was cool. Yes. They didn't think they were renegades back then. 12:12 They thought they were stupid. Isn't that right Lee? They didn't think you were renegade. They didn't think you were revolutionary. They thought you were just an idiot. 12:18 We don't mind being called crazy. That's how we stay ahead of the curve. Alright, what about the, the movement? Because I wondered, 12:26 and I'm sitting at that tent when you're on the panel and, and Darren's hosting it. When I'm hearing about the value of the roots, 12:33 I'm like, okay, I get it. You know, always hear like a tree has as many, you know, branches underground as roots as it has branches above ground. 12:39 I'm like, I get that, but is there an increase of omm because those roots actually keep it moving? Or, or is there more than just the mass that's at play? 12:50 Lee, you go first. In other words, is it more than just the root mass that contributes to omm? Is it something else that helps it move or helps it break down? 12:58 Is there something else there? Well, with the larger root mass, we have more soil porosity as the roots are breaking down. 13:06 And that's making it easier for our ru rootworms earthworms to make channels and do more burrowing, 13:13 you're increasing your exudates for your, uh, biology. You're making that more active. The one thing we've picked up on my brother and I, 13:22 when we're harvesting in the fall, the higher our organic matter levels go up, the more we're seeing in the fall, our residues gone. It's, it's, 13:33 it is just the ground's bare, yet our levels are up. It's just cycling it and getting it into the system. And we're just getting our soil biology working so much better. 13:45 People talk about the risk of stratification, but as we're bringing up organic matter levels, biology, earthworms, everything else is coming along for the ride. 13:56 We're not seeing it because our soils are just so active. There's so much more going on in our soil than there was five, 14:04 10 years ago. Uh, the best test for healthy soil is your nose, uh, dig into the ground. Uh, 14:12 we'll take on a piece of ground that'll smell sterile, just a stale smell. But once you get everything going, it's just this robust, 14:21 just a total different smell. You can tell the soil is working. By the way, I want to hear a little bit about the smell, 14:29 but I also wanna talk about the, the root movement with Darren. Before I do that, I want to ask the question to you dear viewer and listener. 14:35 First off, are you watching us on Acres tv? I'm wearing the hat. If you're listening, that's cool. 14:39 But you know what you'd be missing seeing the really good looking mugs that I have on here right now, there in Hefty and Lee Luber, if you watch it, 14:46 watch Acres tv and also on the Extreme Ag Channel, extreme Ag Farm. So if you're a listener, we appreciate it, 14:52 but you can also be watching this stuff and that's valuable when we do actual visible and visual demonstrations. I also wanna ask you, dear listener, 14:59 if you wanna save money on fertility without sacrificing yield. Of course you do because you know what crop inputs are growing up and right now 15:05 commodity price is kind of stagnated. So what can you do? You can harvest last season's nutrients for this season's crops using extract 15:12 from Loveland products extract. Go to loveland to learn more about taking last year's nutrients and use 'em for this year's crop. Um, the root movement thing, 15:22 apparently I was thinking that was really the importance of it. And you're saying now that's not really the key. The root, 15:26 the root mass is not the key. But then Lee just said, the important thing about having more roots in the ground is it does help take the stuff that's on the ground and take it down there. So is that the key? 15:37 Well, you wanna, you wanna have good soil health and you wanna have all those living microbes working for you 24 7. And that's a great thing. 15:46 Now you say, wait a second, Darren, you're in South Dakota and your ground's gonna freeze for six months out of the year. That's true, but we want to have that, 15:55 that microbial engine just churning for us. So maybe in the south, maybe if your ground isn't freezing like that, 16:02 you can do things a little bit faster. It also does make it a little more of a challenge in my opinion, because you are warm, they are breaking things down all the time. 16:11 And it makes the importance of having a living crop out of your field every month that you can that much more important in the South. Now for, 16:20 for us in the north, um, here's how we used to think about cover crops we plant. As soon as the frost is coming out of the ground, 16:28 we harvest when the snowflakes are flying. We've had something living in the field all year long and I, I don't think that's a bad strategy, but look at corn silage. 16:37 We're gonna harvest corn silage this year, probably the end of August on our farm, first part of September. We've still got quite a ways there where we're gonna have warm enough 16:46 temperatures for our crop to grow. So for us, part of this building organic matter machine is harvest the crop, but then immediately seed a cover crop back in. 16:58 We're gonna seed oats in 'cause it gets off to a quick start. If we get just one rain, we can get that up. 17:05 We can get a significant amount of cover growing out there. And again, we've got more material for, for the microbes to break down. 17:12 And I looked at our farm the last couple of years here. Now granted we've been in a drought here too, but two years ago we had significant cover crop growth in the fall 17:22 and it was almost all gone by the 1st of May, which just blew my mind. Uh, my brother was really surprised by this too. He thought, oh no, 17:30 we're gonna have all this plant material to deal with out there. We did it, it it was virtually gone really early. 17:38 So we got protection from wind erosion, rain erosion. We got another root mass established. We had living crop out there for, for our crop that much longer. Uh, it, 17:50 it's been a great part of this equation too, to help build organic matter and maintain it even when we're chopping corn silage. Alright, 17:57 So you're gonna chop corn silage, let's say September 1st. And, and then you're gonna have pretty much a barren field and you're going no till 18:03 in, uh, an oat cover crop. And, and just, just one thing, right? Because there's the whole thing about two species or or four times better than 18:11 one species as far as cover crops. You know, the regenerative guys will say, if you can do three species, you get, you know, it's the, 18:17 it is like seven times better than one species. You're just doing one. We're just doing one for a couple of reasons. One, it is pretty inexpensive. 18:25 Two, it gets off to a great start. Three, it's for sure gonna die when we get really cold. So it's not gonna die the 1st of November, 18:35 but it is gonna live a little bit longer and then it's just gone. So we don't have to spend money on a herbicide to burn it down. 18:41 And the other thing in South Dakota, what we always worry about is it might not rain very much next year and it certainly won't rain exactly when we want it to. We're all dry land on our farm. 18:52 So we've seen the guys, and we've done this too with cereal rye and some of these other crops that end up living through the winter. Uh, 18:59 they're sucking moisture out of the ground early in the spring and seven out of 10 times. That's not a good thing for us on our farm. 19:07 There's a few years that we might be waterlogged in the spring and then I'm not gonna complain about that one bit, 19:13 but most of the time we end up running a little short of moisture. And just to make sure we don't, we're, 19:19 we're picking a cover crop that dies off in the winter. And what's interesting is, uh, there's a probably a, a naysayer that might be listening to this that's saying, alright Darren, uh, 19:29 that's cool, but let's face it, those oats germinated September 1st or whatever, a couple days after September 1st, you, you know, you got some growth on 'em, 19:38 they stopped doing anything by what, November 1st? Somewhere, somewhere around end of October because of the cold. And they're gonna say, 19:45 how much root growth did you really get? You know what, an inch and a half, two and a half inches. But I guess I'm still the optimist that says, well, 19:53 two and a half inches of roots is better than none. And like you said, it's cycling stuff. So even a what, a couple inches, 20:00 if you went and did a root dig, if you went and did a dig on those oats, It'd be more than that. It'd be more than that. We've had kneehigh, kneehigh, 20:07 oats, uh, doing that. So I, I'm guessing we're gonna have it this year. It looks like we're gonna have plenty of heat. Uh, 20:13 I don't think it's gonna change that much that fast if we just catch a little bit of moisture. We can have really good oats. 20:20 It's just important for us when we blow the oats out on top of the ground. We just didn't get that kind of take if we're drilling them in. 20:27 So we're getting 'em down in the soil. That has made a big difference for us. And here's the other thing, Damian. We're gonna get manure from this dairy. 20:35 And so people will ask us, well, when are you gonna do the manure? If you put a cover crop out there already, 20:41 we're gonna inject the manure and we're gonna do it right into a standing oats crop. The oats will be relatively small, 20:47 we've got 'em thick enough that we can run through with those knives, inject the dairy manure, 20:52 and now we've got a growing crop there to grab onto those nutrients. So not that we normally have to worry a lot about leaching away 'cause we don't 21:00 get that much rain and we've got heavy soil, but now we don't have to worry about the nitrogen leaching away. We had a crop there that tied it up and now that'll break down in the early 21:09 spring and release that back to our crop. So a lot of good things going with that. So that point that I said that you might only get a couple, 21:16 two or three inches of root growth, absolutely not. You're saying there's probably six to eight inches of root growth on those oats by there's 21:21 Gonna be, there's gonna be some pretty good root growth there. Yeah. And then if you're seeding, uh, 21:25 say a bushel and a half of oats out in the field, uh, I'm not, not that I'm ever gonna harvest oats or anything like that, 21:31 but I just want it to be thick enough that I'm gonna have a, just a tremendous amount of roots growing underneath the soil. 21:38 Lee. Uh, you don't, do you, you do cover, you do no-till religiously. You absolutely have increased the organic matter, but you haven't really done so with cover cropping. Am I right? 21:50 Uh, no, we haven't. Uh, in our system we're doing soybeans and then we will no-till winter wheat right behind the combines. 22:00 So we're taking it for grain the next year. And I've done, uh, root digs in the spring when our winter wheat is breaking dormancy where our 22:09 wheat is three inches tall and taking my time and getting a foot to foot and a half down of just a huge root mass. So that's, that's big for us. 22:19 Then we take the wheat for grain. So that's going to be in second half of July. Then instead of coming back with a cover crop, uh, 22:30 our goal is now is we are tiling those acres, which that also is a benefit for organic matter because we're taking problem areas. We're making 'em viable again and making them thrive. 22:43 That's bringing up all of our levels in the field. So instead of cover crop behind wheat, we focus on tile. All right, so both of you, either one of you wanna take this question. 22:53 If we got told, um, you know, if we got told at some point it was, it's impossible to increase OMM in our lifetimes and you guys are saying it's 23:02 absolutely not true at all. We're, we're demonstrating it demonstrably seeing measurable increases in 30 years for both of you. And you're saying we think the roots are a big part of it. 23:12 Are we gonna look back and say tillage was the problem, period? Well, I'd say till, I'd say, I'd say tillage is number one if, 23:20 if you're doing tillage just to do tillage 'cause you're bored. Uh, my dad had called that recreational tillage, right? Uh, don't do that. Uh, 23:28 I understand we aren't a no-till situation here. We're, we're going to do some level of tillage out there at times, especially if you think about running silage, 23:37 you're gonna have those traffic patterns where that ground just gets pounded and they don't really care if it's raining or whatever else. 23:45 They're cutting the silage, they're getting it out of there and getting it over with. You're Saying like 40 tons of corn silage and a cart, uh, tends to pack down the soil 23:55 Just a little bit. Just a little bit. So there, there is a little bit of tillage on our farm and we're still focused on this and we're still making a difference. So I would just tell everybody, if, if you say, 24:05 gosh, I don't know why Darren's saying this, I'll just speak for myself. I'd just say, try it out on one field on your farm. 24:12 Try doing some things different, reduce tillage, plant crops that have lots of root masks. Do everything you can to increase the root mass. 24:20 Try to do everything you can to improve soil health in that particular field. You'll notice a difference and you'll notice it a lot sooner than a lifetime. 24:27 You're gonna notice it within a few years. And Lee, you, you, you're, you're backing that, you're nodding your head. So it's, it's about reduced tillage. You don't have to be as zealot, uh, 24:38 is what I'm hearing. I mean, there are people that I, I've spoken at the no-till conference and I'm telling you there's people there that like, 24:44 I think they want to take a blowtorch to any piece of tillage equipment that they run across. They're kind of a little bit zeal. 24:49 You're saying it's not about zealot, about the tillage, but for crying out loud, you've gotta reduce the tillage period first, number one. Yes. 24:57 Uh, yeah, I think it's a real key and really, I mean, tailor a system for your geography. I think that's very important because, uh, 25:07 there's differences in our systems between Brian and Darren's farm and ourselves and we're 170 miles apart. 25:14 So it's creating a system that works for you in your farming practices. But I think everybody can increase their organic matter a 25:24 lot more than what they think they can. Okay. So, and, and Darren's big tips for, okay, reduce tillers, number one. Number two, find crops that have, uh, a, a, a bigger root mass. 25:34 Can that change by variety or is it just by, by crop, by species? Mostly by species. 25:40 O obviously some varieties naturally have a little bigger root system than others. And you can do things like using plant growth regulators, 25:47 using some of the oxs, uh, especially earlier in the season when you're in the vegetative stages to try to promote root growth. Also the way that your fertilizing can improve root growth. 25:58 Uh, for example, if you're broadcasting fertilizer across the field, that's the easiest way to apply it, 26:04 but it's not necessarily the best way for the plant for availability. Uh, what I like with our strip-till system is we can put in an eight inch wide band, 26:12 we can put all the fertilizer that that plant is going to need, whether it's a corn plant or a soybean plant. Uh, 26:18 you can feed by putting the nutrients right where that root system's gonna grow. And when the root system hits an area of fertility, 26:26 it's going to expand greatly. And if you can do that and maximize what that root, root growth is going to be in that zone, uh, that's a good thing too. 26:36 'cause for us, if we're doing strip till, we'll just move over 30 or 15 inches, split those drills next year. 26:43 Well most of that root mass is gonna remain untouched by our tillage. Yeah, that the interesting part about that is that you, 26:49 you're saying just a few changes to some fertility and basically point, 26:55 point of time and and point of location can give you what, 25 to 50% greater root mass and then well you're 27:03 Gonna, you're gonna see much better uptake in the nutrients that's gonna result in less water usage. And to Lee's earlier point, 27:10 if you can balance that fertility so you have everything that that crop needs, then crops become less of a water waster. 27:18 'cause what happens with crops is they're sucking in water trying to get their food. Well, if they're short of something, just say it's potassium. Yep. 27:27 They've got all the nitrogen and phosphorus they need, but they're still short of potassium. Well that's a key building block and the plant's gonna keep sucking in water and 27:34 sucking water, trying to find more potassium and it's just inefficient. And if we can put that fertility where we need it and balance that fertility to 27:43 get all the nutrients that the crop needs, we're gonna use less water. We're gonna build more root mass right there. It, 27:50 it is just good in really on all fronts. And Then Lee, on the last few rapid fire questions you talked about almost it becomes like a snowball, like, uh, what's the, you know, word exponential? Uh, you know, 28:03 you know, uh, it's, it's versus versus antagonistic. Once this starts going, it becomes very much synergistic. 28:09 Like once you increase organic matter roots then make organic matter and it happens faster. So you talked about in a short time, 28:16 both of you mentioned in a short time, how long did it take to get going? Uh, once we kind of got all the parts clicking in the system, 28:26 we saw more building of levels in five years than we had in the last 15 to 20 prior. 28:33 Okay. And then, I mean, are we talking, you added, you went from one point a half to 2%, Darren says to like 4%, you've done that in 30 years. 28:42 Uh, we are running on pieces that we've been farming, uh, the bulk of our career, four and a half to five and a half, uh, 28:50 very consistently. And we just keep building and, and the numbers keep ratcheting up. Uh, we've taken on multiple pieces that have been one, 29:00 one and a half and now we've got them up over four. And I know there are some people say, well that's impossible. Well, it's not, it's very 29:10 Possible. You know, the, the lab, the lab test can tell you Darren, um, climate, you know, you're up there where you said the soil FFR freezes for six months. 29:18 That's a little bit of exaggeration. What probably a solid three to four, right? Uh, the person that's in 29:23 The south, I dunno about that. It's okay, it's frozen for a long time. Could be six months. You just talked me into keeping my house in Arizona. Um, 29:30 what about, uh, in the south? I mean there's probably somebody that's a skeptic that's down in Georgia or something saying that worked for him wouldn't work up here. 29:38 I I mean you hear that a lot in agriculture that won't work where I farm. Is that true or is it matter about roots and organic matter can be increased 29:45 anywhere? Well, I, I believe it can be increased anywhere, but it, it is going to be a lot more of a challenge if say you were farming right on the 29:54 equator and it's gonna be hot every day and you've got, um, light soils, sandy soils, those kind of things. Those are more of a challenge. 30:03 There's no doubt about that. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try just 'cause things are more of a challenge. 30:08 Maybe you can't do what Lee and his brother have done and maybe you can build it from half a percent organic matter up to one. 30:17 Well that would be a huge difference for your farm. Just that small little bit. And well, that's the thing, the, the the person there that says, 30:24 well I went from a half percent to 1%, what's a big deal? That's a doubling, that's a doubling of organic matter, right? 30:30 Yeah. And each 1% of organic matter that we can build, it's gonna help us hold 4% more water. Well that's a huge deal in a light soil. If you say, well gosh, 30:40 I could only grow at 2%. Well that's almost 10% more water you can hold. That's big. Plus organic matter is going to mineralize each year naturally. 30:50 And for each 1% of organic matter, even where we farm in the north, we're getting 20 to possibly even 30 pounds of nitrogen for free. 30:58 That's a big deal outta 1% of organic matter. And it's something that's gonna happen year after year after year. Yeah, I think that we're gonna leave it right there. But Lee, since you're the, 31:08 uh, one of the founders of extreme ag, get me out. Uh, is there, is there anything to add to that? 31:15 If you don't change what you're doing, you'll never learn new ways to increase your bottom line. And I encourage everyone to just change your system a little bit. 31:26 And like Darren said, going from a half to a one is doubling and increasing your water curing capacity. Guess what? When you're holding water carrying capacity better in the, 31:39 even in light soils, guess what's along for the right nutrients you're gonna gain. You're not gonna gain organic matter. You're gonna gain yield. 31:47 What I like, Hey Damian, can I add one more throw one more time? Hey, hey man, You, you're, you're my guest star. You're like, you're like my guest star. 31:54 You can, I just think this is, hey, this is like when Sting played the the Good Morning America show and like they're gonna cut to commercial and like, I'm sting you stay with me, 32:02 you're sting buddy. Go. Well I just think about this. So, so many of us that have grown up on farms and working with our parents, uh, 32:12 what a, what a blessing. But I know there's a lot of first generation farmers out there too. So maybe your story's slightly different than this, but uh, I know this, 32:20 when Brian and I were kids, we said, man, we aren't gonna do it like dad, we're gonna do things different. But as soon as we started farming it's, 32:28 well here's how we've always done it. Here's how dad's always done it and here's how dad's dad always did it. Oh my goodness. If we say when we're young, hey, 32:38 we gotta make some changes here 'cause we acknowledge this way isn't perfect. Don't get stuck in a rutt to Lee's point. 32:45 Don't get stuck in a rutt that well this is just how we do it here and this is just how it has to be done in our geography. No, 32:52 nobody's doing it perfect out there. Don't be afraid to make those changes. That is where we're gonna leave it. Except I do have to point this out. 33:00 See Darren's, uh, the younger brother and he and I know what this is like Lee went ahead and said and gave him credit and said, well, like Darren said, going from half to 1%, 33:10 still a doubling. It was actually me that said that. Not Darren, he is the guest. He does have all the brilliant statements, 33:16 but he talked about basically what Darren talked about was organic matter increases, give you free fertility. And I think that's the big one. 33:22 They give you free fertility. You talked about being able to reduce nitrogen applications because you now have a healthy organic matter, rich soil, which, and then you have water, uh, 33:31 retention capacity gets you to a tough times. So there's everything about it that it makes you money. And I think that's what we're talking about here on cutting the curve is we're 33:39 helping you make money, you get free fertility, you get porosity, you get better, uh, you know, uh, movement of nutrients, et cetera, et cetera. 33:46 So don't think for some reason that increasing it by a half percent isn't valuable. He just gave you, Darren just gave you the numbers. 33:54 Lee just gave you the numbers and the reason for doing so. So anyway, thanks a lot for being here. Uh, such good stuff. Anyway, uh, 34:01 share this with somebody that can benefit from it. Uh, my big takeaways are, um, organic matter can be increased in our lifetime. In fact, 34:08 it can be increased in a few years. You heard about these guys, they had a rapid ascent on organic percentages in their soils in only 34:15 a few years time. It is worth doing. Oh, I'm too old to do it. No you're not. It, it works. Roots are the key to making it happen. 34:22 Reduction of tillage is one of the keys to make it happen. Cover crops. Oh, they'll never work here. You just heard from Darren. 34:27 He lives in a place that has winter for six months according to him and they make cover crops work up there. So that's your big takeaways. I'm Damien Mason. 34:34 He's Darren Hefty. He's a host of the AG PhD radio show every day on rural radio. Also, they got their AG PhD show on Acres tv, as do we extreme ag cutting. 34:43 The curve is right here on Acres tv. Lee Lubert Gregory South Dakota, if he makes it work out there, trust me, 34:49 they still like farm with snowmobiles out there and he's making it work. So you know what, this stuff will work where you are. Till next time, 34:55 thanks for being here. It's extreme ag cutting the curve. That's a wrap for this episode of extreme Ag cutting the curve. 35:02 But there is plenty more available by visiting Extreme For over 50 years, 35:07 farmers have turned to the proven lineup of crop inputs offered by Loveland products, from seed treatments, plant nutrition, adjuvant, 35:15 and crop protection products. Loveland has the complete lineup to keep your farming operation productive and most importantly profitable. Check out loveland to learn more.

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