Soil Health Minute: Benefits of connecting about soil health
I recently joined up with an afternoon field tour -- one that was coordinated by farmers and ranchers who are trying soil health practices and had some neighboring farmers who wanted to check out what they are doing.
I recently joined up with an afternoon field tour - one that was coordinated by farmers and ranchers who are trying soil health practices and had some neighboring farmers who wanted to check out what they are doing.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, it was a last minute deal, but it ended up being an afternoon that will stick with me for a long time.
Here's what happened:
I got to experience when farmers take the lead - both those sharing what they are doing and those taking the time to see what others are doing. It takes everyone's commitment of time, willingness to share ideas and ability to listen to make a field tour like this work.
Sharing what we've learned from experience and asking questions because we're listening makes sure that successes can be adopted and mistakes don't have to be repeated. Having experience and thinking critically not just with on-farm practices, but also on the science side of things fills in gaps of why something worked or didn't work.
Just by being there, I had the opportunity to meet about a dozen farmers and ranchers who I wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise. I get to meet farmers that come to the North Dakota State University soil health meetings - I mean, that's their thing, they like to go to the meetings for information. But I don't typically get to meet farmers that may be interested in soil health, but haven't made it to a meeting.
I'm hopeful they'll start joining in those conversations too. Meeting new people or getting to know neighbors better who are interested in soil health is key - you'll move forward with adoption of practices much faster and more efficiently if you build a network.
Throughout the afternoon, we all shared what was working and not working and where the opportunities may be to try something new.
We talked about how the science fits in and what we are looking for in soils that function. Everyone had their hands in the soil - looking, talking, laughing, and connecting. We were building camaraderie, probably even more so creating partnerships. There is so much value in partnerships - for equipment sharing, to bounce ideas off each other and to have someone to call for input when running into an issue. Everyone was listening, which means that questions were asked and information was shared at the right time during the conversation. We flowed through ideas and everyone contributed. It was awesome!
With this great experience I just had, I'm encouraging more conversations about what you're doing and to be open to conversations about practices that may be a little different from what you do on your farm.
It's a commitment from both sides, but there is so much value in getting together. In soil health, there shouldn't be egos ... those get left in the pickup because nobody has all this figured out (Mother Nature so graciously makes sure she keeps that from happening!). So conversations tend to be honest and supportive.
And then keep getting together...keep the momentum and follow up. Sometimes it takes a ringleader, but we all can be ringleaders. And please, shoot me a text if a group of you are meeting, if I can make it, I definitely will!