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IDEAS & ADVICE

A VOICE FOR SOIL HEALTH

Kurt Stiefvater

 

Kurt Stiefvater bought his farm from his parents in 1995. He runs a cow-calf operation with a crop rotation that uses no-till and cover crops. He rents most of his land—most of his landlords live out of state. His soil health practice use has evolved over time.

Ideas and Advice for NOLOs

On the same page...

"My farming philosophy begins with looking at the long term benefits to improve the soil, in the betterment of the whole farm, but also incorporating the economics part of it. I’d say my landlords and I are on the same page, looking at the long- term viability of the soil. I sit down and explain to them why I’m doing the practices that I have, maybe even take them out to the field and show them."

Look at your organic matter...

"I guess a suggestion I would have for a landlord that was looking towards encouraging their tenant to use cover crops and soil health practices is to look at your organic matter. See where you’re at with organic matter--that’s one big improvement that needs to be done on basically all soils. And also take a look at the amount of erosion from wind and water, and the reduction that can comes with the newer farming practices. We can always encourage that."

It could take some time...

"As we've worked to improve our soil health, we've come to understand that there will probably be some setbacks and it will take time for the soil to improve. the results aren't instant. Just encourage a tenant new to soil health practices that way--maybe you have to bear some of the financial burden to start this practice."

Communication is key...

"Long term, I believe the landlord is getting some great benefit. The majority of my landlords are out of state, and I think every landowner has a different perception of what soil health is. The same can be true of tenants. Just talk to ‘em about it. Communication is probably the biggest thing that we all have a downfall with, the landlord and the tenant."