Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation District
Ryan Benedict farms in Lamberton, Minnesota, which is served by the Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation District. Ryan is a military veteran and a graduate of South Dakota State University. In addition to farming with his father Mark, Ryan sells seed and equipment out of their Precision Planting dealership. Together they farm corn, soybeans, spring wheat, and hay, and raise 4,000 hogs to finish.
Recently, the father son team has been using more no-till and cover crops in their rotations. “The soil we have is relatively light, so our main goal is to increase organic matter through no-till and cover crops, and to stop erosion,” Ryan told NACD. “We have put in one riparian buffer, use buffer strips along water ways, and use alternative intakes.” Over the last three years, the crops following cover crops have been setting records for yields, he added.
The main obstacle to using cover crops for Ryan has been establishing a good seed bed in saturated soils. “The amount of residue being left from cover crops is something to watch and take into consideration when choosing a mix and seeding rate,” he said.
“Being in the northern part of the Corn Belt comes with plenty of challenges when it comes to managing residue. The cold winters stall residue break down and can be met with a mat of residue that doesn’t allow ground to warm and dry out in the spring. The implementation of cover crops allows the breakdown of residue and warming of soil faster in the spring, making no-till a more feasible option for our area.”