Roscoe, South Dakota
Edmunds County Conservation District
Our operation consists of a beef cow herd, crops and a pheasant hunting business. The farm has been in the family since 1910. I have two sons and a daughter that are all involved in the farm in some way. I am an advisor for the Edmunds County Conservation District and a founding board member of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition. We are doing soil health research to measure the effects of different crops on soil biology.
Soil Health Practices:
We started no tilling in 1986 and have been rotational grazing for many years. High density stocking or mob grazing is being utilized at the present time. We have also begun to bale graze. Cover crops are used as a means to invigorate the soil biology, build organic matter and increase water infiltration. We try to be wildlife friendly as our pheasant hunting business is a wild bird only operation. Therefore, we have to have a significant amount of wildlife habitat. It is my goal to not just be sustainable but to restore the soil to as close as possible to its original condition.
Through mob grazing I have been able to get increased days of grazing while improving the pasture. Water infiltration has been improved with cover crops and keeping the land covered. I have learned that I must be careful in cover crop selection as this year’s cover crop might lead to next year’s weeds or disease.
Our challenge is a short growing season with unpredictable moisture. Wind and water have the potential to erode our soils.