Greg Busch is a farmer in the far northwest corner of North Dakota. He farms with his wife Jessica and they’ve been growing pulses as part of their rotation for over thirty years. Greg joins us over the next two episodes to talk about what led him to diversify his rotation to include up to ten different crops. He tells us what he has learned through these experiences and where pulses specifically fit into the mix.
“When we first started farming and specifically when we first started no-till we were a monoculture and we saw a lot of problems with that, a lot of disease. It took a lot of extra fertilizer to keep growing crops like that.….We couldn't continue to do that. We were seeing depletion in our soil, erosion and land costs were getting higher.” - Greg Busch
A local extension agent introduced the Busch operation to field peas in an effort to more efficiently use his land. With that addition, they noticed not only could they grow the crop but they had reduced fertilizer inputs as early as the next year. Forgive the pun but with that the seed of crop diversity was planted. This crop diversity quickly enhanced their soil health by decreasing erosion and fertilizer needs confirmed with the Haney Soil Test.
“We do have a nice residual of nitrogen when we've done our soil tests. It comes back telling us that. We do the Haney Soil Test on most of our ground every year and they give you a soil health score based on a number of different things, carbon release is one of them. And those fields always seem to show higher and we’ve been very pleased.” - Greg Busch
Greg has noticed that there is much less tillage in his area in North Dakota. Less labor, less equipment costs, less passes in the fields and not to forget many soil health benefits have enticed many producers to pursue no-till practices. A major goal for Greg on his operation has been to increase the organic matter in his fields. His soil tests have proven that he has certainly accomplished that goal with a 3-4 times higher organic matter observed since adopting these rotations and practices.
“It just seems like the ground is a lot more forgiving. It seems to absorb heavy rainfall events better than fields with low organic matter. And it also seems to carry us through short droughts better than the ground with less organic matter. ” - Greg Busch
Join us in the next episode where Greg share’s specifically about his experiences with intercropping.