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Healthy Farms, Healthy Frogs, Healthy Land

While walking a piece of North Dakota landscape under a withering summer sun, one’s thoughts turn to moisture—or rather, the lack of it. So when I and other participants in a soil health tour kicked up signs of cool, shady places while traipsing across a hay field, it seemed like a mirage. Green-and-black leopard frogs…  Read More

Purebreds, Pluggers & Profitable Soil

On a recent August evening in south-central North Dakota, soil scientist Kristine Nichols laid out what I like to call the “purebred vs. the plugger” approach to farming. “With healthy soil, you may not out-yield your neighbor in the best years, but you will out perform them in the not-so-good years,” said Nichols, a soil…  Read More

Crop Insurance: Good Enough for Monsanto-Good Enough for Conservation Farming

From the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction department: In 2007, Monsanto talked the USDA’s Risk Management Agency into giving farmers a discount on crop insurance premiums if they planted the company’s triple-stacked GMO corn. Reportedly, some reviewers of the proposal raised concerns that the premium subsidy would unfairly benefit a single private company. But in the end, the USDA…  Read More

Putting Farm Tools in their Proper Place

One recent August day, I stood in a field in North Dakota watching soil being spaded up and listening to farmers talk about the optimal cover crop seeding mixes, how long to mob graze a paddock and which no-till equipment does the best job of cutting through last year’s plant residue. It was 90 degrees…  Read More