Soil Health Practices Cutting Cost of Equipment, Fertilizer

Soil health benefits are aplenty, and we discuss them all on the HAT Soil Health Podcast found at For this most recent episode, we recorded on stage at the recent Indiana Farm Equipment & Technology Expo at Grand Park in Westfield. One of the guests was Madison County farmer Mike Shuter who explains how he got into employing soil health practices like no-till.

“You look back at the early 80s and things weren’t very good then. It gave us a chance to raise crops and not have all the expense of the equipment that we’ve got now. That was kind of what started it and then we started seeing the benefits of no-tilling when we could get on the ground quicker after a rain.”

And that’s not the only benefit. Shuter says, “We really liked what we saw from better emergence, better growth, early growth, and then we started to learn about the soil health aspects of things. We started cover crops probably 10 years ago now. I had a lot of discussions with a lot of different producers around and this is the thing that we need to be emphasizing- I’ve got friends all over the state that are doing a lot of the same things we’re doing that we share a lot of things back and forth. That’s how this whole system is going to grow.”

Shuter says after learning about all the benefits, he does not want to go out in his field and kill all of his little friends that are bringing in the nutrients by doing tillage.

“We’ve been able to cut our fertilizer use probably in half at least and we’re not losing soil fertility. In the past year, I had our agronomist get a soil sample, split it in two, and he took half of it to send to the lab where they totally destroyed that sample and found what all nutrients are in that soil and compare that to what we’re seeing in a regular, normal soil test. It’s three or four times the amount of nutrients that are sitting there in that soil for us to use that aren’t necessarily available in a tillage system because we don’t have the microbiology to get that nutrient and get it to the plant for us.”

The HAT Soil Health Podcast also features farmer Andrew Bernzott, who recently started farming on his own in Fayette County employing soil health practices, and Purdue Extension Corn Specialist Dan Quinn. Hear the podcast now below or watch the archived video from the Indiana Farm Equipment & Technology Expo above.

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