253. No-Till Farming ~ Nutrient Rich Soil Health Expert| Steve Szudera | BEACH, N.D.

Listen to the full episode here.

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I’m excited to introduce Steve Szudera from tabletopfarmer.com in North Dakota who’s going to talk to us about No-Till Farming and soil health, we talked a little bit before when he did an interview with me.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a no-till famer

grain farm

western North Dakota, eastern Montana on the border

going through some drought

tired of watching the soil

blow away

1981 made our first no till pass

In ’82 I bought my own drill we were doing it for wind and water erosion

In the 90’s we had created a mono culture

wheat on wheat on wheat

Our first rotation was field peas that helped tremendously!

towards the mid 90s

a little bit further

I was introduced to Dr. Dwayne Beck

he’s still on that research 

He started diversifying our rotations

similar to whats in the prairie

so we started adding a more diverse rotation, teaching us we had to add similar to what’s in the prairie. We started adding a more diverse rotation to that

warm season grasses

warm season broadleaf

cool season grass and broadleaf

get intensity up

how to use whole water profile not just the top 

a lot of our nitrates were going 

at some point in time goes into 

  • water tables
  • water systems

healthy things there as well

Then about four years ago this month I was at a conference for a different reason

I mentioned something I was interested in doing for the last several years

teaching gardeners what I was doing.

how to take the principles I have learned and teach it to gardeners.

very little information

about no-till gardening 4 years ago

out there by myself doing a lot of things

I did some suggestions

It started out as a container situation

The first one failed miserably and I knew we had to change our 

media mix

two and a half years go, three

struggle

What do you mean by container thing?

container gardening indoor

what they watered indoor

grow boxes

earth boxes

build living soil indoors

Take that environment I have growing outdoors and bring it indoors

do it indoors teach people how to garden all year round

I took a bobcat out in one of my fields, we ended up there for 3-4 days trying to figure out how are we gonna capture our soil

At that time it was 34 years of continuous no-till, every time we tried to capture a 12 foot profile it would just fall apart

so alive

and crumbly

wouldn’t stay together

soil that is

living rich soil

wants to just crumble

12 inches deep

We eventually accomplished that we built a box around it in the fired brought it indoors and it failed miserably that soil indoors

We have to take care of the soil and get that process going there.

Before we get to the root of things let’s thank our sponsors and affiliate links

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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

I can’t say there is, I love growing things. I love installing things. Gardening really excites me today because I know the end result!

I think that will be inspiring for listeners. I am all about convenience and this sounds like you are making it convenient for people, because my husband spoils me and mostly what I have to do is just go down with my seed packets after he has all the work done and the beds made I mean I do like the composting thing. 

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

Actually I love moving residue out of the way, and seeing what’s going on below the surface. That’s what really excites me! To see that soil change!

For me as a soils person that is probably as exciting I could look at what it does to the plants. We had 4 1/2 foot tomatoes after just 7 weeks, after the hail storms let up

had 4 hail storms

19th of July

we’re not gonna make it beef the frost hits and in 7 weeks they were 4 1/2 feet tall! It was crazy! They did very well in that soil!

What is the best gardening advice you have  ever received?

probably IDK I’d have to think about that

intersting

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?

Probably my watering, my that’s the key. I need to have my lines for my watering because that’s what makes it work.

So are there any special techniques for what makes that work, you’re talking bout burying them in the soil?

we put them in the soil

We have a process that we teach of how and we put our super soil in with that so that plant gets off to a good start.

We work a lot with soil that is completely worn out

We

  • planted seeds
  • transplant both
  • what your want to do

Depends on what you want to grow

One struggle has been finding good seed

The biggest issue is finding good seed, we recently uncovered some things I think in that seed development thing. 

So do you have an videos or anything on this? I know listeners are going to be curious where they can learn more.

We’re in the beginning stages of that

just got our channel

tabletop farmer

working on a facebook page

A favorite recipe you like to cook or eat from the garden?

I love oregano in the winter time in chicken and rice soup.

That oregano, take naturally grown oregano that adds a flavor like nothing else.

I love oregano, as an Italian basil and oregano are two of my essnetila.s

the other thing is

garlic powder

if I raise the garlic in the garden with the little green stem onions. Make natural garlic chives that just seems like I don’t have any issues eating that.

A favorite internet resource?

I mostly find myself searching for people that are testing, I am interested in a lot with what they’re doing with composting.

I compost in my garden

I don’t use a compost on the side, although it’s important, it’s part of the process of getting this going, it’s essential for getting it going. Especially in raised beds.

You can kind of park that theory composter

unless you have things that can get it going. 

Have we talked about Patti Armbrister, she’s on the East side probably closer to you, she’s in Hinsdale, and she talks a lot about the things you’re taking about.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

Growing A Revolution Bringing Our Soil Bake To LIfe

Dave Montgomery who wrote Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life  who I interviewed in episode 186  and his wife Anne Bickle in episode 185 where we talked about the The Hidden Half of Nature.

Hidden Half of Nature The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

 I have a close friend John Sticka who has wrote a soil book as well.

A Soil Owner's Manual- How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health.jpg

A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

no-till when you till you kill

That’s the simplest I can get. It sounds so simple but that urge to till is always there. 

You’re certainly not the first one to say that, actually it was Jon Moore and I was so nervous I was like what did you just say no-till but I have learned a lot since then. Sorry, I have to go I have another call. 

Connect with Steve at tabletopfarmer.com

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The Organic Gardner Podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclists, weightlifters and vegetarians get lower rates on their life insurance.  Go to healthiq.com/OGP to support the show and see if you qualify.

Over half of Health IQ customers save between 4-33% on their life insurance.

Health IQ vegetables celebrating the health conscious

  • Health IQ uses science & data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people just like you green future growers! Like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver, Health IQ saves you money on your life insurance for living a health conscious lifestyle.

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