South Dakota farm manager learns from others while sharing his own experience
After two years of intense moisture, this growing season brought drought to parts of South Dakota. Those in typically drier areas lost all of their ground moisture, while those in the southeastern part of the state saw their surplus water table fall into the red once more.
Saving moisture has long been the goal at Cronin Farms in central South Dakota. A rotation of corn, spring wheat, winter wheat, sunflowers, soybeans, flax, field peas and lentils has helped save soil moisture.
Cronin Farms manager Dan Forgey will talk about diverse crop rotation and cover crops for improved soil health at the National Cover Crop Summit held virtually Nov. 17-18.
Cronin Farms, a well-known operation in Gettysburg, has received numerous soil health, conservation and general farming awards in recent years. Forgey has been asked to speak all around the country about his techniques and soil health. It’s a way to help other producers understand how to manage their soil while putting up record yields.
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it,” he said.
However, even as Forgey is asked to share his expertise on the subject, he said these summits are about benefiting every farmer, including himself. He tries to pick up at least one new tip to help the soil at each event.
“If I can help somebody better their soil for the next generation, that’s the goal,” he said. “It’s a system and right now when I come back from a conference, my mind is just spinning.”
As a leader in cover crop systems, gives credit to those who came before him, but he aims to answer any and all questions producers have for him on how to keep the soil healthy. That especially applies to young producers. Hearing from those who have tried different things on their operations can keep young farmers from making mistakes. But Forgey knows that recommendations change and things are different from farm to farm.
“I tell them: ‘What I know and what I say isn’t really all gospel.’ There are a lot of ways to do it differently,” he said.
Fogey has found it’s helpful to surround yourself with like-minded producers and pick up tips and tricks along the way.
“The farm down the road is different than we are,” he said. “You hear things that they try and they do, so you take it back and weigh it out on your farm.”
Some trials don’t always work out, Forgey said, but working to better the soil will always be positive.
“You never have it figured it out,” he joked.
When he gets the chance to speak at conferences he tries to make sure all the information is there to help producers, not himself. Giving wrong information is Forgey’s biggest fear, he said, but typically if producers are exposing themselves to new ideas, they are already on the right track.
Forgey is one of several experienced growers and industry experts participating in the National Cover Crop Summit. Others planning to share their best seeding strategies, grazing and feeding tips, variety selection secrets and more include soil physics professor Sjoerd Duiker of Penn State University talking on frost seeding, Wisconsin crop advisor Adam Kramer discussing aerial seeding of cover crops, Kansas grower Nick Guetterman on growing cover crops in a corn-soybean rotation, and Wisconsin farm manager David Trimner discussing cover crops on dairy operations.
Registration is free for the two-day event and can be found at www.covercropstrategies.com.