Tag Archives: No Till

Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability

Sustainability Key To Nearly 100 Years of Family Farming

Growing up on the farm, Matt Bainbridge’s favorite memories were riding along in the fields with his dad and grandpa, and wondering when he would be big enough to drive the tractor himself. Now, with hundreds of hours in the cab and a young son to join him in the buddy seat, Matt is grateful his family is working together to create a sustainable future for their farm.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


The Bainbridge family has been growing soybeans, corn, alfalfa and raising cattle near Ethan, South Dakota, for almost 100 years. Their recipe for long-term success requires everyone to do their part. Matt and his brother, Neal, run the cattle operation and manage the crops. Their dad, Lewis, helps out with finances, crop insurance and running errands. Wives Sari, Tara and Charlene move cattle, cook meals and transfer equipment.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


Their drive to improve the land for future generations is no different. They contribute new ideas and adopt farm practices so their children have the opportunity to grow and raise food one day.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


It started more than 25 years ago when Lewis stopped tilling the soil. Leaving the stalks and roots from crops in the fields is a practice called no-till that’s used by conventional and organic farmers. It’s a natural way to protect the soil from erosion and feed it with organic matter that supports healthy crops.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


“We feel it’s important to keep the soil covered to prevent erosion. We continue to try new techniques with soil fertility and rotating different crops to help control weeds, diseases and insects,” said Matt. Planting GMO seeds and using precision technology in their tractors, planter and sprayer also help them protect crops efficiently and sustainably.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


With technology and soil mapping, they can treat fields the size of football fields like they’re backyard gardens, applying the right amount of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides needed to grow healthy plants. The science inside GMO seeds helps defend them against weeds, pests and extreme weather. Having all these tools at their fingertips helps the family manage difficult times.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


“This year has been a challenge. We had a wet spring that made calving and planting difficult,” explained Matt. “However, we were fortunate to continue getting rain all summer and were rewarded with an excellent, healthy crop.”


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


Looking toward the future, Matt and Neal are considering more changes to keep their environmental sustainability growing. They recently planted a new variety of soybean that allows them to use different types of products to control weeds. They’re also looking into expanding their cattle herd, which could add new crops the mix and a more abundant supply of manure.


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability


“Farming changes so quickly that it’s hard to predict what it will look like in 20 years, but I believe family farms will always be part of safely growing food,” said Matt. “As a new dad, I hope my son has the same opportunities I have had. Our land and water need to be in excellent condition for our farm to be successful.”


Hungry for Truth Bainbridge Family Farm South Dakota Sustainability

Did you know South Dakota farmers lead the nation in farmland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program? Grow your knowledge with these local farm sustainability facts.

Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

Diversity Drives Sustainability on Hansen Family Farm

For South Dakota soybean farmers, sustainability means doing the right thing for the environment and continuously improving the land for future generations. BJ Hansen is no exception. On his farm near Turton, diversity is also key to building a sustainable future for their farm.

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

BJ is the third generation to join the business and works with his father and uncle to grow a variety of crops, including soybeans, corn, sunflowers, wheat and alfalfa. They use some of those crops to feed a herd of purebred Charolais beef cows, which he brought to the farm when he moved home. He uses embryo transplant technology to breed the Charolais and sell them as seed stock to other farmers and kids in programs like 4H.

Adding cattle to the mix brought a new level of diversity to the farm that allowed them to increase value without growing in size.

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

“My dad and uncle take care of the fields, and I manage the cows. Adding cattle to the farm is how I was able to come back and build a life for my wife and children,” explained BJ. “We probably won’t grow our farm by purchasing more land, so we have to find ways we can do more with what we have to grow healthy food.”

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

In addition to the cattle, they’ve also seen an uptick in wildlife thanks to the 60-foot grass waterway strips they installed along the creeks in their fields. Grass waterway or buffer strips are a conservation practice used by farmers to help filter rain as it runs off the field and into water. They are also great nesting ground for pheasants, ducks and other birds, which supports BJ’s outdoor adventures.

While he enjoys seeing the diversity their practices bring to the fields, he’s even more impressed with how efficient they’ve become. The cattle manure is recycled by spreading it on the fields to nourish crops and the soil. They’ve also stopped tilling the ground and started using cover crops to limit erosion and control weeds. Precision technology helps them apply just the right amount of pesticides when needed and plant the right amount of perfectly-spaced seeds per acre.

“We used to do a lot of tillage when I was growing up. Then in the 1990s my dad decided to stop and just leave the crop stalks and roots in place. With no-till, our soil has become so much healthier,” explained BJ. “We’ve continued to add conservation practices and technology to our farm and are seeing great results.”

The best part of all is that by focusing on sustainability through diversity, BJ’s kids may have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

“Sustainability is helping us get the most out of what we already have and make improvements for the future,” said BJ. “Someday I want my children to have the opportunity to join me on the farm and continue the tradition of growing safe and healthy food.”

Hungry for Truth BJ Hansen Beef Farm

Did you know South Dakota farmers are so committed to conservation that it’s the top state in the nation for enrollment in the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program? Read this blog to learn more.

Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.


Sustainability Grows Strong on South Dakota Farms and Ranches

Did you know South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers are some of the most proactive in the nation when it comes to on-farm sustainability? South Dakota leads the U.S. with 7 million acres of farmland enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). That’s 1 million more acres than any other state.

Sustainability grows strong in South Dakota, which is good for farmers and families. According to information collected through CSP during the past five years, farmers and ranchers adopted environmentally friendly practices that reduced pesticide drift on 1.7 million acres, increased the use of no-till farming on 1.5 million acres and grew cover crop acres on a total of 300,000 acres.

Crop rotation, no-till farming and cover crops are a few of the top techniques used by farmers to improve productivity and grow and raise healthy food. Let’s learn more.

Crop Rotation

Farmers plant different crops on different acres each season to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients. Crop rotation also helps control weeds, diseases and pests. By planting soybeans one year and corn the next, farmers use less pesticides and replenish their soils.

No-Till Farming

No till is a form of conservation tillage that allows farmers to grow crops or pasture without disturbing the soil by plowing. Farmers plant the crop, harvest it and leave the stalks and roots in place through the winter months. The next season, they plant a new crop in the same field. The stalks and roots feed worms and beneficial bugs, which enrich the soil. Keeping the ground covered also reduces erosion from wind and rain, and limits weed growth.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are seeded after harvesting and before planting. They help prevent soil erosion, keep weeds from growing and provide beneficial nutrients to help other crops grow. Some types of cover crops are radishes, alfalfa, red clover and rye grass. Farmers can plant cover crops using a planter, drill or by flying over the fields with an airplane.

These are just some of the ways farmers protect and preserve the land for the next generation. Find out how Paul Casper uses sustainable practices to support outdoor adventures on his farm.

Sustainable Farm Practices Support Outdoor Adventures on Casper Family Farm

Paul Casper has always had a strong connection to the land. His love for the outdoors began when he was young, spending a lot of time hunting, fishing and trapping. Almost everything he does for work and recreation is tied to the environment. That’s why using sustainable agricultural practices are so important for his family and farm.

“What we do on the farm every day has an impact on our family, the food we eat and what we do for fun,” explained Paul. “The water is right beside us so we continually look for ways to improve our farm practices to take care of our soil.”

Paul isn’t kidding when he says the water is right beside them. Today, the family farm is surrounded by four lakes: Lake Thompson, Lake Whitewood, Lake Henry and Lake Preston. That hasn’t always been the case.

Paul used to ride horses and hunt in the pastureland that eventually became Lake Thompson. In the mid-1990s, heavy rains permanently turned the ground into a lake, and now it’s one of his favorite places to take his grandkids fishing. Keeping those waters and the land around them safe while protecting his corn and soybeans are very important parts of his plans.

Like many farmers in South Dakota, Paul uses sustainable practices like crop rotation and soil sampling. The GPS technology in his tractor and sprayer help him apply the right rates of pesticides safely and only in areas where they’re needed. The Caspers also practice no till, which means they don’t disturb the soil after crops are harvested. Leaving the stalks and plant roots in the fields reduces the chance soil will wash or blow into the lakes. It also improves the health of their soil and allows them to use less equipment so they don’t use as much fuel.

“We have greatly improved our farm practices over the past 15 years to preserve South Dakota’s land and water,” said Paul. They have no plans to slow down. This year, they’re looking at planting cover crops, which is a crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.

The more Paul pays attention to sustainability, the better his crops grow. Now that his son and granddaughters have returned to the family farm, safety and sustainability are even more closely connected.

“We live and breathe farming, so we need to preserve the family farm for the next generation,” said Paul. “We also swim in the lakes, and eat the fish we catch, the animals we hunt and crops we grow. There are no shortcuts to being safe and environmentally friendly in agriculture, but I found it’s always worth the effort to do things right.”

Learn more about Paul’s farm practices and how he turns the veggies from his garden into delicious chicken kabobs by watching this episode of Across the Table.

Keeping South Dakota Waters Clean is Good for Summer Fun and Farming

For many South Dakotans, summer time includes having fun on the water. Whether it’s a road trip to the lake or a quick dip in the river, it’s a tradition that’s great for escaping the heat and creating memories that last a lifetime. The same holds true for farmers like Colin Nachtigal who lives near the Missouri River and enjoys fishing, kayaking and swimming on hot summer days.

“When we’re out working on the farm and it gets hot, we jump in the river for a quick dip,” he said. “I’m excited to teach my 18-month-old how to swim in it someday.”

While Colin doesn’t get to be on the water in summer as much as he’d like, he does spend most of his time on the banks of the Missouri working with irrigation pumps. He, along with his dad, two uncles, brother, and six cousins, grow corn, soybeans and wheat and raise beef cattle along the river. He’s part of the fourth generation to cultivate the land and thinks of the Missouri River as more than just a swimming hole.

“Some of our land is irrigated, and the water comes right from the Missouri River. Our rural home’s water system uses water from the river, so we also drink it,” said Colin.

He uses sustainable farm practices to ensure the water is safe for his crops, animals, family and neighbors who depend on it. The Nachtigals blend reliable practices from the past and innovative technology of the future to prevent soil erosion. This includes GMO seeds, minimal tillage and using equipment that puts crop nutrients, like fertilizer, in the soil.

“Minimizing tillage, or no-till, means that we’re leaving the soybean plant roots in the ground after harvest to hold the soil in place. Putting the fertilizer into the soil instead of on top helps the plants use it more efficiently. Both reduce erosion and keep the river clean,” explains Colin. He also uses GMO seeds that require less pesticides. If he does have to apply pesticides he waits for the right day.

“We’re always looking to improve on the ways of the older generation. Learn from them, but also try new ways to take care of the land and water,” said Colin. “Hopefully one day my daughter will be part of the family farm and grow food for people in South Dakota. In the meantime I’m looking forward to making more memories with her on the river.”

Summer isn’t the only time of year to make lasting memories. Learn how South Dakota farmers spend time with their families all year long by reading these blogs:

Celebrating Ag Day with Farm Families

Cooking and Family are at the Center of this South Dakota Farm.

Heartwarming Holiday Stories From South Dakota Farms

What’s the best part of raising kids on the farm?