Hosted by two commercial row-crop farmers, Field Work is a podcast that provides space for frank, realistic discussions about the benefits and challenges of sustainable agriculture. Hosts Zach Johnson and Mitchell Hora explore the successes and challenges farmers experience as they adopt new practices, without greenwashing over the difficulties.
Nutrient Management: Find That Nitrogen Sweet Spot
Nutrient management is an art as much as it is a science. And nitrogen, in particular, can be a difficult nutrient to manage. Understanding how it behaves in soil systems can help farmers increase its uptake and minimize nitrogen loss to the environment, where it can pollute water. University of Minnesota extension specialist Brad Carlson and Minnesota farmer Mark Bauer have been working together for years to figure out the best plan for nutrient stewardship on Mark’s farm. They share their insights with Zach and Mitchell and get nerdy about nitrogen.
Landowners, Lenders and More: How to Get Stakeholders on Board with Change
Sometimes the hurdles to sustainable practices come from people right in a farmer’s network: family, landowners, neighbors, seed dealers, and lenders. Bryan and Lauren Biegler, farmers in Minnesota, join Zach and Mitchell to discuss how they fought back the image of being “hippie farmers” as they started strip tilling and planting cover crops. Mollie Aronowitz, a land manager at the People’s Company in Iowa, and Randy Dell from the Nature Conservancy also offer helpful insights into landlord/farmer dynamics around conservation.
Bryan and Lauren Biegler
Collaboration is Key for Farmers and Landowners
There are a lot of big questions to consider for farmers interested in trying out cover crops. Perhaps the most important one, according to cover crop coach Steve Groff, is this: what do you want to accomplish? Zach and Mitchell talk with Steve about the benefits of cover crops, the roadblocks to their adoption, and why he thinks farmers need cover crop mentors.
We explore the benefits and downsides of drain tile with Rodney Rulon, an Indiana farmer, and Matt Helmers, the director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University. Drain tiles dry out and warm up fields, boost productivity, and extend growing seasons, which can make them important economically. But they can also have negative effects on water quality. Zach and Mitchell talk with their guests about how to offset some of those negative effects within the farm’s system.
Drainage Water Quality Impacts Study
Study looking at impacts of nitrogen application timing and cover crop inclusion on subsurface drainage water quality
Conservation Tillage: Should Zach's "Friend" Give It a Try?
Conservation tillage can provide a lot of benefits. It increases water filtration, reduces erosion, and improves soil productivity. But some farmers worry about weed control challenges and lower yields. University of Minnesota extension specialist Jodi DeJong-Hughes joins Zach and Mitchell to talk about conservation tillage, including a recent study she did assessing different tillage practices. And North Dakota farmer Mike Langseth, who participated in the study, weighs in with his experiences. But will Zach’s “friend” be persuaded to reduce tillage on his farm?
Upper Midwest Tillage Guide
University of Minnesota Soil Management and Health
North Dakota State University Strip Till Guide
In this episode, you’ll learn about our hosts and what drives their interest in sustainable agriculture. Zach Johnson, a farmer near Alexandria, Minnesota, also hosts the popular MN Millennial Farmer series on YouTube. Zach’s experiments with cover crops and conservation tillage have been a “disaster” so far. But he really wants to figure out how to make them work. Meanwhile, co-host Mitchell Hora has seen a lot of success with conservation practices on his southeastern Iowa farm and in his role as a soil health consultant. Their different geographies and perspectives set the table for lively conversations.
Field Work is a podcast that showcases frank, realistic discussions about the benefits and challenges of adopting sustainable ag practices. It’s hosted by two commercial row crop farmers, Zach Johnson and Mitchell Hora. They’re two guys who believe farming needs to become more sustainable but know first-hand what kinds of trade-offs might be necessary. Join them for a great season of conversations starting Wednesday, May 1.