Angela Knuth’s journey to improved soil health began back in 2005 when she and her husband Kerry made the move to no-till on their Mead, Neb. farm. As third-generation farmers hoping to pass on what they’ve built to the fourth generation, Angela and Kerry are motivated by a desire to leave the land in the very best possible condition for their two sons.
“It is a goal for us to leave the boys with better soils than what we had, and it does take time,” Angela says. “We need to give them something that’s going to make them a living.”
With the switch to no-till, the Knuths found they saved money on tillage equipment and fuel. According to Angela, “We have been pleased to see no decrease in yield. We’re hoping to see that continued decrease in our cost of production and improvement in the soil tilth and microbe activity.”
That goal of improved soil biology is one of the things that led the Knuths to Soil Health Partnership and implementing an on-farm research trial.
“If you get your biology right in your soil, it’s going to pay you back three-fold,” said Angela. “It’s just a matter of, why not?”
As part of their SHP trial, they took steps to pinpoint which cover crops and seed mixes work for their farm in an effort to add greater diversity to their crop rotation, rather than going from just corn to beans and back again. Angela knows that once they can definitively answer their questions about cover crops, the crop diversification piece will be much less work, stress, and risk.
“We’re starting to see that, yeah, this is do-able,” Angela says. “With the diversity, there’s a little more confidence that the future is going to be there for [our sons].”