Name: Ryan Larson
Location: Garretson, South Dakota
Year Joined SHP: 2019
Type of Operation:
Ryan grew up on a dairy farm, but his family sold their cows in the ‘90s and rented out the ground. After graduating from college in 2013, Ryan persuaded his parents to let him rent their 160 acres and has now grown his operation to 450 acres. He also has a cow-calf operation consisting of 40 beef cows.
Views on Soil Health:
Ryan attempted conventional tillage the first five years he farmed, but he experienced soil erosion. After hearing a speaker talk about transitioning to no-till, he decided to try it. He also started conducting his own comparison tests between no-till and conventional planting, while simultaneously experimenting with cover crops.
With limited labor and assets, Ryan has found no-till saves him money because he doesn’t need as much equipment or horsepower, and he saves valuable time by not doing tillage.
Reason for Joining Soil Health Partnership:
Ryan struggled to find data on whether changing his tillage practices would work. He appreciates the test results and information on how the soil actually changes.
Trials Partnered with SHP:
Ryan’s trial started with a no-till field where he interseeded a cover crop mix into v3 standing corn. Following the corn harvest, he planted rye, which he will terminate before no-tilling soybeans next spring. Ryan’s plot is looking at the effects of cover crops and no cover crops in the same field. He will be establishing a cover crop every year for the next five years.
Other Soil Health Practices Being Implemented:
Ryan implemented strip grazing cover crops and pasture in the summer, which provides 2-7 days’ worth of feed at a time to his cows. Strip grazing has allowed him to better ration his feed, ensure the cows are not eating all the most nutritious grass first, and keep his feed quality consistent. He saves time not having to haul as much manure because it’s evenly distributed.
He has planted oats and peas in a field and harvested them together, then used a seed cleaner to separate them. He has had success selling the oats for seed and the peas for human consumption.