Soil Health with Scott Gonnerman

12 de dic. de 2023 · 30m 45s
Soil Health with Scott Gonnerman

We saved the best for last this year on the Underdog Ag Podcast. I have been wanting to interview my cousin Scott Gonnerman for so long and I finally headed...

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We saved the best for last this year on the Underdog Ag Podcast.

I have been wanting to interview my cousin Scott Gonnerman for so long and I finally headed to the Gonnerman farm in York County, Neb., sat down at the kitchen table, and did just that.

Scott Gonnerman has the kind of salt-of-the-earth common sense that can be a rare find nowadays. When Gonnerman was a child, he told everyone he wanted to be, “a farmer and a semi-driver.” Gonnerman has achieved all of these goals and much more. His farm in York County, Neb. has hosted visitors from all over the world: Australia, Russia and even Africa. Why? Because he sees change coming. While some of his farming neighbors may drive by in wonder, his national and international visitors know exactly what is going on – the soil across the earth is depleted and our freshwater resources are running dry.

They want to learn how Gonnerman and others are salvaging and rebuilding their farms and ranches in a “regenerative” fashion – a phrase that has been made popular by others in this soil movement that has reached a revival-like status. But, for Scott and his wife Barb, it’s simply about doing what’s right for the next generation.

“We bought this farm in 2004 from my Grandfather Raymond and Grandmother Evelyn Gonnerman,” Gonnerman said. Today, he said, the farm has been in the family for more than 100 years. Gonnerman grew up near Benedict, Neb. His father, Smokey, and mom, Donna, were pragmatic, hardworking people. The Gonnerman farm was not unlike the diversified farms of the past.

He remembered farrowing sows with his mom and his dad going to town in the fall to purchase a straight-truck of calves to put out on the corn stalks to graze. In the spring, they would sell the cattle. The ones that didn’t fit on the truck were butchered and fed the family the next winter.

What separated Gonnerman from some of his other farming peers was his father’s openness to learn right alongside him. As the years progressed, the Gonnermans were farming what is now coined as “conventional” like many of their neighbors. This means they were still disking the land and applying synthetic inputs.

Their cropping systems were a basic rotation of corn, beans, and sometimes wheat. “But I was lucky because my dad was willing to learn and we went to meeting after meeting together. So we were learning together. That was key. My wife Barb would come along too. It’s so important to have everyone involved on the same page. In order to be on the same page, you have to attend the meetings together. You have to learn together,” Gonnerman stressed over and over.

Learn they did, traveling everywhere from North Dakota to South Carolina and Ohio. Some of their biggest influencers were soil health leaders Gabe Brown, David Brandt, and Ray Archuleta.

However, the real game-changer came when they came across a simple, but powerful, presentation by Dan Gillepsie, a Soil Conservation Technician and No-Till Specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The presentation consisted of boxes of various soils that had been farmed differently – from full-bore tillage to cover crops and then a final box with native prairie. Above the boxes was a hose with a head shooting down water to create the simulated rainfall effect.

At the end, the boxes of soil were tipped over. Farmers were able to see the difference between tilling their fields (which destroys soil structure) and the positive impact of no-till and covering the soil year-round with living plants that creates a strong root structure underneath. “Gillespie’s presentation got us started.

At that time, we were still gravity irrigating dad’s farm (irrigating the crops with pipe hooked together on the ground with gates that are opened to let water out into the rows on the field),” he began. Then they began to change the farm for the better. You will love hearing what they did too!

Please listen and soak in Gonnerman’s wisdom.

Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe.

HOST: Kerry Hoffschneider
GUESTS: Scott Gonnerman, Farmer

Mitchell Roush, Producer
Bibi Luevano, Cover Art
Purple Planet Music, Theme
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Autor Kerry Hoffschneider
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