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South Dakota Producer Profiles

The South Dakota Voices for Soil Health are part of USDA NRCS' Earth Team volunteer network. These people are stewards of their natural resources. As a Voice for Soil Health, they actively advocate for soil health.

Please enjoy viewing each profile listed below or download the combined set of Voices Profiles (This PDF has many profiles combined into one set.) Click here to download a one-page summary sheet of 20 Soil Health Producer Profiles.

Charlie Totton's landCharlie Totton; Chamberlain, South Dakota

Charlie Totton mob grazes 400-acre segments and alternates
where he is grazing every other year. “That way our plants get
to rest one year and shoot seed heads, then we take the cows off,
grazing the ground the next year.”

 

Matt Bainbridge with brother and Father on Bainbridge Farm pastureBainbridge Farm; Ethan, South Dakota

Bainbridge explains, “With our variable sandy and
silky loam soils, we could actually have three to six
types of soil in one field. No-till and crop rotation is
helping us figure out how to best farm that ground.”

 

 

Runge standing in cornCrystal Runge, Brookings SD

Gardeners tend to think that no-till and
cover cropping is for the big guys like farmers and 
large-scale gardeners, Runge said. But she
put the conservation practices to work on
her backyard plot.

 

Namken standing in fieldJared Namken; Hamlin Co. SD
YouTube Video

“We do no-till, cover crops, and pasture
rotation,” said Namken. “I am the fourth generation;
my son is the fifth. Our family farm is over
100 years old now.” 

 

Dennis Hoyle of Roscoe, SDDennis Hoyle; Roscoe, SD
YouTube Video

“Where we have livestock, our organic matter is 5.5
percent or higher, and where we farm it’s in the low
to mid-3 percent," he said. He hopes to bring that
number back up with no tilling and correct grazing
of livestock.

Trish and Jeremy are owners of Cycle Farm in Spearfish, SDCycle Farm; Spearfish SD
YouTube Video

Trish Jenkins and Jeremy Smith enjoy bringing
people on the farm and engaging them in the
local food system, which is a big part of their enjoyment.
They host a number of events on  the farm over
the season including workshops on seed saving and
pollinator habitat as well as farm tours and a harvest party.

 

“Our goal is to pass this operation on to the next
generation and beyond,” said Bryan Jorgensen, who is
a third generation managing partner of JLC. “We’re not
fad followers. If something’s not sustainable, I’m not
going to do it.”

 

Chad Kehn-1Chad Kehn; Bonesteel SD

Chad Kehn, a fourth generation rancher, and his
wife Cindy operate a diversifed ranch in south
central South Dakota near Bonesteel. With cattle the
primary focus, his farming choices support livestock
development.

 

Henry_RoghairHenry Roghair; Okaton SD

“Look at that,” Henry says with a smile.
Whether you’re a backyard gardener or a big crop
farmer, earthworms tend to mean one sure thing -
healthy soil.

 

Paul HetlandPaul Hetland; Mitchell SD

Paul knows his crop production skills will be
challenged each year as he searches for ways to ensure
rainfall soaks into his soil profile and is there when
crops need it.

 

Lawrence Woody WoodwardLawrence Woodward; Dupree SD

When the 1985 Farm Bill began requiring American
farmers to maintain at least 20 percent cover on their
crop land, Lawrence “Woody” Woodward made a
decision. “I thought the easiest way to do that was to
go no-till,” he says. He’s never looked back.

 

Mark WeinheimerMark Weinheimer; Pierre SD

Mark Weinheimer, a second generation farmer near
Pierre, SD, read about cover crops for years. He knew
benefits like reduced soil erosion and increased
yield production sounded good. But, a farm tour in
Burleigh County, North Dakota in 2009 made him act.

 

Steve ReimerSteve Reimer; Chamberlain SD

“We started no-tilling 20 years ago because I knew we had to retain whatever moisture possible in our fields,” Reimer said. “We had put in grass waterways and terraces, but erosion was still a concern. When it rained, all you could do was watch the muddy water run out of the fields and head to the dug-outs. We don’t have those same problems now.”

 

Weerts FamilyWeerts Family Farms; Kingsbury Co. SD

“Since we began leaving crop residue in the field and following our wheat with cover crops, we have seen increased organic matter and improved water infiltration ,” Steve says. “We’re now working on managing excess water in some of our fields and finding ways to reduce compaction without using tillage.”

 

 

David and Nancy KrugerDavid Kruger; Twin Brooks SD

Nestled in the slow rolling hills of Grant County, east
of Twin Brooks, SD is the family farm owned and
operated by David Kruger and his wife Nancy. David
Kruger farms 1,700 acres of land with varying levels of
soil capabilities.

 


Johnson Farm 207x130Johnson Farm; Frankfort SD
YouTube Video

Brian Johnson (left), with his children and
father, Alan Johnson, farm near Frankfort, SD, in Spink County.
It was Brian’s father Alan who implemented use of no-till
practices decades ago to help retain moisture during dry cycles.
Together Brian and Alan have worked to  nd the best possible
seed bed preparation and planting methods to manage crops
during periods of greater moisture.

 

Troy Roth 207x130.jpegTroy and Jackie Roth , Shannon County, SD

“We began no-till farming in 1987,” Roth said.
“Moving that direction was a necessity for soil health
and production simply because of our area’s limited
moisture.

 

 

Dan Nigg 207x130.jpegDan and Kris Nigg
Sisseton, Roberts County, SD

“These days, advances in planters, row cleaners, and
combine chaf spreaders, make the residue much
more manageable,” Nigg says. Nigg farms ground
that’s spread out over 15 miles and deals with
a variety of soil and moisture conditions.

 

Barry Little 207x130v2Barry Little Farm
Castlewood, Hamlin County, SD

When you stopped on a bridge over the Big Sioux
River in Hamlin County last fall and looked south
you could see how Donnie, Barry and Eli Little
intensively manage their cows and crops to increase
profitability and to improve soil and water quality.

 

Bill Nelson 207x130v2Bill Nelson, Lake County, SD

A few in the area have started to ask Nelson to
share how he’s getting the excellent results he does.
With his encouragement, they’re following in his
footsteps and have already made similar changes to
improve the soil health on their farms.

 

Leitheiser FamilyLeitheiser Family, Emery, SD

Long term No-till and cover crops great for Leitheiser Beef and Dairy Farm. George Leitheiser began no-tilling 30 years ago at the urging of his best friend, an Iowa
no-tiller.

 

 

Al Miron 207x130.jpegAl Miron, Crooks SD
YouTube Video

Miron and a neighbor farm 1,400 acres of cropland
with a no-till farming system. The two own
equipment together because it’s an efficient
and cost-effective way to plant and harvest their
crops. No-till is one of the soil health management
practices they use to improve the water holding
capacity of their ground.

Bob Corio 207x130Bob and Barb Corio, Jefferson, SD

Demand for fresh lamb from five-star restaurants
drives Bob Corio’s use of cover crops and better
forages that provide feed but also build organic
matter in the fields he farms in Union County, SD.

 

Joel Erickson 207x130Erickson Family Farm, Langford, SD

The Ericksons added cover crops 10 years ago to
help their no-till system handle heavy rains. “Our
no-till fields can take, and keep, six inch rains that
run off tilled fields,” he says.

 

NRCS-SD-2015-CSI-RobertNehlRobert Nehl Farm, Corson County, SD

Nehl's Switch from Tillage to No-till and Cover Crops
Nets Profits. The home in which Robert Nehl lives has been in his
family since Woodrow Wilson was president. You’d have
to go back even farther to find the roots of the Corson
County land he farms today.

 

Brett Nix ThumbnailBrett Nix, Murdo, SD

To Brett Nix of rural Murdo, SD, sustainability is not
enough. The progressive rancher believes rebuilding
and regenerating the land is crucial in order for
his family’s operation to be relevant for the next
generations.

 

Are you interested in volunteering your knowledge, skills or energy toward helping our South Dakota soils to be more healthy? Contact your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office or the State Office at (605) 352-1200. 

Voice for Soil Health Enrollment Form PDF or MS Word

Voices For Soil Health Map (PDF, 259 KB)