Improving soil health doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s amazing how a series of small changes, compounded over time, can really make a difference. In this episode, we talk to fourth generation Ohio farmer, Fred Yoder, about things he’s been implementing over the past four decades to improve his soil health and what he has experienced firsthand that he wants farmers everywhere to experience as well. Along with his wife Debbie and his 2 children, he grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. He also has operated a retail farm seed business for over 36 years and sells seed and other technology products to farmers.
“I think we should be building soil and the things that we’re doing today. I think we’re building rather than even maintaining, we’re improving soil. Dad wasn’t the first to say it, but I asked him when I bought the farm, any last minute, recommendations. He said, “Just leave it in better shape than what you got it.” And today the farm is the most productive it’s ever been and in the best shape it’s ever been. And I think that’s because of some of the things that we’ve been doing over the years.”
Fred is also a founding board member and now co-chair of Solutions from the Land, a non-profit that explores integrated land management solutions to help meet food security, economic development, climate change and conservation of biodiversity goals. He also serves as chair of the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, representing all factions of production agriculture, and working to ensure that farmer-to-farmer education and economics will be the driving force to adapting to a changing climate while feeding the world.
“I look at my soil as my 401k, you won’t get instant gratification from it. What they have to be convinced of is the fact if you invest in some of these practices that it’ll pay dividends later on down the road. The first couple of years, you have to actually get your soils conditioned for less tillage and for cover crops and things like that. You give me a farmer for three to five years and I’ll have him for life because once you go through that transitional change, then all of a sudden it supports itself.”