Episode 12

Published on:

28th Jun 2022

Building Soil Health with Pulses in Diverse Rotations featuring Greg Busch

Greg Busch is a farmer in the far northwest corner of North Dakota. He farms with his wife Jessica and they’ve been growing pulses as part of their rotation for over thirty years. Greg joins us over the next two episodes to talk about what led him to diversify his rotation to include up to ten different crops. He tells us what he has learned through these experiences and where pulses specifically fit into the mix. 

“When we first started farming and specifically when we first started no-till we were a monoculture and we saw a lot of problems with that, a lot of disease. It took a lot of extra fertilizer to keep growing crops like that.….We couldn't continue to do that. We were seeing depletion in our soil, erosion and land costs were getting higher.” - Greg Busch

A local extension agent introduced the Busch operation to field peas in an effort to more efficiently use his land. With that addition, they noticed not only could they grow the crop but they had reduced fertilizer inputs as early as the next year. Forgive the pun but with that the seed of crop diversity was planted. This crop diversity quickly enhanced their soil health by decreasing erosion and fertilizer needs confirmed with the Haney Soil Test.

“We do have a nice residual of nitrogen when we've done our soil tests. It comes back telling us that. We do the Haney Soil Test on most of our ground every year and they give you a soil health score based on a number of different things, carbon release is one of them. And those fields always seem to show higher and we’ve been very pleased.” - Greg Busch

Greg has noticed that there is much less tillage in his area in North Dakota. Less labor, less equipment costs, less passes in the fields and not to forget many soil health benefits have enticed many producers to pursue no-till practices. A major goal for Greg on his operation has been to increase the organic matter in his fields. His soil tests have proven that he has certainly accomplished that goal with a 3-4 times higher organic matter observed since adopting these rotations and practices. 

“It just seems like the ground is a lot more forgiving. It seems to absorb heavy rainfall events better than fields with low organic matter. And it also seems to carry us through short droughts better than the ground with less organic matter. ” - Greg Busch

Join us in the next episode where Greg share’s specifically about his experiences with intercropping. 

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Greg Busch is a farmer up in the far northwest corner of North Dakota
  • Explore the journey he has taken from a monoculture operation to one with 8 to 10 rotations including pulse crops
  • Discover the many soil health benefits he has observed and how he identifies them and uses them to his advantage
  • Stay tuned for the next episode where Greg joins us again to share his experience with intercropping

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Listen for free

Show artwork for Growing Pulse Crops

About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

Profile picture for Tim Hammerich

Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.