Holistic Approach: Better Grazing with No-Till, Cover Crops

A South Dakota grower manages 10,000 acres to improve soil health, capture moisture and save money with fewer equipment passes and less labor.


Pictured Above: BUILDING A BANK ACCOUNT. South Dakota grower Jim Faulstich plants all his row crops with a Case IH Magnum tractor pulling a 16-row Case IH Early Riser planter with fertilizer coulters on the front for nitrogen placement. Phosphorus is placed directly into the furrow. Faulstich compares building soil health to building a bank account, and unsustainable practices are withdrawals.

CENTRAL SOUTH DAKOTA IS notoriously dry. The region only receives 18 inches of rain, on average, per year, compared to the U.S. average of 38 inches. Farming in such dry conditions is a challenge, to say the least.

Jim and Carol Faulstich and their son-in-law, Adam Roth, oversee about 10,000 acres near Highmore, S.D. Adam’s wife, Jacquie, and their kids, Alexis, 16, and Caleb, 14, are also very involved in the operation. 

Out of the 10,000 acres, 1,200 acres are farmland, 400 acres are alfalfa, and 160 acres of hay and grass. The remainder is predominantly native grass. Marginal farmland is planted with warm season native grass. 

The enterprise has diversified income streams, including a Red Angus cow/calf operation, selling bred Red Angus heifers, hunting ground, selling oats for seed and selling sunflowers to different markets.

Faulstich has lived on the same farm his entire life, except for the 4 years he attended South Dakota State University in Brookings. His parents, Elmer and Christine, bought the operation in 1936. Although Elmer had never attempted no-till, he always kept conservation tillage in mind. 

NO-TILL TAKEAWAYS

  • Don’t waste time and money…
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Sarah hill web

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill is associate editor for the ag division, contributing primarily to Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Farmer, No-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies. Hill has a farm background and graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Ag Journalism and a minor in Animal Science. She has previously served as managing editor of DairyBusiness and is a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association and American Ag Editors’ Association.

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