In spite of occasional criticism from purists, the U.S. is still often seen as a leader in no-tilling, as evidenced by several dryland farmers from Russia who toured the U.S. earlier this year to witness how sustainable agriculture is being practiced in drought-affected regions.
The farmers — prominent customers of John Deere and Syngenta who collectively farm about 4 million acres — hail from areas of Russia that are similar agro-climatically to Nebraska and the Dakotas, and they’re interested in switching to conservation agriculture.
OVERSEAS LEARNING. A group of Russian dryland farmers, politicians and scientists probe the soil and evaluate crops at Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, S.D., last July during their tour of the U.S. With cropland in parts of Russia under siege from drought, they’re working with U.S. experts to evaluate conservation agriculture systems that could be adopted in Russia. (Courtesy Alexander Olson)
Making the trip along with Russian scientists and politicians, the farmers were particularly interested in the production of corn, winter wheat and sunflowers under dryland vs. irrigated conditions, and the challenges and benefits to expect in switching to conservation farming.
The tour is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to connect Russian farmers with experienced researchers and no-tillers here to extend valuable no-till knowledge to Russia, says Alexander Olson, formerly a strategy manager for Syngenta who represents the Russian farmers.
Among the U.S. farmers and research experts they visited were Mike Hermanson, Todd Mooberry, Jeff Purlee, Dan Forgey, David Legvold, Suat Irmak, Ray Ward…