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Conservation that (literally) pays off |The Spokesman Speaks Podcast, Episode 48

Brian and Mitchell Hora
Mitchell Hora (right) and his dad, Brian, (left) farm in southeast Iowa. Mitchell also runs a soil health consulting business.

 

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Welcome to Episode 48 of The Spokesman Speaks podcast, which is part 2 of a two-part series on water quality and conservation. See Episode 47 for part 1 of the series.

In this episode, we discuss how Iowa's conservation efforts pay dividends, for water quality protection and soil health and by cutting costs and creating potential revenue opportunities. Iowa Farm Bureau's Conservation and Natural Resources Advisor (Rick Robinson) discusses a new report that illustrates Iowa's most recent water quality protection progress. And Mitchell Hora (an up-and-coming young Iowa farmer and ag entrepreneur) discusses conservation efforts that benefit soil health and water quality, while cutting costs and creating potential revenue opportunities.

Below are some of the resources referred to in this episode:

Click here to view the transcript +
Narrator: Welcome to the Spokesman Speaks a podcast from Iowa's leading agricultural news source brought to you by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Now here's your host.

Andrew Wheeler: Welcome to the August 10th edition of the Spokesman Speaks podcast. I'm Andrew Wheeler. And today we're talking about how I was conservation efforts, pay dividends for water quality protection and soil health. And in farmers balance sheets. This is part two of our two part conservation and water quality series. So if you haven't listened to part one yet, I didn't courage you to do that. After you finish up this episode, we'll start this episode by talking with Iowa Farm Bureau's conservation and natural resources advisor, Rick Robinson. Just last week, I called Rick to discuss a new report that illustrates I was most recent water quality protection progress through the state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Andrew Wheeler: The recent Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy progress report assembled by Iowa State University. Researchers was full of data showing the conservation practices adopted by Iowa farmers are delivering results. What stands out to you from the report?

Rick Robinson: Well, to me, it has to be the 22% reduction in phosphorus loading. That's occurred since the EPA established a 1980 to 1996 baseline for measuring our progress. And when the results of the ongoing statewide best management practices mapping project are complete in a year or two, it's likely that we'll have confirmed that we've met our nonpoint source phosphorus reduction goal. But what's also good about this is that we are now applying a proven soil conservation success model to the nitrogen side of the nutrient reduction goal. And over time we expect to see similar results there.

Andrew Wheeler: Now we know that I was known as a national and global leader in agricultural production, but it's less widely known that I will farmers our national leaders and early adopters of proven conservation practices. Can you tell us a little bit more about why we're doing so well here in Iowa?

Rick Robinson: Well, I think it's that farmers accept the challenge of conservation progress. And one of the specific areas is cover crops. It's a key area in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Early on, the Iowa nutrient research and education council has documented that I were farmers have now planted more than 2 million acres of cover crops in 2018. And that's a 50 fold increase since 2011. There are other long-term examples of Iowa's leadership such as being the top state for the use of the targeted continuous conservation reserve program and the use of buffer strips, and we've been number one in reduced tillage. That's also contributed to the phosphorus loading reduction that we talked about.

Andrew Wheeler: The enthusiasm for sharing farmer to farmer success stories is really growing. And we're hearing a lot about educational seminars, outreach events on farm field days and demonstrations. What are you able to tell us about some of the networking and collaboration that we're seeing?

Rick Robinson: Each year, since we've started the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The number of field days, the number of demonstration projects, And those similar educational events has increased as have the number of participating farmers and other Iowans. And last year we documented that there were at least 540 such events statewide, and those were attended by at least 54,000 farmers, landowners, and other Iowans. And those were increases of six and 10% respectably from the previous year. So we're clearly seeing great collaboration and networking.

Andrew Wheeler: We all have a role to play when it comes to improving water quality. And that challenge is a long-term investment. How are these successful conservation projects on farms and in watersheds across the state funded?

Rick Robinson: Well, it's truly a collaborative public private partnership with farmers and landowners and businesses and cities, all playing a role and the total private state and federal funding for all nutrient strategy related efforts last year was put out $560 million. And that's a 9% increase from the previous year and last year. And again, this year, the Iowa legislature continued its commitment with more than 10 and a half million dollars in funding for the strategy's water quality initiative to support those local watershed projects and practice implementation. And that is in addition to the 270 million in the sustainable long-term funding that was approved by the legislature in 2018. And Senate file 512. Those funds are being implemented on farms and in cities both to meet our nutrient reduction objectives. And there is not another state in the nation that has that dedicated level of funding to support their Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Andrew Wheeler: There's lots of good information in the full 115 page Nutrient Reduction Strategy progress report. And we appreciate Rick joining us on the podcast to hit the highlights. If you'd like to dig into that report yourself, we've included a link in the notes for this episode, so you can click there to view it. Of course, the beauty of conservation work is that it produces a variety of benefits from water quality to soil health and even opportunities to cut costs or add new revenue streams to discuss some of those opportunities. We reached out to Mitchell Hora an up and coming young Iowa farmer and entrepreneur who runs Continuum Ag, which is a soil health consulting company That has operated in 40 States and 11 countries, Mitchell farms with his dad, Brian in Southeast Iowa. And he even finds time to serve on the Washington County Farm Bureau board earlier this summer Spokesman writer, Tom Block, attended a soil health field day on the Hora farm, which planted a seed so to speak. And Tom wound up reaching out to Mitchell for an insightful conversation that I know you're going to enjoy.

Tom Block: Hey Mitchell, thanks for joining us today. Talk a little bit about soil health soil health conservation, just really go hand in hand, top of mind for farmers right now, when people ask you what soil health means and how they can make improvements to their farms, how do you kind of describe that to them?

Mitchell Hora: Yeah, that question I get all the time and actually I think the answer to it, it's actually really easy and that soil health is just balance, but it's creating balance in the soil, chemical, physical, and biological components, but creating balance. That's what it all boils down to.

Tom Block: Okay. And you are a seventh generation farmer, I think, and down in there in Washington County it's always had a lot of early adopters of no till cover crops, things like that. How did that environment kind of influence you things your dad did and maybe earlier generations, how did that influence your conservation mindset and the things you're doing today?

Mitchell Hora: Yeah, 100% Washington County is a really interesting place in terms of that there's farmers here that have been 20 years of cover crops, 40 years of no till. And that's really definitely has helps to develop my thought process more that there's a lot of farmers in this area that they're already into their second, third generation of really intense conservation mindset for the management of their farms. So a lot of the new early adopters are not necessarily my generation or my dad's generation. It was my granddad's generation or when my dad and, and people in his generation returned back to the family farm after college, they were bringing back new ideas and opening up the opportunity to change and to think about things differently. And now Washington County has really progressed on that conservation movement. But we also have a heck of a lot of rivers and streams, everything just kind of coming together down here as you get into Southeast Iowa. So a lot of farms are very connected to the water, very connected to their streams and their rivers. And we want to make sure that we're taking care of them as best as we can.

Tom Block: And do you think that, I guess the farmer to farmer knowledge sharing is that one of the best ways to, to advance this the learning is that how farmers learn from each other?

Mitchell Hora: I think it's super critical and you definitely have to have the farmer to farmer learning the touch and feel farmers are such visual creatures. You know, we want to be able to see it, smell it, feel it on our own. And, but we have to remember too, farmers are entrepreneurs, farmers are business owners. They want to make their own decision. And that's why they're in farming. They want to be able to be their own boss. And so I like the farmer to farmer learning though, because you're able to say, "Hey, here's how this worked for this other guy's farm. They're having success with it. It looks pretty good. You know, it seems like it's working. Okay. Here's some of the things that they learned along the way now I can adopt those ideas and bring them back to my operation, but if we're work for them and it's helping them to make more money and be more sustainable than, Hey, I might as well try it out. Maybe it'll work for me."

Tom Block: And how did that influence you? You went then off to Iowa State and tell me a little bit about what you studied there and really kind of taking this deep dive as you've done.

Mitchell Hora: So when I went to Iowa State I ended up majoring in agronomy and in ag systems technology and my family farm is relatively small. You know, we only farm about 700 acres, corn soybean type of a system and you know, not a big operation to be able to return back to and be able to sustain the livelihood that I wanted and to be able to pull income off of that from my family and my parents you know, just wasn't fully in the cards. So I knew I needed to create some off-farm income. And but I got connected with agronomic consulting really during my freshman internship in the Fall of 2014. And I started putting together business plans at that time. So summer of 2014 I knew, okay, I want to get into consulting. I want to be back in the Washington County area continuously stay involved in the farm of course, but knew that I needed to be able to create some other avenues for revenue.

Tom Block: So started Continuum Ag and was able to get connected. Then with this new soil health test, this Haney Soil Health Test, I was a value that was basically allowing us to evaluate the plant available nutrients on our soil and the carbon in our soil. But really most importantly, we were now looking at the biological activity in our soil. And we were looking at the function of the soil as a living system. And that was really my key in getting back in Washington County, accessing new data, helping farmers to better understand their soil as that living system today, we call it a living dynamic continuum. And from that point, Continuum Ag has really expanded globally and we've launched software. And now we have the largest private social health data set based on the work that we've been able to do directly with farmers.

Tom Block: Yeah, that's great. That's what I want to talk about next, actually. When I was visiting with your dad a while back, he said, you're collecting data every day, multiple times a day, multiple fields. What, what kind of data are you collecting? What are you trying to measure? And how are you using it to make changes on your farm or recommendations to your clients?

Mitchell Hora: Yeah, absolutely. We have all kinds of different data being collected and yet every day and actually now every day is almost an understatement, which is kind of crazy. I just pulled up right before hopping on here checking into some of our soil sensor data. And we have sensors out in a couple of our fields that we're just trialing this year, that is pulling a soil reading every 15 minutes. Okay. So current soil sampling is still to pull soil samples once every four years. That's kind of the base program once every four years on two and a half acre grids. And that's fine. You know, that's gotten us where we gotten us to this point here today and utilizing basic precision agriculture, managing fertilizer on a grid sampling basis. What we've now adopted as more of a zone assessment where we're evaluating spatial variance within the field. Then we go to the field and collect soil samples based on those zones. And we're utilizing this Haney Soil Health Test to be a more thorough assessment of the data that is within that zone and the sample that soil, that, that zone represents, get that data back or we're evaluating nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, micronutrients, carbon, biological activity a wide array of parameters. And across the board, we like to do those zone samples every other year is good. And what we do for most of the farmers that we work with on our own farm, we're doing those zone samples at least once a year, but then we have a lot of trials going on as well. Especially trials looking at things like cover crops, diverse cover crops, interceding, cover crops, adopting rotational pasture management, adopting new crops, of course, too, and trying to diversify some of our cropping systems, but we're pulling soil samples from those trial areas on a weekly basis. Okay. So we have now gone from pulling soil samples once every four years to at scale pulling soil samples once a year, once every other year, but then in trials, pulling soil samples weekly. And we've been doing that for about three years now, working directly with Dr. Rick Haney together. Super thorough data from the soil in the same spots over and over and over and over again. To now, we have these soil sensors that are out there collecting data, not once a week, but once every 15 minutes. Plus we're layering that with aerial imagery, drone imagery, tissue sampling, stock nitrate sampling, we've tried some SAP analysis. And we're even looking into looking at the grain nutrient density here for this fall, which is super cool. And of course we have to look at yield at the end of the day as well. At this point that's still the driver of success in profitability for the farm, but we are opening up a lot of other opportunities to drive revenue streams for our operation.

Tom Block: Let's talk about that. Farming's a bottom line business. Obviously, one of the reasons maybe people only did it once every two years, four years to take those soil samples is cost, but so what are the economic opportunities, maybe environmental opportunities involved with this more frequent sampling that farmers could get out of it?

Mitchell Hora: It's huge. Okay. So we talk about this all the time and in a variety of like the different meetings I'm involved with or different groups that I'm a member of, we talk about how do we help farmers to implement sustainable ag systems or implement cover crops or whatever. And it boils down to, we've got to be able to make money. You got to be able to make money. Sustainability does not matter if the farm is not economically sustainable, but what we found is that by speeding up our data collection, that yeah you know, the cost per acre for the sampling that we do at scale cost about 10 bucks an acre. Okay. 10 bucks an acre, pretty similar to the soil sampling that we were doing before, and then making variable rate recommendations off that data. But what we're finding now is that that $10 an acre expense I'm able to utilize to optimize my fertility that I am deploying. And what we often see is just in better fertility management, both spatial management, timing management is huge. But then also of course finding the right rate of fertilizer that I need to apply when I couple those things together, manage my four R's a little bit better. We see that we can pay for that $10, an acre expense just in better fertility management. Then of course, we're also driving better yield. So I'm not only optimizing the expense piece of the equation, but I'm also generating more revenue at the end of the day, too. But this, all the data that we're collecting is going to continuously be more and more important as the consumer gets more transparency into where their food comes from, where their products come from, that data is going to open up even more direct revenue opportunities for farmers, whether they be participating in carbon markets, water, quality markets, or other ecosystem service markets, or opening up opportunities to market organically or non GMO or regenerative or sustainable, or there's 1,000,012 different labels and buzz words that you can utilize. But the data to back it up at the end of the day is going to be the key to any of those opportunities as your farm goes forward.

Tom Block: Sure. And so really, yeah, not only collecting the data cause we've been doing that for a long time. Right. But going ahead and using it, having somebody maybe like yourself, crunching the numbers and looking for those opportunities.

Mitchell Hora: Exactly. You have to be able to use the data. That's like in working with dad and stuff, it's like we have 20 years of yield data for most of our farms and dad's been pulling soil samples since the eighties on our farm. So we have tons of data, but it's, how do we actually utilize that information? Like farmers have tons of data, there's new technology coming on the scene all the time. Like I said, I mean, we're messing with a whole bunch of these fun tools and I think they're fun and we're able to spend the time to kind of mess around with them and trial and error and play with them a little bit more. But we got to be able to use the data to make a better decision. And what we're focused on is how do I manage my inputs? How do I be more cautious with the dollars that I am spending upfront to still drive yield? So it's optimized my inputs still drive yield. That is what pays the bills here today. But we're also looking now at the data in terms of how do I create more carbon credits and I can sell those carbon credits and get directly paid for the data. And that service that I'm providing to the environment, how do I get paid for or utilize the data to improve my impact on water quality or my water use efficiencies, or now like, as like a kind of briefly mentioned, utilize the data to be able to drive a better quality product. That's not only producing more yield and yield is fun. And it's really fun to watch the yield monitor be sitting there at 300 bushel as you're going across the field. That's a lot of fun, but what's coming is being able to not only look at the yield that I'm pulling per acre, but looking at the quality metrics behind it. And I'm talking, looking at the protein that I'm producing, the fiber, the oil, the starch that I am producing and those quality metrics are what's going to be able to drive my ability to attain even more premium for my crop attain better market access for my crop. Those things are going to be really interesting. And with big bulk data and unbiased analytics, we're going to be able to drive towards a new array of desirable outcomes on the farm.

Tom Block: Interesting. That's absolutely fantastic diversify revenue streams because we can't control the price. So maybe more opportunity to make more money on the product you already have. Let's talk about, you're doing a lot of interesting things. You talked about field trials, let's move on to you know, we were down there, we saw really crops and corn and sixteenths rows and interceding cover crops in June. Things that maybe a little bit advanced for some farmers. What kinds of things are you doing? Explain those trials a little bit and what are you hoping to learn from them?

Tom Block: I'm just trying to help make sure that dad doesn't get too bored out there on the farm I'm out and about at meetings and, and running Continuum Ag and stuff like I have to spend most of my time doing. So I get all these ideas and innovations and stuff from other farmers so it's ideas that I'm pulling from other super innovative people who are saying, well, Hey we're doing this on our farm and I'm helping them manage soil data or just interacting with them through social media. I'm like, well, that's a pretty cool idea. Like dad, let's try this on our farm. And push comes to shove. And we typically, I think last year we had about 150 different trials going on our 700 acres farm this year. We don't have quite that many. I think we're only at about 125 different things going on in our farm this year. So, letting dad have a break here for the 2020 season, but now really trying to help to implement the principles of soul health. Okay. That's what it boils down to. And those are being able to make sure that we're keeping armor on the soil at all time with crop residue, minimize disturbance as much as possible. Eliminate soil disturbance, maintain a living root. At all times, we mostly are doing that through cover crops, implement diversity and diverse cropping systems, a wide array of different types of roots that are grown out there all the time, because those all stimulate different microbial interactions in the soil. And the fifth principle is to integrate livestock. And we've had a tough time with being able to do that. Just the logistics are still a big issue. So trying to foster some of our microbial livestock and our earthworm livestock in the time being a while, we're not fully able to get cattle or anything else out on the farm. But so what we're trying to do is figure out how do we implement these principles at scale in Southeast Iowa, and then be able to tailor those innovations to different geographies that we work with all around the world. And so for example, one of the things that we were having an issue with is, well, how do I implement a diverse cropping system where my average land cost is $250 per acre per year, which is our average for our farm. And I'm sure a lot of other farmers have a land expense even higher than that per year. So it's really tough to implement some of these different cropping systems like raising a small grain. For an example, when the revenue they have to have coming in per acre, just to cover some of your fixed expenses is super high. So what we did was we said, well just growing wheat or rye looks like it's going to be pretty darn tough to make that pencil out economics wise. So what we did was we planted that wheat in the fall. This year we did the same thing with rye plant the wheat or rye in the fall, plant your soybeans directly into it in the spring. Then that summer come through and harvest your small grain over the top of the soybeans and then come back in the fall and harvest the soybeans. Okay. So now what we're doing is we're growing two crops growing simultaneously together and harvesting two different crops in the same growing season. So now I'm really having to dial back on some of my inputs, especially with herbicides, with fertilizer, insecticides, the fungicide, even we've been able to dial back. And I'm just running the planter, the drill as my planter twice, and I'm running the combine twice and getting now two revenue streams in the same year on the same acre. And that is how we've been able to make this diversity component of the soil health principles work by using a relay crop. We've also done some double cropping as well. And some new, new, small grain crops and stuff like mustard that we've been able to open up. Just planting a mustard crop with no double crop or no real crop on it because we're able to get the economics to work directly with the company that we were working with that was buying the seed from us. So it's being very cautious about implementing the principles of soil health, trying to get that diversity going, keep living ruts at all times, but make sure that it economically works out as well.

Tom Block: Yeah. And you mentioned your dad and I visited with him a little bit and he's a hundred percent on board with this, but he told me the number one rule, right. Don't lose money. So it's a bottom line business, but interesting. You know, that he's been able to help adopt this for you.

Mitchell Hora: Yeah. Yeah. So the cool thing about like my dad and I's relationship is he's very innovative as well, and he likes these things. He thinks it's fun and you know, he thinks it's cool that we're trying all these new things and, and he's learning and it's the most exciting piece for me out of this entire journey has been to watch my dad learn and get excited and ha seeing his light bulb go off when we're out in the field and like we're digging in the soil or we have somebody come out and visit and they create a they identify something new to us and we're like, wow, like that is so cool. You know, something new that we're learning about our operation all the time, but a key thing for our situation has been a lot of other young guys, their dad or their granddad can be kind of a stick in the mud when it comes to trying something new and they have to be, it's a business. They have to make sure that, like dad said, we can't lose money. It's got to be profitable. It's got to be profitable in year one. There's no margin for error in today's day and age of zero margin farming. So we have to make sure that these things that we are implementing are going to work and we try to alleviate that risk by starting small scale. And luckily between my dad and myself, we typically have the time, which is crucial. You know, we have the time to be able to experiment and learn. And, but we're starting multiple steps ahead because of the ability to work with other farmers who have been there, done that they've been able to learn. They've been able to troubleshoot and we're able to learn from them and implement on our farm. And then we reciprocate that learning by sharing with them, what we've been able to learn, what we've been able to overcome so that as they adopt something new, they can have success right out of the starting blocks as well. But the key thing has been, I'm able to say, dad, Hey, here's this new thing I want to do. 60 inch rows brought up. Okay. So 60 inch corn is interesting. It's cool. I did a senior project when I was at Iowa State on wide row corn. And I said, okay, well, Hey, here's kind of what I'm thinking. Here's what I want to do. And dad goes, and he figures out how to really tweak it for our situation, for our farm and for our equipment. And that connection has been able to really make it work where we're able to piggyback and kind of leapfrog ideas off of each other.

Tom Block: Absolutely. That's a very, very cool, just the very definition of a family multi-generation farm right there. Let's talk about your company a little bit. You mentioned Continuum Ag, you work with farmers not only here in Iowa, but across United States and all over the globe. I don't know how many countries you're in right now, but first, how did you go about building that kind of broad network? And secondly, on that aspect, what can you learn? What can farmers learn from each other by interacting with other farmers from such different regions that maybe do things a little bit differently and how can you bring those back here to work in Southeast Iowa?

Mitchell Hora: I think that's a big thing about agriculture here today and going forward is the farmer's ability and the farmer's interest in collaboration and in working with other people and in sharing in those learning opportunities. I think that's huge for farmers, especially now that we can be connected on such a global scale. It's just really cool to see that kind of innovation. But yeah, Continuum Ag. Currently our footprint is actually 40 States and 11 countries that we've done work in and super fortunate to be in the spot that we are and taking the knowledge and soaking it all in trying to put some real data behind it, trying to put some technology behind it and scaling innovation across hundreds of thousands of millions of acres and being able to kind of house all of that knowledge and try to use some data Continuum Ag's main focus here is that we are creating a common soil language. Okay. So what I mean by that is what the heck is this quote unquote soil health. I mentioned it's balance. Okay. Well balance in what balancing the chemical, physical and properties. Okay. Well, what is that? That is the calcium and magnesium ratios, fungal and bacteria ratios, pH organic matter, water extractable organic carbon, more stable, organic carbon, more stable, organic matter, more readily available organic materials that are in our soils and focusing on the balance there of a wide array of different metrics. But the key, like you stated before the key is not just to have more data, but to be able to create action out of that data. So Continuum Ag really came about in that I was helping farmers to collect data sampling with this Haney Soil Health Test interpret the information and try to learn. But what we found was that we were getting so much data, that it was hard to be able to create enough Excel data tools and, and do enough conditional formatting using Excel to be able to really interpret and manage and learn from the data. So we went and started to build our own software and today Continuum Ag has launched our Topsoil Tool. Topsoil Tool is an online data analytics system and really the first platform to be able to quantify and help farmers improve their soil health. Fully web based, able to connect with a ton of different data tools. But the key is we can help farmers to connect in all these data tools, but at the end of the day, returned to them usable, actionable information that they can directly go and implement on their farm. And the key is to help, to ensure short term profitability. Again, VM fertility management improve yields got to make money too, as we're implementing more so health focused systems, but what's cool here is there's so much interest in soil health, in sustainability, in carbon or water quality. So much interest coming in from massive supply chain companies like Cargill or General Mills variety of massive global organizations like that. And all of these companies are saying, well, Hey, we want to do sustainability. We want to do soil health. And here even just recently, Bayer has thrown their hat in the ring. Microsoft and Land O' Lakes have moved forward on some things Cargill move forward on some of their sustainability initiatives. Like there are some massive companies saying we want to focus on soil health and sustainability, but oftentimes those initiatives don't actually come with any type of quantifiable goals or any type of real metrics behind some of these sustainability claims. So now what we want to be able to do is help farmers to be able to bind together saying we have a common language of our soil information. We have metrics that we can build upon. We have the ability to show that we can sequester carbon, improve water quality, improve water efficiencies, implement sustainability systems, and overall improve the nutrient density of the crop that we're producing. We have the data coming off the farm to be able to quantify those metrics at scale. Now through Continuum Ag and our Topsoil Tool, we can connect those farmers with these sustainability initiatives, helping them to drive actual quantifiable outcomes. That actually means something to the company, shareholders and to the consumer and those metrics that can actually drive the dollars back into this. Because at the end of the day, these farmers are spending their own money to create environmental outcomes for everybody. And what we want to do is make sure that the farmers are being rewarded for going above and beyond in their efforts to be even more sustainable than what they were before. Be even more cautious about their environmental footprint than what they were before. And as we are changing and adapting to a more data connected consumer and a more transparent supply chain, we want to make sure that the farmer is sharing in the upside of those value added markets and the upside of a more directly interconnected supply chain.

Tom Block: That's great. It's a really very interesting stuff, Mitchell. You're, you're not a hard guy to find you've got a lot of social media channels out there, but if people want to know more, I know you've got a blog on your website. I've seen some YouTube videos, things like that. If people want to see more about what you're doing, where do they go?

Mitchell Hora: Yeah, we're all over the place Continuum.Ag is our website. That's where you can find a bunch of the links into the blogs, the social media stuff. It's all @Continuum Ag and we do some podcasting stuff to trying to really be out there. And I think as agriculturalists, we need to share our story. We need to share in the positive message of agriculture. The future here is super bright. There's a lot for farmers to look forward to. There's a lot to keep our spirits up. But it's going to take working together. It's going to take telling our story and it's going to take being an active. And we're excited to be a big part of that and would love to work with other farmers. But also just sharing ideas. You know, I'm an open book and our farmers open book as well. We'll love to host anybody farmer or not and share and what we're doing and try to continue to learn from each other.

Andrew Wheeler: Wow, you've got to love Mitchell's enthusiasm and the innovative mindset that he brings to conservation and soil health. So many of the farmers, I know, just have a gift for looking at a challenge and finding creative solutions and clearly Mitchell falls right into that camp as well. If you enjoyed what Mitchell had to say, you can check out the podcast that he co-hosts, it's called Field Work, and you can find it wherever you listen to your podcasts. That's all for this episode of the Spokesman Speaks podcast. Thanks again for tuning in for this special two part series on conservation and water quality, and be sure to catch our next regularly scheduled episode on August 24th until next time, I hope that every day presents you with an opportunity to learn something new and share your farm's unique story. Thanks for reading the Spokesman. And thanks for listening to the Spokesman Speaks.

Narrator: Thank you for listening to the Spokesman Speaks a podcast by Iowa Farm Bureau. Check out more podcasts and articles from the Spokesman at iowafarmbureau.com/Spokesman. You can also find and subscribe to the Spokesman Speaks Podcast in the Apple podcasts, Google play, and other popular podcast apps. We appreciate your ratings and reviews and welcome your feedback at podcast@ifbf.org.

About The Spokesman Speaks Podcast

Since 1934,  The Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman has been Iowa’s leading agriculture news source, and today it is the largest circulation ag newspaper in Iowa. While the Spokesman newspaper is available exclusively to Iowa Farm Bureau members, The Spokesman Speaks podcast is available publicly, reaching farmers on-the-go with stories that matter to them. You can  find episodes of the podcast here or subscribe and listen in your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneInRadio, or Radio.com.

We release new podcast episodes every other Monday. Episode 49 will be released on August 24, 2020.



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