Soil tradition goes back to 1937

Joel Suderman (right) accepts the Continuation Conservation Award from Marion County Conservation District board supervisor Russell Funk.Joel Suderman is the 2013 Continuation Award winner for the Marion County Conserva?tion District for the soil building and erosion control work he has done over the years on about 700 acres of his land that was considered highly erodible.

Suderman said the family production on the land shared with wife Dawn goes back to his father?s purchase of it in 1937.

He has established 8.42 acres of grassed waterways, 30,953 feet of terraces and several acres of field buffers of native grass with forbs designated for quail and other wildlife.

The plantings with grasses such as big bluestem, little bluestem, gamma grass and others are also designed to provide food seeds and cover for a variety of birds and insects.

Some of his Conservation Reserve Program land goes back to 1985-86, he said.

Suderman said his cover crops vary according to what the next cash crop will be, whether wheat, corn or soybeans. The crop could be sudan grass, millet, turnips, one of several clovers, or a special type of large red radish that can send down roots 4 feet deep.

His farm plan also includes some acreage being part of a conservation security program that allows some grazing with a cow herd.

Suderman finds that growing a variety of cover crops helps in building a variety of residues to enhance soil organic matter with high populations of earth worms and other organisms.

He feels his use of no-till farming, with its build-up of crop residues, further enhances the top-soil-building biological activity in his ground.

He uses Roundup, or a generic form of it, and other herbicides with it to curtail resistance buildup while preserving soil life.

Suderman said he quit burning wheat stubble 15 or 20 years ago because working up the stubble helps hold the soil in place during big rains, and then holds moisture to enhance the growth of other crops.

Suderman has also served as treasurer on the MCCD board for three years.