Jon Stika

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since Oct 19, 2019
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Jon Stika has experience with the soil as a farmer, dairyman, integrated pest management specialist, gardener, soil scientist, agronomist, cartographer, horticulturalist, and soil health instructor. He is the 2014 recipient of the Legacy of Conservation Award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2014 United States Zero Till Non-Farmer of the Year Award winner from the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association, 2002 & 2014 Professional Award winner from the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts and 2006 Fellow Award winner from the Soil & Water Conservation Society for his work in writing and teaching about soil health.
Western North Dakota
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Recent posts by Jon Stika

A few videos by the good folks at Menoken Farm of the tour I was part of this summer.
1 week ago
Welcome Leigh!  I will be interested to follow the discussion and see how your journey of restoring soil health to your land has progressed.  Cheers!
1 month ago
Healthy soil is soil that is performing all of the functions it was designed to perform... just as a healthy person can perform all of the functions she/he was designed to perform.  Healthy soil infiltrates and stores water, cycles carbon and nitrogen and provides habitat for everything that is supposed to live in the soil so plants can capture solar energy to feed soil organisms and soil organisms in turn, can feed the plants.  Tillage is very disruptive to the structure and biology of the soil and renders it less capable of functioning.  
4 months ago
If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I am @humusphysicus

6 months ago
If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @humusphysicus

6 months ago
"The ‘rhizophagy cycle’: How plants harvest nutrients from microbes" webinar
6 months ago
I am very humbled that all of you have taken what I have written about how the soil functions as a biological system to heart and are making your land use decisions accordingly.  

Kate - You are spot on with the idea of feeding the life in the soil instead of trying to feed plants directly.  Modern agronomy has become lost, adding "crop nutrients"  to the soil as if it were a bucket that plants eat from.  Plants feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants, regardless of where the nutrients come from (air, fertilizer, compost, soil minerals, etc.).

Leigh - You are indeed headed in the right direction and that is what is critical to success.  Restoring soil health is not a race, you just need to head in the right direction.  The first few years are a leap of faith that you must take to get on the path to soil restoration.    If you focus on restoring soil health and let that drive your decision-making process you will continue to make progress.  The rate of positive change will increase the further you get into the process.

My book simply speaks the truth about how the soil functions.  I am not trying to sell farmers, ranchers or gardeners anything... no soil amendments, no equipment, nothing.  Understand how the soil functions and you can choose what tools will work for your situation; a tractor, a plant, a goat, cardboard, a fence, etc.  

Tillage is a double-edged sword, as long as you understand the degree of disturbance you are doing with a tillage operation and mitigate for that disturbance, you can stay on a positive soil health trend.  

I do not place my potato seed pieces into the soil, but on top of the soil and then cover them with a thick (foot or more) layer of hay, leaves, grass clippings, etc. and allow them to grow up through that mulch.  Add more residues as needed to keep them covered during the growing season.  You will learn what types of materials in what combinations work best in your climate.  

You folks are brave pioneers on your way to better soil... keep the faith and keep thinking outside the box!
7 months ago
A soil health presentation I gave recently at the Midwest Soil Health Summit in Minnesota.

7 months ago
I will be presenting some information on soil health as part of the North Dakota State University online Spring Fever Garden Forum later this month.
7 months ago
A few, but nothing as extensive as the coffee roasting robot.
7 months ago