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Bowling Green, MO — “We don’t have a run-off problem, people, we have an infiltration and tillage problem,” Ray Archuleta told over 100 Peno and Spencer Creek watershed producers during a soil health workshop near Bowling Green, MO in August.  Ray, a nationally renowned soil scientist known as ‘The Soil Guy’ captivated farmers and ranchers from the four county area with his energy, enthusiasm, and common sense explanation of how to take care of soil.  “Untilled, healthy soils are well-structured like cottage cheese,” he says, “full of holes. They act like a sponge.”

During the first half of the workshop at the local fair grounds, attendees witnessed a “slake” test and rainfall simulator demonstration. Then Ray ‘wowed’ them as he explained how everything farmers do on the farm is connected to the soil it rests on.  “Tillage is not your friend,” Ray says.

After dinner, workshop attendees loaded buses and headed to John and Sandy Scherder’s farm. Producers were divided among three stations; soil infiltration led by University Extension, information on a Fishers & Farmers Partnership-sponsored pasture improvement project led by NRCS, and how to determine soil health with a shovel, led by Ray Archuleta. Of course ‘The Soil Guy’ really stimulated the producers and it was hard to get them to move to the next station. In fact, some were so engrossed in conversation with Ray that they stayed at the farm until 10:30 PM!

Overall, the evening was a huge success with support from NRCS, Pike County Soil and Water Conservation District, Missouri Department of Conservation, and John and Sandy Scherder, members of Fishers & Farmers Watershed Leaders Network. While it usually takes producers time to implement big changes, workshop planners think they definitely got Peno and Spencer Creek watershed producers thinking about how they can work these principles into their operations.

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