We interviewed Aaron Viebrock a cropland producer from Waterville, about direct seeding as his contribution to voluntary stewardship. This practice protects critical areas by improving soil health, decreasing soil erosion, and providing food and cover for wildlife.
Aaron’s biggest problem so far is moisture retention when battling weeds and clay. “In conventional tillage, when you see weeds in your fields, you tend to kill them pretty quickly. On my no-till fields, it’s not as easy to see weeds because of the residue. I’ve learned that I need to spray about once a month. The clay knobs on our ground have been a problem too.” However, Aaron sees that his neighbors’ conventional tilled clay knobs don’t appear to have moisture and are also bare when the crop emerges. “Now that we are not destroying the biology in our soil with tillage, we can increase organic matter, and soil health and structure will improve.” He is hopeful improved soil structure will eventually help those clay knobs retain moisture again.
“When I started direct seeding, I was told it would take a few years for our soil to convert to a no-till system. I didn’t believe it but they were right. I think I’m finally starting to see some results. Now that I’m focused on soil health, I realize that’s the most important aspect of direct seeding. Yes, it’s been a challenge and I’ve had my share of mistakes. But I’m dedicated to making those mistakes into a learning opportunity.”
“Without assistance from crop insurance, NRCS, Foster Creek Conservation District, and Spokane County Conservation District direct seed loan program, I may not have been able to do this. Also, the support from the rest of the direct seed community has been humbling.” He turns to the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association conferences, grower meetings, and local contacts. “But of course, their ground is different than mine, so I take the information and learn how to adapt it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I don’t think I could be where I am today without support from the direct seed community.”