North Dakota Featured Customer Featured Customers: Mark and Tim Becker Location: McHenry, North Dakota Farm Operation: Diversified Cattle/Crop Operation Date: June 2008 Cutting No-till Costs Mark and Tim Becker, brothers and 3rd generation farmers located north of McHenry, North Dakota, have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Eddy County Soil Conservation District to accomplish better farming and ranching practices on their farm. They are one of the county’s leading pioneers in conservation application. By implementing conservation practices into their operation, they have seen the benefits through various practices. Mark and Tim have taken advantage of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the NRCS for improving their farming and ranching operation. (The Mark and Tim Becker Families) Mark says, “We like how no-till is working for us. We’ve maintained or increased our yields, and cut labor and fuel costs.” “There is no way we’d go back to conventional tillage,” says Tim. “This is working out great.” Some of the practices the Beckers implemented include cross fencing, pipelines, wells, tanks, prescribed grazing, and nutrient management. The cross fencing has been put in place to be able to give pastures rest and a chance to grow while pipelines, watering facilities, and fence help to get the animals to areas they don’t usually graze. A prescribed grazing plan was put in place to help move the animals through the pastures. This will change the season of use, making sure the animals are not in the same pastures, the same times of year. They also implement waste utilization to spread manure on crop fields. This allows them to utilize the nutrients in the manure to feed their crops, allowing them to save money on fertilizer while utilizing a waste product in an environmentally safe way. “In 2000, after 8 inches of rain in two days and the erosion that occurred, we knew something had to change,” says Mark. That’s when the Beckers began no-till on their farm along with implementing other conservation in their cropping system which includes conservation crop rotation, filter strips, field borders, and cover crops. Along with no-till, they decided to add cover crops to add residue and build soil health. The nutrient management (soil testing) helps the Beckers see the amount of nutrients needed for each field tested. This application is used so they don’t waste money on over-fertilizing or not applying enough fertilizer to meet there yield goals. Tim adds, “A long range goal for the farm is to reduce herbicide and fertilizer inputs, because of healthier soils.” A filter strip was added to a crop field to prevent erosion and filter water before it enters into a stream. The special initiative of field borders was incorporated to a few crop fields where highline poles are located. This will eliminate driving around the poles, double application of seed and fertilizer, and the borders can be used for hay. Trees have been planted in several locations around the farms to help protect from wind erosion. Mark and Tim are very happy with the practices they have installed on their farming operation and continue to work with NRCS to conserve their land.