0320M2-1220A.jpg Lon Tonneson
CROP SCOUTING: A crop adviser scouts a field for crop and weed emergence.

Balding and bearded: How it’s like soil health farming

North Dakota’s Lee Briese, who has won an international crop adviser award, has a unique way of explaining how and why to use cover crops.

First the news: Lee Briese, a North Dakota certified crop adviser, was recently named the International Certified Crop Adviser of the Year by the American Society of Agronomy and the International Certified Crop Adviser Program.

The International Certified Crop Adviser of the Year Award is given to someone who provides exceptional customer service, is highly innovative, has shown that they are a leader in their field and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agricultural industry.

That certainly describes Briese. He provides consulting services on 16 different crops on more than 80,000 acres, and finds time to work with North Dakota State University to staff field days and winter meetings and to provide 10 university students with internships since 2001.

Now the fun
Briese, who shaves his head and is growing a long beard, has a unique way of reminding farmers to pay more attention to the land.

HAIR TALE: Lee Briese mixes hair growth and crop growth in his advice on using cover crops.

Your fields, he said at a recent meeting in North Dakota, are like his head.

“I can’t grow hair on my head anymore, but it grows great on my face. I could spend hundreds of dollars on products trying to get hair to grow on my head. And I could shave my face every day. But why?”

Instead, he decided to shave his head and grow out his beard.

It is like farming on the Northern Plains, where there are highly variable soil types and typography. Grow corn, soybeans and wheat where they will flourish, he advises. Use cover crops where salinity levels, drainage and other factors make growing corn, soybeans and wheat difficult or unprofitable.

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