S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Beer Ranch Family
November 14, 2017
By Lura Roti, for S.D. Farmers Union
Pulling back a thick layer of crop residue with his bare hands, Mike Beer digs into the earth and holds up a black clump of soil alive with earthworms.
"This is heavy clay and when I first started farming, it was hard as a rock. Now, look at it - it's like a vegetable garden," says the Keldron rancher. "I'm a soil person. Even as a kid I was always playing in the dirt, digging holes. I was curious."
He goes on to explain that even as a young teen, he would go out onto the range and dig deep holes.
"Everyone has something and for me, it is soil," Mike explains. "I remember seeing the different horizons and understanding that they were different soil types - long before I ever read that in a textbook."
What began as a childhood hobby became a useful talent in college when he judged on South Dakota State University's nationally ranked soil judging team.
His interest in enhancing soil health led him to work in the university's soil lab and complete a 1991 senior research project on no-till farming practices - at the time, a foreign concept in northwest South Dakota.
Today, the soil management practices Mike has implemented for nearly three decades are key to his family's livelihood on their farm and ranch where Mike and his wife, Danni, raise cattle and a wide range of crops including registered spring wheat, winter wheat, corn, sunflowers, millet, soybeans, chickpeas, hay and cover crops.
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Last Modified: 11/14/2017 7:32:04 am MST