Darrin Unruh grew up on a farm in Reno County Kansas running a 4010 John Deere tractor pulling a 4 bottom plow. Since then he has come full circle in terms of his views about soil health.
I took my first Holistic Resource management course in the early 90s and I have been involved in everything in agriculture from owning a commercial spray business to running a stocker/feeder calf operation. I’m currently working for Kauffman Seeds with a focus on forages, cover crop blends and soil health. I also manage a pellet mill making range cubes for cows, utilizing in part the screenings from the cover crop seeds that Kauffman Seeds produces. My brother Stacy and I have a farming partnership and manage approximately 770 acres. We have a cow/calf operation and are focused on flex grazing to improve our soils. We graze several different kinds of forages, including native range, improved cool season perennials and annual diverse cover crop blends with a focus on improving the biology of the soil. We also have some alfalfa ground that we use as a cash crop. I currently serve on the board of directors for the Kansas Forage and Grasslands Council as well as the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance. I live in Pretty Prairie, Kansas, with my wife, Carmon, and our two high school age daughters, Pepper and Gabi.
Why I believe soil health is important
The health and well-being of everything from our livestock to wildlife to our own human health all starts with the biological health of the soil.
Why we should make soil health a priority
To have a more healthy, profitable and enjoyable life.
What has been your toughest challenge in building soil health to date?
Learning to be patient. Nature works on her own time frame.
What is keeping soil health from being utilized on every acre of farmland in the U.S.?
A misperception and a misunderstanding of what a biological system means and what it can do for your own operation. Once you have an understanding of a biological system vs. a chemical system, it becomes a lot easier to make the transition.