If you have stayed at the lodge, it is likely you have met Joe Breker. He is sorta like the lodge mascot. He dresses up like a farmer and provides entertainment by coming to the lodge in the morning to have coffee with our guests. Wait a minute, he actually is a farmer. He even has a farming code name, No Hoe Joe. He is a no-till farmer. Get it? No Hoe Joe?
Joe takes his no-tilling seriously. After all, he has been at it for over 30 years! Joe no-tilled before no-tilling was cool. What is no-tilling, you say? We dare you to ask No Hoe Joe! But until then, we’ll give it to you in a nutshell.
No-till farming is a conservation practice. By eliminating or drastically reducing the use of soil tillage, no-till farmers conserve moisture, reduce wind and water erosion and reduce compaction. No-tilling also improves soil biodiversity (microorganisms and worms) which leads to more organic matter and greater soil fertility.
Joe recently attended the National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati, OH and received the Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners Program Award along with two other farmers, one from Maryland and one from Pennsylvania.
Over the years Joe has worked with other producers, researchers and ag industry leaders to redefine and fine tune our understanding of responsible farming. For decades, the Joe and Patty Breker farm was (and still is) ground zero for testing the latest concept for improving soil health. His work has inspired others to embrace this positive change and he has lead a group of researchers at the Conservation Cropping Systems Project in Forman to independently advance soil health knowledge for the benefit of local growers. He has influenced many people to reconsider the importance of soil health with his involvement in many organizations over the years, most recently serving on the board of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Now his daughter Maria Breker is working on her master’s degree in soil science at NDSU.
Next time you see Joe, remember to use his code name.