For Canadian strip-tiller Mike Verdonck, weed pressure, erosion and a reliance on heavy herbicide and fertilizer applications are all symptoms of “sick” soil. 

The antidote? Reducing tillage, moving to a year-round, multi-species cover cropping system and putting a focus on rebuilding and maintaining soil health. 

Mike Verdonck

Verdonck farms 2,500 acres of mostly corn and soybeans near Montreal, Quebec. Farming heavy clay soils, his latitude exposes him to difficult climate challenges, compounded by more than a decade of conventional tillage practices. 

“Soils will always feed themselves first,” he says. “So microorganisms, if you give them the chance, will use 90% of their energy to rebuild their habitat with only 10% going to the crop itself. The farther away you are from healthy soil, the longer the roots are going to be and the tougher they’re going to be.”

The transition hasn’t been easy, but a commitment to building biomass through intense cover cropping methods that include inter-cropping, bio strip-till and seeding permanent covers, have shaped Verdonck’s philosophy of building soil health through “roots, not shoots.”

Get ready to take notes during a classroom session at the 2020 National Strip-Tillage Conference, Aug. 6-7 in Omaha, Neb., where Verdonck will share recent results and how he’s overcoming climate and soil conditions to maximize the soil health benefits of a comprehensive cover cropping program.

The 7th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Omaha LaVista Hotel & Conference Center and feature 2 days of strip-till education through an array of thought-provoking general sessions, strategy-packed strip-till classrooms and highly collaborative strip-till roundtable discussions.

A $35.00 Early Bird Registration discount is available through May 31, and attendees who register their farm and family members receive additional savings. For more information and to register for the conference, visit

Title sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for strip-tillers include AgroLiquidCopperhead AgDawn Equipment Co., Environmental Tillage SystemsIngersollKuhn KrauseMontag Mfg., Orthman Mfg., Schlagel Mfg.Topcon AgricultureVulcan Equipment and Yetter Mfg. Co.  All 12 companies will exhibit during the 2-day educational event.

We’ll see you in Omaha!