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Arthur S. Ridl follows in his family's footsteps

DICIKINSON - Conservation has been a legacy in the Ridl family.

Conservation has been a legacy in the Ridl family.

Arthur S. Ridl is continuing the legacy of promoting soil conservation practices after becoming a new Western Stark Soil Conservation District supervisor last June.

For Ridl, however, the connection to the district goes back farther in his family tree, his grandfather, Joe V. Ridl, was one of the original board members of the area's soil conservation district.

"He also was the state president (for soil conservation districts) in the 1940s," Ridl said. "His main concern was with (soil) erosion. At that time he was into crop rotation. In the early days, they did strip cropping, but farm practices are different now compared to then."

Ridl was asked to be supervisor by another supervisor, Steve Kuntz of Dickinson. The other supervisors include President Ron Decker of Belfield, Tony Kessel of Belfield and Ben Privratsky of South Heart.

Ridl agreed to join because of his interest in new conservation practices and continuing to promote things such as no-till farming.

"There's more no-till farming being done now," Ridl said. "No-till naturally cuts down on the wind and water erosion. We try to promote no-till farming and protection of the land and help others get to that point."

Being a supervisor, Ridl said he oversees the employees at the district office in Dickinson, mostly by approving the budget and educational outreach activities. The supervisors meet about once a month to go over things.

"There are different programs available for no-till, range management or improving ranges for cow herds and tree planting," Ridl said. "The (district) staff works on all these and more."

New projects

The first few months as supervisor were a learning experience for him. He is now familiar with the up and coming interests.

"The project now is promoting seeding of cover crops using a different variety of legumes, called a cocktail, for grazing or soil health," Ridl said.

In fact, cover crops are one of several topics being discussed at a grazing workshop from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7 at the Days Inn Grand Dakota Lodge and Conference Center in Dickinson. The workshop is free and open to the public.

Speakers include beef cattle specialist Doug Landblom with the Dickinson Research Extension Center, area range management specialist Dennis Froemke with the Natural Resource Conservation Services, NRCS district conservationist Todd Solem and Burleigh County Soil Conservation District technician Ken Miller.

Landblom's presentation will discuss his and others' work with the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant and the evaluation of an alternative beef production strategy.

Froemke's discussion will give reasons why producers' should have a grazing system on their operations and Solem will provide information on cover crops and creating a cover crop project demonstration with other agencies.

Miller will discuss how cover crops can be used for grazing and benefits the health of cattle and soil.

Family roots

Ridl farms with his brothers, Keith and Kurt, and wife, Cindi, on the family's diversified operation west of Dickinson. The family grows wheat, durum, oats, barley, sunflower and corn. They also have a feedlot.

"It's in my blood," Ridl said of being in agriculture. "I like it all, cattle and cropping systems."

Ridl and wife have five children. Their youngest is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.

Ridl isn't sure when he'll try cover crops with his family's operation.

"It would depend on the moisture situation (this spring)," Ridl said. "When I went on a tour of the Burleigh County Cover Crop Plot, I was impressed with the way it improved soil health and opened up the ground for water filtration though."

Ridl enjoys being able to be involved with helping others improve their operations and his own.

"I learn more about what's going on in the area being a supervisor," he said. "I take that information and can use it on my own operation."

Ridl never talked to his grandfather about helping start the soil conservation districts in North Dakota. Joe passed away more than 20 years ago, he said.

"We were always told not to keep all your eggs in one basket," Ridl said. "That's why we are a diversified operation whether it's having both cattle and crops or diversified crops."

Ridl is also a director with the National Sunflower Association and tries to keep up not only on current conservation practices, but hot topics such as the Farm Bill.

"We still need a safety net because even though there are high prices now we know they won't last forever," Ridl said. "Making the disaster relief part of it is good."