David Nelson has a passion for helping farmers grow the best crops possible. Nelson is the owner of Pedogenesis, Inc. located in Campbell, Minn. Pedogenesis is a company that works with farmers to solve production issues. Nelson believes that it all begins in the soil.
Nelson grew up in Roseau, Minn. and received an agronomy degree from the University of Minnesota. Opportunities led to Nelson and his wife Vickie to relocate to Colorado and start a chemical and pesticide-free lawn care business. It was during that time in 1991, that Nelson met Neal Kinsey. Kinsey is owner of Kinsey Agricultural Service, Inc. and a proponent of individualized soil and fertility care. He followed the teachings of Prof. William A. Albrecht who was an expert on the connection between the soil fertility and human health. The opportunity to gain insight from Kinsey was instrumental in Nelson’s lawn care business and subsequently in Pedogenesis.
Wanting to move back to the Midwest, Nelson sold his lawn care business in 1997 and relocated to the Wahpeton, N.D. area. Nelson started consulting work with farmers and in 2009 took the leap — creating Pedogenesis in Campbell, Minn., which is located just east of the border with North Dakota.
“We consult with people.” Nelson works with farmers to help them produce higher yielding crops through Pedogenesis fertilizer, weed control, monitoring crop progress as well as aiding in marketing the crop. “Most of our clients are within 300 miles.” Though Nelson has shipped fertilizer to clients as far away as Maine and Arizona. “Most of our clients have organic acres — yellow corn, blue corn, food-grade soybeans, wheat, barley and oats,” he said.
“We started building a facility to house all the products I talk about.” Nelson can combine custom blend liquid with dry blends for one-pass fertilizer coverage. Besides Nelson and his wife, Pedogenesis employs one salesperson and four people to work in the fertilizer plant.
There is 50,000 conventional acres and 130,000 organic acres that Pedogenesis is currently working with.
How are his clients feeling with planting just a few months away? “A lot of our clients are fairly positive.” Especially organic farmers. “There’s a lot of big buyers (for organic crops).”
“It takes more money to put in an organic crop and take it off,” Nelson said. Though he believes that farmers can make three times more money growing organic than conventional.
“We’re trying to make mineral dense food and feed.” That’s the ultimate goal Nelson has for his clients.
He doesn’t sell seed, but “I recommend seed companies that I’ve worked with in the past.”
Nelson feels the majority of farmers he works with learn best by seeing and doing, which is why he hosts hands-on seminars and field days for his clients. His best piece of advice for farmers is simple. “Apply your fertility when your crop actually needs it.”
Nelson believes that bugs and disease are symptoms of nutrient defiencies. He explains that weeds tell one story, insects tell another.
What is the biggest challenge Pedogenesis faces? “Building trust. People don’t know what to believe.” What other farmers say about him has helped him through the years. “We work off of referrals.” Nelson knows that the bottom line is imperative. “We guarantee that we won’t be higher than any other company.”
Ideally, Nelson likes to begin working with his clients in the fall. “We really need to start in the fall, so we’re ready for the spring.” He likes to get the issues addressed at that time and get the fields soil sampled then.
Nelson works with farmers that utilize a variety of field practices. “We can work with full tillage, all the way up to no-tillage.”
“We believe in cover crops.” He’s a proponent of keeping something growing in the field at all growing times.
There’s optimism for a better year for farmers and Nelson shares that optimism. Working with farmers on improving soil health — and ultimately their yields — has been something that Nelson continues to be fervent about. “Our work is custom for field, for farm.”