After falling in love with and marrying the farmer’s daughter, Steve Olson also fell in love with farming. He never intended to become a farmer having earned a master’s degree in engineering from West Texas A&M University. They planted their first crop in 1989 but without much experience, profits proved to be elusive and facing the loss of his farm, Steve took action. He started no-tilling then strip-tilling and planting cover crops. Even when others were skeptical, Steve knew he was on the right track when he started seeing earthworms and increased production.
Since starting to strip-till in 1996, Steve has continued to adapt and implement practices to help him continue improving his soil health. Being open to new innovation has allowed Steve to continually improve the ground he farms although some of the choices have proved difficult and challenging. Steve and his wife Cindy have proven that by taking care of the soil, the soil will take care of you. With 3,000 acres of cotton, corn and wheat, the couple predominately strip-till all of their acres – unless they are able to no-till, in which case they’ll do so. Understanding the importance of applying fertilizer only as needed for the crop, and not overapplying, which includes applying smaller amounts of fertilizer throughout the growing season ensures nutrients are not wasted.
Steve also recognizes that by implementing other conservation practices on their operation, they will be able to improve overall soil health, thus decreasing required fertilizer inputs. Other conservation practices Steve utilizes on his operation include crop rotation, cover crops and grazing cattle. As Steve enters his 30th harvest, he understands that suitability is a culmination of utilizing best management practices for each specific field and adapting to your crops’ needs year after year. Steve operates with the belief that it is his responsibility to make sure each field he farms is better off now than when he started.
Steve has been involved with groups such as No-Till on the Plains, National Strip-Till, Plains Cotton Growers and The Cotton Board. He and Cindy are also Texas’ co-lead farmers for Farmers Feeding the World, who work to educate and empower people around the world on how to farm and provide food for themselves and their communities. Steve and Cindy also active with First Baptist Church in Plainview, TX.