What is in this article?:
Mark Riechers and his son Joe raise corn, soybeans and cattle on rolling slopes near Darlington in southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. Their erodible loess soils have been in continuous no-till for more than 20 years. After two decades without being disturbed, the soil is rich with what Mark calls “dirt critters,” the beneficial organisms that build soil structure and tilth. “Because we don’t disrupt the soil structure with tillage, it can take a lot of water,” he says.
As a result of their farming practices, which also include grass waterways and multiple thin applications of solid manure, just 2% of annual rainfall ran off the Riechers’ farm, according to 7 years of monitoring by the University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms. Sediment losses averaged about 300 pounds per year, or 3% of NRCA “tolerable” loss. “It’s not just no-till,” Mark says, “it’s a combination of things.”
6. Improved tile drainage
Risk - Down
Tile drainage reduces surface runoff and soil loss, and allows farmers to use less tillage. “Many fields would benefit from tile to decrease channeling and ponding,” Frame says. Older concrete or clay tiles often have cracks or leaks that leak significant amounts of sediment and phosphorus, he says. The same is true of systems with open surface inlets. Older tile systems may also have undersized mains that limit drainage capacity. “So we need to update our older tile systems.”