The scars of soil erosion continue to show throughout southern Minnesota. And if erosion continues at this pace, highly productive soils will no longer be able to sustain high yields, says a University of Minnesota soil scientist.
"This is the fourth year in a row of severe erosion," says Gyles Randall, U of M soil scientist at the Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca. "The agricultural community, especially corn and soybean farmers, should be very concerned when severe losses of highly productive soils and impassable gullies continue to develop."
"Now is the time to start making plans for less fall tillage," Randall says. "The best tillage system we've observed for keeping erosion in check is soybeans no-tilled into standing corn stalks, especially when combined with strategically placed, sufficiently wide grass waterways. Farmers are encouraged to observe these soybean fields and start asking questions about this easy and productive soybean cropping system."
Most farmers do some major tillage after corn. And with the corn-soybean rotation so prevalent, there's very little protection against erosion. Tremendous gullies develop, and a complacent attitude of "it happens" seems to exist, Randall says.
"No-till following corn works very well," Randall says. "We have the machinery to do it, we can get good stands and excellent weed control and yields and it's inexpensive. Some farmers are doing it very successfully, and can't understand why their neighbors aren't."
Randall may be reached at (507) 835-3620 or firstname.lastname@example.org