In less than a month, farmers will gather to discuss conservation tillage. The annual Conservation Tillage Conference, held this year in Willmar on Dec. 15 and 16, will feature speakers, breakout sessions, roundtable discussions and the favorite: beer and bull....More
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a huge difference in their soil’s health and the health of our climate-impacted world: planting cover crops.
In case you missed it: Here are our most-read stories from October 2015. From tillage's impact on soil health to new equipment, soil fertility management to dropping high-priced land leases, these stories appealed to farmers for their tips, insight and information.
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, get advice from experts on not skimping on crop inputs and see what a balance sheet looks like with lower farmland prices. Read about an EU rejection of opting out of biotech food and learn about changing chisel points to increase residue. Finally help out an ag-friendly Senator who supports biotech and a uniform food labeling system.
Twenty-four years of continuous no-till, plus a decade of cover cropping, has largely halted water erosion on Dan Gillespie's farm in northeastern Nebraska, he says. Soil biological activity is flourishing and soil organic matter has climbed by more than a third....More
There are many innovative new tillage tools that loosen the soil and prepare the seedbed, while leaving more protective residue on the soil surface. But what if you’re not in the market for a new implement? You can still boost residue cover by switching to less aggressive points on your chisel plow....More
In the 5 ag stories to read this week learn about a new bacterial leaf disease and get some considerations if you're planning to apply nitrogen this fall. Read about the benefits of the recently passed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and about how tillage is impacting your soil health. Finally, enjoy a new podcast about yield mysteries.
I recently spent two great days at a USDA workshop in Washington, D.C. How could that be fun, right? It was great because of thoughtful discussion and debate by many bright minds all focused on finding ways to get more farmers and landowners involved in the long-term value of soil health....More
In the 5 agriculture stories to read this week, get some considerations for lime applications and learn more information about tar spot, a newly spotted corn disease. Review crop budget changes for 2016 and get some harvest and post-harvest tips. Finally, enjoy a story about farmers helping farmers in a time of great need.
The 2015 Farm Progress Show had equipment for days and something for everyone. Here's our last installment of products we saw at the show that may have a fit for your farm. From tillage to irrigation, tires to seed tending tech, and more, this roundup of new products will be available for your next purchase.
Dust storms, rills and gullies, soil crusting, runoff, ponding — these are above-ground signs of poor soil health. And below ground: weak soil aggregation, compaction, impaired biological life, restricted water infiltration, stagnant smell, gray color. The prime culprit? Tillage.
While many farmers rely on spring tillage to dry out wet soils, Jerry Ackerman goes the other way. His cover crop/no-till program helps him handle heavy rains and wet soils better than tillage and drain tiles. In 2013, it even helped him fight waterhemp thanks to the strips of cereal rye he seeded the previous fall in soybeans and corn....More
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, get tips for treating soybean aphids this summer and learn about a new possibility for managing resistant weeds that comes from "down under." See the land value declines (and increases in some cases) across the U.S. in the latest USDA report and learn from northern farmers who strip-till. Finally, check out how ethanol was promoted at the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.
Successful strip-till, like any new practice, takes experience, say three Minnesota farmers who have sustained crop yields in high-residue environments. “It can be a big learning curve, but it will be worth it,” says Dustin Frieler, a strip-tiller from Greenwald, Minn....More
“We saw a consistent benefit of strip-till over no-till for these soils we were working with,” says Fabián Fernández, University of Minnesota. For those soils where strip-till would be appropriate, it can be a powerful method that benefits the soil by both working to help conserve soil and improving soil physical properties....More
The full extent of damage from flooding and saturated soils cannot be seen until the corn plant has a chance to recover. Knowing what factors affect damage and survivability, and what signs to look for when assessing plant health will help you make the best decision for the long term success of your corn crop....More
The 5 ag stories to read this week brings you the latest on proposed regulations for drones. Learn about the value of lost organic matter due to erosion, and meet farmers who are using websites to get more business. Read about canceling land rent contracts, and a positive article from The New York Times featuring a no-till farmer.
Is it too unreasonable to consider even just one field of strip-till or no-till, if you save roughly $15 per acre, and each 1% of soil organic matter helps soil hold 20,000 gallons more water per acre? Tell me what influences your decisions; I’d like to hear from you....More
I have been an educator of soils at the University of Minnesota Extension for 18 years. I have watched soil scientist retire, leave to other positions or pass away. Due to tight budgets or changes in priorities, many are not replaced. So please help me cultivate the next generation of soil scientists. There are websites with creative and scientific resources for teaching soils. Give it a try. Remember: Soil is not a dirty word!...More
Where are you in your journey to build a conservation legacy? What is keeping you from making progress? Will it require a change in mindset? Will it require landlord buy-in, since it provides long-term benefits for their investment? I truly believe improved soil health will be a game-changer. Go for it....More
If you think your soil loss is tolerable because the revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) says so, you might want to think again. “We are learning that we must have perennial cover in places where water moves, even with no-till,” says Rick Cruse, agronomy professor, Iowa State University (ISU)....More
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, get some considerations for seed treatments when trying to cut costs this spring. If you plant cover crops, be aware of residual herbicides, and there's still time to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Read 5 tillage myths, and watch a video thanking farmers, that also helps FFA.
Are your tillage practices justified by real crop responses? “Individual farmer decisions about tillage system choice are often more motivated by traditions, prior experiences and what the neighbors are doing than by reliable research,” says Tony Vyn, Purdue University Extension agronomist and cropping systems specialist....More