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
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, get tips for preventing and managing soybean diseases this year. Watch videos from University of Illinois about profitability in agriculture and keep an eye out for a USDA survey. Read how one farmer's success with strip-till has led to more agronomic benefits, and check out a Facebook page dedicated to the love of farming.
Dean Glenney set out to replicate the undisturbed fencerow soils he recalled plowing up in his youth. Along the way, he began producing record-breaking yields under low inputs, giving him returns considerably greater than neighboring conventional systems....More
Strip-till has improved soil structure on Sheldon Stevermer's farm to the point where it can manage extreme rains and heavy corn residue. “Three years ago, I realized I didn’t need to freshen the strips in the spring; crusting was no longer a problem,” says the Wells, Minn., farmer....More
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun its celebration of the International Year of Soils to highlight the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches....More
We've posted a lot of great stories and photos on the web this year! These are our most-viewed pieces and cover a variety of topics from helpful aerial images to GMOs, making a profit with lower corn and soybean prices to no-till yield secrets, and more! Check out our best from the web for 2014, and stick around for more great stories and photos in 2015.
Abbey Wick, NDSU Extension soil health specialist, talked about the signs of healthy soil at the Conservation Tillage Conference in December. She says the presence of soil aggregates is a good indicator of healthy soil, as well as earth worms. The color of soil reflects the amount of organic matter, Wick says, noting that lighter soil has less organic matter....More
The case for no-till keeps on building. Tillage is increasingly viewed as destructive to soil structure and detrimental to root colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), an important player in supplying plants with phosphorous. AMF is also credited with production of glomalin, the “glue” that holds soil aggregates together....More
"Planning cropping strategies to build carbon is the next step," says Doug Hanson, who farms with his father and uncle in northeastern Illinois. "Improving carbon is a big part of the biological side of no-till and now cover crops. As a producer, carbon hasn't been something I've focused on, but we need to start asking more questions about it."...More
In this third installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers learned the best ways to seed cover crops and how high-moisture corn can offer a yield boost. There were also stories about tillage: spring vs. fall strip till, and using tillage to control herbicide resistant weeds. Of course there were data insights, from soil maps to farming smarter with big data. Nitrogen application tips were offered, as well as a strategy for lean years on the farm. All of these stories helped readers and farmers Think Different about their operations.
In this second installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers showcase drainage systems that also irrigate, along with high-yield corn production tips. Read how tillage increases compaction, and plan for a micronutrient strategy. There are conservation ideas to help farmers be competitive, as well as thoughts on soil lime. All of these stories offered farmers an approach to help them Think Different about their farm operations.
Soil tilth saves you money. After six years of continuous no-till, a field can produce more yield per unit of nitrogen than a conventionally tilled field. Think of it as better fuel mileage, smarter nitrogen use and better nutrient recycling....More
The November issue of Corn+Soybean Digest offered fresh ideas in merging art and science to farm for the big picture. There are also corn residue breakdown myths, including a photo gallery. Read challenges in rail transport, and weed control. Get an outlook about corn production in China, and see what's ahead in soil health tests. Finally, read about the weather future for the Corn Belt. And don't forget regular pieces from Editor Kurt Lawton, as well as new ideas from Xperts Ed Usset and Dan Frieberg.
Oh, the aroma of fresh-tilled soil. You know what I’m talking about — that amazing and wonderful odor given off as steel slices and turns dark that golden carpet of crop residue. That wonderful scent soured given what I saw on a Minnesota field this fall. Dark fields with little to no corn residue....More
Five agriculture stories to read offer advice on fall tillage and insight into corn and soybean consumption after a large harvest. The USDA is seeking public comment on changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, and if you're going to test cornstalks for nitrate, now is the time. For a good laugh, check out a bit by Jimmy Kimmel where he asked consumers what GMO means.
Three years of tillage and residue field and laboratory trials at Ames, Iowa, found no differences in corn residue breakdown due to tillage or type of residue, says research leader Mahdi Al-Kaisi, ISU Extension soil scientist....More
Andy Thompson kept a photo journal of residue breakdown in his cornfield near Niota, in west-central Illinois. The field has been in continuous corn since 2012. This series of photos shows how, in a single season, microbes in healthy soil break down large amounts of corn residue left on the surface.
This conference emphasizes proven farmer experience and applied science in conservation tillage. Learn how heavier, colder soils aren’t necessarily the challenge they’re made out to be. And, what have long-time no-tillers and reduced-tillage farmers learned that could spare you the same lessons?...More
How often have you wondered whether a new practice or piece of equipment will pay? Kenton, Ohio, farmer Brian Watkins built a computer farming simulation model to calculate the cost of such options. “It tells me how much time a piece of equipment will take to operate and repair, how much fuel will cost and how it will affect other things we do,” he says....More