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.
With the installation of an 18-acre pond in mid-December 2014, eastern Iowa grower Jim Sladek married the pattern drainage and irrigation. By April 1, the pond was full, ready and waiting for use by center pivots. Ninety-five percent of its water came from drain tile....More
Tying conservation practices to federal crop insurance rules and rates requires turning field experience into public policy, and that requires data. AGree, a collaborative effort founded and funded by nine of the world's leading foundations committed to food and agriculture, is attempting to make that connection....More
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
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.
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, watch a webinar covering the benefits, and the possibilities, of cover crops and get information about treating post-pollination corn aphids. See the latest USDA report about computer and internet usage on the farm and learn how to track payback on variable rate application. Finally, learn about a WWE wrestler who also farms.
Five fields on Wayne Fredericks’ farm took on a new look this year after he decided to retire small parcels in each of them to boost profitability and improve the environment. Although the retired areas are small – the largest is 3.2 acres and the smallest just under 3/4 of an acre – Fredericks says it makes sense to quit growing crops in these areas that lose money every year....More
Iowa farmer Blake Hollis prefers to be part of the water quality solution. While the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit on farm-sourced nitrogen in watersheds that lead to the Raccoon River have drawn controversy, efforts to the east where Hollis farms are drawing praise...and money....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
Some farmers want to try a new idea on a few acres to evaluate it before using it in a big way. Not Robert Harvey––at least when the idea is cover crops. The Guthrie County, Iowa, farmer went all-in on cover crops two years ago, seeding cereal rye on all 1,100 acres he farms with his father, Gerald....More
These days, more than ever, farmers are being held accountable, and even scrutinized, for their sustainable and conservation efforts. Strip-till, cover crops, water quality, drainage management, soil health and more are at the forefront of the forward-thinking farmers across the U.S....More
Conservation is a priority for John Traub, who farms in the Indian Creek Watershed in east central Illinois. He's not afraid to try new strategies, including planting cover crops. But so far, they have not provided the benefits he knows other farmers have seen from the practice. "We struggled with tillage radishes and turnips as cover crops. It was difficult to get them established early enough. Even flying seed in did not work," says the Fairbury, Ill., corn and soybean farmer. "You need early growth. Our season is just too short."...More
Old stream channels are helping to clean up farm drainage water in north central Iowa. Restored oxbows in the Boone River Watershed reduced nitrate concentrations in tile water by about 50%, according to water monitoring data gathered by the Iowa Soybean Association....More
Have you moved beyond basic conservation tillage toward more sustainable practices like strip-till or no-till? Do you grow cover crops? Have you taken steps to reduce soil loss or improve water quality? Share your accomplishments, and you may win a Conservation Legacy Award....More
Eighty-four percent of farmers who took the cover crop survey planted some cover crops and 16% have not. The survey sheds light on farmers’ motivations for planting cover crops, their expectations of the benefits, users’ concerns about cover crops and barriers to adoption among non-users.
Of the 1,248 farmers who responded to the National Cover Crop Survey, 84% planted some cover crops and 16% have not. The survey sheds light on farmers’ motivations for planting cover crops, their expectations of the benefits, users’ concerns about cover crops and barriers to adoption among non-users....More
Nitrate management in tile water is a big reason why this water control structure has slowly gained a foothold in the Corn Belt, but its potential for providing timely water to corn and soybeans may spell the future for this underground tile water management tool....More
Farm improvements grew out of a voluntary environmental self-assessment, which helped Nathan Collins and his brother Sean judge the effects of their farming practices on water and soil quality. The self-assessment, called Green Star Farms Initiative, is a free, Web-based tool that asks farmers to rate their stewardship practices for crops, livestock and farmstead management....More
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, read about what's causing striping on corn leaves and get some tips for applying soil residual herbicides to emerged corn. Share your cover crop challenges and get our best crop scouting tips and ideas. Finally, enjoy some fun dairy facts for National Dairy Month.
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