The new 2014 Farm Bill substantially streamlines the number of conservation programs and moderately reduces overall conservation funding by 6.5% from the existing 10-year baseline budget over 2014-2023. Many of the cuts are slated for 2018-2023.
Choosing spring or fall strip-till “depends on so many factors; only you can decide,” says Brad Meister, Bourbon, Ind. “Soil type, coulter machine or shank machine, whether you have any erodible land, the amount of time you have in the fall to do it; how long it takes for your ground to mellow out in the spring, and whether you put down phosphorus or potassium with it.”...More
For years, farmers have been leveraging the collective power of research and promotion programs to invest in research that improves on-farm practices through both innovation and conservation. Their efforts, with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has resulted in significant water and soil conservation, safeguarding our land for future generations.
Rick Juchems, Plainfield, Iowa, is surprised that cereal-rye cover crops did not reduce his corn or soybean yields. He and 11 other Iowa farmers participated in a five-year trial to determine whether rye causes yield hits in the cash crops that follow it. It doesn’t....More
A provision in the 2014 Farm Bill links conservation compliance to crop insurance premiums; specifically, wetlands and highly erodible land. Farmers who don’t comply will be ineligible for any portion of the crop insurance paid by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. The ineligibility applies only to forward years....More
“Rock and roll” isn’t about music for Mike Petefish when he’s picking rocks in Claremont, Minnesota. “When I see a rock like this one with a certain bluish color, I know it’ll be dense and heavier for its size than any other, and all I can do is rebury it cause I sure can’t lift it with a backhoe,” he says....More
Monsanto says it will increase its irrigation water-use efficiency by 25% by 2020 in its global seed production operations, saving 30 billion to 80 billion gallons of water annually, says Hugh Grant, Monsanto chairman and chief executive officer....More
Here are 5 ag stories you should read today, April 25. From late planting and concerns (or lack of), including compaction, to learning more about the PLC risk coverage in the Farm Bill, to NASA research about better soybeans, these are stories you should read....More
More than 50% of surveyed farmers want their local retailers to provide help to monitor soil health and changes related to cover crops. And, farmers also said they want their retailers to help them adjust their nutrient management plan to factor in the use of cover crops....More
In recent years, it has become fashionable to point the finger of blame at agriculture and farmers for many environmental issues. However, in reality farmers have been some of the best environmental stewards in the U.S. in the past couple of decades. Consider the following environmental facts about U.S. agriculture and the CRP program....More
You might say that soil is the original green machine. Working with the Earth’s soil microbes saves you a lot of money. At no cost, soil’s tiny, underground critters convert sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and crop residue into crop income....More
Farmers take great pride in the land they use. And while every day is "Earth Day" to farmers, it's still good to take some time on the official Earth Day to think about soil health, and the impacts of how we treat our soil affect us. Read these stories this Earth Day, and take some extra time to think about things like compaction, soil microbes, organic matter, conservation efforts, runoff, tillage and erosion.
Women own a great deal of U.S. farmland, and one national women’s sustainable farming group aims to help these landowners learn more. Women, Food and Agriculture, a national community of women involved in sustainable agriculture, provides the information and confidence they need to take action and work with tenants to improve soil and water conservation on their farmland....More
Under comparable management, with and without cover crops, more than 500 farmers reported a yield gain of approximately 5% in 2013 after using cover crops. And this follows an average 10% yield hike among surveyed farmers in 2012 during drought conditions....More
Rulon Enterprises capitalizes on advanced, environmentally beneficial practices to build soil health and sustainable profits. His family’s emphasis on soil health and disciplined, financial management and marketing makes them extremely competitive in today’s lean environment....More
For decades, applying lime to soils to adjust pH has been accepted practice. While a low pH can reduce corn or soybean yields by 40% or more, there’s a surprising shortage of recent research about how lime is tested and graded and what impact it actually has on soil pH and crop yield. These were among the issues raised at a recent conference of lime-industry representatives and USDA-ARS and Iowa State University (ISU) soil researchers. The answers could impact input costs and yields as well as nutrient-management effectiveness....More
As weather extremes become more common, the Alversons, who farm in South Dakota, have taken steps to protect their farm’s productive capacity. They’ve added drainage tile, plus irrigation on fields with lighter soils. They’ve also retooled their equipment lineup for quicker planting....More
Tillage, at one time a go-to solution for loosening compacted soils, also creates poor soil structure and hardpan soils. “There is a downward spiral with tillage. The more you till the soil, the more you destroy its structure," says Jim Hoorman, Ohio State University. While deep ripping or vertical tillage offer a short-term solution, the long-term answer to soil compaction is to rebuild soil structure, says Hoorman....More
Steve Miller’s “double duty” drainage and sub-irrigation system lets him control the water table in his field year-round. “I thought, if you can suck water out of the field, you should be able to pump it back in!” says the Fairmount, N.D. farmer, who grows corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar beets with his daughters, Alicia Holubok and Amanda Fisher....More
Sophisticated irrigation management tools are helping growers make the best use of their water resources. Nebraska farmer Greg Greving started using an interactive computer model to schedule irrigation, he now holds off watering soybeans in the early vegetative stage, saving water for grain fill....More
Farmers may soon have a new set of tools along with professional guidance that tells them not only how much nitrogen they currently have in specific, small areas of their fields, but how long they can expect that nitrogen to last....More