A new report, released by USDA's NRCS this week, marks the completion of a watershed-wide assessment of conservation efforts in the Mississippi River watershed. Its findings demonstrate that conservation work, like controlling erosion and managing nutrients, has reduced the edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35%, nitrogen by 21% and phosphorous by 52%....More
What are the steps for establishing a successful cover crop? The Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network offers four tips for helping your cover crops get a good start, including timely seeding, the correct seed variety or mixture, seeding method and seeding rate....More
There are a lot of interesting facts about healthy soil. These graphics provide a glimpse of just some of those secrets including cover crops, organic matter and microorganisms. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has compiled these infographics as a part of its Unlock the Secrets of the Soil campaign. Find out more about soil secrets from NRCS.
The annual Conservation Technology Information Center's (CTIC) Conservation in Action Tour held Tuesday and Wednesday July 9-10 in central Illinois' Livingston County was kicked off by the Acting Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Jason Weller. In this Corn & Soybean Digest video by Editor Kurt Lawton, Weller talks about several key conservation efforts....More
During the 2012 drought, corn and soybean yields improved following cover crops, according to a recently released report with detailed results from a farmer survey on cover crops. The survey was carried out in partnership between the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. More than 750 farmers, primarily from the Upper Mississippi River watershed, were surveyed during the winter of 2012-2013. Questions on cover crop adoption, benefits, challenges and yield impacts were included in the survey. Key findings include:...More
In 37 years, by 2050, will we have had the wherewithal to transform land management into an adaptive, resilient form that meets goals in global food security and energy security, economic development, biodiversity, environmental improvements and solutions to climate change?...More
It’s time for soybean growers to submit applications for the 2014 Conservation Legacy Awards. The annual award recognizes farmers who distinguish themselves through outstanding environmental and conservation practices while continuing to farm profitably. All U.S. soybean farmers are eligible to enter....More
With a vote of 66 to 27, the United States Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, better known as the 2013 Farm Bill. The focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where work is reportedly scheduled to begin next week....More
A general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up is currently occurring at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices throughout the United States. The general CRP sign-up period runs from May 20 through June 14. General CRP sign-ups were also held in 2012 when 3.6 million acres were accepted into CRP, in 2011 with 3.75 million acres were accepted into CRP and in 2010 when about 4.2 million acres were accepted into CRP....More
From drought to flood conditions, it seems there is no longer a “normal” growing season for Iowa farmers. A year of drought in 2012 was followed by a cool, wet spring this year. These types of weather extremes can be very damaging to Iowa’s soils, but conservationists are finding that farmers who apply soil health practices like cover crops are the least affected....More
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reminds farmers and ranchers that the USDA will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up from May 20 to June 14. Vilsack also announces the restart of sign-up for continuous CRP, including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative, the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, the Grassland Restoration Initiative, the Pollinator Habitat Initiative and other related initiatives. Sign-up for continuous CRP began on May 13 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013....More
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will provide nearly $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres of enrollment this year....More
A gentle overnight rain turned into a science experiment for Darin Williams, Waverly, Kan., when he collected these samples of drainage water from nearby ditch waterways. The samples come from a ¾-mile radius of each other and have the same soil types....More
The priority for spring sampling should be fields where corn in 2013 will follow corn (from which fall samples were taken) in 2012. We suggested last fall that any spring sampling done in order to adjust rates for the 2013 corn crop should best be done close to corn planting time, or at sidedress time....More
The residue cover in no-till fields is essential when it comes to conserving water. The residue protects the soil surface, reducing crusting and soil moisture evaporation. When it comes to no-till planting, the key is to minimize the soil and residue disturbance....More
With the potential for wet soils in some areas of the country this spring, compaction may be an issue during planting. Sidewall compaction in wet soils can be a problem, especially if the crop is “mudded-in” and a dry spell occurs after planting....More
Soil compaction is invisible, but its effects are clear to see: cloddy soil, delayed crop emergence, restricted root growth, stunted plants, low water infiltration, poor nutrient uptake and lost yield....More
In 2013, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is celebrating its 27th anniversary, and over two and a half decades of conservation success. CRP was originally established in the 1985 Farm Bill, and today has over 390,000 landowners participating, most of which are farmers and ranchers, and currently has just over 27.0 million acres under some-type of CRP contracts. Another general CRP sign-up will be held in 2013, from May 20 through June 14, at local FSA offices....More
The American Soybean Association (ASA) presented Gail Fuller, Emporia, Kan., with the 2013 National Conservation Legacy Award on March 1, 2013, at the ASA Awards Banquet, held during the Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Kissimmee, Fla. ...More
One pass seeds cover crops, sidedresses the corn crop and sprays weeds, at least in State College, Pa. Penn State’s cover crop experimental interseeder potentially increases profits by $100/acre in corn yields, reduced N requirements and glyphosate applications costs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the USDA will conduct a four-week general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), beginning May 20 and ending on June 14. CRP has a 27-year legacy of protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States. Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA has enrolled 11.7 million acres in various CRP efforts....More
Cover crop use is growing. The benefits offered are numerous, from increased soil health to less erosion. We've covered many angles of cover crops, and here we bring you photos from USDA SARE and the Conservation Technology Information Center of different cover crops planted, including peas, hairy vetch, tillage radish and ryegrass. If you planted cover crops in 2012, be sure to take the CTIC survey, and let them know about your 2012 cover crop production.
Two USDA reports say U.S. agriculture and forest management will have to adapt to climate change and that some of those efforts are already underway. "It’s well documented that the climate is changing, that we are seeing changes in temperature and in changes in precipitation patterns, and that those changes are having implications for forests and for agriculture," says William Hohenstein, director of climate change program, USDA. "What these reports actually look at in more detail are the changes that we expect in changes in terms of extreme events. Changes in the probability of droughts, and floods and how that also will have implications for our resources."...More