Soil Health

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Cooling Off Soils with Covers Yields Success

Cover crops have helped Myron Johnson boost soil organic matter and retain crucial soil moisture in Alabama’s humid, subtropical climate.
From an early age farming is what Myron Johnson knew would be his occupation. But dryland farming near Headland, Ala., isn’t easy: retaining moisture, keeping the soil cool and keeping weeds away are constant challenges.
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Exchanging Cover Cropping Ideas, Outcomes & Experiments

Four farmers sit down to discuss the regional and even farm-specific considerations for variety selection and seeding strategies for developing a successful cover cropping program.
A conversation among farmers about cover cropping can produce as many questions as answers. But those exchanges are beneficial in understanding opportunities and limitations with a cover-cropping program.
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Poor Soil Health Causes Compaction, Poor Soil Structure

Engineers insist that soil compaction is caused by wheel traffic (true) but it also comes from excessive tillage, rain (think hard driving rains) and gravity (to a lesser degree). Soil compaction is poor soil structure due to a lack of roots and active carbon (soil organic matter, SOM) from root exudates. Read more in this article from Ohio's Country Journal.
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10-Year Study: Covers Help Improve Soil

Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa conducted a 10-year study on the conservation benefits of planting cereal rye as a cover crop on corn and soybean fields. Their results show the practice improves soil health. Read more in this story from Iowa Public Radio.
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Guide to Hosting a Pollinator Conservation Field Day Now Available

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced the release of a free, first-of-its-kind curriculum, “A Guide to Conducting a Pollinator Conservation Field Day,” available for download. This new curriculum is designed to provide interactive learning experiences for grades K-8, engaging them in habitat-focused, pollinator-themed activities for the classroom and outdoors.
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Positive Effect of Cover Crops on Soil Microbiome

Only a fraction of conventional row crop farmers grow cover crops after harvest, but a new global analysis from the University of Illinois shows the practice can boost soil microbial abundance by 27%. The result adds to cover crops’ reputation for nitrogen loss reduction, weed suppression, erosion control, and more.
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Landowners Need Incentives to Practice Sustainability

As attention on water quality, sustainability, farm income levels, and rural quality of life grows every year, those of us who work in the soil and water conservation arena often wonder what will be required to get the majority of landowners to adopt even the most basic soil health practices. We live in the most altered landscape in the United States, we have nearly the smallest amount of forests and public lands of any state, and we have only half of the topsoil we had in the 1860s. Read more in this article from the Globe Gazette (Mason City, IA).
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Attend the 2020 National Strip-Tillage Conference

Join the most innovative, forward-thinking strip-till farmers, agronomists and researchers today at the 7th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference in Omaha, Neb., August 6-7, 2020. Discover practical cover cropping techniques and hundreds of proven ideas to boost your strip-till yields and save on input costs.

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