Soil Health

This topic is dedicated to providing information about how various cover crop species and varieties improve soil biology and soil health to help growers meet their production and environmental goals. Explanations of soil health processes, terminology and trends will also be shared here to provide a greater understanding of the link between cover crops and improved soil biology.

ARTICLES

Rotational Crops After Potatoes Improve Soil Health

"Instead of controlling one disease versus multiple, we do the integrated way by using different crops as a nutrient input and also as a disease suppression strategy,” says Jay Hao, Professor of Plant Pathology for the University of Maine. Read more in this article from WAGM.
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Cover Crop Standpoint

‘Getting Paid’ to Help Offset Climate Change

The carbon market system is a Wild West right now, says no-tiller Trey Hill. But carbon-smart farming and balancing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios in your fields starts with cover crops.
I think folks who are into the cover crop movement and no-till are really starting to think about sustainability a little differently.  


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Cover Crops Build Strong Orchards That Can Withstand Droughts

At the Petty Ranch in southern California, where it sometimes rains less than 5 inches per year, covers are an effective line of defense against dryness.
Lemons and avocados aren’t your typical cash crops accompanying cover crops. But Chris Sayer’s family successfully uses covers in their lemon and avocado orchards on Petty Ranch in Saticoy, Cal., which they’ve owned for 130 years. 


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Strip-Till & Cover Crops Offer the ‘Best of Both Worlds’

The Isley family has improved water retention by planting annual ryegrass into standing corn and seeding annual ryegrass and rapeseed prior to strip-tilling.
In 2012, the Isley family took a firm dislike to using the word “dirt.” They had gone through a substantial drought and were working ground, watching it turn to powder.  


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‘Zone Approach’ with Cover Crops Boosts Sustainability at Vegetable Farm

On his Minnesota vegetable farm, Ryan Pesch uses cover crops to lighten and enrich heavy soil and improve production prospects.
Building soil nutrients is one of the major benefits of using cover crops, and it’s the benefit of choice for Ryan Pesch and his family. Pesch has used cover crops on his farm since he and his family started Lida Farm in 2004.


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Cover Crops: The Final Piece of the Water Quality Puzzle

Growers share how widespread cover cropping has helped reduce water quality problems in Kansas’ Black Vermillion River watershed.
On a clear, late November day 60 years ago, 11-year-old Maurice Buessing was out getting the cows home from pasture on the family dairy operation near Baileyville, Kan.


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Cover Crops Can Turn Around Soil Degradation

When used in combination with reduced tillage and diverse crop rotations, covers can restore farm soils to a more healthy and productive state.
Problems with soil degradation impacting agriculture go all the way back to ancient Greece. Many of today’s growers have the same problems, but they are now armed with the knowledge and tools needed to reverse the trend, says David Montgomery, author, geologist and professor of Earth & Space Sciences at the University of Washington. 


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Buffering the Soil with Long-Term Covers

Jeff Olson is protecting the soil and improving water infiltration with a mixed bag of application methods and plenty of patience.
Jeff Olson isn’t afraid to step outside his comfort zone. A 5th-generation corn and soybean farmer in Winfield, Iowa, Olson attributes part of his willingness to take risks and try new things to his years of experience.


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Attend the 2021 National Strip-Tillage Conference

Discover cutting-edge ideas, techniques and strategies from the most innovative, forward-thinking minds in strip-till to raise your level of strip-till profitability, efficiency and efficacy. The 2021 National Strip-Tillage Conference, Aug. 5-6, in Omaha, Neb., offers a mix of thought-provoking general sessions featuring top experts; profit-boosting Strip-Till Classrooms led by strip-till authorities, and interactive farmer-to-farmer Strip-Till Roundtables.

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