Researching Your Soil Needs

A few weeks ago, I spent several days in Denver, Colo., sharing ideas with agricultural leaders about the importance of agricultural research. This was at a meeting where attendees advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on assessing soil resource research programs and planning future research needs.

Each non-ARS participant was asked to identify seven critical issues or problems that should be addressed through soil management research. Here’s my list.

  1. Transfer Of Research Information. Traditional ways of passing research results along to farmers no longer seems to be working effectively. In the past, research information was passed to farmers through the Cooperative Extension Service. Yet in some areas, county extension workers no longer keep up with the latest ag research information. This has particularly been true with reduced tillage research information.
  2. More Effective Water Usage. With higher temperatures and less water available for crops, we need to do a better job of demonstrating how no-till and residue management can turn available water into higher profits. Water will become more critical and we need to show farmers how to effectively use every available drop through more effective no-till management strategies.
  3. Biological Systems. We need to look much more closely at the role microorganisms, nematodes and earthworms play in the soil and how they impact yields and profits. Farmers need to find better ways of managing microbiological aspects of soils and soil additives.
  4. Tough Economic Times. With the depressed ag economy, what can ARS do for farmers in 1999…
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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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