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WITH A GREATER emphasis on the role agriculture can play in improving the environment, non-farming land owners are showing more interest in no-till and cover crops for the benefits they can generate in terms of improving the soil and boosting long-term production potential.
Barry Fisher, an Indiana no-tiller and NRCS soil health specialist, says that to help spread the word about how farm management practices can make an impact on soil, water and other environmental concerns, you should be prepared with answers to 5 key questions that landowners should be asking.
1 Are you building organic matter in the soil on the ground you farm? Organic matter may be the most important indicator of a soil’s productivity and often determines the price farmers will pay to rent land. Finding a farmer who is building organic matter with no-till and cover crops is like finding a bank with a higher interest rate on a certificate of deposit.
2 Do you soil test at least once every 4 years? Regular soil testing offers an indication of trends in soil fertility, pH and organic matter levels. If soil testing shows a field has a history of very high fertility, adding cover crops can keep those nutrients in place rather than applying unneeded nutrients.
3 Do you no-till? Bare soil is subject to erosion and loss of organic matter. The residue in a no-till environment will conserve moisture for the crop and prevent soil loss from wind erosion, water erosion and carbon dioxide that…