Soil Health

Manure, Straw And Earthworms Make For Highly Productive Soils

Wisconsin dairy producer embraces precise management to protect and feed his fields with waste from his herd.
Jim Koepke would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t consider himself a no-tiller. “There’s plenty of tillage activity going on in our soils, it’s just that the tillage is being done by earthworms instead of iron,” he says. “And those earthworms do a tremendous job.”
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Shop Talk

Scientists Examining Stover Harvesting

Researchers from 13 USDA Agricultural Research Service locations, state universities and the U.S. Department of Energy are finishing the second season of field studies in a 5-year project to determine where, when and how much stover can be harvested for ethanol use without harming the soil.
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Scouting Critical To No-Till Cutworm Control

Consistent field monitoring during corn plant emergence can keep you ahead of black cutworms
Black cutworms can pose a serious threat to a corn crop, and no-till farmers can be at higher risk than other growers because the life cycle of the black cutworm fits well with the agronomic practices of no-till.
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Cold, Wet Soils Overcome By Far Northern No-Tiller

Joe Breker farms in the challenging climate of North Dakota, but he’s adapted his practices and equipment to succeed in long-term no-tilling.
Cold, wet soils challenge no-tillers everywhere, but they’re old hat for Joe Breker. He’s now in his 28th year of no-tilling in Havana, N.D., where the warmth doesn’t last long — it’s a 95-day maturity zone with just 2,200 to 2,300 growing degree days — and excess moisture is a problem year after year.
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Understanding Vertical Tillage

The yield-robbing effects of soil compaction continue to be a major challenge for growers, but proponents of deep-tilling say they have an answer for returning compacted soils to fertile, highly productive acres.
Vertical tillage is described as a system of soil management that promotes root development. It's also sometimes called "soiling" or zone tillage because it's used to fracture the entire soil profile from the bottom up using specially designed vertical tillage tools. According to the Precision Planting Co., each tillage pass is designed to increase the vertical flow of nutrients, water and developing roots. Tillage points of the tools work to “heave” the entire section of earth from just below the line that separates topsoil from subsoil.
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Fertilizing At Two Depths Benefits Seeds While Building Soil

This producer modified strip-till equipment to inject fertilizer at and below the seeding depth for crop nutrition and long-term soil improvements.
Ron Lampe wants the fertilizer placed into the soil profile exactly where it will do the most good. That’s why he’s adopted a strip-till system that injects fertilizer at two distinct depths. His goal: fertilize at and below the seed to expand the beneficial soil profile.
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No-Till Advocate Gets Around And Keeps His Eye On Cover Crops

Indiana official shares his experiences and views on the benefits of cover crops for no-till fields.
"I get to see a lot of what some of the best farmers in the state and the country are doing. I find that most no-tillers, especially the ones committed to long-term no-tilling, are really chasing this thing called soil quality. That's what ultimately gives them an economic boost." --Barry Fisher
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