Every once in a while, editors here have questioned whether no-till practices get any mention in ag schools across the U.S.
While no-till is rapidly expanding in some states, progress seems stubbornly slow in others, as influencers still seem skeptical of the benefits offered from no-till and cover crop systems.
So it was nice to see a story recently about a program engaging youth about this very issue. Organized by Ohio State University and Monsanto Co., the 2017 4-H Ag Innovators Experience is engaging youth to learn about soil health and sustainable environmental practices, reports Ohio’s Country Journal.
This program is expected to reach 5,000 youth in Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.
In April, several students started testing soil samples for soil health, and used tiny robots to design, build and test no-till planting systems, the report says. They were given the task to design a no-till planter for the future that would better serve a farmers needs, as well as the ecosystems needs.
Just this week, a no-tiller in Kansas was relaying to me numerous frustrations he’s having with drill components breaking or not performing properly.
I wouldn’t expect students to come up with the answers to things like this. But it would be interesting to see what approach they used to create a machine that gets seed in the ground without disturbing the soil.
It’s great to see that no-till practices and soil health are getting some attention with younger audiences. The future of our farming industry, and much of world’s food production, rests in their hands.