Soil Health

Soil Health

View the secret underground world of soil livestock —including beneficial bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and earthworms — that are essential to building healthy no-tilled soils and reducing your cost of production.

ARTICLES

5 Takeaways from the 2019 National Strip-Tillage Conference

2019 has tested the resolve of many farmers. So it was refreshing to experience an overall optimistic environment at the 6th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference in Peoria, Ill. Many of the 338 farmers, researchers and industry professionals assembled with a shared objective of making lemonade out of lemons in 2019, but they also sought opportunities to rebound in 2020.
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Soil Microbes Have Power to Reverse Climate Change

Many problems identified with the planet’s climate could be solved by putting water back in the ground where it belongs, says Christine Jones.
Australian soil ecologist Christine Jones believes that, rather than climate change causing droughts, the climate has been changed by not managing ground cover appropriately.
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Boosting No-Till Yields with Gypsum

In either its natural or synthetic form, gypsum has been increasingly recognized as a valuable soil amendment, promising reduced erosion, improved soil organic matter and more efficient nutrient uptake.
No-tilling about 2,000 acres in Prairie City, Ill., Ken Curtis calls the area where he farms “Forgotonia.”
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Calculating the Value of Cover Crops

Cover crops and other regenerative agriculture practices have been getting a massive amount of attention lately. There have been stories about them in major news outlets like Forbes and the New York Times and politicians have been working these concepts into their speeches and climate platforms, spreading the word about the benefits of keeping the soil covered with diverse living plants.
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Putting Quorum Sensing to Work in Your No-Tilled Soils

No-tillers must embrace diversity in plants and soil microbes to unlock the power of quorum sensing, improve ag production and deal with climate change, says Christine Jones.
If you've ever been to a meeting that requires a quorum — a minimum number of representatives attending in order to make a decision, you’re on the way to understanding “quorum sensing” as it relates to soil health.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Cover Crop Solution Dispels Prevent Planting Blues

Cereal rye is a ready-made soil builder when rain keeps the Roemke family out of their no-till fields.
We were uncharacteristically resistant when our agronomist, Joe Nester, first brought up the idea of using cover crops. Now we’re hooked and they’re helping bring our no-till farming system to the next level.
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IMAGE GALLERIES

Pulse Crops Amplify Production and Profits

Gordon Stoner no-tills his 12,000 acres of durum, green field peas, lentils, flax and corn in Outlook, Mont. The 22-year no-till veteran moved from a wheat-fallow rotation to pulse crops and has seen his soils and bottom line both greatly improve.

For more information on Stoner’s operation, read the What I’ve Learned From No-Tilling article: Diversity, No-Till and Continuous Cropping Bring Big Impacts to Bottom Line, published in November 2016. (Subscription)

PRODUCTS

NNTC16 Audio Presentations

How Can We Evaluate Soil Biological Properties for a Better Understanding of Soil Health? - Lance Gunderson - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Soil is teaming with life. Billions of bacteria and miles of fungal filaments act as micronutrient stores and miniature highway transport systems that help a soil function to support a healthy plant community. Measuring a soil’s biological system, however, is complex and very different from the more traditional soil testing methods aimed at a soil’s fertility. Tests such as Solvita, Haney, and PLFA help producers evaluate their soil’s biological system and we are now beginning to understand and appreciate what this means for the health and function of our soils. Lance Gunderson, the executive director of soil health and new test development at Ward Laboratories in Kearney, Neb., will introduce these tests, their components and how to interpret the results, along with discussing how on-farm management may influence the soil’s biology and overall health.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Staring Down No-Till Challenges in a Dairy Operation - John Kemmeren - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Faced with farming highly erodible hill ground and a strong desire to improve soil life, John and Dianne Kemmeren began no-tilling on their Bainbridge, N.Y., dairy farm 40 years ago. John explains the challenges they face, how they handle manure from their 200-head dairy herd and how they manage a 3-year rotation of hay, corn and cover crops to keep the soil covered 365 days a year. John also shares how healthy, high organic-matter soils have allowed them to cut fertilizer inputs by 75% while increasing yield, and reviews their double-cropping trial results, the growth of grazing corn, interseeding legumes into sudangrass and the use of Italian ryegrass as a nurse crop.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Turning a Profit and Improving the Health of Thin, Abused Piedmont Soils - Jim Howard - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Thanks to centuries of erosion and tillage, annual dry periods during the growing season, equipment pressure and traffic, the soils in the Piedmont region of North Carolina are thin from abuse. But Jim Howard and his son, Branson, are working to turn that around on their 450-acre no-till corn, wheat and double-cropped soybean operation. Aiming to be a good steward of the land while increasing yields, limiting risk and maintaining profits, Howard shares how multiple crop rotations, cover crops, soil testing, variety selection and a limited equipment lineup are keys to his no-till operation. He also shares the knowledge he’s gained from working with successful farmers during his 30-plus years in agricultural sales.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Measures for Protecting, Building Quality No-Till Soils - Steve Berger - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

The rolling hills and bottomlands of southeastern Iowa are anything but simple to farm, leaving Steve Berger and his father, Dennis, with the challenge of saving their soil while building it up. Through 36 years of no-till, the Bergers have gained a lot of knowledge on how to manage residue within crop production to develop a highly functioning microbial system. The Wellman, Iowa, no-tiller explains the use of cover crops like cereal rye in a corn-soybean rotation and how they utilize hog manure effectively from their farrow-to-finish swine operation — all with the aim of leaving soils better than when the Bergers started farming them.

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Blazing a Path to Profitability with Controlled Traffic Farming

Blazing a Path to Profitability with Controlled Traffic Farming

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$12.95
Have you ever thought about the benefits you could accrue from adding controlled traffic farming (CTF) to your no-till operation? This 24-page report gives you overview of what you need to know about controlled traffic, how CTF can reduce compaction and increase yields and much, much more. View
NNTC 2015 Speaker Presentation

Understanding the Impact of No-Till on Soil Organic Carbon Sequestraion Rates - Kenneth Olson - NNTC 2015 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

No-till systems have been promoted as a valuable tool to increase soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration and reduce soil erosion vs. intensive tillage systems. While numerous approaches to estimate the amounts and rates of SOC sequestration in no-till have been published, Ken Olson says questions abound on the protocol for assessing rates.

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NNTC 2015 Speaker Presentation

Getting A Handle On Tools To Measure The Health Of No-Tilled Soils - Towery and Kok - NNTC 2015 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Several new tools are available today that can help no-tillers get a better handle on the amount of soil biological activity and adjustments that can be made to their fertility program. Dan Towery, no-till consultant with Ag Conservation Solutions, and Hans Kok, certified crop advisor, will provide details on the workings of several popular tests — the Cornell soil health test, the Solvita test and the PLFA soil test.

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NNTC 2015 Speaker Presentation

Balancing Insecticide Use And Soil Health Through An IPM Approach - John Tooker - NNTC 2015 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Integrated Pest Management is more than just knowing what to spray and when, John Tooker says. The Penn State University entomologist says no-tillers need to think more broadly about their approach to insect control to consider how use of insecticides impact soil health, onfarm diversity of beneficial insects and whole farming systems.

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NNTC 2015 Speaker Presentation

Improving Soil Structure, Reducing Compaction Naturally Within No-Till - Jim Hoorman - NNTC 2015 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

Long-term studies show soil compaction reduces yields by 30%. Jim Hoorman says poor soil structure and compaction are common, especially where conventional tillage has been used extensively, but even no-tillers often see little improvement or slow gains in soil structure.

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NNTC 2015 Speaker Presentation

Where Plants Thrive, Soils Are Healthy (And Understanding Why That Is) - Jill Clapperton - NNTC 2015 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

When you know what lives and works in the soil, Jill Clapperton says it’s much easier to understand how no-till and crop rotation work together to regenerate and maintain healthy, productive soil.

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EVENTS

Webinar

[Webinar] Understanding Soil Health – Where We Are and Where We Need to Go

3/13/19
In this webinar, sponsored by AgroLiquid, Dr. Zouheir Massri will help you understand soil health as its related to soil functionality and where we need to go to take soil health to the next level. Read More

Live

Cheney Lake Watershed Soil Health Field Day

8/20/19
Kauffman Seeds
9218 S. Halstead Street
Hutchinson, KS
United States
Contact: Howard Miller
Enjoy a day dedicated to learning with soil scientist Kris Nichols, along with Kansas farmers Ryan Speer, Michael Thompson, and Nick Vos. Read More

Live

Conservation In Action Tour

8/20/19
Central Iowa
United States
Learn about scientific, cost-effective edge-of-field systems, in-field solutions, and management practices that can help protect the environment while improving the economics of your operation at the CTIC's 12th annual Conservation in Action Tour. Read More

Live

2019 Healthy Soil Summit

8/21/19
UC Davis Conference Center
550 Alumni Ln
Davis, CA
United States
Contact: Katrina Harms
With an intensive focus on strategies for building overall farm resilience, the 2019 Healthy Soil Summit pairs information and inspiration in presentations, a farm tour and a trade show. Read More

Live

Life in the Pits: A Look at Soil Management and Crop Health

9/10/19
American Legion
60 6th Ave
Granite Falls, MN
United States
Contact: Mary Jo Fox
Farmers and agronomists are invited to this unique, small-group field day "in the pits" to learn about soil health. Read More

Live

Life in the Pits: A Look at Soil Management and Crop Health for NRCS & SWCD

9/11/19
American Legion
60 6th Ave
Granite Falls, MN
United States
Contact: Mary Jo Fox
NRCS and SWCD personnel are invited to this unique, small-group field day "in the pits" to learn about soil health. Read More

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