In this photo from the 2009 Society for Range Management (SRM) Award tour, Soil Quality Specialist, Rick Bednarek, formerly of SD, explained the darkness of the soil was due to the organic matter which is the key indicator of the health of soil.
Too often, it’s treated like dirt. But this week our living and life-giving soil is finally getting some of the respect it deserves today, for World Soils Day.
While soil may not enjoy the media attention of Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s, it can be argued that it shares importance with all three. Where would we be without soil?
This amazing resource is responsible for nearly all life on the planet. Naturalist Aldo Leopold describes soil perfectly, saying: “Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.” Read more »
NRCS joins others to celebrate World Soil Day on Dec. 5.
In the minds of many, a freshly tilled field is picturesque – clean and ready for the next planting. But according to a soil health expert, what looks good to the eye, isn’t always good for the soil – or a farmer’s bottom line.
Thursday, on World Soil Day, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating the importance of healthy soils and sharing how farmers and ranchers can help care for it through conservation practices like no-till.
When soil is heavily tilled, the stalks from the previous crop are chopped, and the top several inches of soil structure are disturbed. Conventional thought suggests this fluffing action allows for better seed placement, but Ray Archuleta, NRCS conservation agronomist, said that no-till systems, especially when combined with cover crops, are better – and lead to healthier, more drought-resistant soil.
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Good risk management tools aid in conservation efforts and help protect beautiful views like this for the next generation. USDA photo.
American producers know that crop insurance is a proven tool for managing the risks of farming. But many folks may not be aware that it also promotes sound practices that encourage environmental sustainability.
One of the primary reasons the Federal crop insurance program is good for conservation is that it requires producers to exercise good farming practices in order to be eligible for coverage. Good farming practices vary from crop to crop and from region to region, but follow the principle that the farming practices carried out are considered prudent and responsible by local extension agents and certified crop consultants. And this means planning for the long-term future, not just the current crop year. Read more »
The Bremmer family has raised cattle and grown crops in northwestern Illinois for more than a century. Over time, they’ve found ways to improve their operation — the latest improvement is the use of cover crops.
Brothers Ross and Chad Bremmer, fourth-generation farmers, are already seeing the benefits of cover crops — healthy food for their cattle, less erosion and an increase in the soil’s water-storage capacity.
The brothers worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to find the best cover crops for their land. They were looking for a cover crop that helped the soil while providing good sustenance for their cattle. Read more »
The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden 25, and Cameron 20 – worked with NRCS through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative to adopt better equipment and techniques to manage their water use. USDA photo.
The tales of young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs launching new ventures out of Silicon Valley are common. But what about three 20-something brothers who live – not in some high tech mecca – but near the small community of Wildorado, Texas, who started a new business venture?
The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden, 25, and Cameron, 20 – are farming cotton, corn, sorghum and wheat while showing how technology plays an important role in farming. The average age of Texas farmers is nearly 60 years old, making their enterprise a unique one and they’re doing this amid huge challenges, including an ongoing drought and a growing demand for water. Read more »
Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.
At age 8, Russell Wire knew he liked agriculture. That was when he raised some beef cattle for a 4-H project, eventually turning that project into a herd of 40.
This natural affinity makes sense—Wire, who lives in northwest Illinois, comes from a farm family. The 28-year-old is actually a fifth-generation farmer.
Since 2005, Wire has worked 40 acres of pastureland, and he’s grown corn on another 50 acres since 2011. Recently he decided to incorporate cover crops into his operation to provide more forage for his herd, prevent erosion and improve soil health. Read more »