Soil Health Field Days Kick Off Throughout Midwest

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Soil Health Partnership events share economic, sustainability benefits of best practices.

The Soil Health Partnership will host nine field days in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana to promote practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Partnership will host nine field days in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana to promote practices that improve soil health.

We encourage farmers to experiment with different soil practices that are right for them, and we engage in scientific quantification of the results from farmers taking positive actions.

Nine field days to promote practices that improve soil health will take place this month in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Hosted by the Soil Health Partnership, the field days will demonstrate how changing certain practices, such as adding cover crops, can create lasting environmental benefits while potentially increasing farm productivity and income.

Brent Bible has practiced no-till farming and planted cover crops on his farm in Lafayette, Indiana, but until recently, it was a random approach. By joining the Soil Health Partnership in 2014, he now takes a more scientific approach, measuring the results his practices have on his farm’s performance.

Bible plans to share what he has learned with other farmers, hosting one of the soil health field days later this year. He’s had success with cereal rye and oats on his farm, as well as with tillage cover such as turnips, radishes and snow peas.

“We have tried several different blends of cover crops, looking for the right combination,” Bible said. “It has been a good experience overall. Our costs are lower, plus we have less erosion and runoff.”

Examples of field day educational topics include:

  • Cover crop benefits and integration into local cropping systems;
  • Nutrient management and other strategies to improve soil health;
  • Hands-on soil demonstrations; and
  • Farmer panels to discuss local experiences with cover crops.

Cover crops have gained attention for improving soil health because they capture excess nitrogen left in the soil and put good plant residue back into the ground.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, industry, foundations, federal agencies, universities and well-known environmental groups toward the common goal of improving soil health.

“We encourage farmers to experiment with different soil practices that are right for them, and we engage in scientific quantification of the results from farmers taking positive actions,” said Nick Goeser, the partnership director. “Improved crop productivity, environmental gains and economic growth are all benefits of progressive soil management strategies.”

The partnership has scheduled about a dozen events through September in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and anticipates dozens more in these and other Midwestern states throughout the summer and fall.

For a complete list of Soil Health Field Days, visit SoilHealthPartnership.org. Events will be added throughout the summer.

About the Soil Health Partnership
The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a five-year period, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. We believe the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, we provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations. For more, visit soilhealthpartnership.org.

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Jenna Rose
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