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Ody's Country Meats

Conservation or Soil Health


By Jerrold Tesmer

Fri, Apr 19th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By Jerrold Tesmer, Extension Educator for Fillmore/Houston Counties

It really isn’t an either or question. While on a Soil Conservation Tour last Saturday, one handout came from the NRCS “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” a healthy, productive soils checklist for growers. The one page document did a great job of summing up good soil conservation practices.

The four basic principles were: (1) Keep the soil covered as much as possible (2) Disturb the soil as little as possible (3) Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil (4) Diversify as much as possible using crop rotations and cover crops.

It is important to note that not all practices are applicable to all crops. Practices described include.

•Conservation Crop Rotation-Growing a diverse number of crops in a planned sequence in order to increase soil organic matter and biodiversity in the soil.

•Cover Crops-An un-harvested crop grown as part of planned rotation to provide conservation benefits to the soil.

•No Till-A way of growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage.

•Mulch Tillage-Using tillage methods where the soil surface is undisturbed but maintains a high level of crop residue on the surface.

•Mulching-Applying plant residues or other suitable materials to the soil surface to compensate for loss of residue due to excessive tillage.

•Nutrient Management-Managing soil nutrients to meet crop needs while minimizing the impact on the environment and the soil.

•Pest Management-Managing pests by following an ecological approach that promotes the growth of healthy plants with strong defenses, while increasing stress on pests and enhancing the habitat for beneficial organisms.

If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest several websites: The entire document is found at www.nrcs.usda.gov; other sites with agriculture and soils information include University of Minnesota Extension http://www.extension.umn.edu/; University of Minnesota Extension Ag site http://www1.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/; and the University of Minnesota Department of Soils, Water, and Climate site http://www.swac.umn.edu/

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