A Colorado State University crop and soil scientist recently secured funding for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to look at ways diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of soil carbon and water.
Megan Schipanski, CSU crop and soil scientist, applied for the grant and extension personnel on the High Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research
According to CSU’s website, High Plains crop producers have similar interests because of the impact those practices can have on their economic viability and the future of their agricultural enterprises. According to Colorado State’s website, sparse or erratic rainfall leaves farmers looking for anything they can do to increase yield while decreasing things that cost money, like irrigation.
Ron Meyer, extension agronomist in eastern Colorado said one of the non-monetary costs of tillage is that it releases carbon and water into the atmosphere and that it is non-productive and part of the greenhouse gas complex.
Meyer’s collaboration will help guide conversations with cooperators who have an interest in hosting this research on their farms of between 20 and 40 acres. Crop scientists in Colby, Kansas and several sites in Nebraska are also recruiting volunteer cooperators to expand on-farm testing to sites throughout the region.
“Meagan’s interest in cropping systems, cover crops, no-till and integrating livestock into this whole system is just a natural fit for High Plains agriculture,” Meyer said.
Livestock will also be included in the research project.
“On-farm research is an essential component of this study,” Schipanski said. “We would like to utilize a wide spectrum of farmers from across the region to help validate our recommendations for new crop rotation practices.”
Where the research protocol identifies a need for livestock on the site at a certain period of time, the cooperators will agree to bring the livestock in for a set number of days and then take them and the research team will weigh them in and weigh them out, focusing on a data-rich project.