soil conservation

wsj.com

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can. A group of Northwest Kansas producers meets regularly to discuss production practices. These growers are firm believers in no-till and planting cover crops whenever it's feasible. While some producers say cover crops unnecessarily sap moisture, members of Living Acres Network are more likely to say that the careful selection of a cover crop leaves residue that helps build the soil for better precipitation infiltration.

deschutesswcd.com

The Department of Agriculture has improved the federal Conservation Stewardship Program, offering $100 million to landowners taking steps to conserve soil and natural resources.  But, they’re doing a poor job of telling farmers about it reports Bruce Knight for Agri-Pulse.

Knight says high profile initiatives like providing habitat for the lesser prairie chicken or conserving the Ogallala Aquifer are getting all the attention because of political priorities.  He says what excites him are the enhancements embracing modern precision agriculture technology, soil health, cover crops and fertilizer management.

Michael Brashier/Flickr

Many producers have converted to no-till, and now progressive farmers are learning to cover crop to keep soil covered after harvesting a cash crop. Ryan Speer is such a producer.

Kansas Farmer

Scott Gonnerman started no-till practices in 2005 and began cover-cropping his east Nebraska fields in 2009. He says he used to think of the soil simply as dirt.

United Soybean Board/Flickr

No event did more to emphasize the severity of the erosion crisis than the Dust Bowl affecting High Plains states beginning in the early-1930s.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

When the wind picked up from the south on John Schweiser’s farm outside Rocky Ford, Colo., the sky would go black. A charging wall of dust would force the 80-year-old farmer and his wife to hunker down in their ranch-style farmhouse.

deltafarmpress.com

No-till farming alone won’t build soil carbon.  Recent research revealed that conservation tillage practices don't have any advantage over conventional practices reported Adele Phillips for the Center for Rural Affairs.

Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can.

Farm Foundation

Southwest Kansas producer Steve Arnold had been a big irrigator. Ten wells, numerous pivot irrigation systems and 4-wheel-drive tractors on a farm near Johnson City.

USGS

South-central Nebraska producer John Kinley has a three-acre rainwater basin in a crop field. He talks about progressive practices such as no-till production and cover cropping.

Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says there are four principles to improving soil health:

Farmville helps explain farm bill

Sep 9, 2013
courtesy of Zynga

The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

ars.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service of the Southern Plains is on a mission.  For 75 years, they’ve been working, “to sustainably balance today’s livelihoods with tomorrow’s needs.”  An article from the Amarillo Globe-News reported scientists at the facility do more than write research papers, they put them into practice. 

www.nebraska.tv

Farmers across the country received a record breaking 17.3 billion dollars in federal crop insurance payouts after last year’s drought.  While the payments were critical for the financial well-being of farmers, the National Resources Defense Council has issued a report critical of the structure of the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP).

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The world’s soil is in trouble. Ecologists say without dramatic changes to how we manage land, vast swathes of grassland are at risk of turning into hard-packed desert. To make sure that doesn’t happen, researchers are testing out innovative ways to keep moisture in the soil.

In eastern Colorado, one way could be in the plodding hooves of cattle.

Conventional wisdom tells you, if ranchland ground has less grass, the problem is too many cows. But that’s not always the case. It depends on how you manage them, if you make sure they keep moving.

Prairie plants help restore farmland soil

Jul 24, 2013
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

The world’s soil is in trouble, even in the fertile Midwest. Some experts warn that if degradation continues unchecked, topsoil could be gone in 60 years. That has implications for agriculture and the broader environment.

Windbreak, Part II

May 15, 2013
NRD

In addition to the role windbreaks play in decreasing soil erosion, these valuable elements of modern day agriculture can increase crop yields, act as environmental buffers, improve air quality, and provide valuable pollinator habitat for bees and other beneficial insects.  Windbreaks can be multifunctional, providing not only protection from the wind, dust and snow, but serving as economic stimulators through the marketing of tree products.  To learn more about the importance of windbreaks and the design basics needed to develop a functioning shelterbelts, take part in the Southern Plains Windbreak Renovation and Innovation Workshop to be held in Dodge City, Kansas May 21 - 23, 2013.  Call the K-State Extension office in Ford County 620-227-4542, or contact Andrea Burns at: aburns@ksu.edu.