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Posted on October 1, 2018 at 5:56 PM by Ryan Hiniker
Drainage update 10/1/2018
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
Underwear and Soil Health?
Several southern Minnesota farmers and the Faribault County SWCD (Soil and Water Conservation District) have found a fun way of testing and showcasing soil health. Earlier in the year, around July, this group of farmers went out and dug holes in their corn and soybean fields and literally buried cotton underwear. After letting these undies sit in the dirt for a couple months, they then dug them all back up and reported about the different stages of decomposition.
The theory behind burying underwear out in a field is to test what sort of soil health the soils are in. The idea is that the more decomposed the underwear, the better the soil health. How is that you might be asking. The better the soil health means more the microbial activity including worms and fungal organisms. The better the food source the more “good soil” activity you will find.
Food sources would include residue from corn or bean crops that aren’t conventionally tilled up right after harvest. Cover crops are a great way to improve soil health. The use of cover crops in-between row crop seasons is a great way to ensure that a constant food source is there for those essential organisms that are key to soil health. Cover crops are also proving to be vital to stabilizing nitrates and phosphorus in the soil. This stabilization of nutrients isn’t only good for water quality, but also saves money for the grower by hopefully not using as much the next season. Erosion is also a huge issue in parts of southern Minnesota. Cover crops and no-till management decisions are proving to be very vital to preserving our precious topsoil.
A few of the farmers that participated in the undies experiment showed their results of decomposition from different management and conservation practices they are using on their farms. One particular farming family is finding that they are getting the best soil health results by the use of cover crops and no-till practices. They are not only seeing a savings in their soil health, but also savings on the costs of labor and fuel by not doing fall tillage.
This idea of not tilling and making your field nice and black after harvest is very much against traditional thinking and teaching. These non-conventional ideas are becoming more and more popular due to the increased exposure by local SWCDs. Many local SWCDs have done well in encouraging the local growers to try cover crops and no-till ideas on small areas of their own farms. For more reading on this interesting article, click the link below.
Recent Drainage Inspections – week of September 24 – September 28:
We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.
Drainage Management Specialist