The 20th Annual Field Day at the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Water Research Farm in Brookings, S.D., will be held June 17.

The field day program will include presentations on using winter crops, cover crops and no-till to create habitat on farms in South Dakota while improving soil health and using flowering oilseed crops to provide habitat for beneficial insects and for diversifying farm income.

Research conducted by the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (NCARL) at the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Water Research Farm in Brookings has shown novel ways to conserve our soil and water resources and provide wildlife habitat while maintaining productive farms, field day organizers noted. 

Over the past two decades, NCARL research has shown that better soil management can begin to regenerate the soil. At the June field day, discussion will include how winter cereal crops (winter wheat, rye, and triticale) and perennial forages can provide a logical entry point for farmers seeking to integrate cover crops into row crop farming systems. These also help upland birds flourish by providing additional nesting habitat and by attracting insects important for rearing the next generation of birds. South Dakota upland bird populations, particularly pheasants, have been declining in recent years. Inclusion of cover crops may help reverse this trend.

In 2013, South Dakota ranked third in honey production. In addition, most of the honeybee colonies used to pollinate tree and vegetable crops spend parts of their lives in the Dakotas. Pollinator declines are continuing. Research points to additive/interacting effects of pathogens, poor nutrition, pesticides, and other stressors in decreasing bee health.

At the June field day, we will discuss the attractiveness of flowering oilseed crops to pollinators and other beneficial insects, and how these crops fit into a crop rotation. The oils from these crops are used in biofuel, cosmetics, health food, and manufacturing. With further development, they may provide an additional source of income for farmers. Recognizing that farm programs are a critical aspect of management decisions, crop insurance agents will discuss the implications of adopting practices such as cover crops or specialty crops.

The Agricultural Research Service is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The NCARL in Brookings, the only ARS facility in South Dakota, is one of the nation's premier agricultural research laboratories. They develop integrated crop and pest management practices that enhance soil fertility and conservation, improve water availability and quality, increase biodiversity, and reduce insect and weed populations.

Presentation Details:

Cereals and Eggs: More than Just Breakfast Foods, presented by Brian Pauly, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department;

Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action, presented by Steve Dvorak, Ducks Unlimited, Bismarck, N.D.;

Cover Crops to Increase Diversity, presented by Shannon Osborne, USDA-ARS, Brookings;

Using Plants to Conserve Friendly Insects in Cropland, presented by Jonathan Lundgren, USDA-ARS, Brookings;

Integrating New Oilseed Crops to Diversify Cropping Systems, presented byRuss Gesch, USDA-ARS, Morris, Minn.; and

Crop Insurance and Cropping Practices, presented by Rebecca Wellenstein and Ben Zimmer, Farm Credit Services of America, Sioux Falls.

CCA Continuing Education Credits are available.

Tours begin at 3:30 p.m. followed by a complimentary dinner at 6 p.m. For more information about the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Water Research Farm, contact Joan Kreitlow at 605-692-8003 ext. 3. For more information about the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, contact Sharon Papiernik, Research Leader, at Sharon.Papiernik@ars.usda.gov or 605-693-5201.