This summer, Midwestern farmers and ag professionals interested in adopting innovative practices to improve the health of their soil can get their hands dirty at a series of field days. The Soil Health Partnership will showcase how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can create lasting environmental and even economic benefits.
The organization plans about 35 field days beginning in June and running through September, with the majority concentrated in Iowa and Illinois. Events will also be scheduled in Indiana and other states.
“We ask a lot of our nation’s farmers: To safely feed a growing world, grow more with less, and perform these tasks with continuous improvement,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “Time and again, they rise to the challenge with innovation and industriousness. Soil health is the next frontier, and more farmers are realizing that every day.”
Practices that protect and improve soil, such as cover crops and minimum tillage, are some of the most effective options for building organic matter and capturing carbon, Goeser said.
“Through a meaningful agricultural transformation, farmers are working to mitigate greenhouse gases by rejuvenating soil, which helps it store carbon more effectively,” he said.
An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies and well-known environmental groups toward common goals. The Partnership is in its third year with 65 partner farms across eight Midwestern states.
Although each field day will be unique to its region, farmers enrolled in the Partnership will host most of them. Working with field managers and agronomists, the farmers adopt agricultural practices that are right for them, then carefully measure the difference in how their farms perform over time.
Farmers, land owners and community members can engage in hands-on learning at the field days. Featured topics may include:
- Cover crop management and machinery set-up
- Conservation tillage methods
- Advanced nutrient management
- A soil pit to observe cover crop root growth and soil properties
- Water quality news
A list of currently planned events and registration can be found at SoilHealthPartnership.org. More events will be posted throughout the summer.