Local soil health team plans to host workshop

Published 9:45 am Friday, January 13, 2017

Now that the harvest season over, many are reflecting on the past year and remembering how wet it was.

Heavy rain spurts that started in mid-September and continued into November created numerous wet spots in fields that made for tough harvest conditions.

A majority of farmers who practice conventional tillage battled these wet spots. There is a small group of farmers in the Albert Lea area, however, that had experienced different results. This small network of farmers had been implementing soil health practices and experienced different results with their normal wet spots this fall that allowed them to harvest these wet areas. So how was it in a very wet fall that this group of farmers was able to get a harvest on previously wet ground? One guess would be tile, but that is not the case here.

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This group of farmers has been implementing practices over a series of years to improve their soil health. These wet spots did not diminish over one years’ time, but over the course of a few years.

Each year these normal wet spots were becoming drier with the use of cover crops and other soil management techniques. To say they were able to harvest an area, that would have previously been wet, speaks volumes and bushels.

Recently, this group of farmers has been working on the Freeborn Area Soil Health Team to show others the benefits that can result from management changes and the use of cover crops.

According to a local soil health team member, the soil is able to build better structure over the years of implementing reduced tillage and cover crops. This improved structure allows water to infiltrate into the soil faster.

With greater water infiltration across the entire field, there is less water running off the upslope into the lower areas. Since these wet spots are no longer receiving extra amounts of water from upslope, and these areas also have increased infiltration rates due to better management, they are able to dry up faster which allows crops to grow.

If you are a farmer, or know one that was affected by wet spots and want to improve soil health, watch for events by the Freeborn Area Soil Health Team. The next event is the soil health winter workshop Jan. 26 at Wedgewood Cove. The event covers a range of tillage options including no-till, and strip-till.

Also, learn the importance of cover crops and success and setbacks of implementing soil health practices. Soil and water management credits for CCA’s are available.

To learn more or to RSVP, call Lindsey Zeitler at 507-373-5607 ext. 116.