Abbey Wick, NDSU Department of Soil Science
Caley Gasch, NDSU Department of Soil Science
Frank Casey, NDSU Department of Soil Science
Dave Ripplinger, NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics
he SHARE Farm is both a location for research efforts and a platform for extension programming. On-site, research is being conducted on evaluation of soil health, conservation tillage approaches, incorporation of cover crops in rotation and also salinity management. Extension programming includes annual bus tours and field days at farms throughout the state demonstrating practices used at the SHARE Farm and also Soil Health Café Talks. Farmer input drives both the research and extension efforts associated with this project.
In 2016, the SHARE Farm was linked with the National Corn Growers Association Soil Health Partnership network of sites. Sites within this network are primarily located in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. This is the first site in the Northern Great Plains, making it critical for understanding how soil health building practices, like using cover crops and reducing tillage, impact crop yield and soil properties in this region. As part of this partnership, over 100 acres of corn at the SHARE farm were interseeded with cereal rye and radish in 2016. In 2017, soybean was planted into a living cereal rye cover crop (an approach called “planting green”) and an oat/radish cover crop mix was flown on into the soybean in late July.
The conservation tillage plots evaluating soil warming and drying under strip till, vertical till and chisel plow management are in their second year of data collection (2016 – corn; 2017 – soybean). In addition, a large scale assessment of soil health evaluation methods currently available (for example, the Haney Test and Cornell Soil Health Test) was initiated in 2017 to determine the best possible tools for North Dakota farmers to use when evaluating soil health on their farms. An online economic calculator was also made available on the NDSU Soil Health webpage (ndsu.edu/soilhealth) to provide guidance on crop selection for saline soils. This calculator included data collected from commodity- funded projects over the past three years on corn, soybean and wheat response to salinity.
Extension programming included a two-day bus tour in 2016 to highlight commodity-funded research and demonstration sites in the southeastern part of the state. Topics covered included interseeding corn, salt-affected soil management using tile drainage, crop rotation and cover crops, conservation tillage practices, and using cover crops in rotation to achieve on-farm goals. The popular Soil Health Café Talks were also held in the winter of 2017 in LaMoure, Nelson, Ransom, Richland, Sargent and Stutsman counties. We reached over 250 farmers during these café talks with 65 hours of discussion on how to incorporate cover crops, manage salinity, fertility recommendations and on-line calculators, grazing efficiency, compost and manure management and climate information from NDAWN.
The AgWeek “Soil Health Minute,” which featured both a television segment and a magazine column, was also initiated in the spring of 2017. This North Dakota Corn Utilization Council (NDCUC) and North Dakota Soybean Council funded effort included 12 television segments and 16 magazine columns geared towards getting information on soil health building practices out to farmers. Due to popularity, the “Soil Health Minute” will be continued in 2018.
NDSU Soil Health specialist, Abbey Wick, farmer and NDCUC Treasurer Terry Wehlander, from DeLamere, ND, and International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year, Lee Briese, from Edgeley, ND, were featured in an NCGA Soil Health Partnership learning session at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio. This put efforts related to using cover crops and building soil health in North Dakota on a national stage.
SHARE Farm update videos along with 50 other videos related to building soil health in North Dakota, AgWeek “Soil Health Minute” segments, workshop and field day information are available on the NDSU Soil Health webpage (ndsu.edu/soilhealth). Day-to-day information on soil health is also available by following Abbey Wick (@NDSUsoilhealth) and Caley Gasch (@ckgasch) on Twitter.