“I wish I had started planting cover crops years ago,” said farmer Terry Aukes at yesterday’s Soil Health Field Day in Luverne. Attended by nearly 80 people, mainly conventional farmers who were looking for ways to protect their soil and earn a cost-of-production return on their operation, the event was hosted by Rock County SWCD and led by Michael Walgrave at the Tom Fick farm and featured Liz Stahl, U of M Extension, Rock County area “Soil Health Champions,” a National Wildlife Federation program and our own Kent Solberg.
Terry’s comments were part of a panel of producers who shared their experiences in adding cover crops, more diverse species and livestock to their farming operations. Allen Deutz, a Marshall grain and livestock producer, relayed his experience of three yields off of the same land over 18 months with grazing cattle. “I was pleased with how well the cattle did, and what I earned off those acres,” he said. All the producers shared their costs, noting less inputs, their yields and the amazing restoration of soil health after just a few growing seasons of planting cover crops.
This soil health workshop was one of many held over the summer featuring producers’ experience in practicing the principles of soil health. Without a doubt, all planned to continue and expand their use of cover crops and diverse species, and had long ago built in a strategy to minimize soil disturbances. Some were considering ways to add livestock to the landscape.
SFA has more soil health workshops on the horizon, and will be launching some new program features this fall.
If you haven’t yet taken part in one, check out the offerings on our Soil Health Portal. Soil health practices are essential to a productive, sustainable future, whether you are a conventional grower, an organic farmer or specialty crop producer.
For more videos like the one below that detail the progress being made in Rock County, visit the Rock County Conservation YouTube homepage.