USDA is advising farmers on ways to make soils healthier for the long-term success of their operations. A growing number of farmers and conservation experts are focusing on soil health to reduce costs, help the environment and increase yields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with farmers to maximize their soil’s performance.
Dan DeSutter of Attica, Indiana says, “By building our soils now will allow us the competitive edge that may mean the difference between survival and not surviving later on.”
DeSutter is using no-till planting and cover crops to increase soil nutrients and prevent runoff.
“The more of these things we do, the more of these practices we adopt, the better our soil gets and the healthier it gets, and the more active it becomes. When you’re seeing yields start to go up and climb and do things that other people said were impossible.”
Ray Archuleta, NRCS Conservation Agronomist, advises farmers on three basic actions to improve soil health.
“Understand their context by digging a little into the soil,” he said. “Understand that their soil is a living, biological system. Second one is that they can learn to disturb less, less physical disturbance. And the third one is that they need to learn to use more diverse, living covers. More cover crops.”
Farmer Rodney Rulon from Arcadia, Indiana says soil health conservation practices have lowered his costs making for a better bottom line.
“Our total nutrient use has consistently gone down to get the same yields or even improved yields. Just the cycling and the biology and everything that’s going on there has really helped to kind of pull that nutrient cycle together to make it a little more efficient.”[audio:http://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/10/NRCS-assist-on-soil-health.mp3|titles=NRCS assist on soil health]
Farmers can contact their local NRCS office more information.