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DIRT workshop stresses how soil management is as unique as each farmer

The DIRT workshop took place in Fargo, North Dakota, where soil health was the main topic.

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FARGO, N.D. — Soil health enthusiasts and those wishing to know more about soil health made the trek to the DIRT workshop Dec. 12-14, where they could learn and talk about all things soil.

Soil health is imperative for a productive yield and desirable crop. Among the topics of conversation at the workshop were regenerative practices producers can implement into their acres.

The rotation of cover crops can be a good addition to a soil management program, but according to Jason Hanson, a certified crop advisor from Webster, North Dakota, the cover crops chosen depend on the farmer’s region.

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“It depends on where you farm and what crops you have in your rotation currently. But from that, you can base a plan and sit down with your agronomist or certified crop advisor. That’s where the planning comes into play,” he said.

Going across the state of North Dakota, Hanson has seen a lot less tillage of the soil, another regenerative practice. However, he states partial till is still more prevalent than no-till management. Erosion of the soil has been a major concern over the past few years, and tillage has not helped the soil stay in place.

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The DIRT workshop is a three day seminar about all things soil health.
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Lee Briese, certified crop advisor from Edgley, North Dakota, urges farmers to look at their acres and see what the major problems are and come up with a game plan. He does warn, soil management plans are not one-size-fits-all.

“But it really is specific by farm so you need to think what are the challenges you’re facing and what practices can fit there,” Briese said.

In Briese’s part of the state, the producers he works with are having trouble with saline in their acres. He has advised staying away from corn and soybeans because they are not doing well in the fields. He also advises farmers to stay away from tillage and implement cover crops in their troublesome saline fields.

This is the first year the DIRT workshop has taken place in person since 2019 due to the pandemic. Abbey Wick, North Dakota State University Extension soil health specialist, said this in-person seminar is vital in helping farmers find the right solution for them and their area of the state.

“As we know, soil health is highly specialized and customized to how you’re going to do these practices on your farm or how you’re going to advise as a consultant or how you’re going to design a program around soil health,” Wick said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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