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Aaron Daigh wtih NDSU shares information on water movement into soils on the 2018 soil health bus tour. (Abbey Wick/NDSU Extension Soil Health Specialist)

Soil Health Minute: Summer projects to watch

As we ramp up for our summer field research and North Dakota State University Extension work in soil health, I wanted to share a few projects that I think you should keep your eye on this year.

This is not a complete list of what we are doing, but highlights some of the main projects that are ongoing or just getting started at our the Soil Health and Agriculture Research Extension Farm sites, or SHARE Farms, and other locations in North Dakota.

SHARE Farm — Mooreton

This project evaluates soil health building practices on high clay soils under a three crop rotation (corn, soybeans, wheat) in southeastern North Dakota. We are on our fourth year of evaluating no-till plus cover crops relative to conventional tillage on tiled and non-tiled soils. This year, we will be planting corn into cover crop bio-strips that were planted into wheat stubble last year. We have and will continue to record the moisture and temperature in the bio-strips, under the residue and in the chisel plow strips. We will also be interseeding cereal rye and radishes into corn this year.

SHARE Farm — Logan Center

This is our new SHARE Farm site! At this site, we will be evaluating and demonstrating soil health building practices on a loamy soil with a four crop rotation (pinto beans, corn, soybean, wheat) in the northeastern part of the state. This year, the field will be planted to pinto beans and we are working on setting up treatments. A new North Dakota Agricultural Weather station will be installed this summer at this site.

Interseeding cover crops

Marisol Berti (plant science) leads a multi-state project, where we are interseeding corn and soybeans, following wheat with cover crops and looking at nutrient cycling when using cover crops (Dave Franzen's work). We are also evaluating relay cropping with winter camelina and soybeans and interseeding corn with alfalfa to get faster establishment. The North Dakota research plots are in Gardner, Prosper, Rutland and Valley City with some additional sites that may be added for demonstration.

Cover crops for salinity management

Caley Gasch (soil health) and Jason Harmon (entomology) are looking at using cereal rye interseeded in corn and broadcast into soybeans as a management tool on marginally saline soils. They have sites in Aneta, Northwood and Jamestown. We will also continue seeding full season or interseeding cover crops at salinity demonstration sites in Grand Forks, Hillsboro, Wahpeton, DeLamere and possibly some new locations.

Each project will likely have a field day or bus tour associated with it, so watch for those by visiting the NDSU Soil Health webpage (ndsu.edu/soilhealth). We plan to do a two-day bus tour in northeastern North Dakota to check out the SHARE Farm-Logan Center and various other sites in that area.

We look at some really cool practices and share valuable research results on our field tours, but we also develop and strengthen relationships. When we meet others with similar interests, no matter what our stage is in adopting soil health building strategies, we gain valuable insight into our systems and get new ideas. This helps us think out of the box and move forward at whatever pace we choose.

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