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Soil Health Minute: Key points to drive home

One of North Dakota's own experts in soil health and independent crop consultant, Lee Briese is the keynote presenter at the Dakota Innovation Research and Technology (DIRT) Workshop in Fargo, Dec. 9-11. There are some key points that he will be making, which I am really excited about, so I'll give you a sneak peek.

The DIRT Workshop is for everyone: You don't have to be a full on no-tiller or cover crop user to attend this workshop. The entire goal of the workshop is to think through new ideas to bring back to the farm, to your equipment design or sales, to your consulting business, education programs or research. Many of the topics revolve around soil health building practices, but we talk about all available tools (including tillage, yeah, I said tillage) and how to use them in combination to reduce risk. So, keep an open mind and take away information that fits to your system.

Speaking of your system...

Start thinking of management approaches now that fit YOUR system: I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but we all know challenging conditions in fall 2018 into 2019 are sure to carry over into 2020 and possibly 2021.

Getting snow in early October has happened twice now, back to back, and the soil is maxed out. It's just flat out full of water and it has nowhere to go ... except to evaporate and we know that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Any tillage that farmers intended to get done is likely not going to happen and squeezing it in before planting is going to be tough. Many farmers will direct seed into residue and by default will be moving toward reduced tillage.

We need to start thinking about how we are going to manage these conditions IN YOUR SYSTEM next year and give ourselves the best possible shot at success. It's going to take some "out of the box thinking" by farmers, consultants and others helping to manage the system. The DIRT Workshop is the place to start the thought process ... then follow up with the details by attending one or more of the 20 Soil Health Café Talks in 2020 (information to be posted online: ndsu.edu/soilhealth).

Did I say details????

Details Matter: Lee has started using the hashtag #detailsmatter on Twitter. He'll go more in depth on what this means, but a big part of making new practices work on a farm is knowing details about the conditions, equipment, information gathered/learning to date, experience, comfort level and most of all goals so that you can customize the practices to YOUR farm. Picking a goal is probably the most important place to start and then follow up with the details. Not sure of what goal you may have, we'll help you identify that for conditions and resources on your farm.

I've probably given away too much already on Lee's keynote presentations, but I'm really excited to listen to him and share ideas with him ... with everyone at the workshop. We need to be helping each other think through ideas and we need to encourage each other as we make changes.

Over the past seven years I've been at NDSU, I've seen nothing less than help and encouragement out of farmers, consultants and others I cross paths with — it's really awesome to see. The connections made at the DIRT Workshop are incredibly valuable and you will likely rely on those connections and relationships in the future. Join us, have a little fun after a really tough year, make connections and get some new ideas.

Details are available online: DIRTworkshopND.com. You can register, reserve your hotel rooms and check out the topics and presenters. The full agenda will be available soon, and it's looking really, really good!

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