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A plot tour from cover crop research plots on North Dakota State University's main campus in Fargo, N.D. (Abbey Wick, Special to Agweek)

Looking forward to soil health in 2020

To welcome 2020, here's a list of the top 20 North Dakota State University Extension soil health programs and research projects that will be continued or initiated this year. Keep your eye out for the important research we're doing and opportunities to get more information on the different projects through Extension events.

• Café Talks: we'll have 22 Café Talks hosted by NDSU Extension agents and specialists from Langdon and Carrington Research Extension Centers and Main Campus starting on Jan. 14 and going through March 24 (schedule posted NDSU.edu/soilhealth).

• Cover Crops and Grazing Workshops: Marisol Berti (NDSU Plant Sciences) along with Kevin Sedivec (NDSU Range Science) will be hosting workshops in Carrington (Jan. 13) and Dickinson (March 23). Announcements will be posted on NDSU.edu/soilhealth.

• Soil and Water Workshop: Dave Franzen (NDSU Soil Science) will host a comprehensive workshop on Jan. 22 in Fargo highlighting the latest research in soil science. You can also catch the weed workshop hosted by Joe Ikley (NDSU Plant Science) on Jan. 21 (find information by searching "Dave Franzen NDSU" on Google, registration link and agenda posted at the bottom of Franzen's webpage).

• Soil Sense Podcast: The second season, hosted by Tim Hammerich from the Future of Agriculture podcast, will be released in 2020. This podcast highlights farmer, consultant, research and Extension partnerships that make soil health efforts successful in North Dakota (NDsoilsense.com).

• DIRT Workshop: This networking-focused program will be held Dec. 7-9 in Fargo. Be sure to save the date (DIRTworkshopND.com).

• Carrington Research Extension Center - Center Points: Check out this digital publication released by Carrington where they share the latest on their research and recommendations. Information from most of the research I highlight below from Carrington can be found in this publication (ag.ndsu.edu/carringtonrec/center-points).

• Cover Crop Research Webpage: Hans Kandel (NDSU Plant Sciences) has put together a webpage with detailed information from the research associated with a USDA CAP project led by Marisol Berti in cooperation with other scientists from North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. You can find information for much of the research highlighted below (winter camelina, interseeding, alfalfa, fertility/cover crops) on this webpage (cropsyscap.org).

• Intercropping: Mike Ostlie (NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center) continues research on growing two crops at the same time, like chickpeas/flax or peas/canola (ag.ndsu.edu/carringtonrec).

• 60" Corn: Mike Ostlie and Kelly Cooper (NDSU Oakes site) will also be researching cover crops in 60" corn. Research sites in Carrington and Oakes will be linked with on-farm trials in North Dakota and South Dakota.

• Cover Crops with Sugar Beets: Amit Chatterjee (NDSU Soil Science) has been researching cover crops grown at the same time as sugar beets and will be sharing this information more in 2020.

• Cover Crops and Nutrient Release (or lack of release): Dave Franzen will continue his research on cover crop and nutrient dynamics for the following year's crop.

• Alfalfa and Corn Intercropping: Marisol Berti will be wrapping up research on roundup-ready alfalfa grown at the same time as corn to get a jump start on alfalfa production the follow year (extra cutting; ag.ndsu.edu/plantsciences).

• Salinity and Cover Crops: Caley Gasch (NDSU Soil Health) will wrap up research on salinity management with cereal rye as a cover crop in a corn/soybean rotation.

• Winter Camelina as a Cover Crop: Marisol Berti and others will continue to work with winter camelina as a broadleaf cover crop that will survive the northern plains winters and its potential to manage soybean cyst nematode with Guiping Yan (NDSU Plant Pathology).

• Cereal Rye Variety Development: Steve Zwinger (Carrington Research Extension Center) continues to breed cereal rye varieties to achieve specific goals for North Dakota systems.

• Cereal Rye and Edible Beans: Greg Endres (Carrington Research Extension Center) has research on planting edible beans into cereal rye and rye termination timings, including water use and yield results.

• SHARE Farm Projects: The Mooreton site will be in soybean and the Logan Center site will be in corn in 2020. Field scale research by main campus and Research Extension Center faculty and staff continues on cover crop use, reducing tillage and salinity management.

• Free-living Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria: Dave Franzen and Caley Gasch will continue research on how a specific type of bacteria contributes to nitrogen dynamics in soils recently converted to a no-till system.

• Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal (AMF) Communities in Alfalfa: Marisol Berti with Heike Bucking (SDSU Biology and Microbiology) is researching how different environmental stresses influence AMF communities associated with alfalfa roots.

• Cover Crops, Tillage and Salinity: Aaron Daigh (NDSU Soil Science) continues research on soil water management using cover crops in all parts of the rotation and reducing tillage on saline soils.

This is a decent list of the soil health Extension and research activities for 2020, but I'm sure I've missed some programs and projects. Be sure to connect with researchers and specialists on main campus, at the many Research Extension Centers across North Dakota and Extension agents in your counties to learn more about the latest work being done in soil health. See you in 2020!