Take Stock of Soil Health for 2019

Our soil is the backbone of every farming operation and a lasting legacy that we will leave to the next generation said Latham’s Forage Product Manager Corey Catt during our Post-Harvest Huddle last month in Wisconsin. It’s up to us to decide if that legacy will be good or bad!

The 2018 growing season was certainly one for the record books. Most of our dealers and customers experienced cool and wet conditions early, followed by rapid growth mid-season, with cool and very wet conditions returning and persisting throughout much of the harvest season. Wet soils after harvest prevented many farmers from doing fall tillage, seeding cover crops and applying manure or Nitrogen. Those who applied fertilizer run the risk of severe compaction and nutrient loss. Those who didn’t apply fertilizer will be “behind the eight ball,” especially if the early spring weather isn’t conducive to drying the soil before fieldwork needs to begin. It can feel like a no-win situation, yet we all know that healthy soils are critical for optimizing yield.

I highly recommend viewing a recently released film by the Soil Health Institute titled “Living Soil.” A press release promoting the film states: “Our soils support 95% of all food production, and by 2060, they will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water. They are our foundation for biodiversity. They are vibrantly alive, teeming with 10,000 pounds of biological life in every acre. Yet, in the last 150 years, we’ve lost half of the basic building block that makes soil productive. The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the U.S. alone are now estimated to be as high as $85 BILLION every single year.”

For more information about improving soil health and protecting the future of agriculture, attend clinics and seminars. Below is a brief list of upcoming soil and nutrient management conferences that I’ve found:

North Dakota: January 28, 2019
Canad Inn, Grand Forks

South Dakota: January 22-23, 2019
SDSU campus in Brookings

Minnesota: February 19, 2019
Best Western Kelly Inn, St. Cloud

Iowa: February 4-5, 2019
Scheman Building on the ISU campus in Ames

Wisconsin: January 15-17, 2019
Alliant Energy Center in Madison

Illinois: January 22-24 at three different sites –
Princeton, Springfield & O’Fallon

I wish you the best of luck as you prepare for the upcoming 2019 season. Happy New Year!