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a wordmark for the 2020 Soil Health Awareness Day

South Dakota Declares February 21 Soil Health Awareness Day

February 20, 2020

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has declared February 21, 2020 Soil Health Awareness Day. Agriculture contributes over 132,000 jobs and 32.5 billion dollars in total output to South Dakota’s economy.

A green tractor, pulling a red, high-clearance planter through a field of emerging corn.

Interseeding Cover Crops Effect on Corn and Soybean Production: 2019

Incorporating cover crops into our cropping systems and moving from conventional tillage to no-till can improve soil organic matter, soil structure, and water and nutrient holding capacity of our soils.

Three, four-wheel drive John Deere tractors, pushing up chopped corn silage into a drive over pile on a dairy farm.

Harvesting Silage on a Wet Year: Moisture is Critical

Fall is on its way in South Dakota. However, with many flooded and saturated fields, some producers are growing concerned that there will be little opportunity to harvest silage before corn dries down past desired moisture levels or frost occurs.

a map of the United States with different colors showing the precipitation outlook variations.

Fall Frost and September Climate Outlook for 2019

September 2019 has been pleasantly warmer than usual, and our crops need every bit of that warmth to reach maturity before our first frost arrives. Fortunately, temperatures have cooled slightly this week but just to near average for this time of year.

High-moisture corn being stored in a bunker for use as cattle feed.

Harvesting High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

Producers who raise both corn and cattle have the option of harvesting some or all of their corn acres as a high-moisture grain crop to be marketed through cattle. There are several advantages to harvesting corn earlier at a high-moisture content.

Corn earlobe being stored in a bunker for later use as cattle feed.

Valuing High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

A key advantage to using commodities that meet standard specifications and are frequently traded is that it is very easy to establish an economic value that is accepted by most users. The marketplace sets the value of corn, and other feedstuffs on a daily basis, provided those products meet some set of standard specifications.

A group of brown cattle foraging in a green field.

Prussic Acid Poisoning

As the first frost date approaches, producers often have concerns about the risk of prussic acid poisoning in livestock. Certain forage plants, especially sorghums and related species are associated with an increased risk of death loss because of prussic acid poisoning.

Group of calves grazing in a fenced-in area.

Weaning Calves on Cover Crops

What do we do if it is time to wean calves, but the pen isn’t ready? That can be a real concern during wet fall seasons, such as 2019. Putting calves into muddy pen conditions is far from desirable, but holding calves on the cows deep into fall increases the risk of adverse winter weather and tends to pull body condition off the cows.

A patch of western wheatgrass with ergot fungus growing throughout.

Ergot in Western Wheatgrass and the Potential Effects for Winter Grazing

2019 has been a year fraught with challenges for ranchers across South Dakota. Abundant precipitation is usually a blessing, however, wet conditions coupled with a cool spring followed by warmer temperatures has caused another problem across the rangelands of South Dakota: ergot poisoning.

A group of cattle grazing on crop residue.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

An integrated crop-livestock system can provide an alternative management strategy that benefits producer’s income, soil health, and the environment—all while increasing production.